Monday, 22 July 2019

Cycling to work ... half way to the Moon

100 miles a week, 4,500 miles a year for over 30 years ... that's 135,000 miles or 5.5 times around the world and over half way to the moon ... good for mind, body and planet it's a great way to get to work. 

For over thirty years I cycled to work and back across London and lived to tell the tale mean feat considering the dangers for cyclists on London roads. I used to joke that cycling in London is a contact sport ... speak to any cyclist and they can go on and on about the accidents they have had. There were weekly minor incidents and close shaves with cars and on average I would be knocked off badly once or twice a year, on three or four of those occasions I could have been killed and on one occasion I was seriosly attacked.

Cars don't drive themselves ... it is the people inside them that cause the problem ... its like they are in a little bubble .. or for some drivers more like a tank with turret vision where they only pay attention to other tanks and not see cyclists. The main problem I had was drivers pulling out of junctions, turning left and cutting me up. I've even had rubbish thrown over me from out of car windows both accidentally and on purpose ... its not funny to have cans of beer shaken and then opened to fizz out over you or half eaten fish and chips thrown over you .. such is the arrogance and contempt that some car users have for cyclists.

The one good thing about cycling through central London is that cars can't travel that fast and are often stationary, stuck in jams - in fact it was always quicker and more convenient for me to cycle to work than take the car or train and a hell of a lot cheaper as well ... I must have saved a small fortune and help save the planet at the same time.

Cycling is an excellent cardio-vascular exercise and to be able to build this into your commute to and from work is far better than three or four hours in packed commuter trains with people coughing and sneezing around you or sat in a car .. there's enough sitting for office bound workers as it is.

Steve Jobs described the computer as like a bicycle for our minds but I have heard cycling described as travelling at the speed of thought. Exercise is good for your mental health and cycling to work was good for my mind - endorphines at the ready I'd arrive at work with a natural high - relaxed and in a good positive mood happy and ready to go and deal with the problems and stresses of IT systems and services management and then at the end of the day ... able to peddle away any frustrations. Compare this with arriving at work after sitting through traffic jams and road rages or being jammed in a train carriage or delayed ... the main thing to delay you on a bike is a puncture but with quick release wheels and a spare tube you can be back on your way in about 12 minutes.

Cycling to work gets you outside, even in the city you come to appreciate the seasons and the weather ... darkness, sun, wind, rain, snow, heat and cold, they are all part of the experience  - I've even had a bird poop on me twice as I've cycled along ... both times in the eye ... "bird's eye" I used to think to myself. You do get a better connection with nature on a bike and using only your own energy you are not polluting the planet in any way ... heaven knows how much in CO2 emmisions I have saved cycling around during my life for 135,000 miles is only the distance commuting to work over 30 years.

HG Wells once said that "When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race." ... long may we ride :)

Monday, 9 April 2018

The Meaning Of Life

What is the meaning of life, the universe and everything ... as far as we know humans are unique in thinking about this and its been one of the major motivating forces in our history shaping art, religion, politics, philosophy, science as well as being behind many conflicts and wars.

“The Ultimate Answer to Life, The Universe and Everything is...42!” ~  Douglas Adams

Success, fame, fortune, love, happiness ... winning, getting ahead .... the answer to the meaning of life is as varied as the people who ask it but the meaning of life is less about knowing the answer than in being able to ask the question at all.

"So remember when you're feeling very small and insecure How amazingly unlikely is your birth" 
~ Monty Python - Galaxy Song

In many ways life is like a game but its not a game to win or lose it's a game to appreciate  - its taking part that matters ... don't let it be that "life is wasted on the living".

“The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning.” 
~ Joseph Campbell

“Live each day as if your life had just begun.”  
~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Stephen Hawking: Our Guide To Life The Universe And Everything

"We are all time-travellers, journeying together into the future. But let us work together to make that future a place we want to visit. Be brave, be determined, overcome the odds. It can be done." 

We project ourselves onto the world ... we create gods in our own image, we create the world in our own image and we create the future in our own image. Good vs evil, love vs hate, generosity vs greed - we have choices ... Stephen Hawking is a positive inspiration let him be our guide to life the universe and everything and the future we create.

