Blog

Congruent feedback refers to the content, focus and words used in feedback. When feedback is congruent, the given information is directly related to what a person has asked for. It may be useful or not useful, it may be what the other wishes to hear or not, but it is directly related to the question or request. In-congruent feedback, on the other hand, can give information that may be important, but is either not related to the focus, or adds another focus. Some examples:

  • If I ask for feedback on a high level design, “Wow! But I am not going to support it with development!” is hardly congruent. The focus of the information is not on the design. And “Wow!” is hardly concrete enough to improve any design with. What such feedback does do, is leave a “black hole” of non-information that the receiver of the feedback can fill in (or not). I have learned not to interpret non-information (there is simply too often too much of it going around), but a lot of people will spend time and energy on trying to decipher non-information. A waste of time and energy.
  • If I inform a team that I will not be available for a while because of having too many other things to do, I have not asked for advice to keep my mental state sane. Nor have I asked for emotional support. And when I include the details of why I have things to do, that does not necessarily signify that I feel guilty for being away from the project for awhile. It could be, but does not have to. It could also be that I do not wish to leave others with a “black hole” of non-information. One can only ask why the details were given.
  • It is common in agile development practices to first develop a user interface, that will gradually be filled with more functionality over time. Such a first interface does not have much functionality, if any. One can provide feedback on the colours, on the placing of elements, and ask questions on how easy it was to implement, whether there have been hurdles, what formats are required to link new functionalities in and the such, all focused on what is there and known at the moment. It is not congruent to focus on details of what is not there yet, and it can leave the maker with feelings of insufficiency.
  • If a person asks for more information on a by the project desired end-state, “xxx technology is THE future” is not really useful in the context of making a grounded detailed project plan, but it can be congruent, unless it is an “my agenda” attack, then it adds another focus. On the edge, this one.

In-congruent feedback and information does not have much to do with learning how to communicate better, nor with applying some formulated sentences that do not sound authentic, nor with how to lower barriers (of others). The words necessary for congruent responses are (usually) already in the givers' vocabulary and can come out of mouths (or keyboards) authentically once one puts oneself in the shoes of the receiver of the information. In short, it has to do with a lack of empathy, and often also with (perceived) power plays. But what will there be first, the chicken or the egg? One can practice empathy by thinking first, and considering self, other and context before producing feedback (or meta-communication).

  • In a simple contradiction a person says two things that contradict each other straightforwardly: “I do, but I don't”. It consists of assertions that are incompatible, but are at least out in the open, and the receiver can ask.
  • A paradox is a special kind of contradiction, where the incompatible statements exist on different “logical levels.” That is, one of the statements is part of the context of the other statement, as is the case in the first example above. These are significantly more difficult to decode and comment on.
  • A double bind is a special kind of paradoxical communication in that it is a paradox with two additional rules, giving four total requirements:
    • A verbal statement
    • A contradictory (non-verbal) context
    • A rule that you are not allowed to meta-communicate
    • A rule that you are not allowed to leave the field

Meta-communication (communication about the communication) is the key out of all of these situations. In the case of a true double bind, a third person may be required, but meta-communication is still the key. Something like, “What can you say to me right now that your intonation, body language and facial expression will agree with?”, or just leaving the field as a form of meta-communication (in which case it wasn't a true double bind).


Taking it from gender and roles:

  • I do not wish for mental and power games. I do not wish to steal others' time and energy, and I guard mine. Respectful negotiations and keeping promises will do, and if promises can not be kept, those affected need to be informed and be given a choice. All open on the table.
  • I do not wish to compete. I wish to collaborate in solidarity.
  • I like to get things done.
  • I consider a sound strategy and an excellent project plan essential.
  • Likewise, I wish to value all of the work needed to get things done, not just what is in the business/grant plan.
  • I wish to work together with other women that also have a voice, or wish to practice their voice.
  • Power as a verb.
  • A lot of role overlap and shared responsibility and accountability.

