NYC think-tank devoted to critical analysis of Big Data seeks fellows

Outstanding social scientist danah boyd has founded a new thinktank (or "think/do-tank") called The Data & Society Research Institute, based in New York City, and devoted to critical analysis of big data, and "social, technical, ethical, legal, and policy issues that are emerging because of data-centric technological development." It's well-funded, with an exciting mission, and they're hiring.

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EFF is hiring an activist

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is hiring an activist! This is a job that I once had myself, and I can attest that there are few things more rewarding, challenging, and stimulating that working as an EFF activist. They're looking for someone fast, with good writing skills, a good grasp of the issues, and some background in tech, journalism, A/V production, organizing, policy issues. It's a full-time job, based in San Francisco, and they start reviewing resumes on the 10th of December.

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Themepunk's dream-job

Dave sends in, "A job advert for an educational designer at LEGO in Denmark posted on the Guardian's job boards. Looks like only teachers need apply!" Cory 2

Edward Snowden gets a job in Russia


According to Russian news source RIA Novosti, Edward Snowden's got a new job working as tech support for a large Russian website (according to AP) or possibly as a network administrator (according to CNN). Snowden's lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, says he starts tomorrow.

Report: Snowden gets tech support job in Russia

No robot will ever...

Today's XKCD strip, Reassuring, wittily illustrates Kevin Kelly's Seven Stages of Robot Replacement, which start with "1. A robot/computer cannot possibly do the tasks I do" and heads toward "5. OK, it can have my old boring job, because it’s obvious that was not a job that humans were meant to do."

Be sure you go to the original for the tooltip punchline.

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Bullshit jobs: why we're not all working 4h days


David Graeber, who wrote last year's incredible Debt: The First 5,000 Years, has an extraordinary essay up called "On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs," which explores the phenomenon of people in productive industries (nursing, teaching, etc) being relentlessly ground down on wages, job stability and working conditions; while all the big money aggregates to the finance industry and a layer of "bullshit jobs" like corporate attorneys, administrators, etc -- who do jobs that produce no tangible benefit.

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Help wanted: Two coder jobs for Happy Mutants in London

Hey, codemonkeys! MakieLab, the venture-backed 3D printed toy company my wife founded in London, is hiring! They've got two jobs open, one for a senior dev, the other for a front-end dev. Good pay, good people, good products -- happy mutant nirvana, ahoy! Cory 1

Excellent advice for grads


Lisa Wade and Gwen Sharp, two sociologists (who also work on the excellent Sociological Images blog) have advice for this year's college grads that goes beyond "find your passion, follow your dreams" (something that actually doesn't work for most college grads, statistically). Instead, they offer research-grounded advice in how to lead a happy, full life:

2. Make Friends
Americans put far too much emphasis on finding Mr. or Ms. Right and getting married. We think this will bring us happiness. In fact, however, both psychological well-being and health are more strongly related to friendship. If you have good friends, you’ll be less likely to get the common cold, less likely to die from cancer, recover better from the loss of a spouse, and keep your mental acuity as you age. You’ll also feel more capable of facing life’s challenges, be less likely to feed depressed or commit suicide, and be happier in old age. Having happy friends increases your chance of being happy as much as an extra $145,500 a year does. So, make friends!

4. Don’t Take Your Ideas about Gender and Marriage Too Seriously
If you do get married, keep going with the flow. Relationship satisfaction, financial security, and happy kids are more strongly related to flexibility in the face of life’s challenges than any particular way of organizing families. The most functional families are ones that can bend. So partnering with someone who thinks that one partner should support their families and the other should take responsibility for the house and children is a recipe for disaster. So is being equally rigid about non-traditional divisions of labor. It’s okay to have ideas about how to organize your family – and, for the love of god, please talk about both your ideals and fallback positions on this – but your best bet for happiness is to be flexible.

Advice for College Grads from Two Sociologists

(Image: Graduation, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from ajschwegler's photostream)

Public Knowledge seeks an artist-in-residence

Michael sez, "Public Knowledge works to promote great technology like 3D printing and open source hardware, while advocating on behalf of the public on important issues like net neutrality and copyright reform. Now we are looking for someone to use all of that technology to help people understand our important issues." Cory

Forcing your employees to do dumb Scientology exercises creates a "hostile work environment"

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against Dr. Dennis Nobbe's Dynamic Medical Services, Inc, where employees were made to engage in bizarre Scientology rituals as a condition of employment. The EEOC says that this violated employees' freedom of religion, and they're suing Dr Nobbe to prove it. This is the downside of the Church of Scientology's dodge of getting itself certified as a "religion," a practice that otherwise grants it enormous privileges, including preferential tax-treatment. But once your woo-woo exercises are officially "religious rituals," then forcing someone to engage in them violates freedom of religion rules:

According to the EEOC's suit, the company required Norma Rodriguez, Maykel Ruz, Rommy Sanchez, Yanileydis Capote and other employees to spend at least half their work days in courses that involved Scientology religious practices, such as screaming at ashtrays or staring at someone for eight hours without moving. The company also instructed employees to attend courses at the Church of Scientology. Additionally, the company required Sanchez to undergo an "audit" by connecting herself to an "E-meter," which Scientologists believe is a religious artifact, and required her to undergo "purification" treatment at the Church of Scientology. According to the EEOC's suit, employees repeatedly asked not to attend the courses but were told it was a requirement of the job. In the cases of Rodriguez and Sanchez, when they refused to participate in Scientology religious practices and/or did not conform to Scientology religious beliefs, they were terminated.

