Reading the dyslexic advantage at last

The Dyslexic Advantage
At long last I started reading or rather listening to The dyslexic advantage. I’m totally blown away by what I’ve been reading. I mean I knew most of this but the science behind it and how it can be a super power; has literally shocked and moved me. I have written about my own dyslexic a few times including in everyday life, in the media and my thoughts about how it may affects relationships.

From the very start the book sets its agenda, to look at dyslexia strengths and less about its weaknesses…

Most books on dyslexia focus on problems with reading and spelling. While these problems are extremely important, they’re not the only—or even the most important—things that individuals with dyslexia find critical for their growth, learning, and success.
As experts in neuroscience and learning disabilities, we’ve worked with hundreds of individuals with dyslexia and their families. In the process we’ve found that individuals with dyslexia often share a broad range of important cognitive features. Some of these features are learning or processing challenges—like difficulties with reading and spelling, rote math, working memory, or visual and auditory function. But others are important strengths, abilities, and talents; gifts we call the dyslexic advantage. While these features differ somewhat from person to person, they also form recognizable patterns—just as the different musical works of Mozart are distinguishable yet recognizably the work of the same composer.

Theres many paragraphs but I wanted to share some of the key ones I’ve read so far. The whole book focuses on M.I.N.D strengths, which are the 4 key strengths dyslexics share or in parts.

I personally have a strong amount of all 4. They are not saying its only dyslexics which have them but much more likely and much more strongly. Think of them like the Big 5 personality traits rather than Myers-Briggs types.

  • M-Strength for Material Reasoning, which is primarily reasoning about the position, form, and movement of objects 3D space
  • I-Strengths for Interconnected Reasoning, which is primarily the ability to spot, understand, and reason about connections and relationships (e.g., analogies, metaphors, systems, patterns)
  • N-Strengths for Narrative Reasoning, which is primarily the ability to reason using fragments of memory formed from past personal experience (i.e., using cases, examples, and simulations rather than abstract reasoning from principles)
  • D-Strengths for Dynamic Reasoning, which is the ability to accurately predict using patterns derived through experience the future or the unwitnessed past

The I, N & D Strengths are very much a key part of me (M too, but maybe a little less so). I always seen the world in one massively connected ecosystem. Everything is connected and its hard trying to explain to others how it all meshes together.

Patterns are observed and seem to stick in my mind. They seem to exist as a narrative or at least are stronger as narrative. This is extremely useful when finding my way places again unfolds as a narrative rather than a map or directions.

For dyslexic brains, excellent function typically means traits like the ability to see the gist or essence of things or to spot the larger context behind a given situation or idea; multidimensionality of perspective; the ability to see new, unusual, or distant connections; inferential reasoning and ambiguity detection; the ability to recombine things in novel ways and a general inventiveness; and greater mindfulness and intentionality during tasks that others take for granted.
Nondyslexic brains often excel at applying rules and procedures in an expert and efficient manner. Dyslexic brains often excel at finding “best fits” or at ad hoc problem solving.

I hadn’t really thought about it this way but makes so much sense. Maybe this is why Art just makes sense for me. Its also clear a gist, conversation, sentence or just a word can spring tons of connected thoughts. For example the idea of “local evil” which was a title for a event had my mind cycling for weeks.

The cluetrain manifesto is another example, from the 95 rules I could almost tell the thesis as a complete narrative without reading any of them. My favourite being #7 Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.

The power of Interconnected reasoning lies in its ability to link all of an individual’s knowledge, ideas, and mental approaches into an integrated conceptual matrix. This integrated matrix is incredibly powerful because it allows objects of thought to be approached from many different angles, levels, and perspectives, so they can be seen in new ways, related to other phenomena, and understood in a larger context. The three core skills, or I-strengths, that help form this conceptual matrix are the abilities to detect relationships between different objects of thought, the ability to shift perspectives or approaches, and the ability to reason using a global or top-down perspective.

Can’t tell you how useful this is, its sometimes hard when explaining to others different angles or the bigger picture. Maybe this is why the end of interstellar just made such sense and I actually use it in a few presentations.

Variations not versions
While talking about D-strengths and the incredible power of insight, this point was made.

