All posts by Lloyd Davis

7 things you (workplace folk) should know about the #futureofwork – #wtrends14

I spoke yesterday at the Workplace Trends conference in London. The overall theme was Designing for Inclusion. Neil Usher (a confirmed, but lately absent, tuttler) got together a dozen fine people to present our thoughts in pecha kucha style (20 slides each, 20 seconds per slide). Under the stressful bondage of the format, I can’t be sure what I said, but the first half of what I intended to say was about coming to understand the need for less structure in working life, but that no structure at all meant nothing much would happen – that we have to introduce just enough structure to make something happen, and no more. If I remember rightly (ask someone who was there), I then I went on to talk about what people like me can tell people like them about what to expect in the future workplace.

I’m not so arrogant and narcissistic as to imagine that the future of everyone’s work will be just like mine is now, but I do believe William Gibson’s idea that “the future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed” and that the ways of working that the people I hang out with are developing will become much more widespread. I have no firm evidence, just an observed trend in that direction over the last ten years, that things we do are becoming more mainstream.

So here they are:

  1. We’ll work anywhere
    We recognise that no environment will ever be perfect, but we can make the most of any space that comes along.  Stop worrying about making somewhere that fits every need – keep it simple and we’ll adapt.
  2. But not necessarily the same “anywhere” everyday
    There is no single space or form of space in which people can best work.  There are times when conversation is required, there are times when the group needs to work quietly side by side and then there are times when everyone needs their own private space and total isolation.  So it can be anywhere, but it will not be the same anywhere all day everyday.
  3. Allow for user-driven co-creation
    Your staff are likely to be doing co-creative work outside of “work work” no matter what they do 9-5.  This might not be in a traditional creative form like crafts or singing in a choir, it could just as easily be learning through the co-operative playing of a game in a virtual world or being part of the building of a world-class encyclopaedia online.  We see ourselves as co-creators of our experience and of the things that matter in our world.  So we’d like our “anywhere” to be partly co-created with us and we would certainly like to be able to modify it together rather than waiting for someone else to sort it out.
  4. Remember that your people are highly connected
    People in any organisation are directly and regularly connected to their customers, stakeholders and competitors and they are connected with each other too.  They compare notes and they have worked in other places.  They know when their organisation is cutting corners or giving them a raw deal in comparison to their friends.  We want the best of what eveyone else has, but tailored through a co-creative process to our own current needs.
  5. Flexibility means “Small Pieces Loosely Joined
    No single individual or organisation has to do everything.  In fact, the best environments, those most flexible and conducive to creativity, come about when they are made up of “small pieces, loosely joined“.  We want to be able to pick’n’mix the elements of our working environment and be able to replace one element with another easily.  We don’t want to be locked in to any one furniture solution or combination just because it seemed like the best way of doing things yesterday.
  6. Balance homophily with diversity
    We learn a great deal about ourselves through exposure to diversity in our environment.  We get to see ourselves differently, reflected in the people we meet and work with.  But we also like to work alongside people with whom we share common ground.  Homophily means “birds of a feather, flock together”.   Help us to meet and work with other people, but allow us to be with our own herd when we want to be.
  7. Get behind tummeling
    Even when you do all this, when the pieces of the puzzle are laid out perfectly, it will not work in the way you thought it would.  When you gather people together, you never really know what is going to happen.  And that is good! It’s a feature, not a bug.  What you then need are a few people who will take on the role of holding the space and reminding people what they are there for.  This is not facilitation or management, not telling people what to do, rather, it is being the conscience of the group and creating a field in which the group can explore what they are there to do.  It requires a special sort of person – one who combines calm presence with the ability to motivate and inspire.  We call these people “tummelers” which comes from the Jewish tradition of having someone who encourages participation in festivities.  You know these people, they are the ones among you who not only *can* herd cats, they positively enjoy doing so.  Insist that your spaces include a tummeler.

Clubs

When #tuttle was attracting a crowd of about 80 people every week at the ICA, the old-school networking entrepreneurs came a-sniffing. “How can you do this?” they asked. “You’re supposed to keep people out, that’s how you make people want to join, then when you’ve created sufficient demand, people will be eager to pay to get in, but still you keep it exclusive and the demand and the prices grow and grow.” And I just said “I don’t know. I can’t be bothered with all that. If people want to come, let them.” And they continued to make a living at it and I didn’t make a bean. And I’m happy with that.

On the other hand, there were people who came and said “Oh, I know how to get you more people here. You should be having speakers and a theme every week and have a website so that people can join in online.” And I said “No. That’s not what I’m interesed in, thank you. If people want to come who can’t come, then they can start their own.” If I was feeling polite.

I’m still attracted to the idea of a club that’s just as big as it needs to be. It’s not for everyone and it’s not trying to be. But it’s also not keeping anyone out if they want to be a part of it as long as we’ve got space in the room. And if we don’t have enough space, perhaps we need a bigger room or another branch.

