Communication

Why 2017’s net neutrality battle is crucial for the game industry

Two years ago the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules went into effect, giving consumers what was supposed to be a ‘free and open’ internet.

Unfortunately, the future of the FCC’s Open Internet Order (OIO) is in jeopardy and this is bad news for game developers.

What ‘net neutrality’ means

The primary goal of net neutrality is to ensure that no single U.S. internet service provider can arbitrarily decide to slow down (or speed up) a consumer’s access to/from specific content providers — regardless of the content or where in the world the content is coming from.

In 2009 the FCC started the process that would eventually make this goal a reality and they were immediately met with resistance by many cable companies, wireless providers, and lobbying groups.

Many court battles, protests, and 4 million public comments on their website later, the FCC was able to reclassify ISPs as a “telecommunications service” and the Open Internet Order was enacted in 2015. [For a more in-depth timeline of events check out http://whatisnetneutrality.org/timeline.]

Essentially, by classifying high-speed internet services under Title II of the Federal Communications Act, U.S. wired and wireless broadband providers like AT&T, Comcast, Cox, Time Warner, and Verizon were prohibited from prioritizing traffic from some sources over others.

For example, Comcast and Time Warner are part of a group of companies who own Hulu, a streaming service that competes with Netflix. Without the OIO in place, their broadband divisions could throttle the connection speeds to Netflix resulting in a poor streaming service for their subscribers. This would give those consumers an extra incentive to make the switch to Hulu which would directly benefit Comcast and Time Warner’s bottom line!

Does that sound too far-fetched to be true? Then read this report from Time that goes over the deal Netflix made with Comcast pre-Open Internet Order to pay them to make sure their subscribers “receive reliable, high-speed streaming service from the online video giant for years to come.”

The Open Internet is under attack, again

Telecom companies and associations fought hard to overturn the Open Internet Order, but even though the courts stood by the FCC’s Open Internet rules, many of those same organizations have continued to lobby against these rules to try and get them overturned.

This year they got their first big break when President Donald Trump appointed Ajit Pai as the new chairman of the FCC.

Pai, who has sided with ISPs in the net neutrality debate, quickly got to work and started the following multi-stage process of rolling back the current rules:

  • April 26: The Chairman announced he was submitting a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to accomplish that rollback to be voted on by the commission in May. An early proposal draft was published on the FCC site.
  • April 27-May 17: The filing draft was open to the public for comments. Although the site crashes multiple times (some attribute this to John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight revisit of this issue) the FCC did not push back their meeting and extend the deadline to file comments.
  • May 18: The…

Say What? Chatbots Can Create Their Own Non-Human Language to Communicate

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Let’s just hope the chatbots are gossiping behind our back.

You know that slight anxiousness you feel when two people are negotiating in a language you don’t understand? Well, it turns out that chatbots are able to create their own non-human language to communicate back-and-forth. This was reported by researchers at Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR), who were developing “dialog agents” with the newfound capability of negotiation.

In order for bots to communicate more efficiently with other bots, they learned to create their own simple language.

“To go beyond simply trying to imitate people, the FAIR researchers instead allowed the model to achieve the goals of the negotiation. To train the model to achieve its goals, the researchers had the model practice thousands of negotiations against itself, and used reinforcement learning to reward the model when it achieved a good outcome. To prevent the algorithm from developing its own language, it was simultaneously trained to produce humanlike language.Deal or no deal? Training AI bots to negotiate

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

Is This a Big Deal?

On its face, it seems logical that chatbots would create their own language. If one of the major reasons why human language evolved is so we could more effectively convey our desires, it makes sense that bots aiming for efficiency would shortcut human imitation. At the same time, the concept of a non-human language further erodes the uniqueness we may feel as a human (given how central language has been to society’s development).

The findings by the Facebook researchers falls on the heels of research from OpenAI, which in March 2017 reported the ability for bots to create their own language. Similar to the report by FAIR, the researchers found that bots were able to create their own language when going through reinforcement…

How to Always Be Listened to and Understood

it can be challenging to put my phone away when I’m spending time with friends. We all know how addicting social media can be, but it doesn’t make it any less rude to the person sitting across from me telling me about a problem they’re facing. Even saying, “I’m just replying to this email, but I swear I’m listening,” is a barrier to effective communication.

