Itune out, drop off, turn in

Having read Neal’s post today and having had something of a blog binge earlier, I thought I’d catch up with the rest of the world and have a look at Itunes 4.9

Perhaps I wanted to wind myself up as an antidote to all the unravelling of ideas that I’ve been doing, I don’t know, but I wish I’d chosen something gentle like self-administered trepanning instead.

I’ve now walked away. I am calm. I have forgiven Steve Jobs, for now.

I cannot be arsed to add their elements to my feed. I cannot be arsed to join up and give them my credit card details so that I can put them straight on my podcasts metadata. I cannot be arsed to dig around to find out how to correct what’s already (half) there.

When at least three people approach me independently of each other and say, “I’ve been looking for your podcast on Itunes, but I can’t find it anywhere” then I shall contemplate doing something about it.

I’m glad my best podcast buddies are similarly cool.

Get to the point Lloyd

hovercraftThere’s actually something else I want to say about this “why I blog” thing. Blogging and podcasting have something really useful buried within them. They’re about ‘dialogue’ and dialogue is a (perhaps the) great tool for unlocking creativity.

When I blog or create a podcast, I’m initiating a dialogue on a couple of levels.

I’m conducting a dialogue with myself, usually with the motivation of understanding better what I think, what I’ve been doing, who I am, who all the people around me are. Regardless of whether anyone else reads/hears/sees what I’ve written/said/erm…y’know video’d, the process of deciding what to say, saying it and reflecting on what’s said has a great value in it for me as a personal knowledge management activity (let alone the emotional or spiritual benefit) – I know better what I know. Importantly, but often forgotten, I’m talking to myself in the future – tomorrow, next week, next year, on my deathbed (btw hopefully that’s way after next year) and I give myself the opportunity to commune with myself in the past to think about what I was thinking then to talk about it, and if I’m brave let it go, let it die so that I can give life to what I think today.

More obviously, I’m conducting an asynchronous persistent dialogue with a self-selecting, global group of people (blimey, now I know why I feel tired after a hard day’s bloggin).

Why is asynchronous important? Well, there’s a difference between a conversation I have face to face with someone and this, where I leave a message for others to find. I don’t get immediate feedback (which can alter what I’m saying as I say it) When I do get feedback, it is usually in the same asynchronous form (except when I meet readers/listeners face to face). This gives us both the chance to step back from the subject-matter, from the message, and to think about it before responding…or not.

Persistent – this stuff stays around, we can pick up the dialogue at any time, because all the bits are still there (Murphy willing) and interlinked. They can accumulate interest and value over time just by sitting there.

Self-selecting? You choose to listen to me or to see my words pop up on your screen. I don’t choose you. I try to encourage you to continue to look at my messages by what I write or say or how I say it. I invite you to engage with me, sometimes provocatively, but the decision rests with you. And if you’re like me, the decision is rarely explicit. And there are no criteria for membership of this group, except the willingness to accept my bitstream in some form.

cleverGlobal? Well duh! Here though there are some barriers to engagement. No internet connection? Makes it difficult. Can’t read English? Difficult. Your government thinks I’m a dangerous radical lunatic? Unlikely but understandable – and it would make it difficult. Nonetheless, I have the opportunity to engage in dialogue with a hugely diverse range of people – this helps my thinking grow and be richer than was ever possible before – people who say I’m wrong, or who point out the cultural assumptions that I’m making nourish me just as much as those who smile and say “Yes! You’re right.”

Then there are the different dimensions to the contact or engagement. You read my post. How do you react? Regardless of whether you explicitly, consciously react or not, you are in some way changed by reading it. Perhaps this is the post that makes you decide to unsubscribe and never go to Perfect Path again. Maybe it adds to your prejudices about English people. Maybe it adds to your prejudices about Welsh people (not realising that I’m not Welsh). Maybe it stops you from taking another bite of that sausage roll. Maybe the words just crawl across your retina and are instantly forgotten, on to the next post. A hugely complex range of reactions – the sum of your experience and mine, touching for a few moments.

