The Shift and my own shift…

Near Death Experiences

When you have a near death experience (NDE) or I guess brush with death your meant to act or feel a certain way it would seem. I don’t seem to be acting or feeling that way (what ever way its meant to be) some suggest I might get posttraumatic stress disorder in years to come. If this is true, I’m certainly not looking forward to re-experiencing the original trauma through flashbacks.

I remember back in July last year talking to my social worker (I assume they get you one after a dramatic experience just in-case you decide to do something silly) the one and only time. He came to my flat and we talked generally about everything and how I felt. It was ok if a little weird (most of the conversation centered around my anger for the way I was treated at the hospital), but he said something which made me think.

Obviously I don’t remember exactly what he said but basically it was something like “such an experience will make you re-evaluate your life and your faith.” To which I answered… “Like faith as in God?” he answered, “…yes I turned to god when something like this happened to me for example.”

That was the last time I saw him really, not because he was bad. Just didn’t really need him. I’ve been figuring stuff out myself in my own time but to be honest I’ve not really been thinking about turning to god or anything like that. But every once in a while I come up against (for a better word) something which makes me think (not necessarily in favor of god or religion).


This time, it was when I went to the Thinking Digital university/workshop on with Bobby Patterson. I wasn’t looking for happiness or even seeking happiness, since the near death experience I’ve come to appreciate life on a totally different level.

Its hard to explain… but I’ll try

I view life on a slightly amazed scale. The miracle of life is so precious and I’m in totally ore we even exist at all (thanks to evolution). We scuttle around and worry so much about our own problems while the rhythm of life marches on regardless.

Our brains are wildly complex and able to conjure up the greatest dreams and darkest nightmares. The mind can set you free or imprison you for life.

Its genuinely a wonder and thirst for life…

And I’m reminded of this quote… (no idea who from)

Your just a thought away from changing your life…

So when Bobby talked about and some of the thinking behind and why, it struck a cord with me and my recent thinking.

One of the many links he suggested was a link to a film called the shift by Wayne Dyer

From the creators of You Can Heal Your Life: The Movie comes a compelling portrait of three modern lives in need of new direction and new meaning. In his first-ever movie, Wayne Dyer explores the spiritual journey in the second half of life when we long to find the purpose that is our unique contribution to the world. The powerful shift from the ego constructs we are taught early in life by parents and society—which promote an emphasis on achievement and accumulation—are shown in contrast to a life of meaning, focused on serving and giving back. Filmed on coastal California’s spectacular Monterey Peninsula, The Shift captures every person’s mid-life longing for a more purposeful, soul-directed life.

I watched the shift and I thought about it. I wasn’t sure quite what to say about it.

It felt quite religious in parts but in other not so much. There’s a air of cheesy self helpness to it but actually its not as bad as it would seem to be. The hard thing is wanting to know, what its end game (as such) is? I felt looking at Wayne Dyer’s wikipedia page would help, and it did. The interesting parts included…

Although Dyer resisted the spiritual tag, by the 1990s he was altering his message to include more components of spirituality, in Real Magic, and higher consciousness, in Your Sacred Self.

My belief is that the truth is a truth until you organize it, and then becomes a lie. I don’t think that Jesus was teaching Christianity, Jesus was teaching kindness, love, concern, and peace. What I tell people is don’t be Christian, be Christ-like. Don’t be Buddhist, be Buddha-like. [cited interview]

“Religion is orthodoxy, rules and historical scriptures maintained by people over long periods of time. Generally people are raised to obey the customs and practices of that religion without question. These are customs and expectations from outside the person and do not fit my definition of spiritual.” [cited post]

I feel that should be going for this self help stuff, but I’m still feeling very uneasy about it. Some of the things from the shift are interesting but the overall tone is closer to something I can imagine someone with an agenda or religious view would have. I’ve certainly not damaged the part of my brain which deals with rational thought thats for sure. I expect Dyer if he read this and saw me, would suggest its ego talking but I certainly don’t think it is.

Anyway, I didn’t quite know what to think at the end but I certainly felt a bit like oh well thats a shame…

I guess I’m hardly changed in certain ways but forever changed in others. I do feel like I should be more changed that I actually am, but maybe thats the fighting response holding on to what I am or something… Who knows…

Grassroots Innovation & Creativity

Composition: King x Knight

People have been wondering what am I up to since Backstage closed down.