There have been times when, even without my phone, I realize I’m only half-listening to someone. It’s a distracting world, and sometimes it can be hard to compartmentalize all the things on your mental to-do list and just be present. But, that doesn’t justify listening with one ear. Is sending a perfectly timed gif as a response to a text really worth losing a friendship over? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Everyone talks, but very few of us listen to understand.

An inability to fully grasp what someone is telling us hinders productive and successful communication even when we’re paying attention. Aside from all the distractions and confusion the world, in general, presents us with, we still have differences that make it challenging to hear someone and understand them.

In today’s world, it’s more important than ever to work with someone to understand their point of view. It doesn’t mean we have to agree, but we should give the same respect we want when seeking a meaningful discussion. With more arguments than ever over gender and culture, how do we improve ourselves?

Voicing an opinion can sometimes feel like walking on eggshells. You don’t want to risk losing a friendship or relationship because you couldn’t see eye-to-eye, but knowing what barriers you may inadvertently be creating is important.

These are the six most common barriers we face in communication:

Even if you are the ideal friend, when it comes to leaving your phone behind and being fully present when someone needs you, you’re not immune to communication barriers. I don’t just mean the common language barrier though it’s certainly a valid one. In fact, there is a whole list of barriers that prevent us from communicating concisely. The following is a list of 6 barriers we should all make a point to focus on for effective communication:

Perceptual barriers: different viewpoints, bias and stereotypes

Perceptual barriers are internal. If you go into a situation thinking the person you are talking to isn’t going to understand or take interest in what you have to say, you may end up subconsciously sabotaging your effort to make your point. You will employ language that is sarcastic, dismissive, or even obtuse, thereby alienating your conversational partner.1

Attitudinal barriers: lack of interest or relevance

Attitudinal barriers to communication may result from personality conflicts, poor management, resistance to change, or a lack of motivation. Effective receivers of messages should attempt to overcome their own attitudinal barriers to facilitate effective communication.2

Attitudes are usually formed by an individual’s opinion and can be difficult to change. When this barrier overrides the focus on professionalism in the workplace, it can be next to impossible to work together.

This barrier is not an easy one to break down. It’s important to be aware of your attitude, and try to understand the root of it. It will be a slow-going process, but allowing yourself to change your attitude will be worth it in the end.

Language barriers: jargon and word choice

Even when communicating in the same language, the terminology used may act as a barrier if not fully understood by the receiver. For example, a message that includes a lot of specialist jargon and abbreviations will not be understood by a receiver who is not familiar with the terminology used.

Aim to translate all relevent documents, use an…

There’s No Perfect Family, but a Happy Family Doesn’t Need to Be Perfect

Family members offer more support to us than just about anyone else in the world. Odds are, those who raised you are willing to help you in any way they can.

While family dynamics are as unique as the individuals themselves, most families strive to be healthy and functional.1 Humans desire love and sense of security, and who else can do that better than our families? We all want families we can trust. Being able to count on those closest to us resonates feelings of love and appreciation.

However, achieving a family environment that is happy, healthy, and loving this isn’t always so easy. And arguments and the occasional “head-butting” certainly occur in most families.

Your parents may be helping you through college, for example, but may still argue with you about financial situations such as getting a part time job while attending school.2 This could stem from many things such as guilt, miscommunication, or simply a bad day.

The thing is: it’s completely normal to have conflicts.

But what separates happy and unhappy family dynamics are the ways in which conflicts and arguments are handled, as well as the severity of arguments.

Achieving this level of happiness isn’t always easy. In fact, dissecting exactly why a family feels unhappy is quite the endeavor. Think about the following: how constant are conflicts? What about miscommunications and arguments over minor stuff?

The only way to be happy is to comprehend where sources of unhappiness lie.

It’s important to be conscious of these types of unhappy tendencies. This is an important first step.

When unhappy families start to really comprehend and adjust their lifestyles, everyone wins. Family members experiencing difficulties are more apt to reaching out in times of need if they are confident that their relatives will respond with love and compassion. Additionally, most day to day activities are easier and more enjoyable when we feel overall, happy.

Every family defines happiness differently.

It’s true that happy families are the closest families, but they are not all alike.3 This is because many family’s definitions of happiness differ. Some family groups require frequent dinners and rituals like game nights, and others are content with regular phone calls and the occasional family reunion.

