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I’ve been through four crowd-funding campaigns myself now. It’s not an experience I would heartily recommend to friends, although I think a lot more learning has been done now about what works. I was, at times, turned into a link-spouting push-marketer of the worst kind, but I also got to do some cool stuff and was glad to have involved a large group of people in helping make things happen and I learned a lot about the actual value and perceived value of my work.
That aside, I see three of my pals engaged in the closing stages of their campaigns and I suggest you have a look and see if there’s anything there that floats your boat. They’re all fun and worthy of support in my view – I present them here in closing date order – if you can give them all a fiver it would make me smile and make some goodness happen in various bits of the world. Thankyou.
|Phil Campbell wants to put social-software enabled plasma screens in independent retailers in Nottingham, from cake shops to barbers and it’s all open-source based on Raspberry Pi.
closes just after midnight UK time on Friday 24th/Saturday 25th.
|Debbie Davies will be taking an interactively-illuminating spaceship to Burning Man 2013. I have actually sat on some of the timber she’s going to use to build it!
closes just *before* midnight UK time on Saturday 25th/Sunday 26th.
|James Governor is turning an old warehouse into the Shoreditch Village Hall providing a focal point for the startup community – there are plenty of places to hangout or work in Shoreditch but most have some corporate agenda – this one’s for the folk.
closes late on Friday June 7th UK time.
This is a not a very interesting post demonstrating something that’s a bit mind-blowing. I’m writing this in Fargo, the web-based HTML5 outliner from Dave Winer’s new company. It hit version 0.54 today and now includes posting to a wordpress blog.
So I’m trying it out. I mean, I’m trying out the wordpress functionality – I’ve been playing with Fargo for a little while now. It has all the thought-organising outlining power of the OPML Editor but it just sits on a web page and stores the actual text file in my Dropbox account. This means I don’t have to start up a separate app and I can keep a bunch of outlines open at all times in the place where I’m doing most of my work – the files are autosaved every now and then (I just saw “SAVE” pop up in the sidebar)
Another thing I really value is the way new features are introduced. I haven’t had to install anything new (just give the page my blog details) and nothing is broken since earlier on today before the new version came in – I just reopened my browser and my outlines were there, just the same.
This from the Bromsgrove Messenger in December 1982, I guess. I do mostly remember this production for the thing the reviewer picked up where we repeated 14 pages of the first act because we got lost. I’m pretty sure I was hamming it up appallingly, and I probably was doing a lot of “face acting” but it seems to have gone down well.
I think it was during rehearsals for this that I had a meeting with the headmaster, who tried to drive any silly ideas about working in theatre out of my little head. “Much better to keep these sorts of things as a hobby.”
I’ve heard and read lots of people over the last couple of days telling us what Margaret Thatcher did to harm them and make their lives more difficult. Her sins are then recounted to make it clear how right this person is that it was her fault. But as that well-known “terrorist” Nelson Mandela said “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping that it will kill your enemies.”
Nonetheless, I have a lot of sympathy with those who are picking away at their old wounds. If you’d asked me in November 1990 (while I was honeymooning in Malta and desperately trying to find out what was really going on back in London)what reaction I’d have if she actually died, I’d have probably given you a list of reasons why I would enjoy dancing on her grave.
I joined the Labour Party at the age of 18, toward the end of 1983, partly in response to the horrendous election result in June of that year. I think I was told at home to “stop moaning about it and go and do something about it”.
As a recent school-leaver without a job and as a member of the Labour Party Young Socialists, I was active throughout the following year in campaigns to support the printworkers in dispute with Eddie Shah and supporting miners on strike through 1984 and ’85.
So all through the eighties I was involved and awake to what was going on. And all through that period, I hated Thatcher and the rest of the Government. But I can’t do that any more, it stopped working for me. This isn’t piety, it’s self-preservation.
Next Wednesday, while a coffin-bearing gun carriage trundles down Fleet Street to St Paul’s I’d like to do something other than the obvious choices of cheering or jeering.
I think we need to focus rather on the release of resentment and ways to find reconciliation, preferably without talking about MHT or her colleagues at all. So I’ll be holding Human Scale Conversations on those themes. If you’re interested in doing something different on that day, come along. I’ve not settled on a venue yet, but somewhere away from Whitehall and The City – maybe the weather will be kind and we can go somewhere in Hyde Park. I’ve put up a #wewillgather event and see what happens.
