Friday, August 14, 2020

Reconstructing Democracy: How Citizens Are Building from the Ground Up

A champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall.

Telstra calls time on the offshore call centre

The pandemic has enabled Telstra to accelerate the demise of one of the things its customers complain about most ... the offshore call centre.

The company found itself in a real pickle back in March when the outbreak of COVID-19 forced workers in its overseas call centres in first the Philippines and then India to stay at home.

Customers have never warmed to the idea of overseas call centre operatives and their Aussie banter cheat sheets, and – with Telstra at least – they now won't have to put up with it much longer.

On Thursday morning, Telstra said that when the pandemic struck, the progress already made on T22 enabled it to fast-track the digitisation and automation of many of its processes and systems and rapidly shift its office-based employees to working from home.

A population increasingly used to digital communication, thanks to working and shopping from home during lockdown, has translated to a leap in digital engagement recorded at Telstra. By the end of the 2020 financial year, over 71 per cent of its service transactions happened via digital channels, up from 53 per cent at the end of FY19.

This is not just a temporary blip. Its MyTelstra app now has WhatsApp style messaging, so that you don't have to sit on hold for non-urgent enquiries or stay engaged in an online message exchange until the bitter end ... you simply send messages when you get to them and have a record of the responses.

Penn says the acceleration to digital channels, combined with offshore workforce capacity challenges, has led it to focus much more of its future customer service model on digital messaging, with voice calls as an escalation measure.

It has already almost hit an earlier goal to reduce the number of calls to its call centres by two thirds by 2022, and has now committed to ending the use of offshore customer service staff.


The last time Eastman Kodak needed a little spring in its stock, it looked to what was fashionable and the came up with a ridiculous plan to transform itself by getting into the cryptocurrency and blockchain business. It has done neither, but it worked—for a time, anyway—more than doubling the price of Kodak shares.

Two years later, the effect of that ruse had more than worn off, and Kodak shares were trading for little more than $2—a third lower than before the KodakCoin announcement. By then, Kodak had a new CEO and the world had a new obsession that was making companies and corporate insiders very rich: COVID-19. So that new CEO, Jim Continenza, decided another transformation was in order, one as fanciful as the last. Kodak would become a pharmaceutical company 

The SEC Would Also Like To Know Why, How Kodak Shares Are Up 600%



The Meaning of Travel: Philosophers Abroad by Emily Thomas, reviewed by Andrew Irwin at Times Literary Supplement.

Who Needs a World View? by Raymond Geuss, reviewed by Kieran Setiya at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Reconstructing Democracy: How Citizens Are Building from the Ground Up by Charles Taylor, Patrizia Nanz and Madeleine Beaubien Taylor, reviewed by Scott McLemee at Inside Higher Ed

Letters and Other Texts by Gilles Deleuze, edited by David Lapoujade and translated by Ames Hodgesreviewed by Andrew Marzoni in The Nation

       They've announced the winner of this year's 'National Bestseller' -- 'NatBest' -- award, a leading Russian prose-book award, and it is The Librarian-author Mikhail Elizarov's Земля
       See also the mention at Lizok's Bookshelf, and the АСТ publicity page

       One of the neat/odd things about this award is that the books considered for the prize are nominated by individuals -- prominent authors, critics, publishers, etc.; here is this year's list of nominators and their selections -- and whoever nominated the winning title -- in this case Alexey Kolobrodov -- gets a (one-tenth) share of the 1,000,000 ruble prize. 
       Interesting incentives at work in the nominating process there: you want to select a title you think the jurors -- here this year's panel -- will go for (as (possibly) opposed to selecting the title you truly think is best). 


Steve Wozniak at 70: Here's to the bloke behind Apple who wasn't a complete... turtleneck

The Yin to Steve Jobs' Yang celebrates another orbit around the Sun