“Given a problem and an hour to solve it, we typically spend the first three minutes intuiting the answer, then spend the other fifty-seven backtracking . . . to check our results through data collection and deductive logic.” According to Sarah, this intuitive approach “functions in leaps rather than by neatly ratcheting intervals” and is “less lineal than iterative or circular.”
This intuitive approach—used very heavily by individuals with dyslexia who excel in Dynamic and Narrative reasoning—can be very powerful, but it does present a problem: when viewed from the outside it can look an awful lot like goofing off.

Absolutely… Its always painful to backtrack and explain the leaps in thinking. I know its a important part of the scientific process but it doesn’t stop it being not the way our minds are wired.

To be honest, I felt like its not just the education system which is trying to kick this out of us but also society. Partly if you look at the systems which surround us and who is writing them.

One day at work she was standing by her office window staring serenely out at the mountains while trying to let her mind “ease itself around a problem.” Her CFO walked by her door, looked in, and saw one of “his people” staring out the window, so he snapped at her to get back to work. Sarah calmly replied, “You work in your way, I’ll work in mine. Now stop interrupting me.” Sarah later wrote of this episode, “What this CFO didn’t know was that staring into space is precisely how we work. It is our capacity to throw our brains into neutral and let connections assemble . . . that makes it possible for us to see connections that others can’t. We relax into the work.”

I can’t tell you the disbelieve some people have around me working in the northern quarter. The different buzzy environment completely changes the way I think, like staring out the window or being less focused.

This need for patient reflection can also create enormous problems at school, where time for reflection is in critically short supply. Try convincing a teacher that staring out the window is how you work best or that “getting busy” means you’ll get less done. Yet this passive and reflective approach really is a valid problem-solving method, and there’s plenty of scientific evidence to support its validity and effectiveness. In the research literature, this method of problem solving is referred to as insight.

Absolutely… Says it all! Always said hours does not equal effort. I’m personally more effective late at night, when I’m in a more relaxed state and have room/space to think wider and larger. There was a period when I found it hard to sleep because my mind just buzzed away.

Although insight-based problem solving is very powerful, because much of its connection-making process takes place outside the person’s conscious awareness, it can often seem second-rate, mystical, shoddy, or even slightly disreputable. But there’s an observable neurological mechanism underlying insight that’s been well worked out over the last decade by researchers.

Yes insight is always seen as hooky, non-scientific or a joke. There is a large section debunking insight as this but its well worth a blog post on its own. But I think this is a fitting end to insight discussion.

…As teachers, parents, co-workers, and bosses, we need to be watchful for individuals who frequently reach the right results through insight, and when we find them we need to treat their different reasoning style with the seriousness it deserves. Not all staring out the window is productive reasoning, but quite a lot is; and it’s important to understand that some people—including many of the most creative—really do need to “relax into their work.”

I haven’t even finished the Dyslexic advantage but I’m already raving about the book. Its clarified many things and given much more fuel for the things I kind of knew was true but found hard to explain. Gaining deductive logic or insight about my insight (ha!)

This is the kind of book with some tweaking could be a very powerful book for young dyslexic children growing up. Its a little inaccessible but the audio book is great and having both really works.

The internet is the singularity?

It was something David and Doc said on Twit’s Trianglation #186.

David compared the internet to the transformation of language. Doc added the internet renders distance to zero, which is pretty amazing to think about when looking at the cluetrain rules especially my favourite one – Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy. This is only possible because of the internet era.

This got me thinking, if the internet is as transformational as language, and there’s thought that language could be one of the first singularities. Then that would make the internet the singularity?

This raises a ton of observations I and others have wondered about.

  • What technologies are likely to cause the next singularity?
  • When will the next singularity happen?

and my own…

  • Will we know, we are experiencing a singularity as we are in one? (getting meta about the singularity). Maybe the internet is the singularity and things like the cluetrain is actually carving out the new rules?

Luckily, Doc and David will be talking to us via the singularity in Manchester for the Commonground launch event. You can still get tickets. How’s that for a launch event? We are forever thankful they agreed to take part.

