Ghosting Jobs and Colleges

ghostsIt is still three weeks until Halloween, but this is a ghost story that appears all year. I wrote about professional ghosting last year. It started as a term about the dating world. Then it moved into the office world and finally into the world of higher education.

The labor market is tight and some job seekers are disappearing like ghosts from the hiring process. Indeed.com surveyed employers and found 83% had experienced applicants disappearing without letting the employer know why. Ghosting has dramatically increased in the last two years. The median age of ghosts is 34, so it's not just kids just out of college.

Ghosts disappear from a scheduled job interviewss and stop replying to recruiters or hiring managers. But the scary groups (about 19%) disappear after initially committing to a verbal offer but never signed the paperwork, and 22% accepted the offer and did not show up to work on their first day.

Why? 40% of those surveyed did it because they received a better job offer.  Poor communication with the hiring party was another major reason why candidates disappeared. About a quarter of the ghosts said they just were not comfortable telling the employer they changed their minds. 

How does this compare to ghosting students? Like the tight job market, applying to college is easier these days and schools are eager. Eighty percent of today’s college freshmen applied to at least three colleges and one-third applied to seven or more colleges, getting accepted and taking a pass isn't unusual.

Jeff Selingo reported that beyond prospective students ghosting a college, "Would-be students and their Gen X parents are no-shows or altogether skipping campus tours and open houses in the pre-application phase."

Student athletes are also ghosting colleges after acceptance when a better deal shows up. 

Some of the reasons are the same. A better offer, which can mean a better school or more financial aid. Poor communication with admissions or better communications from another school is also a reason. And, like those job ghosts, some are not comfortable telling the college that they changed their minds. 

For higher ed, the scary group is those that go through the entire admissions process including tuition and then don't show up for the start of the semester.

There are also just fewer possible students available. An admissions counselor writes
"This is my summer of 2019 takeaway: Higher education has fully entered a new structural reality. You’d be naïve to believe that most colleges will be able to ride out this unexpected wave as we have previous swells. Those who saw modest high-school graduation dips by 2020 as surmountable must now absorb the statistical reality: Things are only going to get worse."

Another version of ghosting is the practice of sneaking into college classes without officially enrolling. In my college days, auditing a class you weren't enrolled in was an accepted practice, usually with permission from an instructor. Steve Jobs is one of those famous ghosts before the term was used who dopped out of Reed College and then started dropping in on interesting lectures. Is it stealing an education or admirable ambition?

MUCH MORE 

Do You Want To Be Forgotten?

painting
The Past (forgotten-swallowed) by Alfred Kubin, 1901, via wikiart.org, Public Domain

I don’t think the vast majority of us want to be forgotten. We do a lot of things to try to be remembered: take photos; post things on the Internet; have a headstone with our name.

But there is this idea that what we do online never goes away, and some people would like that part of their life to be forgotten.

Many people have posted things online they regret, so they delete it, but somehow it still exists. Celebrities and politicians have learned that by the time you delete that stupid tweet the damage is done and other people have already copied and taken screenshots of it. 

For younger people who have grown up with the internet and social media, the possibility of stupid/embarrassing/incriminating content is much higher since the filters in their brains had not matured. A friend who deleted her Facebook profile recently discovered that friends were getting friend requests from her and that in a search her Facebook profile link still shows up.

Plus, there is “public information” about you online: phone numbers, addresses where you have lived and currently live, that DUI you got, and that political candidate donation you made.

Do we have a right to be forgotten online? The “right to be forgotten” is something that is taken more seriously outside the U.S. It has been put into practice in the European Union.

Google has won a legal case in the European Union over the so-called “right to be forgotten,” a concept that allows people in Europe to request the removal of old news from the internet which might be harmful to their reputations or is just very embarrassing. The EU’s highest court has ruled that while Google must delist links in Europe, it doesn’t have to do the same globally.

It’s not an easy issue to decide. Your first thought might be that, of course, we should have the right to delete our own posts online. And what about content about us posted by others? There are immediate collisions between the right to freedom of expression and how it crosses with the right to privacy. Do you want politicians to be able to scrub their online history of things they said and regret,  or views they once had and have altered? Would a right to be forgotten diminish the quality of the Internet through censorship and revisionist history?

The ruling is a win for Google, as it puts new restrictions on a 2014 European Union court decision that forced Google to use location information to "geoblock" users from seeing links that were requested to be removed. But France's privacy agency, the CNIL, hit Google with a 100,000-euro fine in 2016, hoping to compel the company to "de-reference" disputed URLs on all its search engine domains worldwide, not only those in Europe.

But the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of 2018 said that the public can make a request to any organization "verbally or in writing" and the recipient has one month to respond. Google had argued that the obligation could be abused by authoritarian governments trying to cover up human rights abuses were it to be applied outside of Europe. Google was supported by Microsoft, the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the UK freedom of expression campaign group Article 19, among others.

Do Americans have a right to be forgotten (AKA the "right to erasure")? Not yet.


SOURCES

npr.org/2019/09/24/763857307/right-to-be-forgotten-only-applies-inside-eu-european-court-says

bbc.com/news/technology-49808208

gizmodo.com/google-wins-eu-case-over-right-to-be-forgotten-laws

What Is Your What3Words Address?

The geocode system called what3words was launched in July 2013, but I only discovered it this year. In January 2018, Mercedes-Benz bought approximately 10% of the company and announced what3words support in future versions of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience infotainment and navigation system.

You can find your own address or any address and find out about using the address at what3words.com/using-your-address/  

What3words is a geocode system for the communication of locations with a resolution of three meters. The company story is at what3words.com/our-story/.

What makes What3words differs from most other location encoding systems in that it displays three words rather than long strings of numbers or letters. It encodes geographic coordinates into three dictionary words and the encoding is permanently fixed. For example, the omphalos of Delphi (believed by the ancient Greeks to be the center of the world) is located at "spooky.solemn.huggers".

I took a look at the New Jersey Institute of Technology campus and found that "narrow.jeeps.amuse" locates the entrance I used to my old office on campus, but being accurate to 3 meters, What3words codes "smoke.trail.sticks" to the Central Ave. entrance of that building.

What3words has a website, apps for iOS and Android, and an API that enables bidirectional conversion between what3words address and latitude/longitude coordinates. As the system relies on a fixed algorithm rather than a large database of every location on earth, it works on devices with limited storage and no Internet connection.