Tag Archives: socialobjects

Sell the sizzle not the steak

I attended a networking workshop at the BBC the other day. I was wondering how it was going to go, because sometimes the workshops at work can be hit and miss. The trainer for the workshop was down to earth Darren Jenkins from digienable. Darren was good and his advice was welcomed.

Now I know most of you are saying why the heck are you (mr social butterfly and social geek event organiser) doing at a networking workshop? Well most of the things I do are picked up after working it out for myself rather than learned. When I signed up I wanted to understand what other people were told because I’ve seen some weird stuff.

Anyway during the workshop, I listen and chipped in now & then. But what got me thinking in the middle of the workshop is the similarity to dating. I hadn’t really thought about it in this way before, but the more Darren talked and I thought about it. The closer to dating it sounded.

Most of you will be thinking “Duhhhh yes of course, relationships are relationships be them business or a love interest” Laid out on paper it makes sense, but I’ve never really put it on paper like that.

Some key points, which really hit home…

First date, first contact
The politics of who pays extends deeply into networking. Darren talked about trying to buy the first coffee or paying for everything to make a good impression. Of course I disapproved. But at least he told it as it was… “Its a power play…

Selling the Sizzle
You got a short time (1min) to tell the other person about yourself, what you do and your general thoughts about things. Sounds like Speed dating, but no were actually talking about networking.

One thing which I’ve not been doing recently is selling the sizzle. When speed dating recently I’ve been under-selling how great things are for myself by describing what I actually do rather than the effect. Not sure why I’ve been doing this but it certainly applies for dating as well as networking…

Social object theory
Of course no workshop would be complete without a bit of give and take. Darren was good enough to remind me to sell the sizzle, so I thought I’d talk about social object theory. He never heard of it but had been using it, regardless.

It was a good workshop and funny to hear Darren is partner to Liz Hardwick from Manchester Girl Geeks.

Why we build, is it in the narrative?

IMG_2247

I had the pleasure of seeing Rowan Moore talk live about his book why we build in Manchester with someone special.

As she said herself, its a interesting way to give some insight into the world of the architect. Something I originally wanted to be a long long time ago but I choose Design instead.

Anyway as Rowan was talking about positives and negative in different architecture decisions. I started seeing a slight pattern in the positives. Originally I put it down to playfulness of buildings and spaces but then I started thinking its about the narrative. What do I mean?

As an architect, you lay the foundations of how the space is going to be used in the same way as storytellers/game creators imagine the world the narrative is formed in. They then plan routes/journeys people and things go through that space. In the same way a book lays the foundation and the person’s mind takes it on to different level.

Its a thought and maybe very wrong (specially because everyday work I assume is pretty mundane) but I think about my best examples of good architecture and think about how it leads you on a path but allows you to explore without getting in the way.

Its like being taken on a journey. In fact, the features or sticking points are also like social objects or talking points.

The Street at PQIMG_2227

Pacific Quay in Glasgow is BBC Scotland’s headquarters and I was in love with the Street idea. I seen a similar idea in 8-House’s Ørestad District, Copenhagen. The street for me is a narrative through the complexity of a building. But not only that, its a talking point (social object) and a great place to bump into people and have the conversations you get in corridors.

The web of playful things

WIYB with Moleskine from Ka Tat Chan in Hongkong

If your like me, you may look at something like ioT and wonder what on earth does that stand for? Internet of Things…

From a far it looks like one of those buzz terms like Ajax and Web 2.0 became. Heck you might even find some crappy videos trying to explain what it is from a view.

If you break it down Internet of Things is simply networked physical things or simply NT? So we already know everything will have a IPv6 address in the next decade or so and frankly this is the very start of it. I quite like Dundee’s Jon Rogers (@ileddigital) physical apps and of course the physical apps store.

I’m very sure that networked things will be the next massive growth economy. You won’t be able to buy a thing without it being able to network in some way or another.