Be curious, be optimistic and keep trying

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”

Be playful and have a sense of humour

"Life would be tragic if it weren't funny."

"I am just a child who has never grown up. I still keep asking these 'how' and 'why' questions. Occasionally, I find an answer."

"Keeping an active mind has been vital to my survival, as has been maintaining a sense of humour."

We are not perfect ... be humble, be open and be willing and able to change.

“One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn't exist.....Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist” 

"Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking."

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.

"Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change."

Be enthusiastic and have romance and passion  

"Science is not only a disciple of reason but, also, one of romance and passion. "

And most of all ... love

"If you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.” 

"It would not be much of a universe if it wasn't home to the people you love."

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Why I Don't BETT

That's me presenting at BETT in 2014
"Why I don't BETT" ... its not totally true ... I've been 4 times 1985, 1993, 2013 and 2014 .... but its only the first one in 1985 when it was called the “Hi Technology and Computers in Education Exhibition” at the Barbican Centre that I really chose to go to.

Back in 1985 microcomputers were new and young and so was I and so was BETT. The 1980s were exciting times in computing - microcomputers revolutionised computing - where once computers were the size of a room and cost millions of pounds now they could sit on your desk and cost just hundreds of pounds .... £125 in the case of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. 1985 ... this was way before we had access to the Internet and we had to rely on a few computer magazines and papers for our IT news and I used to soak it up like a sponge. I remember going to the Barbican to see first hand and get hands on with some of the new stuff all in one place. The BETT show in 1985 was like the microcomputer scene at the time - hobbyist in nature and full of DIY type electronics interfaces and programming ... it was less about solutions and more about DIY and potential. 

In 1993 the BETT show moved to Olympia - it was just 10 minutes walk from where I worked so it wouldn't take too much of my time to just drop in and take a look. Almost 10 years on from my first and last visit to BETT I can remember how much bigger and more professional the whole thing had become ... it had become a trade show and Microsoft had a big presence. I remember visiting the Microsoft stand with its classroom of computers and trainers and being shown Windows For Workgroups .... it was all very slick and I even got a T-shirt ... something that did come in useful as a rag for DIY jobs later.

Even though BETT was just 10 minutes walk from where I worked I only went there once in10 years ... it had become a trade show peddling solutions ... it was all about business ... BETT might as well stand for the  Business Education Technology Trade show and I was no longer interested.

The size and weight of BETT distorts reality and as an IT manager I used to brace myself as staff returned from BETT with requests for the latest must have tech solutions for their teaching ... usually just tech equivalents for what they were already doing ... like students putting their hands up to answer a question. I remember having to buy, setup, support and maintain costly and complicated voting systems that literally never got used in a real classroom ... stuff like this seemed like a dream at BETT but were a nightmare in real life. 

After 1993 the Internet arrived and I could find the information and discussions about tech I wanted on-line - I had always preferred to use real world technology rather than the edtech stuff that was specially designed for education ... its seemed better to me for people to use the things they would find in the real world rather. 

And so it went on the gravity created a monster and BETT couldn't fit into Olympia anymore - in 2013 it had to move to the industrial warehouse of the Excel centre and that's when Google asked me to present about my work with the Cloud.

So, 20 years after last visiting BETT at its first show in Olympia I went to its first show in Excel to present in 2013 and 2014.

A slide from my presentation at BETT in 2014

I spoke about the problem with education technology ... that it is costly, complicated, scary and frustrating. Sometime during the naugties I remember attending a presentation by Microsoft at their Reading centre about the latest version of Sharepoint ... the salesman said told us that it was complicated but not to worry as they had an ecosystem of support partners and consultants. This summed the whole thing up for me .. edtech was a gravy train for the industry ...  a complicated thing that locked you in, put you on a treadmill and made you dependent - its enough to make you want to pull your hair out. Compare edtech to consumer tech like Facebook or Whatsapp today .. its designed to be simple and easy to use .. consumer tech isn't designed to need consultants and support. It's as if edtech is stuck in the last century .. the glory days of the late 90s before digital tech became common place and everyone carried a super computer in their pocket - edtech still hasn't got its head around mobile tech and that students can do so much more with their own tech than schools and colleges can do with theirs.