Hence, an all-women team in which women returning to and women starting with programming, can come and play and form their own templates of how to get things done. Other genders also welcome, including men interested in finding other templates.


Native Hawaiian culture acknowledges and respects mahu, those who embody both male and female spirit. Navajo culture recognises and revere nádleehí, two spirits, both a boy and a girl. Everywhere one finds cultures that know and acknowledge more than two genders. Not so in western culture. Even when seemingly doing so, it is a two-sided story, a binary mindset. The use of the word “gay” assumes three things: that there are only two sexes (male/female), two sexualities (gay/straight), and two genders (man/woman).

Gender role is thought to be “a set of expectations associated with the perception of masculinity and femininity.” Meanwhile, sociologists distinguish between masculine cultures and feminine cultures and are bending over backward to explain that the intention of the distinction is not to trigger a strong association with gender-related issues in society. The cultural dimension Masculinity – Femininity supposedly says something about the expected behaviour of men and women in any given society (or project). In more feminine projects for example, there is supposedly more role overlap and more focus on getting things done and less on status and power plays (domination).

Although “gender role” is one of a number of many social roles, it often leads to the perception of gender roles as natural (biologically derived, or historically confirmed, and thus valid). Such an (subconscious or even unconscious) approach contributes to the formation and fixation of other structures: Gender stereotypes and gender projections. In the west this seems to be a long-term problem, perpetuated by patriarchal internalisations and received benefits thereof.

  • The stereotyping tries to put women in certain roles thought to be fitting their natural or traditional role (and limiting the perceived value of their work and their chances of promotion), and influences the interpretations made of and assigned significance to what women just said, wrote or did:
They are indirect. They are passive-aggressive. They are loving and caring no matter what. They give emotional support. They need emotional support.
  • The projections serve the re-interpretation of what women say, do or write that is disturbingly different than the stereotype expectation, through the lens of existing patriarchal status and power templates:
They are trying to dominate! They are trying to replace us! They are generalising on men! OMG, she's a FEMINIST!

I am not. I am ambitious in that I wish to be part of evolving other templates that work for self, others and context. I agree with Mary Beard, power is a verb, not a noun or attribute. Not a push of will, can't be wielded, not something to be “in” or to “have”. Instead, it can be a verb, associated with solidarity and collaboration, and used to get things done.

→ Read more...

Lots of people have told me over time, that anyone can do project management. So what does it involve? In general, it consists of applying “quick fixes” to problems which typically prove to be ineffective and can sometimes produce disastrous side effects. How to make *that* happen?

→ Read more...

This old-fashioned horror anthology isn't terrifying or scream-inducing; instead, it's closer in spirit to the moody, clammy, atmospheric English movies of decades past, and parodies thereof. I am again reminded of Dr. Strangelove.

→ Read more...

IBM researchers at Black Hat USA 2018 announced their development of DeepLocker, a proof of concept to raise awareness of AI-powered threats, demonstrate how attackers have the capability to build stealthy malware that can circumvent commonly deployed defences, and provide insights into how to reduce risks and deploy adequate countermeasures.

DeepLocker has changed the game of malware evasion by taking a fundamentally different approach from any other current evasive and targeted malware.

  • Malicious payload is hidden in benign carrier applications, such as a video conference software, to avoid detection by most antivirus and malware scanners.
  • AI makes the “trigger conditions” to unlock the attack almost impossible to reverse engineer.
  • The malicious payload will only be unlocked if the intended target is reached. It achieves this by using an AI model that can use several attributes to identify its target, including visual, audio, geolocation and system-level features.
  • It is virtually impossible to exhaustively enumerate all possible trigger conditions for the AI model, this method would make it extremely challenging for malware analysts to reverse engineer the neural network and recover the mission-critical secrets, including the attack payload and the specifics of the target.

Long story short, while a class of malware like DeepLocker has not been seen in the wild to date, these AI tools are publicly available, as are the malware techniques being employed — so it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing these tools combined by adversarial actors.

→ Read more...

 
 
  • Last modified: 2019/05/17 08:41