A recurring pattern in small organizations is to deviate from a healthy digital way of life. It happens because it is not their main focus and it goes unnoticed. If the newer laptop is not encrypted, it still works (and is even slightly faster). When meeting on a Zoom conference room instead of a self hosted Jitsi, the conversation happens and there is no warning that it could be recorded. And so on.
I’ve been helping those organizations long enough to notice the pattern. But there could be a way to fix it because most people working full time are willing to spend one hour a week focusing on digital tools. If there was an individual long term training program where they meet during one hour a week in person with a tech person, that would effectively cure almost all problems.
The tech person would be responsible to carefully prepare the meeting, like they would for a training session, to get the best of it. One hour is a short time and the topics must be carefully chosen to be the most important, those that will have the highest impact.
Weekly technical meeting agenda
30 minutes, practice
The participant is not focused on digital tools when the meeting starts, they have something else in mind and are likely in a hurry. The first part of the hour must be dedicated to them doing something switch their focus. There is not time to learn something new, the long term benefit is to use spaced repetition to ensure good practices are permanently memorized. Here are examples:
- Answering a Quizz from a MOOC
- Performing an exercise such as sending an encrypted e-mail, applying the procedure related to legal obligations regarding lobbying and transparency, RGPD or BCP etc.
- Simulation of a contact with a whistleblower, focused on how to switch to an encrypted conversation when possible
- Writing down the definition of a technical concept (Encryption, Tor, 2FA, E2E, metadata etc.)
15 minutes, learn something new
Out of all the tools, methods and concepts that the person would benefit from, pick the one that has the highest impact. The participant learns about it and performs an exercise to validate their understanding.
15 minutes, resolve problems
In between weekly meetings, the participant is invited to keep a list of technical problems they need to be resolved. It could be anything, ranging from “How do I load a new font in LibreOffice ?” to “Show me how to use Qubes”.
Trainer preparation checklist
Spaced repetition tracking
Pick the exercise that is due (earliest date is in the past) and is the most important. If more than one exercise have the same importance rank, sort them to select the most important and explain the rationale and write down the date. The rationale does not need to be objective and can change over time, reason why it needs to be articulated.
- Name of the exercise
- Importance (0 is very important, 1 is less important, etc.) for the person, with date of the decision and rationale
- URL to the full description of the exercise
- Date of the last exercise
- Earliest date of the next exercise == Date of the last exercise + Number of weeks since the last successful completion + 1
- Number of weeks since the last successful completion