UPDATE/AFTERTHOUGHT I’m doing this in Central London, but if you’re not here on Wednesday, I’d strongly encourage you to organise you’re own event in a similar vein.
I spent a day last week at #unschool13 an unconference called by Simon Gough to “explore learning outside school together”. I qualified both as a parent of two young people who’ve had unconventional school experiences and as a witness to the learning powers of unconferences and gatherings like Everything Unplugged and of course #tuttle.
All were welcome and the right people were the ones who came. It was a really interesting and at times challenging experience. Just when I thought I was used to the uncertainty of the unconference format (after all, even the most wacky groups have a limited range of social interactions and odd ideas) we go and try doing one … with kids! I appreciated it being small enough to remain one conversation for most of the day.
The thing that struck me most was the similarity between the conversations we were having about unschooling families engaging with schools and education authorities; and those we have at other times about self-unemployed people engaging with corporate entities.
In both conversations, the people know that they’re doing something useful and valuable in working in a different way. Both sets of people believe that others would enjoy and prosper from following their way of life if they knew that it was an option.
The conversation went round in a few circles. Substitute the word “school” with “corporate” and you’ll see what I mean: “What should our relationship with schools be ? Should we be going in and using their facilities? What value might schools get from having us visit and work there? How do we do what we know is right and at the same time make enough money to pay our bills? If we don’t engage with schools but form groups of families to learn specialist things together, then aren’t we just becoming a school?”
So it got me thinking about what social aspects of my self-unemployed life map across. I don’t know, you tell me.
#tuttle-like meetups – I think that most home-schoolers do this kind of thing, getting together in a coffee shop and annoying the staff by sitting there all day.
#jelly and co-working – I’m not sure how much this happens, the equivalent would be people working on their own learning but having others nearby to help out, perhaps now and then co-operating on joint-learning projects. I think it would be interesting to create a C4CC-like space for unschoolers, but would that just be like a Summerhill-y kind of school?
unconferences – of course these start to bridge the gap between the employed and the self-unemployed – it would be good to see some young(er) people at unconferences in some other role than prodigy or hack-cannon-fodder. I’d also be interested to see an unconference that just was under-eighteens only.
consulting – the things we’re learning by being outside the system *are* valuable to those inside, but it’s sometimes difficult to quantify that value and to set up a contractual arrangement to exchange value that suits both parties well enough. I think we started to get there, especially with the first round of the Tuttle Consulting work. It’s more about knowledge-sharing perhaps.
Haven’t really got my head on straight since #ukgc13 on Saturday, so many lovely people, so much happened, moved forward, settled into a comfortable space. So here’s my list of blurbages:
0. I miss posterous because it really made it easy to getting people blogging after an event – the follow-up posts have been fewer this year and I’m sure it’s something to do with not being able to just grab a space and do it even for people without a regular blog.
1. Spam twitterbots are ruining the use of Twitter as a backchannel for events in real-time. As a record afterwards it’s OK but something must be done if we want real-time conversation around a hashtag.
2. The conversations could have been edgier for my liking. I worry that there aren’t enough “let’s kill this sacred cow” sessions being pitched, not enough argument, fighting, death threats, throwing of furniture, etc.
3. I think this is partly related to the fact that many people in this community started out as rebels and now they find themselves mainstream. It’s a difficult shift to handle and each individual reacts in their own way. If you have a keen eye for what’s not right, and are ready for resistance, it gets really difficult when people keep saying “yes, you’re right, let’s get on with it”. It’s a nice problem to have, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
4. I want more slots on the grid so that the keen people can chat away while the rest of us have dedicated space for napping and playing ukulele together.
5. I really should leave the gags to Dave Briggs, he does a smashing job, I end up going down embarrassing rabbit-holes.
6. I’m glad I recapped on the principles of open space at the beginning. It’s easy for us to slip into thinking that some of the rituals and traditions we’ve accumulated over the years have to be part of the process, they don’t, we should always be questioning whether they serve us, today.
7. I missed having Paul Clarke and Jeremy Gould around.
8. I’m really glad to see service-specific camps springing up, I’ve been to a #librarycamp and #bluelightcamp. I’m looking forward to #housingcamp. I’ve also been talking to people recently about running unconference/open space for individual organisations as a means to stakeholder engagement or for organisational learning.