I spoke about Bring Your Own .. where students and teachers could use whatever tech they felt comfortable with - not just hardware but software and applications as well ... as an IT manager I didn't want to control what could or could not be used - I wanted to facilitate people making use of the stuff they felt comfortable with .. and most of it could be had free or Ad supported and was much better than the education sector had to offer.

Education is a huge sector ... its no wonder that technology capitalists are trying to capture it. Next to BETT 2013 was a huge amusement trade show with a load of "one armed bandits" (slot machines ) at the entrance ... it could almost have been the BETT show itself and I talked about this at my presentation. I spoke about tech dependency and how the edtech capitalists are like drug pushers .. "get em while they are young" and "get em hooked" by giving it away at first. "Get em dependent" and "get em on to the hard stuff" by pushing samples and trials that lead to needing more and more.  

Edtech is a business of self interest ... a complicit gravy train ecosystem of news, conferences, awards and trade shows pulling and pushing those in education to hop onto the platform for a good milking and even some fleecing on the treadmill. Its good business, the edtech fanboys love it, make a living from it and aren't going to bite the hand that feeds them and teachers can walk away with the latest tech charms, talismans and snake oil solutions.

Ultimately BETT is a good day off for most people and when they get back to work they will need to justify the time away in some way - BETT is so large you must be able to find something there, anything will do. 

BETT reminds me of some sort of religious pilgrimage .. an annual edtech journey to listen to the profits (I mean prophets), partake in the rituals, find meaning and significance and confirm your faith in the edtech for solutions. I used to be an edtech fanboy but even I have only been to BETT 4 times in 33 years - I'm not a believer.

Monday, 8 January 2018

I Used To Be A Tech Fanboy

That's me in the naughties ... incredible shrinking tech and the mobile years :)
I used to be a tech fanboy

I'm not sure why but I've been interested, excited and good at tech for as long as I remember and have been lucky enough to have had a career in education technology all my life ... for most of my life my job has been like a hobby - during the earlier years I would have won millions on the lottery and just carried on doing what I was doing ... I was on a mission thinking blue skies and rolling across green fields. 

I used to be a tech fanboy - here is my story and why I have changed.

Mainframe years

I first used computers at school in 1974 using punched cards to program an ICL 1900 mainframe at the University of Kent using Algol 68. The punched cards were input to the mainframe via post and a week later we received our output via post on line printer paper. It was amazing to be able to do this .. for school kids to control a multi-million pound machine at a university .. maybe the equivalent today is when school kids video-conference with Tim Peak in the space station and I hope experiences like this inspires kids today in the same way using a computer inspired me in the 1970s. "May the force be with you".... inspiration is the soft but powerful invisible force in education ... so often ignored by educational managerialism and the obsession with hard data today but more on that later.

I went on to study psychology and anthropology at university and then computing and education for post graduate studies. In computing I worked with an engineer to build a voice controlled robot arm called "big ears" to play chess - I wrote the voce recognition software and the engineer wrote teh mechanical control software. In education my main project was around Ivan Illich's ideas in "Deschooling Society" and the potential for computing in future learning. Combining social science, computer science and education has given me a very different perspective than most of my colleagues in IT and education - most of whom seem to have specialised in one side or the other but not both. Like a fish out of water I would argue the importance social\cultural factors to IT people and to educationalists I would argue about the engineering factors of IT - combining the language to the different audiences is harder than it seems. Over time the common ground for communication between IT and education became the the language of business and management but more on that later.

