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Federal Government Is Concerned Coworkers Don’t Hang Out As Much As They Used To

By Dan Kopf // Quartz // May 24, 2017

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The Joint Economic Committee of the Congress recently released an unusual document. The report, titled “What We Do Together,” presupposes Americans feel a “sense of loss” for the “golden age” of social cohesion of the mid-20th century and then seeks to investigate all the ways the American social fabric is decaying.

The report is essentially a compendium of statistics on the ways social life has changed since the 1970s in the areas of family, community, religion and work. The authors point out compared to the 1970s, people today are less likely to attend church or hang out with their neighbors, and more likely to be single parents.

The report also notes much has stayed the same: People spend no less time with their families, are no less likely to volunteer and median job tenures are actually longer now they were than in the 1970s.

Perhaps the most original insight of the report is the finding Americans don’t hang out with their coworkers as much as they used to.

“Between the mid-1970s and 2012, the average amount of time Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 spent with their coworkers outside the workplace fell from about two-and-a-half hours to...

Coding Is Not 'Fun,' It’s Technically and Ethically Complex

By Walter Vannini // Quartz // May 23, 2017

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Programming computers is a piece of cake. Or so the world’s digital-skills gurus would have us believe. From the nonprofit Code.org’s promise that “Anybody can learn!” to Apple chief executive Tim Cook’s comment that writing code is “fun and interactive,” the art and science of making software is now as accessible as the alphabet.

Unfortunately, this rosy portrait bears no relation to reality. For starters, the profile of a programmer’s mind is pretty uncommon. As well as being highly analytical and creative, software developers need almost superhuman focus to manage the complexity of their tasks. Manic attention to detail is a must; slovenliness is verboten. Attaining this level of concentration requires a state of mind called being “in the flow,” a quasi-symbiotic relationship between human and machine that improves performance and motivation.

Coding isn’t the only job that demands intense focus. But you’d never hear someone say brain surgery is “fun,” or that structural engineering is “easy.” When it comes to programming, why do policymakers and technologists pretend otherwise?

For one, it helps lure people to the field at a time when software (in the words of the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen) is...

Many Workers at 'World-Changing' Tech Companies Might as Well Work at Wal-Mart

By Sarah Kessler // Quartz // May 22, 2017

Tesla employees work on a Model S cars in the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Thursday, May 14, 2015.
Tesla employees work on a Model S cars in the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Thursday, May 14, 2015. // Jeff Chiu/AP

“I’ve seen people pass out, hit the floor like a pancake and smash their face open,” a worker at Tesla’s “factory of the future” told the Guardian in a report published this week. “They just send us to work around him while he’s still lying on the floor.”

The Guardian report described long hours and intense pressure to meet CEO Elon Musk’s production goals–even if that means enduring or ignoring injuries. Since 2014, according to the report, hundreds of ambulances have been called to the factory to treat workers.

This portrayal doesn’t quite jive with Musk’s world-changing vision. And Tesla isn’t only Silicon Valley company facing this type of irony.

Technology companies’ reputations as employers often stem from how they treat highly paid engineers, but many also employ thousands of blue collar workers. Tech workers at these companies receive high pay, elaborate perks and progressive workplace policies, but blue collar workers for the same companies often work in circumstances that look much less innovative.

Tech Industry’s Nontech Workforce

At Facebook, a team of 7,000 human moderators police content by reviewing the worst humanity has to offer. At Amazon, more than...

Your IT Job Is at Risk if You Currently Do These Things for a Living

By Sushma U N // Quartz // May 19, 2017

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The specter of layoffs looms large over the Indian IT sector. Human resource firms estimate up to two lakh industry jobs will be lost annually over the next three years. Talk of Indian techies abroad being laid off, increasing local hiring, and re-skilling is rife, too.

But precisely which jobs face redundancy—and why? Quartz spoke to HR firms and here are the jobs with the most risk:

Technical Help, Customer Support

First off, the mark will be customer care and support staff. Those online trouble-shooting or inquiry chats you had earlier were mostly handled by real people. Now, however, chat bots are taking over.

Ditto with products that require demonstrations.

Testing

IT companies typically have one team writing the code and designing a product to tackle a certain business problem and another to review and test these. Earlier, firms needed engineers to manually test every program at every stage of execution. Now, there are automated testing tools for this.

Basic Coding and Programming

Product designing has evolved and engineers don’t have to write the basic codes anymore. Many of these basic codes are available in public domain and programmers can always build on them. Work that often took...

Three Simple Techniques to Help You Stop Stressing So Much Over Email

By Melody Wilding // Quartz // May 11, 2017

Melpomene/Shutterstock.com

When I’m doing email triage, I often feel as if I’ve fallen into a trance. Every so often, I’ll look up from the screen and think, Whoa—was I even breathing just now?

It turns out that I have email apnea—a term coined by former tech executive Linda Stone that refers to the habit of interrupted breathing while checking email. In observing others informally, Stone noticed that a lot of people unintentionally hold their breath or breathe shallowly when starring at a screen.

If that’s not a good indication of contemporary society’s unhealthy relationship with email, I don’t know what is. But there are steps we can all take to reduce our body’s stressed-out reactions to a full inbox.

The psychology of inbox stress

The theory of operant conditioning describes how our behavior is shaped by rewards and punishments. If I’m a lab rat, and every time I press a button in my cage I receive an electric shock, guess what? I’ll learn to stop pressing that button. Likewise, if I get a treat when I press the button, I’m more likely to do it again and again.

One...

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