'The Singularity is Near'...very

Talking of singularities…

Ray Kurzweil and others have been talking about how they would like to see stricter controls on artificial intelligence, assuming the singularity is closer than we think.

Ray Kurzweil, director of engineering at Google, has estimated that robots will reach human levels of intelligence by 2029, purportedly leaving us about 14 years to reign supreme.

Of course theres always the other view, from the rich and educated.

Now I wonder what happened to the energy singularity?

We need more 21st Century Mindful Leadership

Transformational Leadership

Laura tweeted a link to 21st Century Mindful Leadership, which I had a read of and sent her a link fromUmair Haque.

I liked a lot of what was said from Susan in the post. Here’s a couple parts which really got me.

As we head further into the 21st century the ancient concept of systematic hierarchies where people are ranked above or below one another is fading away. And it’s a good thing because science is recognizing that authoritative, egotistic and critical behavior actually goes against the grain of our innate nature.

When I read this part, I just can’t help but think about that striking thinking digital talk by Blaze. As Laura mentioned when I spoke about Blaze’s talk… Nature and Biodiversity is critical and Susan’s just picking up on the tail end of the inevitable trend.

I certainly like this maybe because it reflects my own view of what leadership is or at least should be… The summary at the end finishes it off for me nicely.

Standing on the edge of the 21st century we have the ability to create more good in the world than ever before. Globally, leaders have a responsibility to develop inner resilience, clarity and vision coupled with a compassionate understanding of humanity in order to effectively lead us through complex challenges.  With the willingness to work together we have the chance to initiate sustainable solutions that will improve the lives of every single person on earth — the opportunity of a lifetime.

Absolutely… Couldn’t have said it better myself, except we need more enlighten leaders and leadership. We need to push for better leaders and not put up with the same crap from the same sources.

Uber drives its way on the UK scene

2014-01-26 | 23-52-16

Uber has soft launched (I guess, is the best term for it) in Manchester and the impact is interesting to watch. Uber is basically a ride sharing network (legally I don’t believe they can call it a taxi service Thanks Chris for pointing out UberX is a legal and licensed Taxi service).

Its quite simple, you sign up and install the app and you can see all the uber rides around you. To order one, you simply request that one pick you up from your exact location. Then say where you want to go. That simple. Unlike most taxis, you can see exactly when and when your ride is coming and heck you can even start walking somewhere and the driver will see your exact location change (great for when trying to get out of the rain for example). No phoning an operator, trying to get through and trying to explain where you are.

There have been apps for taxis but most of them suck and although Uber isn’t perfect, its better than 99% of whats out there.

The fact your payment is done through a connected credit card rather than cash or even debit card is a massive advantage. Frankly these guys have something which is pretty useful. I can’t tell you the amount of times, I have had the taxi driver pull over at a cash machine because I don’t have the cash or they don’t cards. Heck once I stopped at my destination and then had to get back on the road to find a cash machine because their card machine wasn’t working! (seriously!)

But its not all good news, I’ve been tracking Uber’s problems in America and theres even recent problems in Europe.

However, Uber is the perfect example of how the internet when embraced is disrupting traditional business forever…

From the Cluetrain manfesto… rule #89

We have real power and we know it. If you don’t quite see the light, some other outfit will come along that’s more attentive, more interesting, more fun to play with.

I do feel for the taxis company’s but they had their chances and may have blown it? Just like the music business and many others, they really need to up their game or feel the heat from Uber, as their drivers leave for the Uber deal…

Why I still blog?

Its been over 10 years since I started blogging… I actually started in 2003 after I started working for Ravensbourne College. Here’s my first post (as such). I forgot to celebrate 10 years but I forgot, plus I originally started blogging offline then uploaded posts from the past about 2004ish. I’ll celebrate when I hit 25000 posts maybe?

I saw Suw’s piece on blogging in 2014., which is reply to David Weinberger’s (yes one of the writers of the Cluetrain) blog titled slightly sad elegy for blogging. Suw was one of the early bloggers in London. Chocolate & Vodka was famous in a small early community and hit the mainstream quite a few times. It also elevated her into circles only available to the elite, and happily Suw kept it real and called bollox when it really was (who could forget WeMedia!)