I’m thinking about this because I’ve been looking at ello which seems to want to be Facebook, but nicer, without the ads, but with no clear sense of what’s going to support mass participation other than ads and avoiding the question of how the current investors are going to make their money. There was quite a kerfuffle when it arrived, because we do seem to want something other than Facebook and Twitter and the rest, but this really doesn’t seem to be it.

And then along comes tilde.club which feels much closer to #tuttle territory. It’s not meant to be a social network. It’s just a server with a bunch of user accounts, like the account I had at University until 1996. Many of the users are re-creating that early web vibe, but others are just using it for writing again and the social aspects of simply writing and linking to other people’s writing are being explored and rediscovered. All just on one server. And only restricted because there’s only so many people you can support. If you want to do your own, then you can do your own.

When I suggested we call the London Social Media Cafe “The Tuttle Club” there were a few people who bristled at the word “Club” but I think it’s what I want. A club that has me in it. And my friends. And some people that I don’t know yet, but might find interesting to talk to.

So I bought the tuttle.club domain name. And it’s making me think.

Quotidien

I just caught myself thinking that I might settle down with a nice cup of tea and watch the telly.

This isn’t quite as bad as it once might have been. I wouldn’t actually have been watching a broadcast on BBC1 or anything like that. I’d have been choosing from something on Netflix. Or perhaps iPlayer. But at least I would have been choosing what I watched unlike the old days when we watched what they wanted us to watch.

Shocked at my unconscious move to passive consumption, I thought about writing something here. In fact I thought about a whole load of stuff I could write. And then I got to thinking about my favourite old blogging fantasy. That after a hard day’s work, I would eat my dinner and then instead of watching telly, I’d sit down and write about my day, about the things I’d thought and noticed. Every day. Well apart from, you know, a few days here and there. But really that I would have that sort of routine, that sort of everyday life where you do things every day.

And I don’t really. Or if I do, I resist doing things every day in order to avoid the pain of having an everyday life.

So I opened up my laptop and then before I knew it, I was scrolling through Facebook. Which, of course, is just a very slow crowdsourced version of watching telly. And then I finally got round to writing something and this is it. No wonder I don’t do it every day.

Hitched

Oh My!  I imagine that most of the people who read here will have seen the news last weekend or known anyway, but I got married to Laura Musgrave on 5th September.  And I’m chuffed to bits.

I first got married in 1990 just before I turned 26. I thought it was all about us – which means that primarily I thought the day was about me, but then I suppose that at the time I thought my life was all about me anyway.

Life has changed me.  Nearly 25 years later, I’ve done it again.  I’m privileged to come at it this time with that experience of what marriage is really about and what life is really for.  I’m very grateful for the first time round, and in particular, the two beautiful children that came from it – two young people of whom I’m immensely proud today.

Nick Holder was my best man and we went on a walk in the woods a few weeks ago as part of my “stag”.  He asked me while we walked, why I was getting married.  I said that I liked it, as a state of being.  I prefer it, as an idea, to living together without a public declaration and ritual and even all the legal stuff.  I like us being a unit – two and one.  I like introducing “my wife”.

It’s taken me ten years to come back to this position.  When I first moved out in 2005, I was quite sure that I’d spend the rest of my life alone, or in long-term relationships that didn’t involve public commitment and children.  But that has changed very very slowly, over the years.

I’ve done a lot of growing up since then and so a couple of years ago, after Laura and I had been together for a year or so, and despite me being on the road at the time, I felt ready to say that, although I didn’t know how it might work out, I would very much like to spend the rest of my life with her and have another family.

A year later I asked her formally, in the Starbucks in the King’s Road which was the place she claimed she first took a shine to me.  And now here we are, sitting in San Francisco on the first day of our honeymoon.

Lots was said at the wedding about love and marriage, what it means  to us and to all the people who were there.  Expect more details in the in-between blogging time I get while I’m away, but my wife has just arrived in the coffee shop!

And thank you, and much love to all those who helped me get here.

Blog like nobody’s reading

I’ve been trying to do this of late – I named my fargo blog with the phrase as a strapline. The idea is to just write freely instead of thinking about who’s reading and what they’re thinking. New bloggers often worry about who’s going to read what they write. We remind them that actually it’s much more likely that nobody will read it.

What matters much more is that I do write it.

I’ve been seduced a little this week by the new Twitter analytics, but really it’s just another set of bar charts for me to worry about. I tweeted out an insight though, earlier. I have 5k followers, more than many, fewer than many. There’s a metric that shows up in the analytics which is “impressions” it’s the number of times your tweet was seen by someone else – regardless of whether it was retweeted or not. For me, so far it seems that between 200 and 300 people are seeing each tweet. Obviously that’s not the same 2 or 3 hundred people each time, but it showed me what Twitter’s really like and so in a way it’s reassuring to see so few, because it puts the “engagement” into context. Engagement is when someone clicks on a link or looks at an image or looks at your profile or something, it’s also retweeting and favouriting. So if I tweet something and 5 people “engage” with it, if I’m counting that as 5 out of 5000 followers, it’s pretty shit, but if it’s 5 out of the 250 people who have interacted with it, it feels a lot better. I’m still being ignored by 4995 people, but being not engaged with by 245 people feels much better.

