Curses!

It wasn’t supposed to be like this… an invoice was “supposed” to be paid on Friday and ease some pressure, but that won’t happen till next Friday now – and this week is the turn of the month when a few things fall due.

I had a great week of adventure last week – donations made, micropatronage, albums sold, meals bought for me, all accompanied by great conversation, love and support, thank you all very much.

I mostly enjoy this style of living, but occasionally I still get a cold sweat when it looks like it’s not going to work out the way I want it to and I’m going to have to face some embarrassing loss of face about not being able to keep a commitment. I was having one of those a minute ago, that’s why I’m writing now.

More suggestions welcome. Still open to bits of work as detailed last week (nothing came of this – interesting, don’t know if it’s that people can’t pay that immediately, or they just don’t have stuff for me to do).

Donations & micropatronage do work best for me when direct to my bank – avoiding the paypal clearing cycle.

However, purchasing stuff still helps too.

And just feeding me earns you a well-bent ear.

Will blog, make art, sing, play, tell stories, hold spaces for food

AliveSo I’ve done some bits of paid work of late, but the earliest an invoice will be paid is likely to be Friday this week. I also have some lovely micropatron payments due over next weekend, thanks, beautiful people. Nonetheless, that leaves me with a sticky cash situation today. My oyster card is empty and while I’m confident of being able to pay for one more meal today, two is a going to be more than a stretch.

I am committed to not borrowing any money, even for the short-term of the next five days. That has only ever made things worse for me.

I am open to work for cash or immediate upfront payment – the things I do are summarized in the title of this post and explored further here but I’ll take other suggestions within the bounds of legality and decency (though my definition of decency is fairly broad and loose!) and you may have ideas of other things I could do right now that you’d swap cash for immediately.

I am open to gifts, sponsorship and micropatronage (especially if paid direct to my bank (details here), rather than through the sluggish means of paypal).

I’m also open to invitations to breakfast, lunch & supper, subject to me being able to get to you and not kill anyone on the way to breakfast because of low blood sugar…

And then there’s the possibility of making social art together that might encourage immediate cashflow to all involved, whatever that means.

I’m particularly focused on things I can do today and this week, but all other offers are welcome – beyond my commitment to my residency at #C4CC, I have few other calls on my time.

Postcards are still for sale here.

Music is still for sale here.

A note for those of you who worry. Thank you, I appreciate your care. I am loving this experience of living completely today and very grateful for the opportunity to do it. If I’d had a massive windfall at any point in the last few months, I’d have missed out on this part of an extraordinary adventure.

Le Web ’10 approaches

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Damn, I thought I’d written about this already, but I can’t see it.

I’m really pleased and grateful to have been asked to be an official blogger again at Le Web this year. I’m very much looking forward to spending some time in Paris and to meeting up with the unique mix of European and US people who gather there.

If you’re thinking about coming and haven’t made up your mind yet, you can book here.

This year, I’m more explicitly interested in Creative Collaboration and Social Art. I’m going to be looking at what kinds of collaboration this sort of mega conference actually encourages and I’ll be talking to as many people as possible about what they think of the concept of social art.

I doubt that I’ll be live-blogging sessions, but I’ll be at least doing a round up of interesting things I’ve seen. Of course, twitter will be buzzing and I’ll be taking as many pics as I can. Last year I had a Canon 7d on loan – it was lovely. Anyone want to supply me with something this year in return for much shameless pimping?

I’ll also be trying to understand from my fellow official bloggers how their online lives are maturing. There are a few of us who’ve been playing and working in this space for a long time now. What’s changed? What’s still fundamentally the same? Is there anything new happening or are we all getting a bit stale?

Oh and I might get to a party or two :)

Control again

I got an e-mail today saying:

“I am part of the web development team for XXXX where we are constantly trying to improve the http://www.XXXXX.com site’s user experience. Part of this improvement involves meeting our users’ expectations when they are referred to XXXXX.com from other websites. To achieve this we are trying to ensure that all inbound links to our site point to a page that is relevant and useful to the visitor and that the link has anchor text that accurately describes the page it is linking to.

On this page of your site http://perfectpath.co.uk/XXXX you have a link to XXXXX.com. To help us improve the usability of our site it would be greatly appreciated if you could change the link so that it has the following anchor text and links to the following page.”

No.

This is my blog. If you don’t understand that as an answer, then you’re not qualified to be in any web development team imho.

There are two parts to it:

1. My – I write it and keep it tidy. I write whenever and whatever I like. I update things if I think there’s some value in doing so. I don’t work for you just because I linked to your site. Content on my site doesn’t get updated just because you decide to reorganise your site. If you break your own links or are engaging in some SEO shenanigans, it’s really not my problem.