I owe my current career to blogging. Without it, I would never have developed an interest in how people connect through technology, and never would have met all the people who helped me turn that interest into a job. It is not an overstatement to say that without blogging — and without on Freenode — I would not have founded ORG, would not have met my husband, would not have started Ada Lovelace Day, and so on. I am incredibly grateful to blogging for all that.

I also owe a hell of a lot to blogging. My jobs, promotion into BBC Backstage, BarCamp, lifestyle, reputation, confidence, etc… I didn’t meet my ex-wife through blogging but as a side effect of reading a book (design for communities) recommended by bloggers. Things like the Cluetrain only came on my radar due to the act of reflecting back via my blog aka in a public permanent way. Heck I met Suw through her blogging, united with Kevin (Suw’s husband) through blogging values and spoke at their wedding years later!

You only have to look at the different New Years Resolutions which I’ve been doing since 2008 to get a glance of the act of being public has had on me personally.

But as both have noted, there has been a massive decline in long form blogging. I say long form because remember Twitter is meant to be microblogging but to me and many others it feels like its leaving the world of blogging long behind. You could also say the amount of bloggers (in the traditional sense of a person who writes a blog, or weblog) has exploded. But then also has the community of blogging?

The decision between tweeting and blogging are distinct in my mind. But the lack of time is also a issue. However the big issue is the lack of reading I’m doing now I’m on the scooter again. I actually look forward to the times when I’m on the tram, as I can read some RSS again.

I wonder too if my lack of blog writing is related to a lack of blog reading. My RSS reader became so clogged that I feared it, wouldn’t open it, and ultimately, abandoned it. And then Twitter and now Zite arrived to provide me with random rewards for clicking and swiping, showing me stuff that I had no idea I wanted to read. Instead of following the writings of a small cadre of smart, lovely people whom I am proud to call my friends, I read random crap off the internet that some algorithm thinks I might be interested in, or that is recommended by the people I follow on Twitter.

To be honest, I never really heard of Zite till recently. That and Quartz all seem interesting but I never use them. I do use Feedly but only as a place to sync my own RSS feeds since Google reader shutdown. I know there is the filter bubble effect but frankly I’m not too bothered at this moment. The people I want to read and follow are much more interesting that what some algorithm (which thinks it knows me) throws up.

I personally use feedly in chrome on the rare occasion that I’m reading from my laptop otherwise I’m using gRSSreader on my tablet for straight up RSS reading. Instapaper has come into its own for me over the last few years with me being able to just stack interesting things together in a queue for later consumption and further thought. So much so, that I feel like I lost a big part of the experience when my kindle broke. Now I’m scanning ebay looking to pick up a basic Wifi Kindle paperwhite, so I can read instapaper on the go. Amazon’s free email service is unbeatable and I can’t imagine having a ereader without it now.

I do wish I had more time to read and write back in my own blog. So in my new years resolution

Surround myself in higher thinking…

Is a direct plan to tackle that.

Ultimately I’m going to keep blogging for years to come, maybe heck I’ll celebrate 20 or 25 years of blogging. My views online for anyone to read is still something which kind of blows my mind. Jon covers most of the points in the early part of his blog.

Presence, Community, Disruption.

Blogging was just one of mechanisms for delivering the promise of the Net that had us so excited in the first place. The revolution is incomplete.

Mary Portas: Secret Shopper

I don’t usually watch these kind of things but I did find Mary Portas Secret Shopper somewhat interesting

In this brand new series Mary Portas has changed sides. Rather than helping businesses to maximise profits, she’s now championing the shopper, and battling to get Britain’s biggest chains to put customers first.

Mary believes that Britain is cowering under a cloud of poor customer service and that we’ve never had it so bad. By using the stealth weapon of secret shopping, she exposes shoddy customer service and uses the evidence to give company bosses a wake-up call. And, with the help of her covert cameras, she’s planning to start a retail revolution.

Customer service is indeed a sham in the UK. Everything has been pushed aside for higher profit. Theres a great scene where Mary is talking to the head of pilot in front of the owner of leon. He gives all the reasons why he felt everything was going well and they didn’t need to change. Of course all the reasons were to do with expansion and profit, customer service was never mentioned in anyway.