Well its kind of hard to describe but generally I’ve become the resident troublemaker, breaking all types of rules and really etching a new kind of path for myself. If I was going to explain it in a buzz word compliant way, it would be something like… Senior Emerging and Disruptive Grassroots Specialist for BBC R&D.

Yeah feel free to be sick all over your screens.

But one aspect I certainly want to focus on is new types disruption and innovation from the edges or grassroots.

So part of my new job will be seeking the seeds of disruption and innovation before they get to the point of broad adoption.

I come with examples…

Most of the people reading this have been on Twitter at least 4 years, and we could see something interesting was going on with Microblogging but no one really knew what? About 4.5 years ago I met the guys from Twitter (Ev and Biz) and I did talk about what we (BBC) could do with Twitter. Unfortunately I working on Backstage, meant my focus was on data. Although we did talk about what the opportunities Twitter might give the BBC. Of course most of that went up in smoke and Twitter marched on to establish a business model (ok not a very good one but its still something) and a certain amount of dominance in the microblogging and social fields.

Just imagine what would have happened if things turned out different. The point is there was something there and with a good trial someone else could have identified it as something interesting that the BBC should look deeper into.

How I find interesting stuff?

I mostly rely on the people around me for pointers. Thats why I tend to only follow a small number of people on twitter. But I also look at what certain people are up to. In actual fact, its this aspect which bough me to the BBC. Seeing what Tom Coates, Paul Hammond, Matt Patterson, Ben Metcalfe etc were up to really got me going. I had no idea who they were originally but most of them were pretty accessible in person, which really helped.

But as I’ve noticed and you would expect the list of innovators changes all the time. Not that I’m not saying these guys are not doing anything interesting. Actually they may be but new people come along all the time.

I’ve ping’ed a few people about the idea of what I’ll be doing into the future and had various comments back. Some positive, some quite negative but all a great help with lots of ideas and thoughts. One of the most provoking has to be the idea of it being an inbreed network. It really got me thinking… How do you have a network of trusted people but not make it your friends and keep the signal strong?

The obvious example seems to be keep it open… But with openness comes the trouble of keeping the noise out. Its a challenge but I’m hoping to tackle it in a social sciency kind of way.

I really like what Mozilla has done with there Drumbeat projects. But there is a theme which means people are rally around an idea or concept at least. But its wide open, which means you can get right to the edge, no messing. The best way to get stuff from very left-field. Actually I’ve been thinking instead of copying Mozilla, maybe there’s a way to leverage or even work with Mozilla for the benefit of both organisations?

Documenting stuff no matter what

Theres lot of things BBC R&D does which it classes as a throw away experiment and then years later I see something which resembles the original concept or idea. Its critically important to document and I would say share the successes as well as the failures. In R&D right now, we tend to bury this in obscure papers which don’t get to see the light of day. I always wanted to get away from writing papers but have fallen into the trap of writing papers too.

There are better ways, be it prototypes, a series of detailed blog entries, whatever works to document experiments and projects. I don’t doubt a properly authored paper with many citations are a better that a blog post. But if the paper becomes the reason why documentation isn’t done, then maybe its a problem? Right?

I’ve noticed a whole bunch of new ways to document stuff, most of them are simply prototypes filmed and put on youtube. It won’t stand up to much scrutiny but at the point it needs to, then thats when the paper can be written. Its like that all too familiar innovation funnel. Things are cheaper at the start than the end. Maybe you don’t want to commit to writing a lengthy paper when a series of blog post will aid writing the paper at a later date. The blog post can also function as prior art too.

What I have to recognize is that I work in the Emergence stage of innovation.

Emergence – (also known as embryonic stage) shows little improvement in key performance characteristic. Technology operates far below its potential. Neither the characteristics of technology nor its applicability to market needs may be well understood. A long gestation period exists before attempts are made to produce a technology. This new invention period is characterized by a period of slow initial growth. This is the time when experimentation and initial bugs are worked out of the system.

Its ok to be wrong

its ok to be haphazard

Its ok to not have all the answers

its ok to bounce from one thing to another.

Just as long as the experiments are cheap, documented and understanding is formed and shared internally and sometimes externally.

So with all that, spilled out across the this blog entry… I’m coming around to something which is I think very impressive and fundamentally what the BBC really needs now and for the future.

I guess its exactly what the guys behind Backstage were thinking before backstage was formed in 2004.

Wish me luck…