2. Blog – the web is not an extension of your content management system, it’s a place where I write on the internet, for myself and for people I know. I didn’t link to you for your benefit, I linked to you because I thought it might be useful to my readers at that time. I’m highly dubious that anyone will look at that post very much, the value to people who read this blog has deteriorated over time anyway. Yes there are interesting things in my archives, but my post linking to you isn’t one of them, it was just a “Here’s what I did today” post.

I can’t say much more without going into details that would reveal who the e-mail came from. Gah!

Integration rather than compromise

I was talking a while ago about compromise in the context of concentrating on social art and being a social artist – recognising that I had to do this, it was no good going back and compromising with other work because I’d only end up back here again trying to find an answer.

I am at the moment though just starting a few new things that at first glance look a bit more like standard social media consulting assignments.

Am I compromising? I don’t think so, I prefer to see it as integrating art and commerce, making something new. I can’t guarantee I’ll get it right, but I’m having a go.

I think I’ve seen where I needed to make a shift – to move from avoiding the bits of social media consulting work that I’m qualified to do, but which aren’t obviously social art towards taking more of an artistic approach to clients and prospects who ask for advice.

One of the first lessons in consulting I got was “Always reframe. Never take any assignment as given” So I’m now committing to taking on assignments with the caveat that I will always turn them into some sort of social art. That I will talk about them in those terms, I will reframe briefs and open them up to the network. After all, my perceived value most of the time is that I am part of a large network (although along with that sometimes comes some confusion over network dynamics, talk of influentials, etc)

Obviously this has to be in collaboration with the client. I don’t want to keep the process hidden from them but neither can I simply expose every brief wantonly to everyone I know. But I think it’s important to show people how we work, showing by example how to engage with a network as well as telling them what they should do.

Do as I say *and* as I do.

The Social Art of Travelling across the USA

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Hmmm… that feels like a big title for something important. Well I suppose it is. In a way it’s what I’m thinking about all the time – how might I repeat the adventure of last March? Do I want to? (yes) Why do I want to? How to do it differently? What do I want to keep? What to I want to avoid?

And answering all those questions feel like issues of control. And what I learned last year is that what’s interesting in this space is what happens when you let go of control. What happens when you simply put yourself in a place with a few rules and structures ie where you can have only minimal control over what happens next? What happens when you willingly conspire with yourself to create an adventure where you end up in a hotel room in New York, writing on your blog that you don’t know where you’re going to stay in 3 days time when you arrive in New Orleans? What do you learn? What can you do differently if you come across this situation again.

Where’s the wisdom literature about this? Well it turns out that the great spiritual works boil down to life being a journey into the unknown and how you deal with the pitfalls along the way – but they do it at a very abstract level. There are principles in there that are useful, about staying in the moment, letting the process (God, the Tao, Flying Spaghetti Monster) happen, letting the universal power do it’s work and getting out of the way, surrendering to that power.

And then there’s movies. A much more socially acceptable way of exploring these ideas in the 21st Century than reading the Bible :) Pretty much everything is a Hero’s Journey, but some are more literally about a journey than others. Frankie and I asked on twitter the other day for favourite examples. We got:

Wild at Heart
Easy Rider
Apocalypse Now
Road to Perdition
The Odyssey
O Brother, Where Art Thou.
Jason & the Argonauts
39 Steps
North by NW
Africa United
Two-Lane Blacktop
Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid
Midnight Run
The Blues Brothers
Kings of the Road
Paris, Texas
Thelma & Louise

Just a random Friday afternoon selection – chuck some more in – when we’ve got a fuller list and an idea of which are most useful, I’ll run some screenings/conversations to explore this idea a bit further.

Umm… so why might this be important beyond simply making something beautiful?

Well, consider you’re an established FMCG brand for example. You know you want something like the Old Spice campaign. You buy the *theory* that you should be involving customers and engaging them beyond a 2010 version of a caption-writing contest, but you also know that this means ceding some control.

Yes, the C-word again. It’s what freaks the bejaysus out of people in businesses like that – we’ve all seen it: they want to do the new cool thing, they want to play in this space, but they sit at the edge of the playground afraid to join in.

But what if there was a safe way of doing it, of practicing it in such a way that you could bring it into your every day work – mightn’t that be a way of sliding along the spectrum towards real engagement? What if you didn’t have to do it at all, but you could just hear the story of someone else doing it, not in a packaged, polished, rationalised case study after the dust had settled, what if you could watch the people doing it in real time (and maybe join in and give them a hand if you had something they needed)?

Maybe?