Monday, May 29, 2023

Finding research - My God the world is violent

 Happy 90th birthday 🎉 John

  • Age and glasses of wine should never be counted.
Lawrie Brereton and John share the birth day date but Laurie was born in 1946 not 1933

“The problem of the world is this,” Orwell told a friend late in life. “Can we get men to behave decently to each other if they no longer believe in God?”

We’ve Got Google. So why can’t we find the research that we need?

Or use alternate link: “Content democratization has led to an explosion in research content: hundreds of thousands of high-quality reports, working papers, briefs, and data sets vital to the global research community. 

But – yes, there is a “but” – this research is tedious and time-consuming to find, buried in search results, and often subject to link rot. In this highly-interactive conversation, our expert panel discusses the publishing lifecycle of policy research – both formal publications and grey literature – as well as efforts to root out, select, and preserve democratized content.

 Participants will walk away with new insights as well as practical tips to make their research more efficient, inclusive, unique, and impactful.

  • Panelists: Duncan Wambogo Omole, PMP Wambogo Omole, Head of Research, Knowledge & Information Services WorldBank Group; Kris Kasianovitz, Library Director of UC-Berkeley IGS Library; Gary Price, Co-Founder and Editor, Library Journal’s infoDOCKET; Toby Green, Former publisher of the OECDiLibrary, and co-founder of Coherent Digital.

Author Whose Books Freak People Out Says That’s Not Her Plan

Ottessa Moshfegh: "My God, the world is violent. Why should fiction pretend it’s not?" - The Guardian (UK

The Art Of Being Informed Post-Twitter

Until the past year’s insipid Musk-related shenanigans, the platform functioned as an efficient information delivery system that made it unique among its social media rivals — and unique, for that matter, among the media organs that depended on it for readers and ideas. - N+1

Work Has Changed – Can The Office Novel Keep Up?

Sure. Here's a list of "a few unconventional work novels that remind us of the way things once were, offer alternatives to the way we approach our jobs and, perhaps, spur us onward to new horizons." - LitHub

New Books

Failure comes in many forms: physical, social, biological. Facing it humbles us, and so we lead better lives. So argues Costica Bradatan... more »

Essays & Opinions

For Emmanuel Carrère, writing about other people is tantamount to torturing them. But representing a life other than your own is what makes human connection possible... more »

Why PwC’s latest grand apology falls flat

Senior Business Reporter

If PwC thought it could this week take back control of the rolling public relations horror show that is its tax leaks scandal, it will be disappointed.

While the firm released on Monday a “meaningful statement” in response to weeks of bad publicity after it emerged a senior partner had leaked secret government advice to his colleagues and clients, its attempt to frame the discussion in its favour will be short-lived.

The leak of a confidential government plan to combat corporate tax avoidance has created a global crisis for PwC. EAMON GALLAGHER

From 9am on Tuesday, Senate Estimates will steal the narrative back off PwC, as angry senators seek answers from government officials from the Australian Taxation Office and Treasury – including Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy – about the depths of the firm’s reaches into government operations.

PwC has been trapped in a reputational nightmare of its own making since it emerged that between 2016 and 2019, senior tax partner Peter Collins leaked to colleagues information about a new tax crackdown he learned through a government advisory role. After PwC initially tried to play down the situation, it emerged this month that more than 50 staff members received emails related to the leak, according to a 144-page document of internal PwC emails released by the Senate.

The fallout has been decisive and grown with every passing day. Not since Arthur Andersen’s disgrace over its Enron audits has an accounting firm been despised so suddenly by its government connections and corporate clients.

It remains to be seen whether PwC can quickly recover its position in Australia as a strong adviser to both government departments like the ATO and Treasury, as well as to corporate Australia.

Monday’s statement from PwC’s acting chief executive, Kristin Stubbins, was another attempt by the firm to control the conversation. In the statement, PwC admitted it had not initially properly conducted an appropriate investigation into the leak, the conduct of its staff or the culture that allowed the conduct to occur.

It also announced a suite of “new steps” it was taking, presumably after it realised the steps it had already taken, including appointing Ziggy Switkowski to conduct an independent review, were not enough to quell concerns.

The new steps include agreeing to release the Switkowski’s full final report when it was completed (PwC had originally only wanted to release a Cliffs Notes version), standing down nine partners (but not naming them), appointing two independent directors to its governance board (probably about time) and seeking to ringfence its federal government business “to minimise conflicts of interest and enhance governance” (a Hail Mary to protect an incredibly lucrative income stream).

Stubbins also apologised in an open letter to the community, the Australian government, its clients, and the firm’s staff. Everyone got an apology – but it came with a few caveats.

PwC acting chief executive Kristin Stubbins says while investigations are under way, the company knows enough about what went wrong to take immediate action. RYAN STUART & SUPPLIED

Again, the firm was insistent in its Monday press release – under a heading “Correcting misunderstandings” – that it would not reveal the redacted names of the PwC staff members who received emails relating to the leak in the Senate dossier.

“We believe that the vast majority of the recipients of these emails are neither responsible for, nor were knowingly involved in any confidentiality breach,” Stubbins said in her prepared statement. She also insisted that “our clients were not involved in any wrongdoing and no confidential information was used to enable clients to pay less tax”.

One can only hope that these two claims remain to be true as investigations – by the Senate, the firm, government departments, the federal police and the media – continue.

Any variance in this position will lead to even more reputational damage.

Former PwC partner Peter Collins now faces a criminal investigation into the leak of confidential government plans to combat corporate tax evasion. SUPPLIED

Some of PwC’s claims will be tested this week. Not only are the ATO and Treasury up on Tuesday, but on Wednesday the Senate will hear from the Tax Practitioner’s Board, the body that found Collins had breached his duties when dealing with the government information.

Of particular concern to the committee are the firm’s governance processes, and if there was any evidence that PwC’s clients had the inside running of the government’s tax plans that were imparted to Collins and allegedly on to the firm’s clients. The number of contracts between Treasury and the ATO and PwC will also be a key focus. The Senate also wants a list of names of people on the emails.

Given the Senate’s mood, Tuesday’s estimates are unlikely to throw up any good news for PwC. Greens senator Barbara Pocock said on Monday following PwC’s PR blitz: “PwC is scrambling to remediate the impact of its appalling behaviour, but it’s too little too late, as far as I’m concerned.”

Labor’s Deborah O’Neill, the committee chair, was also having none of it. “Are we supposed to be grateful that, after weeks of denial and resistance, Ms Stubbins has finally ‘directed nine partners to go on leave, effective immediately, pending the outcome of our investigation’?” O’Neill said, reading a quote from the PwC press release.

“Who are these people? Again, no names,” said O’Neill, again calling for the full list of the 55 staff who received the emails.

It’s not clear whether there will be a smoking gun at the estimates hearing, but PwC will hope its version of events lines up with those of the government bodies and departments it works so closely with.

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