Consider picking up a book on the subject of happiness!…

12 Books to Equip You with the Soft Skills in Demand

Out there in the rat race known as “the corporate world”, having the right soft skills will determine whether you make it or fall off the track. Fear not! Having these skills will separate you from the competition and put you ahead of the chase. There are some great self-help books that will identify the soft skills that you already have and help you to develop new ones.

Nobody Can Survive in the Workplace Without Soft Skills

Soft skills are personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. These are qualities such as communication, teamwork, adaptability, problem solving, critical observation, and conflict resolution. While you may already possess the foundations for these skills, there are a number of self-help books out there to help you hone your skills and acquire new ones. More often than not, you will be working with others which can at times be daunting. With a little light reading, you’ll be ahead of the game in no time!

Best Books To Start Honing Soft Skills

Peggy Klause, a Fortune 500 Coach, has built her business by providing consultation to individuals with great technical skills but limited interpersonal skills. This is typically what holds back people in their careers rather than any lack in technical or practical capability. Her coaching provides the steps required to master communication, self-management, and social aspects of the workplace.

The most common issue challenging young people in the workplace is the lack of soft skills. The issue is becoming greater as time goes by and is hindering much young talent because they don’t know how to accurately express and carry themselves. This book teaches how to behave in the workplace in a proactive and professional manner.

Frederick Wentz was hired to teach recently-released offenders the skills necessary for employment. After going through the motions of resumes and mock interviews, he realized that to truly benefit his students he had to teach them the soft skills that are essential to getting a job. He wrote this book to give guidance to those who are new to the working class.

Experience is not the most important…

7 Things Employers Care About More Than Your Degree

A college education is a wonderful asset. You get a foundation on which you can build a great career, life experiences, and friendships that can last a lifetime. However, a degree is not the be-all and end-all of what makes you an ideal job candidate. Employers are looking for other key factors that separate you from the crowd.

1. Hands-on experience

There is a world of difference between college experience and real world experience. As it was so profoundly put in The Secret of my Success, it comes down to this: “What you’ve got is college experience, not the practical, hard-nosed business experience we’re looking for.”

Education is great, but it doesn’t compare to being in the trenches, and employers know that. If you’ve got years of experience under your belt, it can often take the place of a degree or other form of education. And, it means you have references from people in the industry. This is by far the best way to separate yourself from the competition.

2. Ability to solve problems

It doesn’t matter whether you have an office job, work in a garage, or are out in the fields every day. Whatever your chosen career, you are going to encounter problems; it’s a daily part of every job. How you handle those situations will hold you in good stead, and problem solvers are highly prized.

Do you think laterally? Can you condense the problem into key issues that should be addressed? Do you take charge when faced with a challenge? If you can hold your head up high and demonstrate your ability to solve problems quickly and effectively, your future employer will find you very hirable.

3. Communication skills

Directly related to problem solving, how well you communicate can be just as important as what you’re communicating. It’s no good having a great solution to a problem if you’re afraid to speak up, or find yourself unable to distill your thoughts into actionable directions. Someone who can communicate well, and in a…

Tricks to Deliver an Impressive Presentation Every Time

According to Forbes, 70% of Americans agreed that delivering good presentations has been critical for their success at work.1 Delivering presentations and the communications skills which go along with it are a big part of not only work life, but college, and school too. Yet it is something a lot of us struggle with.

I recall one time, in college, I had to deliver a presentation on a topic, and the person before me was so pro, and covered so much of what I intended to cover, that I was left there, in front of the class mumbling and stumbling my pre-prepared speech. Fear of public speaking (Glossophobia) is so common that a stunning 75% of people suffer from it.2

Of course, fear of public speaking is only one aspect of why delivering a great presentation can be tough. You may find yourself having to condense weeks of research and pages of information and data into only a handful of minutes.

On top of this you could worry about the format and structure of your presentation (this is a big issue for me).

As it is important for professional or academic success, all these stresses can make presentations seem nightmarish. But they don’t need to be. In fact, your presentation and public speaking skills can be improved tenfold thanks to a handful of tips and considerations.

Many, many books have been published about tackling public speaking, many therapists specialize on helping people with this anxiety (of course, if you feel like seeing one may help, go for it!) but great improvement can be made without too much effort. See the tips below.