PC years: the first golden age of IT

I started teaching IT in 1982 - combining IT, social science and education was a real joy and there was real excitement and new developments in all three areas that came together in what I come to think of as the first golden age in education technology during the 1980s. I taught with both mainframes and PCs but in the PC world there was a real revolution going on - there was a Cambrian explosion of diversity ... I remember Apple, Acorn, Atari, RM, Commodore, Sinclair, CP/M, MS-DOS, Wordstar, Wordperfect, Word, Visicalc, Lotus 123, Logistix, Excel, dBase II, GEM, Windows. In the world of teaching there was a revolution going on too - I remember teaching with LOGO, Turtles and the constructionist ideas of Seymour Papert as well as game based learning, lateral thinking, heuristic methods and various non-directive, project and resource based methods. I wrote a PC based Dungeons and Dragons style game that teachers could populate with scenarios to use with numeracy and literacy in game based learning. Way before the Web I wrote a graphical hypertext system I called "Hyperway" that teachers could populate to use for non directive teaching methods .... the logo for my program was a jigsaw piece ... the same style Microsoft used later for Office. I remember participating in inter-department project based schemes and ran one on the local environment involving science, technology, maths, language, performing arts and IT ... scientist and technology made radio sets and we broadcast and received the performance of a script written by the students. Large inter-disciplinary projects like this are so difficult today ... but more of that later.

During the 1980s we didn't have many computers but we did a lot with them. In 1982 I typically had to teach a class of 30 or more with just three BBC micros ... we had to be very skilful in designing activities for small group work for before, during and after using the computers. Through the 1980s and into the early 1990s the number of computers and the number of computer rooms grew steadily. We didn't have IT technicians or any form of IT department and increasing amounts of my time was spent doing IT support work - at first in my spare time but later with greater and greater amounts of remission and in 1993 I was offered the new role of college network manager to look after PCs, software, servers and of course the network. I can't remember how many PCs we had by 1993 but it must have been several hundred and all were networked. The diversity of IT in the 1980s was a challenge to manage and with my IT hat on I started to standardise on Microsoft - the promising new boy on the block for .. well ... everything - network, operating system and applications. People used a variety of applications - the most popular (best of bread) being Wordperfect and Lotus 123 ... I remember challenge of persuading people to change applications and use those from a single supplier. I remember the persuasions necessary for secretaries to switch to Word ... fast touch typists at the time preferred to use keystroke combinations to get things done and didn't want to take their hands off a keyboard to use a mouse thing. Standardisation wasn't in the users best interest but IT support just couldn't manage the number of applications involved and we would be able to move faster if we did less ... in a sense this was the beginning of the end ... but more on that later.

Network and Web Years: the second golden age of IT

Since the earliest days of PCs I had networked them in some way. I networked every computer in every computer room but the local area networks (LANS) were isolated. In the mid 1980s we started connecting our LANs together in a sort of local area internet that I described to college management as a "Total College Network". In 1996 we had the opportunity to connect our college network to the Internet and go "cruising on the super highway" and I took to the Internet like a duck to water. I designed the architecture and support structure that enabled six London colleges to connect their networks to the Internet and the support structure became the JISC London RSC (Regional Support Centre). I set up a college "Cybercentre" with 12 PCs connected to the Internet and enthused to teachers, staff and management to try the Internet and the web and to use it in their life and their work. 

1996 was for me the beginning of the second golden age of education technology - a period that came to fruition at the start of the 21st century and ran through to the mid naugties. It didn't take long to get web services going and by the end of the 1990s we were using email and had staff, student and college web services in operation. Our DIY web services were way ahead of the time and way ahead of what the network could cope with at times ... I remember Christmas 1999 when the college secretariat put a reindeer animated gif on the staff web server and how this brought the wide area network between our sites across west London to a standstill. Our student web service later became known as a VLE and later still an MLE, our staff web service later became known as an "intranet", and our college web service later became known as a college website. Around 1998 I remember switching from Pearl to Microsoft ASP 2.0 and writing web based help-desk pages for departments around the college and introducing the MIS department to the wonders of the programmable web.

I fell in love with the web ... it was a panacea for all the problems mounting from the previous generation of IT - the ever increasing number of complex local programs that had to be installed, secured, maintained, updated and supported. With the web we could have it all ... a single simple local application could give people access to an "infinity" of information and applications anytime, anywhere and from any device ... PC, Mac, Linux and even the early PDA "smartphones" people were using. With the Web clients could be "thin and light" ... web servers could do the heavy lifting. In 1999 I became head of IT systems and shortly afterwards head of IT services and I was on a mission to promote the use of mobile, wireless and web - this was the future and I jumped in feet first ... unplugging and stepping away from a desk and a desktop PC to use only a wireless laptop from 2000 onwards and designing everything for the open web for access anytime, anyplace like Martini :) 