Its intriguing because theres so many elements we’ve learned from the online world via things like the cluetrain manifesto at play. In actual fact the real world can learn a lot from the online world.

Customer is king, how sad we are for not punishing them who forget this.

Reading the Cluetrain by our PR lady

Our PR lady started reading the Cluetrain Manfesto after I gave her a copy to read. She seems to be reading through it slowly but at the same time its brought up more questions that I'd expected. So I suggested to her that she should blog internally or even externally about reading through the book. So I was kinda of shocked when she agreed… And now reading the cluetrain is born.

I think its really good to see our PR lady blogging, shes quite strange in a nice way. Kind of person who would forgive you at that moment but would never forget what you did. Anyway, shes been willing to learn about the changes online markets make to PR and thats a really good thing. Please check out her blog, as she really wants comments and constructive ideas around what she reads and blogs.

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BBC.co.uk 2.0, why it will happen

Myself

So since my post in reply of Jason's post there's been a lot of discussion and conversation. Technorati as usual doesn't quite get as close as Google. Either way, its the emails and im's I've been getting which are also interesting. Most people have been really supportive, while others have been less that supportive. They felt I was slagging off the BBC and making things worst by talking about my own views. I mean how dare I express my own personal views on my own personal blog right? The same blog which has the subtitle, The views and thoughts of a dyslexic British designer/developer. Anyway, its late again but I'm going to finish what I was writing before as somethings were not explicit.

When out and about people ask me many things about the BBC, one of which is about the iplayer. Even in Boston, people once they know you work for the BBC wanted to know more about the decisions which formed to create the iplayer. They ask if I use it myself and I say no. Most ask why, and I try and explain my media consumption diet in a short period of time. But the main point is people ask, I'm sure all BBC employees get this? Its great, people are very interested in consuming BBC content and services but are very puzzled about the whole DRM issue. They ask why would a public broadcaster apply DRM to its content? Some more clued up people ask the same question and then point out that our analogue and dtv content has no such restrictions. Yes the BBC puts out press releases and has a official website with discussion boards (not indexed by google), but people still ask. So I put across the point of most of the content we play on TV, we only have broadcast rights to and that indies own a good proportaion of the content rights which goes out. However the question remains why DRM?

Some of my non-supporter, seem to think its just the geek world which are upset about this. Well we have to remember its the geeks which are fixing and installing stuff on their parents computer come Christmas time, geeks that are willing to test drive a beta service/product like iplayer and finally geeks who lead the way into the mainstream market. So thats a sure reminder not to just write off this stuff to geeks. However what also prompted my other post was this video by Robert Llwellyn. Its a rant and his own view but its interesting to note, like I have done up till now, Robert bundles the iplayer into one. Yes and that is the vision but has also wound people up royally. So to explicit here, when I say iplayer is a mess and I'm sure when most people say they hate the iplayer, its not because of the system behind it or the interface or the delivery system or even the quality of the video. No its all down to the DRM. The DRM is so attached to the iplayer, and because of it over 2mins of Roberts rant was about DRM in iplayer.

The iplayer team have worked damm hard on a good solid product/service and are hearing lots of negative comments about the iplayer when actually people mean the DRM. However, because the whole service is robustly built, I'm sure it will out live its current form and who knows whats around the corner?

Right to address, if I should be talking on my blog about this stuff. This seems to rub a lot of people up the wrong way., some seem to think I might be bigging myself up at the expense of the BBC. Well I'm not and I'm not going to let you guys bring me down. I love working at the BBC and love my job, its ground breaking and I go places and speak to people most never get a chance. So, I want to make meaning and I believe the BBC is capable of moving into the next curve with its unique funding model. Unlike Jason, I think its unique public funding model will be an advantage over the advertising or subscription models. Oh at the same time can I make it clear I was disagreeing with what Jason was blogging about. So why write anything at all? Its the Cluetrain effect. Things have changed. Take a look at the difference between the Newswatch and the editors blog. Its not so much about the layout but more the conversation or voice. So rather than talk any more, here's a few Cluetrains which sum up what I'm getting at.

#3 – Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.
#10 – As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally.
#12 – There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.
#14 – Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman.