What is unusual about this engagement is that you hearing me has no direct and immediate effect on me until you respond. And I have absolutely no control or influence over how you react, I don’t know how you’ll react and neither do you. However, all of these reactions are part of the dialogue – they will influence how you respond, whether you do it by posting a comment or mentioning, when we meet, in twenty years time, that you found it very difficult to understand what I was going on about on 30th June 2005.

The fundamental point here is that dialogue is a creative act and that the act of creation is near-impossible without dialogue. Individuals and organisations need access to their creativity. Whatever business you’re in, you need to be thinking of new ways to do things, different things to do, to be constantly asking: Who are we? Why are we still here? What do we do? Who are we? And if that’s whe we are, what choices are we making today about who we’re going to be tomorrow?

These activities, blogging, podcasting, videoblogging are all ways of asking those questions and getting the answers, whether you’re 1 person or 1,000,000.

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So, c’m’ere… there’s more

03 what does cf mean to youJohnnie, Paul and Gia have all been very kind about my earlier post on why I blog.

I have to admit there’s even more to it than my personal lifestance. This same reasoning applies to my cheerleading for organisational blogging, whether it’s inside the firewall or across it.

The questions are the same for any organisation, particularly those whose primary functions are the creation, nurturing, collation and dissemination of ideas, aka knowledge-based organisations aka the greater part of the ‘developed’ economy.

“Who are we?” and “Who do we choose to be today?” “Who do we think we are?” and “What do other people see in us and the things we do?”

This is day-to-day strategic management. There is a textbook view that success depends on developing vision statements and mission statements and cascading management by objectives. Most managers have a different experience. The comply with the performance management systems, because that’s part of their job. But when it comes down to it, these are the questions they really have to answer day in, day out.

What are we trying to do here? Why do we do it? How do we do it? How don’t we do it? How do we know when we’re doing well? How would we like to be seen by our customers, suppliers, competitors and collaborators? How do we measure up to that ideal? What can we do that gets us further towards that ideal?

As a manager, these questions ring truer than any checklist in a management handbook, but how do we answer them? For the brave organisation and the brave employee, blogs can answer these questions, by allowing people to engage in a conversation that goes “This is what I think we’re trying to do here”, “Well I think that’s baloney, it’s like this”, “Hey, perhaps there’s another way of looking at this”. Now in the past, those conversations have gone on in people’s heads or gathered around the water-cooler/coffee-machine. But to deal with the fact that physical proximity to one’s colleagues is no longer a given, we need new ways to do this, to chew the fat, to check ourselves out, to work out what to do today. That’s what you can use blogs for – whether the person who thinks it’s baloney is ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ your organisation.

And just as personal blogging requires an ability to deal with the anxiety of putting yourself on the line and the maturity to accept others as they are, so corporate blogging requires levels of honesty and tolerance that most organisations just just aren’t used to having out in the open. Trouble is, the best way of encouraging these quailities is to explore our own dishonesty and intolerance and gently expose that of others – and that’s really, really hard – it’s going to take a while.

Can you tell, I’m having a slack work period at the moment? Hire me! and get this brain working on your knotty problems.

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Barcing, absolutely barcing

I’m very sad.

I just love acronyms and when I realised that Blogging – a real conversation, the NMK event yesterday, could be reduced to Barc, I was inordinately pleased. Small things.

I shall write more on this today, but I wanted to let you know that I’ve made a wiki page available to capture a record of the event. Deirdre also supplied me with a delegate list on which I have begun the wikification process. I encourage you to embroider and embellish as you see fit, but please don’t be rude about those who booked but couldn’t make it.

If you were there and have written something about it, please link from the wiki. If you have photos, please link to them from the wiki. If you have audio, and it’s better than mine or you shot some video, please link to it from the wiki.

Oh yes and if you happen to be Mike Beeston or Adriana Cronin-Lukas, I’m happy to host your powerpoint presentation if you mail it to me, or you can…link to it from the wiki.

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PSC Podcast #2

True connie-sewers of the podcasting art will already be subscribed to in both their newsreaders and their podcatchers and will therefore be savouring the dulcet tones of Andrew Webster, Executive Director of Social Services for the London Borough of Lambeth over on Public Service Conversations.

