WTF (What’s the Future) of Settlement Work 3 – digital capacity is all about being human

Welcome to the third edition of WTF (What’s the Future) of Settlement Work!

(Thanks for subscribing! As always, I’d love your feedback. All you need to do is hit reply and let me know what you liked, didn’t like, what you’d like to see that’s not here, etc. I hope you find this week’s edition a useful read! Marco)

What I’m writing or talking about

Interesting digital programs/projects in the immigrant and refugee-serving sector
As part of some work I’ve been doing, I’m collecting links to interesting digital programs and projects in the immigrant and refugee-serving sector. I definitely don’t have them all, but I’m up to 67 projects so far. I’ve embedded a form where you can submit a project (or projects). Below the form is an embedded spreadsheet where you can see programs/projects that I have found and others have added. Please add yours, or something you know about if you don’t see it!

Deep Dive: Human Centred Design

Tech for Humans, Part 1: The Paradox of Human Centered Design
Ooooo, I like where this series is going:”Human-centered design is an approach to product design that is based on building empathy with the people who will be using the product. The assumption is that, by understanding the needs, preferences, and desires of the end user, the product team can build a product that customers will find both useful and easy to use. Within this mindset, great products are those that integrate seamlessly into the user’s life and help them to accomplish tasks more efficiently.

A subtle but significant shift occurred within the space of the last paragraph. Although we began with the noble, high-minded goal of empathizing with human needs, we ended with the baldly economic goal of boosting efficiency by enhancing convenience. This shift helps to explain why so many tech products today seem to operate on the premise that greater efficiency always equals greater wellbeing –  even though science and personal experience clearly tell us that this is untrue.” (emphasis mine) 

Existential technology thinking

“Team Human is a podcast striving to amplify human connection. Each week we are engaging in real-time, no-holds-barred discussions with people who are hacking the machine to make it more compatible with human life, and helping redefine what it means to stay human in a digital age.”OK, that’s a lot of buzzword bingo. But, it comes from Douglas Rushkoff, who’s been a media theorist, an author who’s “philosophy developed from a techno-utopian view of new media to a more nuanced critique of cyberculture discourse and the impact of media on society.” His most recent project/book/podcast/obsession is “a manifesto arguing for human dignity and prosperity in a digital age,” which I think we can all agree would be nice to achieve. 

According to Rushkoff,”Humans are no longer valued for our creativity… in a world dominated by digital technology, we’re now just valued for our data.” He “urges us to stop using technology to optimize people for the market and start using it to build a future centered on our pre-digital values of connection, creativity and respect… We have to stop using technology to optimize human beings for the market and start optimizing technology for the human future.”Watch his TED talksubscribe to his podcastfollow him on LinkedIn where he’s sharing his current writing, talking and thinking. 

Learn, Learn, Learn

Every day there is something new that comes on my radar. Just as I think I’m going to share a course or workshop or recorded webinar I’ve come across in the past, a really great resource drops into my lap. Here’s what someone shared on their site today!

23 Digital capabilities to support practice and learning in social and health services looks like a really interesting and practical learning resource for any human service worker. Check it out and start working through the 23 Digital Capabilities they suggest Social Workers need. What’s equally amazing about the resource is that they’ve open sourced the content as an “Open Educational Resource” along with other curriculum and content – “learning materials freely available for people and organisations to use, distribute or adapt as required without having to ask our permission”. Love it. 

And, since you’re looking at these resources, check out their videos that allow you to actively “take part in scenarios exploring some common situations where [you] may find [yourself] at risk using digital technology and services: mobile working, technical support calls and supporting vulnerable people in their use of social media.”

And, since I’m all about the digital literacy and humanity this week, check out this webinar recording:  Misinformation and what to do about it. “This one hour webinar deals with the topic of combatting misinformation. What is misinformation? How is it formed and spread? Why are we susceptible to misinformation? What can we do about it? We address these hard questions as well as provide some tangible tips for how we can all protect ourselves from misinformation and prevent it from spreading.”

Oh, also, if you’re building, or planning to build, or use, neat internet things to serve clients with, you need to consider “Trust By Design.”

Check out all these resources out on my site

The interview

Online service doesn’t mean losing the personal touch, it enhances it.
Did you know that COSTI started offering online services in 2004? If that seems like a long time ago in technology-in-human-services years, it is. Two years ago, I interviewed Heidi Fuentes, Online Services Assistant Manager at COSTI Immigrant Services about their experience providing online employment preparation courses and workshops. I learned a lot from Heidi about what it takes to move existing services online to meet the needs of clients who may never set foot in your offices. COSTI’s success is a great example for all human service organizations about what is possible, and desirable when looking at online service. She shares many lessons and insights about what it took to make COSTI’s services successful.

Research Snapshots

Sector research

Does the Introduction of Immigration Based Labour Negatively Impact Wages for Existing Labour?
Stephen Chase, Manager, Settlement and Multiculturalism at Government of New Brunswick, recently wrote this dissertation for the Masters program in Diplomacy and International Relations via Lancaster University. He wrote a summary of his paper and shared it on LinkedIn. I think it’s worth a look (disclosure, I know and like Stephen, so there):”I did not arrive at a definitive conclusion on this matter however I suspect the answer may be in some instances yes and some no, greater potential wages might entice some local labourers accept job offers and the employer’s use of immigration might also depress the potential wage rate the employer is willing to offer as they have a perceived alternative, even with a variety of risks and upfront additional costs that go along with recruitment of international talent.” Another recent release from Statistics Canada was able to provide a definitive conclusion when looking at job creation by newcomer entrepreneurs: newcomer-owned firms create more jobs than those with Canadian-born owners:”This paper focuses on job creation and destruction by private incorporated companies with immigrant and Canadian-born owners, and uses data covering the 2003-to-2013 period. The unadjusted (raw) data indicated that average annual net job growth per firm was higher among immigrant-owned firms than among firms with Canadian-born owners, as was the likelihood of being a high-growth firm.”  And this just came into my LinkedIn feed: Report Says Newcomers Contribute $168 Million To Provincial Budget Each Year.”Nearly 7,000 immigrants entered the province’s workforce between 2011 and 2016, contributing about $168 million annually to the provincial budget, according to an economic impact study conducted by Jupia Consultants for the New Brunswick Multicultural Council (NBMC).”  

Ethnographic/Community-based research

Why we post
Want to take a deep dive, and I mean a deeeeeeep dive into a global anthropological research project on the uses and consequences of social media. Why we post is for you. A few years ago 9 anthropologists spent 15 months living in 9 communities around the world, researching the role of social media in people’s everyday lives. They include some major immigration source countries to Canada. Each location produced an Open Access book (meaning, you can download PDFs of them for free).  The project also published a couple of books on cross-project themes, like Visualizing Facebook, How the World Changed Social Media. Very much worth a look.

Tech and innovation research

It’s Complicated: Mozilla’s 2019 Internet Health Report
Mozilla (you may use their browser, FireFox) published the 2019 Internet Health Report, their third annual examination of the internet, its impact on society and how it influences our everyday lives: “Mozilla is publishing the 2019 Internet Health Report — our third annual examination of the internet, its impact on society and how it influences our everyday lives.” 

This year, there is a report you can access, but also “reading ‘playlists,’ curated by influential people in the internet health space” (which I think really just means smaller, bite-sized thematic chunks that may not overwhelm you like reading the entire report could). 


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