Requiring employees to conform to religious practices and beliefs espoused by the employer, creating a hostile work environment, and failing to reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs of an employee all violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

EEOC Sues Dynamic Medical Services for Religious Discrimination (via Lowering the Bar)

Guy makes a game about his crappy job working for Canadian tax authority, loses his crappy job

David S. Gallant had a part-time job working as a "numb meat puppet" for Canada Revenue Agency, answering phones and dealing with people who were often grumpy and thick. He vented his frustration by creating a little indiegame called "I Get This Call Every Day." He got fired.

In the game, the player listens to a conversation between a person talking to a government-style customer service representative. There is no specific mention of government but one of the graphics refers to “Last Tax Return” and some of the security questions asked of the caller are similar to what real CRA agents require.

The caller, who comes across as dense and snippy, wants to get his address changed and the player decides how the agent answers by clicking on screen choices.

“It’s easy (for the agent) to get fired in the game,” says Gallant.

And maybe in real life.

National Revenue Minister Gail Shea is not amused. Her communications director, Clarke Olsen, sent an email to the Star Tuesday stating, “The Minister considers this type of conduct offensive and completely unacceptable. The Minister has asked the Commissioner (of Revenue, Andrew Treusch) to investigate and take any and all necessary corrective action. The Minister has asked the CRA to investigate urgently to ensure no confidential taxpayer information was compromised.”

Tax department employee creates online game to vent his frustration with taxpayers [Valerie Hauch/Toronto Star]

Pret fires longstanding employee who attempted to unionise, asked for the London Living Wage for all employees

UK chain Pret a Manger has a cuddly reputation for being more than a mere fast-food joint, despite the capital it took on from McDonald's. But when a longstanding Pret employee called Andrej tried to organise a union in his shop with the reasonable goal of having all Pret employees paid the London Living Wage of £8.55, they fired him. It's just part of a dirty tricks campaign run by Pret against its 91% immigrant workforce when they have the audacity to organise. I'm done eating at Pret until they reinstate Andrej and promise to pay their staff the London Living Wage.

Pret A Manger Staff Union

GOP fires author of copyright reform paper

Derek Khanna, the Republican House staffer who wrote an eminently sensible paper on copyright reform that was retracted less than a day later has been fired. So much for the GOP's drive to attract savvy, net-centric young voters. After all, this is the party that put SOPA's daddy in charge of the House Tech and Science Committee.

But it's pretty terrible for Khanna -- what a shabby way of dealing with dissent within your ranks.

Staffer axed by Republican group over retracted copyright-reform memo [Timothy B. Lee/Ars Technica] (via /.)

Danish entrepreneur helps people with autism get jobs that require focus, attention to detail

Gareth Cook tells the story of Thorkil Sonne, founder of a Danish social enterprise called Specialisterne ("the specialists"), which helps place people with autism in jobs that demand a degree of focus and detail-orientation that's impossible to find among the neurotypical. Specialisterne began because Sonne's son, Lars, has autism, and Sonne saw that he was eminently suited to many tasks, and that performing them made him happy and did useful work, too. Now Specialisterne is a web of social enterprises that does everything from training to placement, and Sonne is pondering a move to the USA.

To his father, Lars seemed less defined by deficits than by his unusual skills. And those skills, like intense focus and careful execution, were exactly the ones that Sonne, who was the technical director at a spinoff of TDC, Denmark’s largest telecommunications company, often looked for in his own employees. Sonne did not consider himself an entrepreneurial type, but watching Lars — and hearing similar stories from parents he met volunteering with an autism organization — he slowly conceived a business plan: many companies struggle to find workers who can perform specific, often tedious tasks, like data entry or software testing; some autistic people would be exceptionally good at those tasks. So in 2003, Sonne quit his job, mortgaged the family’s home, took a two-day accounting course and started a company called Specialisterne, Danish for “the specialists,” on the theory that, given the right environment, an autistic adult could not just hold down a job but also be the best person for it.

The Autism Advantage [NYT] (via Kottke)

Tor Project is hiring support assistants and translators

Runa from the TOR project sez, "We are hiring support assistants and translators who can help us handle support requests via our ticketing system and our new Q&A website, as well as make sure translations for software and documentation are up to date. We are looking for candidates who are fluent in one of Arabic, French, Mandarin, Burmese, Vietnamese, Spanish, and English. All must be fluent in English." Cory