9. Please don’t make me choose between Chicken Curry and Bangers and Mash for lunch.
10. This will be remembered as “the one where Lloyd played his ukulele to an audience of stuffed rats while a man danced the Charleston.”
The only people who can possibly not have seen or heard about Amanda Palmer‘s TED Talk from last week yet are those who resist words of wisdom on principle, or perhaps those poor bastards who restrict their internet time to “serious stuff”.
If you’re in one of those categories and you read this blog, a) I’d be surprised and b) get over to her site and have a look, go on. It firmly places AFP and her hubby as the goto motivators for creative people of the here and now – “Make Good Art …and… Let People Pay You For It!”
Anyhow, the first time I heard her talk about her experience as the eight-foot bride and how that informed her relationship to her “audience” now, what I said on twitter in response was “thank you for reminding me that being a street performer is more than OK, it’s a job”
It’s a job, it’s part of my work. It’s part of my overall contribution to the happiness of my community, and I’m rewarded in many more ways than the pile of coins in my uke case.
I’ve been meaning to write something for a long time (actually it occurs to me every time I go out to play) about what busking has taught me about my business. But I couldn’t find a decent frame for it – it kept coming out as a translation from what I knew to be true to the sort of language that “business people” understand (yikes!) and too much was being lost in translation.
So here’s what it’s really been like for me. You do your own translation.
My first sober, adult experience of busking was on the tube. It’s not the same as the street, but I had a licence for a year and it gave me a good grounding in just standing there with my ukulele, showing up, playing, singing, getting tipped, getting ignored, getting occasionally and very mildly abused. I also got to meet a few other buskers at the swap-over time, made some friends, was able to talk about the common nuisances of being a tube-busker. And I heard a story over and over that made me uncomfortable. It was that people are horrible, they hate buskers, they don’t want us there, they think we’re beggars, they’re mean and ungrateful and we give much more than they reward. Which wasn’t really my experience, I’d already clocked that the best way to get through a two-hour session playing at, say, Bond St, where you’re in a tunnel between the platform and the escalator hall, so everybody’s always zipping past, is to lock-on to people and smile and give your performance to them, give your all to that one person right now and when they’ve gone, let them go. And yeah, some of them are grumpy and embarrassed and ignore you or tell you to “Shut up!” or “Get a Job!” but then when I had a job and I was always on the way somewhere else and I saw someone spending their time doing what they love, I probably was a bit grumpy too. The other thing is, you’re in the middle of one of the busiest transport networks in the world – people don’t go there for entertainment, they go there to get somewhere else, quickly.
Still, the money was rubbish. And I kept trying to find some correlation between what I was doing and what ended up in the pot. And there wasn’t any really, one day certain songs would “work”, the next day the same songs would bomb. Some days I’d get an endless stream of 10p and coppers, others, nobody would give anything except for one guy who tossed in £5. I kept telling myself to give up trying to work it out, but then when I was there on the pitch and my stomach was rumbling and I’d already laid out for a tube ticket and I somehow had to fix it so that I could make them get that money out of their pocket and into my uke case. But that never worked. I gave up my tube licence mainly because of the way the scheme was managed, but also it was just too hit and miss as a means of income.
And so I left it. I stopped busking for a couple of years. And in the meantime I did other things, I put into practice lots of ideas I had about organising without organisations, I tried out crowdfunding for projects and I couchsurfed and I went coast-to-coast across the USA twice with the help of my online social network. And then I went completely homeless and hobo-style and spent a year on the road going where you and the digital world took me and paid me and fed me and gave me (some very nice) rooves over my head.
And while I was on the road that year, I picked up the busking habit again. I’d found in the USA that carrying my uke around everywhere was a great social opener, so why not put it to use when I was on my own?
And this time it was different. I was different. I had a different attitude. I can’t pretend that I instantly transformed, I still had a rumbling tum and empty pockets much of the time and I *was* doing it for the money, but I was less attached to making it happen, making them get their money out, making them put it in the pot. Something just clicked, on the street, in a way that I hadn’t felt in the tube, that the amount in the pot was none of my business until I got to the end of the set. And how it got there was none of my business either. My job was to entertain these people to the best of my ability and trust that I would be rewarded. It took some practice, I’d often drift off into control-mode again, but I kept pulling myself back, like a meditation, to remembering that my job there is to collect smiles – to get as much eye-contact and human connection as possible in the few moments from when they approached to when the passed. And I regularly make about twice as much as I ever did on the tube.