By 2005 we had pervasive Web and WiFi across one of the largest colleges in the UK -  all staff had either their own or a shared wifi laptop\tablet to use for admin and teaching and we had many laptop only teaching environments. This work was featured in a JISC "Vision and Infrastructure" case study "Changing to a Wireless World

"At any point in the building, anywhere I am, everything is instantly accessible to me. As a senior manager, it’s an invaluable tool.” John O’Shea, Division Manager 

By 2007 we had over 5,000 computers and 28,000 users and the Web was not enough.  Local servers to support this scale of IT were increasingly expensive, complicated and numerous - we needed a revolution for IT infrastructure in the same way the web revolutionised the local PCs and software.

That's me in the naugties ... all blue skies and clouds

Social, cloud and mobile years: the third golden age of IT

I started experimenting with "the cloud" in 2006 and started a grass roots college experiment with Google apps in 2007 - when people showed anxiety about cloud apps I simply asked them how long they have been using Webmail like Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail for.

Just as with networks and the Web I took to the cloud like a duck to water - the Cloud turned computing into Martini ... any time, any where, any device. I used to compare being an IT manager with one of those cabaret acts spinning plates ... spending more and more time running around keeping systems running  - installing, upgrading, securing, patching etc etc ... with the cloud I could focus on the use of IT rather than IT itself.  My vision for local IT infrastructure was server-less,  invest in the network because with the cloud "the network is our computer".

Web, cloud and mobile... "I love it when a plan comes together" - the late naughties was a golden age in IT - it seemed like "the future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed". I was an evangelist for the new era of web 2, cloud and social - leading by example and initiating, supporting and participating in so many projects with teachers and learners .. you can see my video blogs here for example - talking with teachers teachers and students about the new tech and with IT people about the changes to make this happen.

There was an IT revolution happening .. staff and students were bringing their own IT into the college in their bags and their pockets. The 1980s One computer Per Desk and "one computer in every home"  had become one computer in every pocket. Bring Your Own Device was another piece to complete my jigsaw for IT as "the network" .. we could reduce the number of college PCs and eventually simplify IT to just the network - protecting cloud based systems and providing access as needed anytime, anywhere, any device ... we just need a network. With your own device computing can become properly personal - you can install and use whatever applications you want and with just a web browser you can access personal, work and learning systems as needed anytime, anywhere. Web, Cloud, Social, Mobile, BYOD ... the tech revolution could revolutionise the way we do IT and the way we work, learn and play. In 2008 I re-engineered the college network and systems for Web, Cloud, Social, Mobile, BYOD - changing the Internet routing and firewall, installing a new WiFi system with a large scale guest WiFi system and started a large scale shift to cloud applications. 

By 2014 we had several thousand daily users of our guest WiFi network, everyone was on Gmail and we had millions of documents on Google apps. This work was recognised and featured by Google and the national IT press and in 2015 my IT strategy was shortlisted for an Inquirer Tech Hero award

"Martin is a passionate facilitator of projects that explore the potential of new methods and technologies and has been developing an oblique approach to strategy that aims to inspire, facilitate and support holistic IT responses to a new environment where IT is easy, diverse, pervasive, personal, social and connected."

I used to be a tech fanboy
Mainframes, PCs, networks, Internet, Web, Cloud, social, mobile and "tech hero" - I've seen each cycle run its course and lead to the next "big thing". My approach is to look into the future early, distribute it in the present and "make hast slowly" ... getting an early start and making continuous incremental changes rather than big bangs. The future is always ... the future - it is always out of reach and something to strive for and technology never stops trying to take us there. However, during the mid 2010s the gears of the technology cycle seem to have jammed and we are left standing on the platform waiting for the next big thing, wondering what's going on and watching the chickens come home to roost. We are losing the Internet, losing the Web, social networks are used for mass surveillance, fake new and lies, smartphones are used to hijack our minds and the security of our devices and systems is like going to sea in a sieve ... leaking our privacy and letting in waves of hacking and malware.
Rather than cycling to the future, technology is a treadmill recycling history into the present.

