Tuesday, 15 April 2014

“I don’t want to interact with data, I want to interact with people”

I love swooshing and swiping my screens.  Somewhere inside my head I hear a god-like voice – or is it the voice of Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard? - commanding the device to “Make it so”.  And it happens!  Bigger, smaller, up, down.  It’s not natural, it’s not human, but it is fun and rewarding.  

And I think that’s where the mistake is with early 21st-century social media. 

We love broadcasting to the world and updating our timelines – somewhere inside my head I feel like a celebrity, imagining all the adoring fans who are following my every word, every tweet.  (In reality it's just one or two friends who I bug until they respond.)  And it sort of happens!  Diagnostics tell us the hits, people tell us their likes (and dislikes).  It’s not interaction, it’s not banter, it’s not a real emotional and creative discourse, but it is fun and rewarding.

When we began developing QUBE, I was adamant about many things.  Mostly that it replicated as much as possible the grown-up business environment with the Trojan horse of learning disguised at its core, so that we could achieve the vision of learning without boundaries.  I had in mind a Lloyds-style coffee house atmosphere (important to be able to breakout and have sub-conversations) mixed with a Leonardo da Vinci-style artist's studio,* with younger artists learning and applying the skills they needed, showing their sketches to each other, sharing their experiments with each other and surpassing their teacher.  

This is human, this is interactive, it’s banter, emotional and creative, and it’s fun and rewarding.

If you’ve seen my Google Zeitgeist talk you will know about ‘Time Travellers’.  The strange 19th century habit of commuting to and from an office.  (If you don’t, watch the video - it’s very short and very funny.)  As long as we continue to pursue the 19th century habit of moving atoms (our bodies) instead of electrons, we will have lots of boring, low-quality time on trains, in queues and in cars.  This boring time we will fill using our mobile devices to interact with data.  Why?  Because although it’s a lower grade experience than interacting with people, it’s better than getting bored.  And it avoids the potential awkwardness of social interaction or interrupting what a friend is doing (nothing, they are just composing a text to you!).  So we broadcast asynchronously.  And we read, and we watch cat videos selectively.  It’s not interactive, it’s not banter, it's not emotional and creative, but it is fun and rewarding.

I hope that Facebook 2.0, Twitter 2.0 and other early 21st-century social media platforms will begin to go the same way as QUBEfinding ways to allow people to interact over and above the data-driven activities.  The challenge for them will be the business model.  With the current business models we are the product, providing them with data and meta-data they can get revenue for.

But I do hope they will try to reinvent themselves. Because I for one don’t want to interact with data, I want to interact with people.

I'm launching a challenge to all involved.  Let's make Social Media really Social (with some new learning for our World After Midnight to help people cope and thrive in the 21st-century, hidden inside!)

* I’ve lost the link but idly browsing last week I came across a protest about social media. which is what inspired this blog

** I know Leonardo da Vinci didn’t really have a studio school like the one I’m describing, but I hope you get the point

Monday, 14 April 2014

Cabinet or Caprona - The land that time forgot ...

Yesterday I was flicking through a dead-tree newspaper and came across a picture that stopped me in my tracks. I believe the expression is "it was deja vu all over again".

As a child, one of the most exciting films I saw was set in Caprona, land of pterodactyls, dinosaurs and weird sea monsters.  Somehow, the world had moved on and evolution had happened but in some places time had stood still.

I used to use this analogy in a pictorial quiz I invented a long while ago.  The quiz was inspired by a picture of the British Cabinet in session in a newspaper.  

I would put the picture on to my visualiser and ask the course participants the question, "How long ago was the most recent thing in this picture invented?"  

Yesterday's picture is below, and I'm blowed if I can see any move or even nod towards the 21st Century.

So, "How long ago was the most recent thing in this picture invented?"  

Apparently, evolution happens because of the dynamic, continuous changes that influence the survival and co-dependence of different species.  Without external threats or with the ability to dominate the surrounding environment or ecosystem - there is no need to evolve.