I also have way more fun and if there is any key factor that correlates with how much money is there at the end, it’s how much fun I had. I’ve learned too to just let people give. Some people want to give me food and drink – when I started out, I’d decline, politely, letting them know that I can’t eat cookies, for example. Now, I take it all with a smile and thanks and pass on the stuff my digestive system can’t cope with to the guys and gals who are sitting out on the street who don’t have a ukulele or a talent for singing.
So what I’m really grateful for, Amanda, is the reminder that my job is not what I think it is. My job isn’t to rake in the dosh. My job is to collect smiles, human connections, hugs, and to generate conversation, laughter at or laughter with and to ignore the hecklers. No matter what it is that I’m doing, those are the metrics that count.
I’ve become comfortable lately saying “I don’t do *anything* full-time”. And I certainly couldn’t busk full-time, my fingers and voice wouldn’t hack it. But I like to get out there from time to time and I’m looking at ways of doing street-like performance that gets the intimacy but doesn’t require me to freeze. And so I try also to carry the spirit of my street performance into all the work I do, give my best and let people give back what they want to.
Thanks, see you on the street.
Does anybody have a lloyd-shaped hole in what they’re doing around the weekend of 30th that would help me justify a trip up? Perhaps at the end of the week before, given that the Friday is Good Friday. For the uninitiated, most lloyd-shaped holes include working with groups of 2 to 200 (or more!) to have amazing conversations and get amazing things done and/or ukulele-accompanied warbling and/or talking about creating value through social media/networking/technology/conversation and many other things besides.
The ideal solution would include a fee, accommodation & travel expenses and of course I’d love it if you’d come with me to see Dr Who and The Master lock horns on Saturday afternoon!
Sitting in groups of traditional marketers or comms people I often groan. The most likely trigger is hearing words like: “Social media is just another channel”
Yes, you can see social media as a channel, but if you treat it like the other “channels” that you’ve had in the past (TV, radio, press) you’re missing out on the secret magic.
What’s importantly different about social media is that they encourage many-to-many connections rather than one-to-one or one-to-many connections. The counting that goes on is all 1:1 or 1:M – how many followers do you have, how many people saw this tweet/ad/page/article/video. But what really counts, what really makes a difference is relationship, including the relationships that you foster with your media but aren’t part of yourself. This is social object territory – make stuff that other people use to connect with each other. Most traditional comms efforts are still focused on creating a relationship between the creator and their audience whereas the real value for the community as a whole is the potential for connection between members of the audience and that’s what the internet and social media unlock.
This is the magic of unconferences and #tuttle-like meetings too. They are designed to create connections between participants rather than building a dependent relationship between participants and the organiser. Traditional conferences want you to sit and listen and know how brilliant the organisers are so that you will buy subscriptions to their publication or pony up to come to the next event. They grudgingly give you more networking time because you are connected people who understand the value of having many, diverse, connections and you understand the power of conversation. But there’s a payoff in this for organisers – they want you to have just enough networking time to have your conversation-hunger satisfied, but not so much that you start to think that you can do without them and omniscience.
At an unconference or #tuttle though the whole point is about making connections and building relationships. Most newbies, when you ask them, think that they’re coming for information, but by the end, most know (even if they can’t articulate it) that what they really got was the benefit of conversation with fellow human beings and the potential for new actions that arise from the new connection.
Just quickly a bit of maths – In any group, the number of potential pairings is n(n-1)/2
(check it if you’re not used to this sort of numberwork – If I’m in a room containing n people, I can make n-1 pairs with others and there are n of us who can all do that. My pairing with, say, @danslee is the same as @danslee’s pairing with me, so divide by two)
At #commscamp13 there were 135 people – in traditional terms this would be quite a small gathering because we’d only be able to get our message to 135 people. But by focusing on connections and the relationships that result from that, we get (135 x 134)/2 = 9,045 – nine thousand potential connections being nurtured feels a lot more valuable than 135 people receiving the message through the channel, doesn’t it? Is it surprising that from those nine thousand pairs some amazing conversations happened? And that’s not even taking into account the three-way or four-way conversations that could have happened too.
That’s why I spend my time creating spaces where people can connect without being told what to talk about or when to talk and when to listen.