Drop Verbal Fillers

Every-day conversation and talk is actually pretty strange if you really pay attention and focus on it. We speak in run on sentences, sometimes don’t quite make sense, make points that don’t lead anywhere, and most of all, fill our talks with little verbal ticks and filler words.3

Filler words fill our spoken sentences with words like “um”, “ah” “like”, and “you know?” words, that don’t mean anything, and are only there so you can keep making a sound when you figure out what to say next. Its perfectly natural and pretty much everyone does them.

We are all so accustomed these elements of casual conversation that we don’t notice them. However during a high pressure activity like delivering a presentation we can start to become really aware of it all, and start to kick ourselves for making them. Whats worse, is that they may have a genuinely negative effect on our presentations.

The solution?

Get rid of them.

But how?

A good tip is to record yourself in numerous conversations, then repeatedly listen to them. This will make you much more aware of how you use filler words and will be good step towards dropping them.

Though we don’t like silences, sometimes not saying something for a second, and taking a breath may make you sound more confident than filling your presentations with fillers.

If you need a little bit more help, there is actually an app…

40 Communication Skills for Lifelong Success and Happiness

How many times have you heard that good communication is important, without being told what that actually means?

This article will give you tons of helpful, specific communication skills that you can start learning right away.

Being able to communicate better could:

  • Improve your relationship
  • Help you get along better with family and friends
  • Reduce feelings of social anxiety
  • Help you to get the career you want
  • Make other people enjoy speaking to you more
  • Increase your self-worth
  • Allow you to help others more effectively
  • Reduce conflicts and arguments

Are you ready to seriously boost your communication skills? Let’s go.

Communication…

If You Only Focus on What You Say, You Don’t Really Understand What Communication Is

Communication is the backbone of human civilization. Without it the world would become bizarre. Humans survived for so long because they developed the most important skills that let them overpower other species.1 Since the ancient times to the present times communication played a key role in deciding the fate of humans.

Today also communication is very vital especially looking at the need of communication in corporate culture, workplaces and various industries etc.

An effective communication directly relates to how well you have conveyed or received a message from other person be it via phone, email or social media. Success of every individual directly relates to his/her ability to effectively communicate both verbally and non-verbally. Both verbal and non-verbal communications are an important part of human life because it shapes an individual’s interaction with others in interpersonal relationships, business, finance as well as personal success. Not only this but communication plays a very vital role in an individual’s physical and psychological well-being.

So the first step to enhance positive communication and nurture relationships an individual has to start understanding the various aspects of verbal and non-verbal communication and also the vital role both forms of communication plays in successful interactions with others.2

Verbal communication helps clarification.

Verbal communication is any kind of communication that involves words, signal, spoken or written. Conversation with your friends, colleagues, seniors at college, office or in a meeting, reading newspaper in the morning or watching morning news or texting via mobile are all different kinds of verbal communication. Verbal communications is generally based on a language that varies in different geographic areas.

Verbal communication is required to inform other individuals of our need or to inform or impart knowledge. In verbal communication the most important aspect is clarification. This is because clarification helps in resolving issues where an individual don’t articulate himself clearly or his words…

If You Want to Be Successful at Work, Polish Your Communication Skills First

Most of us spend the majority of our day communicating with people at work, but we rarely stop and think about whether or not we’re actually good at communication.

With any other skill, you’d be constantly looking for ways to grow and develop.

So why not communication?

It’s been shown that businesses with effective communication are 50% more likely to have lower employee turnover 1. Good communication skills also make work more enjoyable, reduce the risk of projects going wrong, and reduce workplace conflicts.

It takes hard work and dedication to learn to communicate well. Start with the essential workplace communication skills below. We’ll talk about

  • How to manage conflict
  • How to listen better
  • How to deal with cultural differences
  • How to receive criticism
  • How to give helpful feedback

How to manage conflict

Managing conflict at work is all about staying calm, listening carefully to everyone’s point of view, and being as understanding as possible 2. Next time you’re hit with a difficult conflict at work, try the following steps:

  • Stay calm. If possible, take a short break from the conflict and do something relaxing/fun, like meditating, reading or taking a short walk. You’ll be better able to deal with the issue when you’re not angry or annoyed.
  • Listen. Give everyone involved in the conflict a chance to state their case. Use active listening techniques, like repeating part of what somebody says back to them, to show that you’re fully engaged.
  • Be understanding. Show that you can empathise with your coworkers. Instead of saying, “Why wasn’t the report finished on time?”, say something like, “I understand that you’ve had a lot on your plate and might be struggling.”
  • Never make it personal. Instead of saying, “You’re always late…