For our world after midnight there are three choices: evolve, dominate or die. 

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Money making machine discovered in mine!

Perhaps I should get one?  Perhaps you should get one?  David Lomas, Pentacle's techno wizard, alerted me to a once-in-a lifetime opportunity.

When I wrote Money Making Machine, I was looking for a way to align all the people in a business organisation to work together to collectively improve the performance of the organisation.  In a complex and fast-changing world, it is often really difficult to know whether the actions you are taking, the decisions you are making, and the conversations you're having are going to help your business make enough money to keep going.  The central idea is five Money Making Questions to align everyone.

But now there's almost no need.  Apparently, Avalon sell an ASIC machine that, for the small spending of $11,000, is capable of producing $50,000 in five months.  Over its useful working life of 31 months, it will make about $117,000!

If you've read Money Making Machine, you'll know that this is a fantastic answer to Question One.  Question Two - how fast you need to spend to run it - is all down to the amount of power it consumes: approximately 600 Watts.  We've already answered Question Three: it was $11,000.  As for Question Four, it depends on what you think of hashing and bitcoins.

But what about the most important question of all, Question Five?  Hmmm ... I think I'll pass on Avalon's offer and spend my time writing a blog instead.

You can discover your own Money Making Making for no money (no Question Three) here or buy one here to speed up mine.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

New Rules for Sliding Rules: Consul and HS2

This morning I laughed out loud uncontrollably.

I was listening to a debate on BBC Radio 4 about the UK’s view of the future which involves using a Victorian concept, the railway, to deliver our 21st-century prosperity.  It’s called High Speed 2 (HS2).

This morning I ended up lost for words.

I had to explain manual multiplication to all the sub-30-year-olds at Pentacle who've only ever known digital

Yesterday I had just been finishing off the latest book from Terry Pratchett, Raising Steam, where on his fictional Discworld the steam engine was doing to that world what the internet is doing to ours today – opening up connections and possibilities.  As an author who uses fiction to try to teach real-world business lessons, I love the way Pratchett weaves reality and unreality together to help you see the present in a different way.  In Pratchett's Discworld they already have the telegraph, or 'clacks' as they are known, which allow 1:1 transfer of information.  The addition of the steam engine allows 1:1 movement of people and goods, and like most communications systems enriches the people who ‘journey’ on the 'communication system’ and the people at both terminuses (and any intermediate stops).  In the fiction, the engineering genius Dick Simnel explains how to tame steam using sines, cosines and his “sliding rule”.

So the reason I laughed out loud today was that in the debate today, as the discussion on whether or not it made sense to construct this massive project moved to cost-benefit ratios, the person arguing for the construction, a former government minister, insisted that “The guys with slide rules, they don't know!.  Slide rules!  Slide rules!  It was like hearing the name of a long-lost friend or a historical mythical creature that you remember from story books of your child hood. As I have said before, "we spend most of our time responding and planning and thinking rationally in response to a world we recognise and understand but which no longer exists ...".

And when I Googled and tried to explain how a slide rule worked to my younger colleagues in the office there was a look of disbelief.  The only connection for them was one who recalled a toy they'd had called Consul the Educated Monkey, which they vaguely remembered from childhood (misremembered as Constance). Consul who was in fact a slide rule.  The technical equivalent of a Large Hadron Collider-type cutting edge technology tool had been reduced to a plaything.

I don’t know what the arguments for building this railway are in detail, but I have to conclude that anyone who refers to slide rules in our World After Midnight probably shouldn’t be listened to too closely.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Four years after the question the conversation begins....

193 attendees from China to Bahrain to Brazil.  30 speakers from Australia to France to the USA.  Saving over 65,000 miles of travel (three times round the world) and earning a **** rating

Last Thursday I had the job as master of ceremonies. presenter, cheer-leader and all round accessible virtual Qubot hosting Conference: ZERO on behalf of the Association for Project Management on QUBE.  The aim of the TED-style conference was to start the BIG conversation on “Creating a world where all projects succeed.”