That's me in 1976 holding Balzac's "Lost Illusions"

Lost Illusions

I have always looked to technology to help people ... to give them freedom and to make their life, work and play better but technology doesn't happen in isolation .... it is part of human social, cultural and economic context. The leading edge of technology is always refreshing and exciting ... rolling across "green fields" under "blue skies" in a land of milk and honey but the revolution always comes full circle when it "crosses the chasm" to the real world of politics and power. Using technology becomes a faustian pact promising freedom and equality when in fact it seems to do the opposite - used for manipulation and control to reinforce wealth and power and widen inequality. At best digital technology helps a yuppie have a nice day and sell you stuff you don't need, at worst it becomes a utility for control and management. Yes, we have all this amazing access to an infinity of information to binge on but this "fast food" is unhealthy - polluted by noise, lies and fakery and pushing our buttons for attention it threatens our physical and mental health and wellbeing ... is the quality of our lives really any better?

Techno determinists are treated like prophets but their prophecies are more about profits ... technology is not a charity .. it is created by companies with an agenda and a profit in mind. I am concerned about the tech capture and technologisation of everything - shifting and centralising power and capital to tech capitalists. I've seen this in education for example ... where teachers might once have created used and "owned" their own teaching resources like skilled professionals they now operate as part of a managed learning environment quality and control surveillance machine ready to turn teachers into semi-skilled labourers ripe for automation and replacement by robots in some not too distant edtech capture drive for productivity and results. I think about the opportunity cost and the opportunities lost as so much educational capital gets sunk so determined into technology. 

"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." ~ George Santayana

Yes there always seems hope ... there is always the excitement juggling gadgets riding on the front of a tech cycle but remember that what goes up must come down and there always seems to be a down side or an unintended consequence. I still love riding the front of the tech cycle but I have no illusions any more ... technology alone doesn't change things - people do. 

There is plenty of new tech around: AI, robotics, 3D printing, mixed reality, augmented reality and virtual reality  My current work with inspireNshare is still with technology but its about developing the value of people and focuses on what I call Citizen Tech - simple, friendly accessible and cost effective tech that encourages participation, play, creativity, re-mixing, invention, exploration and experimentation. My aim is to share with and inspire people and like the butterfly effect little things can make a big difference - I've lost my illusions about tech changing the world but it can change people and people can change the world.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Orange or Juice ... Slow Down

I never had time for oranges .. all that fiddling around and mess skinning and eating them just didn't seem worth it -  just pour juice and drink - job done!

This Christmas I "got it" ... by slowing down and taking the time to skin an orange and eat it I came to appreciate how better to enjoy the fruit but also how better to enjoy life as well.

"Live fast, die young." ~ Ed Westwick

Life in the material world is "fast and furious" ...  "faster is the new fast" for competitive advantage and there is a "need for speed" to "move fast and break things" and get ahead in the race.  We live in a cult of speed ... do more, have more, get more, consume more but we only have so much time and the only way for more is to do it quicker to fit more in ... more, more, more .... quicker, quicker, quicker.

I remember hearing an interview on the radio with hearing Frank Bruno where he told a joke that like much good humour works on many levels.

"I'm getting better at sex ... I managed to finish in under a minute" 
~ Frank Bruno

"Speed is fun, sexy, an adrenaline rush. It’s like a drug and we are addicted. At the same time, the world has become a giant buffet of things to do, consume, experience – and we rush to have it all. The modern workplace also pushes us to work faster and longer while technology encourages us to do everything faster and faster.

It’s reached the point of absurdity. You can now do courses in Speed Yoga or attend a Drive Thru Funeral. A magazine in Britain even published an article recently on how to bring about an orgasm in 30 seconds!"  Carl HonorĂ©

"Drive slow and enjoy the scenery - drive fast and join the scenery". 
~ Douglas Horton

Producers of consumer products encourage us to binge for pleasure, while it might make us sick and consume the planet, trumping quality with quantity turns over more stuff and gives the industry a healthy financial turnover and keeps the economy ticking over - there is no profit in the 3Rs (Re-use, Renew, Recycle). Fast-life binge consumerism turns the bucket list into a sick bucket it can turn you into a basket case and kick the bucket.

