Thursday, October 23, 2014

Choosing referees, and supervisors


Making a choice of who to contact to act a referee and give you a recommendation (for a job, or to further one's education), can be a headache sometimes.
I've had this problem before, and currently see a number of my friends and students going through the same dilemma.
Who qualifies as referee/reference? A person who can be asked for information about another person's character, abilities, et cetera. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
I've learnt that, it is not as clear-cut a choice, as it seems to be.
Here are some tips:

  • Consider the job, or course you intend to read. This makes it easier to choose a referee who has considerable experience in that particular industry (i.e. for the job application), or field of study (i.e. for the intended course of study).
  • For job applications, an former boss is ideal, as they can really give the needed information on a your abilities and attitude.
    If it's for an entry position, and you do not have any work experience, relations and acquaintances can make the recommendation.
    If the requirement for such an entry position is a university degree, then the you would have to fall on former lecturers to recommend you. This can be a lecturer who taught you a relevant course, the intended course of study or job expects you to have knowledge of. It can also be your final year project supervisor, or a supervisor for any project you undertook as a student.

This brings me to the issue of 'choosing' a supervisor.
Most institutions in Ghana, choose supervisors for students. Sometimes students (i.e. Postgrads) get to choose their supervisors.
I've had a number of encounters with students who had wished to have a particular individual as their supervisor, and as such were disappointed with the choice their institutions had made for them.
As a student, choose a supervisor who has a keen interest in your research/ project. This can be a published researcher/expert in your research domain. The advantage is that they can guide you to make the best out of your research, by making worthwhile contributions.
Choosing someone you are 'comfortable' with does not always help you as a researcher, or with your finished project. There have been instances where projects are assigned to supervisors who are not interested in them and so just 'manage' their given roles till the end of the project. Others also do not have a clue what the research/project is all about, and the student is left to fend for himself/herself, like a lost sheep with no shepherd.
Other times, the case is reverse, where you have a student choose a project or research area they are not interested in, and expect their supervisor to do all the work.
That. Won't. Happen.
For now, these come to mind. If you have any other comments, please don't hesitate to share them via the comment section. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mobile, Trust and Privacy

Photo Credit: McKinsey Global Institute

The proliferation of mobile phones in Africa is pretty overwhelming. Almost (used advisedly) everyone owns one. Ghana has a 100% mobile penetration; 53/100 people have Internet-capable phones[1]. This has made it a tool for development in terms of commerce, governance, learning.
A nagging challenge however, has to do with the security of mobile phones, and the protection of the data, and privacy of users of mobile technologies/telephony. This has made telcos, and companies that use mobile technologies to deliver services, to be on their toes, as they ensure the protection of their users’ privacy and data.
Countries are also looking at data protection vis-a-vis national security, especially after the Snowden revelations. They therefore have data protection laws that govern how the protection and use of their citizens’ data by telcos, and companies are done. Ghana has a Data Protection Act that is 2 years old. However, I do not think ALL African countries have the same laws. This can be difficult if an organisation is operating in different countries. A question therefore is how feasible it is for countries to come out with consistent laws to safeguard the privacy of users’ data[2].
Also, though measures are being put in place by service providers and organisation with regard to privacy and data protection, the Terms and Conditions are really long and confusing to the end user. There’s therefore the need for such organisations to make these terms understandable, and concise. Further education has to be given to customers to really understand how important it is to protect their privacy, and not just depend on telcos and companies to do it for them.
Mobile commerce (m-commerce) has taken off in Africa with the speed of light. It is a phenomenon that has really improved businesses across the continent; connecting urban areas to the country sides. A couple of security questions come to mind:

  • How secured are mobile communication channels?
  • What are some limitations of mobile phones that make them susceptible to infiltrations?

References:

[1] Lions go digital: The Internet’s transformative potential in Africa. Full Report from McKinsey Global Institute Analysis. Accessed 21st September, 2014.
[2] Transcript: IGF2014 Session on Mobile, Trust and Privacy

NOTE: The above post is a copy of my mid-course assignment for the Internet Governance class I am currently taking.

Friday, August 1, 2014

God's Supermodels

As Christians, we need to remember that God's perfect love is not only for our benefit.
A model wears clothing to attract attention to the designer's creativity. The model displays the designer's work, but the designer's reputation, not the model's, is on the line.
In the same way, as Christians, we model God's love, whether or not we realise it. People watch us, and what they see affects God's reputation for loving His creation. If we claim to follow Christ then wear the world's twisted style of love, we drag the name and character of our Lord in the dirt.
For this reason, we must ask ourselves, "Am I modeling the love of Christ? Do my motivations and actions in this relationship reflect the perfect love God has shown me?"
How would you answer those questions right now?

Excerpt from Joshua Harris' book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye.