Sometimes... you just want to fix something in the world. Something that... isn't right. Campaigns are where we showcase some issues that needed fixing, or we are in process of. Tesla Tours itself is a campaign for example, to push the world further towards sustainable energy transport AND (safer) self drive vehicles.
Some of the global issues we are working on addressing is listed below...
Campaign: Clean up Bougainville Day
SUCCESS! While posted from my unit (Australian Special Forces - Commando) on a peacekeeping mission, I came up with my own plan to further the peace process. This didn't go down so well with my superiors at the time, and I was threatened with being charged if I continued to assertively push the project.
So I began to then covertly and more creatively push the project, avoided being charged, and ended up with an official commendation from my unit. The project went ahead, involving the Australian Defence Force, the Fiji Defence force, Oxfam and Red Cross.
Campaign: Change the Direction of Traffic.
SUCCESS! After significant lobbying and our petition, the council changed the direction of traffic, as well as attended to many other issues I raised in signage and foliage removal. This was not an easy campaign for one individual to do, as citizens changing the traffic flow isn't really 'a thing', but undeterred I gave it a shot and after some effort, had complete success.
A small win for better traffic! See the news clippings far below.
Campaign: Lobby the UK Department for Education on Tech Funding
SUCCESS! After writing an eBook on what the Government should (in my view!) do in supporting education technology, and my messaging many people, and attending steering committees and other meetings, the UK DfE agreed with NESTA to a major funding operation, with timetabling being one of the four core areas for funding. Given how niche the scheduling industry is, it was quite a win. My company Edval secured the maximum grant of £100k, to develop some technology I'd always wanted to build.
New algorithm tools to support flexible working, and construct timetables much smarter. These new tools are now called Edval Platinum, including technical stuff as shared elective lines, coherence algorithms and many algorithms to help particularly women get a better fit with childcare (and allow them to consider working when they may have been discouraged otherwise), but also of course helped all teachers.
Part of this work also involved changing HOW schools deal with this area, such as rethinking the mindset in how to ask teachers for their scheduling preferences without negative influence, bringing faculty meetings in to occur within the school day, not after in many cases, and rethinking PPA to better schedule teachers for collaborative together time in the timetable naturally, if they shared split classes or a subject.
These all go to giving teachers more time with families, and supports flexible working. The project has been an extreme success, and the core scheduling technology has more than doubled in power to schedule timetables as a direct result of this work, which would not have occurred without funding, and which would not have occurred without a campaign to raise awareness for the need for funding in this technical area.
Campaign: Fix Password Complexity
Millions of us struggle with passwords, and especially with the archaic password rules that require specific symbol characters, upper and lower case letters ... and that passwords expire. This has all been debunked as nonsense, including by the original author of these rules which got widespread press. As a result, Microsoft, and the UK and USA governments are aligned in password security such as they should not be set to expire unless suspected of compromise. Forcing users to come up with new and complex passwords actually significantly reduces security, both by increasing human factors like writing passwords down, but also the hacker aspect, as new passwords are easily guessed from previous ones, as humans often only change a few symbols or increment a numerical digit to 'pass the rules'
This campaign is aimed particularly at the Australian government, who has 'accidentally' changed their advice on passwords from saying DO NOT use special symbols or make passwords expire, to advising we SHOULD do these. The Australian government Cyber Security website is in need of some attention.
PARTIAL SUCCESS. The Australian Signals Directorate has thanked me for pointing out a website error, where advice on passwords was not being correctly given. We continue to lobby the government to change it's password policy to align with global best practice. Given the current inconsistent advice, one hopes we will have success. Anyway, this campaign is still in progress.
A wider campaign of encouraging businesses to simplify password rules in line with the recent research and guidelines is also ongoing. Next time a system fails your new password over some silly character rule, please direct the business to our Password Rule campaign. Not just to make life easier for users, but to make life more secure online.
Campaign: Encourage adoption of Electric self driving cars, for sustainable energy & safety (Tesla Tours)
ONGOING: The Tesla Tours project aims to use humor and education, to nudge car owners in a novel way, that engages very differently to all other mediums in conveyancing what self driving is all about. There are many videos online already of what a Tesla does, and with people demonstrating self driving. Tesla Tours however captures and presents a very different take. A large number of high quality videos showing people riding a self driving car but not being aware it is a self driving car.
The moment of discovery, and reactions are priceless, both from an entertainment perspective, but also because watching others 'discover' something is a very strong signal in how we learn. Far more than reading about it, or being told it... seeing OTHERS learn is powerful. We hope this campaign gives researchers new material to study, and all who watch it a elevated level of interest and understanding in what self driving is all about.
The telling comment is the many people saying they had heard about Tesla self driving cars or even seen them, but didn't realise they were 'here now', as if they were watching some fantasy show about future tech. Discovering the Future is now in relation to fossil free (safter) self driving vehicles by being in one, or watching others discover they are.. is so different to just reading about technology. It makes it real. We hope you enjoy, and are moved by the Tesla Tour series.
Campaign: Dominic's Law. Addressing Parental Alienation
IN PLANNING: There is near constant focus on domestic violence, and men are statistically far more often the perpetrator. But an issue that gets far less attention, is where mothers alienate their children from fathers. Such alienation can of course be from either parent, but just as there are dominant gender bias in DV, there is a dominant gender bias in perpetrators of alienation.
Family law is never an easy topic, and pushing for any positive change in this area seems quite unlikely to succeed. But that should never be a reason to not try, as everything is impossible without the passion to take the first step, and the tenacity to do all it takes to push the issue to cause positive change. The success in campaigns above show you never know till you try.
Our society and systems should protect vulnerable children from any abuse, and alienation is a very damaging form of abuse, but a harder one to see or understand. Children should be supported in having meaningful relationships with both their parents, free from abusive influence and actions from either parent.
More details on this campaign will be posted here soon.