It’s insane. What a crazy thing to be sitting around thinking and writing about, when look, look at it outside, look where I am, look in the fridge at the lovely stuff I’m having for tea, remember the fun conversation I had with Dan this morning that’s going to be podcast tomorrow, remember the love in her eyes when she came back from the gym, go get some iced water and sit on the balcony and watch the river go by.

04/07/14 – Today at #tuttle

Some notes I made from today’s conversations which included @tonyhall @freecloud & @tibocut with a fortunate postscript one-to-one for me with @mistergough

The RFH was being used today for a graduation ceremony.  That chimed with my recognition that some people have “graduated” from Tuttle and that’s worth celebrating.

On the other side of the glass #tuttle
MayDay Rooms is a safe haven for historical material linked to social movements, experimental culture and the radical expression of marginalised figures and groups. It offers communal spaces to activate archives’ potential in relation to current struggles and informal research, challenging the widespread assault on collective memory and historical continuity. MDR is located in Fleet Street, Central London, but is informally linked in inspiration, collaboration and practice with an international network of common and concurrent initiatives.”

Thinking about archives as a way of seeing oneself through media but also recontextualising yourself – which I take to mean seeing what different things in you are reflected by your contact with archive materials.

Personal stories are much more interesting than the facts, which can be discovered for oneself – if you’re telling me a story about a stone that you picked up on a beach, the geology of the stone is the least interesting part (unless within that there is some personal connection).

There are always lots of little social things going on that no-one knows about.

What alternatives are there in the space between mesh networks and the “legacy” Internet?

Instagram and Twitter as a treasure hunt.  We leave trails of where we’ve been, what we’ve seen, what we’re doing for others to pick up and enjoy and follow the path.

What’s this #tuttle reboot all about? What is it that needs to be revived, what’s it for, what’s it supposed to do, has it done it already?

Watson at IBM – looks amazing, looks like magic – do those explaining how it works really understand it themselves?  What is the complexity under the surface?  How much do you get to know once you’ve “signed on the line that is dotted”?

Help me reboot #tuttle

The most frequently asked question about #tuttle is: “Is it still going?”  To which the answer is “Yes, still Fridays, still 10am-noon, still no agenda, currently on Level 5 at RFH”

And.  We operate on a much smaller pool of people, which means the possibility of more intimate conversation (I’ve had some doozies!), but also the risk of stagnation that lack of diversity brings.

I am often reassured that “it’s not about you, Lloyd, it’s about me:  I have work to do; I don’t manage my time well enough; I’d love to come but it’s just too far if I haven’t anything else in town; I’m always thinking about coming, it’s just that…”

I’m also reminded regularly that people do still long for space to be themselves, where no-one tells them what to do and they can talk about what they want to talk about without an expected outcome/output/powerpoint/post-its on the wall.  A thing that’s not about the thing but about the relationships and potential for things to happen that builds over time.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but talking to Jon Hickman for his article on Social Capital has helped me remember what a good thing this can be and how I don’t believe the time for it has passed.  Stories about online social networks spying on us and manipulating our streams to study our emotional responses as well as the constant drip, drip of acquisitions that lead either to sunsetting or unscrupulous use of personal data – these are the things we’ve talked about and organised against in places like #tuttle but my experience of the current crop of events is that these conversations are still squeezed into the breaks and space after the main speaker rather than the focus of getting together in the first place.

So how can you help?

Firstly, you can just come along.  No need to register or submit your details anywhere, just turn up at the Royal Festival Hall sometime between 10 and noon and chat (and bring someone with you if you want).

Secondly you can  help me develop a sustainable model for me keeping this thing going and making it better over time.  The main issue has always been that while others have built working relationships and created opportunities, I’ve had a massive injection of Social Capital which is hard to pay the rent with.  I also don’t really want to take money from outside the community while understanding that some people in the community don’t have a lot of money to give.

I’m looking at Patreon as a micro-patronage platform for subscriptions toward developing and rebooting the event.  Some of you have kindly “micro-patronised” me before – the difference this time is that I’d want to tie levels of support to some pretty specific goals and to allow for much lower donations per person.  Patreon offers both these functions.

In connection with that, you can help me by suggesting what those goals might be.  So far I’ve got:

  • Working with new venue(s);
  • Creating an online presence more worthy of 2014 than 2007;
  • Reviving Tuttle Consulting;
  • Setting up a marketplace for #tuttlers to sell their wares;
  • Doing other themed events for the community.

But I need to know what else?  What did you always wish would happen either at  or between  #tuttles if only somebody could take the time to?

So let me know what you think about any of that: Yes? No? Yes. but do it another way? No, but have you ever thought of?

Thankyou!