For the rest of you – geddover there now and lap it up – it’s good, nutritious stuff, even if I did make it myself.

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Perfect Path Podwalk #14

Covent GardenSo here it is podwalk fans, number 14 in a series of not enough. Yesterday I elbowed my way through the tourists along Neal Street, down James Street and into the Covent Garden Piazza. After a clockwise tour of the piazza, I arrived at the East Side for a street entertainment spectacular from Bruce.

If anyone knows Bruce, or knows any way of contacting him, let me know in the comments so that we can set up a virtual hat for listeners to this podcast to donate their two quid by paypal. Apologies for some of the raucous laughter and shouting, I quite forgot I was on mic at times! Pictures as ever on with the tag podwalk014

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Blogging – a real conversation?

Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll stroll down to Soho for a New Media Knowledge event at zero-one.

“The trust people put in blogs, their simplicity and interactive character, and their ability to be aggregated via RSS have combined to grant blogs a unique status in the communications spectrum.

This event will examine the increasing importance and influence of blogs – as sources of trusted opinion and as a barometer of the shifting balance of power in media publishing.

Panel 1 – Is nano-publishing a new communications paradigm?
Sabrina Dent – Blogging vs traditional publishing
Rafael Behr – Blogging, journalism & the media landscape
Mike Beeston – Nano-publishing and the social-media revival

Panel 2 – Are blogs the new voices of authority?
Suw Charman – The myth of objectivity exposed
Johnnie Moore – Authentic authority
Adriana Cronin-Lukas – Blogs: ripping up the marketing mix?”

should satisfy my lust for more media-related blogworthy material. Hopefully get a podcast out of it too.

The future as a satire on the present 1948- 2005

Winston Smith - Googlezon styleMuchos gracias to James for pointing me to Frank Kane’s piece in the Observer today about the Cass Creatives debate earlier this week.

Mr Kane chaired the debate ably, but in his piece he focuses way too much on the EPIC2014 animation that we were shown at the top of the debate. (I’d recommend watching the updated EPIC2015 too Frank, you might find a little hope at the end, or maybe not – btw, I think Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson would call themselves journalists, because that’s what they are, as well as bloggers and futurologists) And rather than listening to what was actually said from the floor (mostly facts), he gets depressed by what he saw in the film (mostly fiction). I disagree with James a little on this point (though it’s probably pedantry). In my view EPIC is most Orwellian in that just as 1984 satirised post-war Britian in 1948, EPIC satirises today’s technological developments rather than presenting a prediction of tomorrow.

What it says to me is, the problem with all of this new stuff is that it’s entirely technology driven – if we carry on like this (unlikely) we’ll end up with computers writing our news for us – it’s the same wake up call about artificial intelligence as HAL in 2001 and I, Robot. Humanity is the hope here. If we start doing something about it now, if we engage with the technology, we humanise it. If we use it for human tasks (talking to each other, building friendships and alliances, showing our souls, creating beauty) then the robots don’t get to win.

EPIC2015 (OK SPOILER ALERT… oops too late) finishes with a vision of citizen-created media made ubiquitously available as an antidote to the Googlezon machine. The joke is, this is what we’re trying to do right now.

My interpretation of the animation is “Don’t give up hope, don’t run away just because this stuff looks frightening. Go up to it and say ‘Hello’. You’re human and it’s not. You have intelligence, emotion and compassion on your side. Work out how it could help you express yourself as you really are to a global group of people. Team up with your friends to see how you could use it to build on your existing relationships. Don’t be afraid.”

The issue in the debate that he picks up on was James’s intervention when he called them ‘arrogant’ and ‘self-appointed arbiters of editorial truth’ (heh! ever thought of a spell in the Diplomatic Service James?) Frank sez: “Yet I cannot help thinking that a daily news feed that gives you only the things you want, the nice comforting familiarities, is counterproductive. If the new media-consumers limit their input like this, aren’t they the ‘arrogant’ ones?”