Here’s some justification…

  1. The other day I was trying to convince someone that IoT or networked things was going to be the next fronter for developers. I did a bad job trying to explain why she should consider it (although to be fair it was very late in the day for such a dramatic change, I admitted). Although very familiar with makerfaire and the maker audience, I was making the point that its not about that. The languages developers are using will power a good part of the networked things. Yes that means your TV, radio, speakers, pen (dare I say it) Fridge will one day have Python bindings or a RESTful API (hopefully not JSON). Programmers and developers once enjoyed the fact the computer was under their control. Now the real world is up for grabs!
  2. Yesterday I was listening to Tech News Today and heard a discussion about Yammer’s CEO forecasting the end of silicon valley. Although I don’t think he’s right and what he was saying did sound like crap, there is certainly a shift towards more hardware innovation. The presenters pick up on this in this 5min discussion which I clipped and put on Soundcloud.
    This is one of the points I’ll be making in the my Perceptive Media talk at Canvas Conf in September
  3. Manchester’s digital scene has for the longest time lived in the shadow of London’s digital scene but something a rumbling and I personally feel the impact of things like Madlab, Fablab, DIYBio, etc, etc… will kickstart companies and startups which hack reality rather than whats on screen. Networked things will be a big part of this. BBC R&D also will be a part of this and we’re already in talks around our unique iot event called playful iot futures… Hope to have much more to say about it soon…

Self Confidence: How to be interesting…

Jyri Engeström quote

Simon Lumb and Aden Davies shared Russell Davis’s post about how to be interesting

He makes two assumptions…

The way to be interesting is to be interested. You’ve got to find what’s interesting in everything, you’ve got to be good at noticing things, you’ve got to be good at listening. If you find people (and things) interesting, they’ll find you interesting.

Interesting people are good at sharing. You can’t be interested in someone who won’t tell you anything. Being good at sharing is not the same as talking and talking and talking. It means you share your ideas, you let people play with them and you’re good at talking about them without having to talk about yourself.

And assuming the above… here’s his recommendations (obviously there quite computer related but they don’t have to be)…