“It is a mistake to think that moving fast is the same as actually going somewhere.”  
Steve Goodier

Has it always been this way ... I don't think so. I remember how people talked about "the rat race" in the 1960s and The Good Life TV series in the 1970s but the race then had only just begun. In the 1970s we imagined the 21st century as an age of leisure supported by machines and technology. Instead technology has turned us into machines in a rat race on a treadmill going nowhere faster.

"Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast - you also miss the sense of where you are going and why." 
~ Eddie Cantor

Carl HonorĂ© described slowing down as "a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail's pace. It's about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting." 

Beth Meredith and Eric Storm describe slowing down as "structuring your life around meaning and fulfillment. Similar to "voluntary simplicity" and "downshifting," it emphasizes a less-is-more approach, focusing on the quality of your life. ... Slow Living addresses the desire to lead a more balanced life and to pursue a more holistic sense of well-being in the fullest sense of the word' .

“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

In "Going Slow" Tom Faber explains that "Ancient Greeks had two words to talk about time. Chronos is clock time, measured in seconds, minutes and hours. It means much the same as the word ‘time’ does now. Kairos, on the other hand, is a trickier, more seductive concept. It is time measured qualitatively, a moment of indeterminate duration in which an event of significance happens. Kairos is often used to describe moments of perfection, where one briefly steps outside of the passage of time. The early proponents of the Slow Movement sought to reintroduce kairos to the world, suggesting that a hasty, meticulously-planned life forecloses the possibility of these moments of perfection.

In typically Greek fashion, both were personified. Chronos was a wizened old man carrying a scythe and an hourglass, a forerunner to the Grim Reaper. Kairos was a handsome young man with wings at his heels, the back of his head shaved so that no one could grab his hair and hold him back. Once the opportunity of a perfect moment has passed you by, it’s gone forever."

Bill Powers discovered "that being “Slow” is not at all Luddite. It means cultivating positive qualities - being receptive, intuitive, patient, reflective - instead of the fast qualities so common today: being busy, controlling, impatient, agitated, acquisitive."

“Slow down, you move too fast, You got to make the morning last” 
~ Simon & Garfunkel  (The 59th Street Bridge Song)

“Life's short enough as it is without rushing” 
~ Terry Wogan

So often "less is more" ... slow down and pay yourself in time and take time to do things properly and enjoy them more. Instead of just going faster all the time try fasting ... try leaving things out and going without. Don't just use technology to go faster but try a technology fast and step away from the computer and the screen and focus on the real world and people around you.

There are times when there is a need for speed and there are times when there is a need to go slow - life is in the balance.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Don't Drive ....Motivate

"Driven" ... I hear this more often now than ever ... why is this and what does it mean.

I see this as a symptom of our captivation with technology .. our tech capture and the "technologisation" of people by data ... the need to measure and control ... to drive ourselves and others as if we were machines.

Today leadership and management is about data management and people (if there are people) are driven via data. People are nothing more than resources ... a set of KPIs on dashboard dial and driven as if they were automobiles. There is no soul in a machine ... a dashboard dial doesn't have an inner life, it's simply a dependent variable indicating responses to management stimulation. 

Data has reduced people to laboratory rats - 
soft machines ready for replacement by real machines as soon as possible.

Leadership and management has been replaced by technique and technocrats more comfortable with "well oiled machines" and data than they are with people - algorithms and data are a convenient comfortable way to make decisions without judgement

The problem with being driven by data is that its like doing makeup while driving using a rear view mirror ... it might make you look good and its great at showing you where you have been but its no use for showing you where you are going or where you want to go ... it's dangerous.

Data driven behaviouristic leadership and management is only skin deep - if you treat people like machines then they will behave like machines ... "jobsworths", working to rule only capable of what they have been programmed to do - expect and get nothing more.

The problem with data driven leadership and management is that people aren't machines, they are more than simple dependent variables - they have their own minds and it is their independence, diversity and autonomy that makes valuable.

Treat people as people and they will behave as people ... they will "go the extra mile", they will be flexible, creative, imaginative, excited and inspired. Don't drive people but motivate them .. inspire them with vision, passion, enthusiasm and excitement and they will give this back.

Leaders and managers - if you behave like a soulless machine then you deserve to be replaced by a machine and you will be - for the good of your people and for yourself ... be a person.