Four years ago Simon Cooper asked me to help him make all his project succeed.  Of course I laughed.  he said "no Eddie I'm serious." So I laughed again.  But as everyone involved with innovation knows if what you propose is preposterous then it's probably got a little sparq to it!

Four years later and in partnership with the Association for Project Management we hosted Conference ZERO on QUBE  (http://QUBE.cc ) 

Here’s an overview of what happened on the day: 

There were many amazing keynote sessions, including ones from Bill Morris LVO on The Olympic Ceremonies, Peter White on Delivering the Digital Switchover Perfect Project, John Mathers on Design and Projects, Andrew Bragg on APM’s Ambitious Vision for the Profession, and Martin Baker on Life or Death Projects

Many participants experienced delays in getting on QUBE due to two of our cloud routers turning rogue, and some suffered annoying crashes. If this is you and you were frustrated (not a perfectly successful project for you ;-) ) please contact me, Eddie_Obeng@PentacleTheVBS.com .  I’d like to say sorry, ask you to forgive us - since we are just starting on this journey - and propose a treat!

We also had interactive and engaging sessions from practitioners from HeadcastLab, JP Morgan, O2, DHL, Ernst & Young, Capgemini, Novo Nordisk, Amari, MWH Global, bloggers, journalists and many more.

There were practical workshops run by the Pentacle team on tools and techniques for everything from overcoming resistance to change to predicting the future issues and ‘preliminating’ them.

Lots and lots of connections were made, tweets sent out on #ConfZERO, and discussions started. Visit the photo gallery at http://Pentacle.co.uk/ZEROpics.htm .  If you took pictures or video on the day, or have blogged or tweeted, please let me know and I'll add them to the website.

What next? 

Let’s keep the discussion going.  Let’s share ideas and learning. Let’s try to speak the same language to make it easier, using the themes of the conference: purpose, perspective, practitioner, people and performance.  You’re on QUBE now, it’s like being on Skype.  You can see who’s live and summon them with a “Come here”  to meet you (see icon to the right). And if you’re on your smart phone, you can always find out using http://QUBE.cc/Whos-on-Now/ 

I look forward to seeing you again, as a qubot, soon.


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

David Lomas and I have been beavering away on the next version of QUBE.  It's ready at last!

I think you'll like it.  We've added the changes you asked for.

But far more important QUBE is now enterprise-social media.  you can connect with your qubot network like never before.

My favorite is the "Come Here!" button which allows you to get qubot-face-to-qubot-face instantly

You can download the new QUBE at http://QUBE.cc

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Something for your holiday break ... with a twist ...

Something for your holiday break?

As you prepare to pack up for your holidays (assuming you are in the Northern Hemisphere), I’d like to slip a book into your suitcase. Written in the same leisurely style as my other books - such as All Change! and Money Making Machine - and just like them, packing a punch, Who Killed the Sparq? is a ‘whodunnit’ about innovation. As usual, the fast-paced story, written from your point of view, masks the research and theories, making them digestible. You are compelled to read on in order to find out what happens next. Later in the book, again as usual, I point you towards useful tools, tips, techniques and behaviours such as ‘SmartFailure’.

I’ve taken the idea of an ebook one step further than normal. Not only do you get the convenience of your Kindle or iPad, but you also get lots of links to other World After Midnight resources and tools available from the interweb!

And the best bit is that it’s a free summer gift, with a twist you’ll discover on the download page.

You can download it from http://WhoKilledTheSparq.com

P.S. You may know that I also collect pictures of people reading my books in relaxing settings, for example next to the pool, in a bar, in a sun lounger, in a hammock … so if you do take a picture I’d appreciate you emailing it through!

Have an innovative and energising break.