  1. Take at least one picture everyday. Post it to flickr
  2. Start a blog. Write at least one sentence every week
  3. Keep a scrapbook
  4. Every week, read a magazine you’ve never read before
  5. Once a month interview someone for 20 minutes, work out how to make them interesting. Podcast it
  6. Collect something
  7. Once a week sit in a coffee-shop or cafe for an hour and listen to other people’s conversations. Take notes. Blog about it. (Carefully)
  8. Every month write 50 words about one piece of visual art, one piece of writing, one piece of music and one piece of film or TV. Do other art forms if you can. Blog about it
  9. Make something
  10. Read
I like the list quite a lot and it really got me thinking, what would I put in this kind of a list?
So I wrote my own… (please note this is all in my own opinion, you may disagree but that’s what comments are for…)
  1. Tweet at least everyday and make sure its public
    Tweet, microblog, blog, what ever… Being open and public will improve your confidence, interface you with other peoples opinions and ultimately make you a better or more rounded person
  2. Start a blog and update it regularly!
    blogging or sharing your thoughts are still very important and really helps when referring to points in arguments. Its still what I recommend to many people who ask me where to start. Like above, the interchange of ideas with other peoples thoughts will make you a more interesting person. Also make sure its regular, otherwise you will loose the momentum or build it up too big in your mind.
  3. Keep a note of conversations, ideas and dreams in a scrapbook, notebook or just somewhere shareable
    I personally use Evernote to document everything I find interesting. I can later on share it with people and thats been very handy for communicating a idea or whats going on in my brain.
  4. Follow and read articles/retweets from people you follow on twitter
    I only tend to follow people who say interesting things, and every once in a while I just scroll through links and retweets from people I follow. Generally I’ve found them very useful and they usually end up in my readitlater or instapaper. Once again, although not directly
  5. Start or be on a podcast/videocast
    I hate the sound of my voice but forcing myself to do a podcast, has got me use to the sound and how I sound to others. How this helps with being more interesting, I’m not quite sure but its certainly something you can talk about and share with others
  6. Talk to someone new at least every week
    What have you got to loose? Someone new may unlock a whole new lifestyle choice, a new found friend or be your next partner… You just need to hold a conversation for at least 2mins. Generally if your exploiting number 9, this will be very easy…
  7. Once in a week sit in a great tea/coffee shop and just listen without your headphones
    Nothing better than to over hear human concerns. Yes most of them will be mindless stuff to you but it doesn’t matter, listen to the metadata. Passion, tone, etc… They all give a different aspect to the human voice… I already mentioned before about how I tend not to use my lift with headphones on for a similar reason.
  8. Every month, tweet an observation about human life
    I loved Seinfeld because of its observation of human life, and in actual fact someone pointed out to me. That most comedy is a observation of life. Theres two ways you can take this…
    1. Being funny is always great
    2. Having a detailed understanding of life means you can later hack it :)
    And don’t just sit on that knowledge, share it!
  9. Take advantage of your understanding of social objects
    Talking of hacking life… If you don’t understand the concept of social objects and how they enrich our lives, nows the time to learn… I would start Hugh Macleod’s 101 thoughts on Social objects then check out Jyri Enstrom’s post, then more links from Hugh Macleod including Jyri’s video at London Geekdinners a while back. Don’t quite understand this relates to being more interested? A shared experience is a powerful key to being interesting to other people. For example, on the train as I am now, I could turn around the lady across the table and say “nice drawing, how did you learn to draw like that?” The social object would be the drawing… Hugh has better examples
  10. Learn
    Life long learning, what more is there to say? Always be learning…
The general theme is about openness, human contact, sharing and self improvement… Being more interesting isn’t a thing you just throw on, actually its about being confident in your own abilities and the way to do that is to be comfitable in your own skin. The rest will come naturally… As Nic ferrier said “get our of your comfort zone once a week…” Which I think is right but actually its more involved than just once a week, its about a change in the way you look at life.

The secret of luck or the richness of life?

derren brown

Derren Brown isn’t a household name outside the UK, no idea why… but he recently did a excellent show in the conclusion to his experiments series…

In the show he slowly convinces a town that a statute in a local public garden it might be lucky. Through a series of other activities and press attention, people start touching the statute more and more over the months. But where it gets interesting is when he tries to find a person who by the end of the show will bet a huge amount of money on a roll of a dice. So convinced he might just be lucky.

What Derren is proving is the power of the mind… Something I’ve seen long understood from my time in hospital and afterwards. To be honest it was one of Derren’s best ever shows and something I love about his style… Unravelling some of the more complex mysteries of life.

The secret to luck is opportunity

If you take the opportunities you will make more human connections, gain more experience and feel more lucky… (Roughly)

Its something I’ve become very versed in recently.

Opportunities are there for the taking… When you understand this, your world is your oyster.

I was trying to explain this blog entry on the train to Tim Waters who I hopefully didn’t bore to death between Liverpool and Manchester. I used the tale of the Japanese lady on the train story to explain taking opportunities. Its very easy to just stick your headphones in your ears and ignore the world of opportunities which are served up to us everyday… I personally don’t put my earphones in my ears when going to work till I get out the front door of the apartment I live in. Why? Because I’ve had some fascinating conversations in the lift with people (yes and some of them are lovely woman).

For example once I got in the lift and the lift went up a few floors and stopped. Doors open and a woman gets in wearing PJ’s and fluffy sleepers.

It could have been easy to ignore her and stare at the glossy silver lift doors but instead, I couldn’t help myself. “So, sleepers…?” *big grin*. She smiled and said “…well you know their all the rage now…”

There’s plenty more I can say about this but seeing how I’ve had this blog entry open for a good few weeks, I think its best ended with a vague reference to social objects mixed with opportunities…

Maybe luck actually feels like the richness of life…?