Doh! No (and I said this in the session, I really did) Having a news feed that gives you what you want doesn’t equate to only having the nice comforting familiarities. Blogs are written by people. Some days they’re clever, some days they’re not. Some days they’re dull and inarticulate and then there’s a nugget of gorgeous rich prose. Some days I sit and nod my head vigorously at the screen. Other days I scream at them, and then get on and respond. Is it arrogant to have an opinion? Is it arrogant to make informed choices about what you read and what you ignore? Am I being arrogant if I choose not to read Heat magazine, ‘cos I’ve seen enough ‘celebrity’ cellulite accidentally flashed for this lifetime?

How sad that Mr Kane couldn’t do a little bit of research to find out that it was James Cherkoff who made that contribution. I’m assuming that the same person who e-mailed him about my piece on the evening (I heart my server logs), had also seen James’s blog. What a shame that online readers of Mr Kane’s article have to work hard to find out his e-mail address in order to let him know what they think of what he’s written and that he really should look at the updated version rather than printing a transcript of something out of date. What a shame too that neither he, nor his readers will know without some serious digging, that there are alternative points of view and people discussing what he’s said online right now. And how lucky do you feel, lovely readers, that you have such privileges, in spades, as esteemed consumers of my organ?

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More fun than fractals

Some time about 15 years ago, I spent way too much time creating fractal images on my mono-monitored, 10MB hard-disk 286 PC, using BASIC I think, or maybe Turbo C. It took a long time to do those calculations and showing a Mandelbrot set at anything like an interesting level of definition could require an overnight run to complete. My wife used to tell me off, because if you left a computer on overnight, it would probably catch fire.

OK. For some reason I was reminded of this when I found something with which I could lose an equivalent amount of time doing something cool, but senseless.

I don’t know when it happened, but the satellite images for Google Maps went global. OK, so some areas are not very hi-res, but it just feels so cool to zoom in and out, particularly to zoom out and drag and drop your way from London to Seattle in a couple of clicks. It’s like you can pick up the world and roll it round (and it scrolls – well horizontally at least, you can’t flip over the North Pole yet).

This is the Perfect Path Penthouse.

Oh boy, I’m all art-ed out!

fk_selfportrait_1940.jpgA great antidote to the summer heat is the air-conditioned peace of an art gallery.

This week, I’ve done more in two days than in the past six months I think. Yesterday, I saw the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy in Piccadilly. There are some gems but a couple of rooms had the air of an overcrowded art fair – unfortunately I can’t find a list of works online and couldn’t be arsed to fork out 3.50 for a paper one. So I’ll just say Teddy Bears, Swimming Pools and a giant Domino woman, that huge drawing of a rock and . I’m dead cultured me.

Today, I popped down to the Tate Modern for the Frida Kahlo exhibition. Wow. It’s still very busy (I think it only opened last week or something) and by the end I was getting a little prickly with the Japanese schoolgirls pressing their noses up against everything to have the absolutely closest look and other people absently wandering into me. Back to the art. It was really nice to see so much of her work. I guess I’d only seen the self-portraits with monkeys and suchlike before. I was ashamed to admit that I had no idea that she was married to Diego Rivera, let alone that she had an affair with Trotsky! What I found most fascinating was to see bits of the early 20th Century European and North American avant-garde (elements of surrealism, cubism, expressionism) through Mexican eyes, with a Latin American vibe. Favourites were the wedding portrait dramatically over-emphasising the contrast between Rivera’s huge frame and her petite self in a huge dress – love the little feet poking out. Also the self portrait that was part of a pair (with Rivera) for Sigmund Firestone in 1940 (the copy above doesn’t give you the yellowness of the yellow background, or the detail of the amazing braiding in her hair).

And afterwards it started to rain. There was thunder and lightning but it was over by the time I got home. I’d have liked a go at a wineresque thundercast. Maybe there’ll be more – it’s still hot.

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Oh boy, and right now as I finish writing, the Gillmor Gang, live from Gnomedex is coming out of my speakers (well it will be when they get the mics working!). Coolest.