#34 – To speak with a human voice, companies must share the concerns of their communities.

Some good examples, Wikipedia entry on the iplayer, Imp's ultimate review of the iplayer, E-petition and Currybet's first 14 days.

So at the end of day, iPlayer is just the start (and in beta), over the next few months you will see a BBC which will silence its critics and launch a range of services which will impress. Transparency and conversation is important and it will take time for everyone to adjust but with time… BBC 2.0 it will happen. Look at projects like Backstage, Innovation Labs, TV Backstage, BBC Blogs, etc… to get a feel of the changes starting to happen.

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95 Theses of Geek Activism

In the vein of the cluetrain manfesto, Devanshu posted a great post with 95 points about geek activism. Honestly there pretty awesome, but here's my favorate…

  • Violating a license agreement is not theft.
  • All corporations are not on your side.
  • Everything will enter the public domain some day- even Mickey Mouse.
  • Trusted computers must not be trusted.
  • Proprietary data formats must never store public information.
  • Fair use is a good thing.
  • Use multiple operating systems regularly so you truly understand interoperability.
  • Data mining will not stop terror.
  • Express your opinion in public
  • Blog
  • Security is a trade-off- what are you willing to give up?
  • Use Creative Commons
  • Understand the difference between civil disobedience and breaking the law.
  • Support the free, public domain archives of information.
  • Undermine censorship by publishing information censored in oppressive countries.
  • Voicing your views in a Slashdot comment thread is good, in your own blog is better, but in places that non-geeks frequent is best.
  • Have a global perspective in ideas of geek civil liberties, intellectual property rights and so forth. Do you like your country’s policies in this respect? Can you help people from another country?
  • Read more
  • Make sure that if a vendor locks you in, you lock them out.
  • Linux is no longer a philosophy- it is a good piece of software. Use it if it fits your needs.
  • More information available to the most number of people is a good thing.
  • Vote
  • Read our modern geek philosophers- read Bruce Perens, Cory Doctorow, Bruce Sterling and even Richard Stallman. Read Schneier to find practical reasons why stupid security mechanisms are stupid. Read them even if you disagree with them- it will help frame your point of view.
  • DRM only keeps an honest user honest.
  • Be proud of being a geek, a gamer, a privacy advocate, promoter of free speech and an innovator without fear of litigation, of government or restrictions on liberties- a geek activist.

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The striking differences of pro-amateurs and professionals marketplaces

I heard this absolutely amazing talk today via IT Conversations. Paul Graham last year upset a lot of people with his comments about Microsoft and Java in his hilarious Great Hackers at OScon 2004 which can still be found here on IT Conversations. But this time he turns his targets at the tradition workplace, professionalism and big business in the OScon 2005 keynote.

I wont go into details because I couldn't express the way Paul puts over the points in his own unique way. Here's the Blurb from IT Conversations.

Paul Graham, popular author and Lisp programmer, discusses what business can learn from open source. According to him, it's not about Linux or Firefox, but the forces that produced them. He delves into the reasons why open source is able to produce better software, why traditional workplaces are actually harmful to productivity and the reason why professionalism is overrated.

Paul takes blogging as an analogy and explains how the phenomenon is actually very similar to the open source movement. Both show that amateurs often surpass professionals in what they choose to do, because they love what they are doing. He also points out that in the age of the Internet, which has made collaboration extremely easy, large corporations find it difficult to compete with software produced by a bunch of inspired hackers. Paul also takes a dig at workplaces as we know them and illustrates how the most productive phase of any company is when it is still a startup.

I've always thought about blogs and opensource being quite similar in terms of there backgrounds, attitudes and coverage but nowhere at the level of Paul. I mean think about for one moment. Mainstream business has been talking about open source for a long time but and sees it as a treat to some of there propitery ways but tend to poke at it with a stick and not really adopt the open source methology. This statement can almost be put directly on the mainstream medias view of blogs. They poke around with it but not really adopt the methologies behind it.

Paul makes such good references to the false ceiling of professionalism and amateurism. He made a comment about the fact that the word amateur has been changed from its original meaning. So I had a little look around and he's right. From wikipedia's entry on amateur

The word amateur has at least two connotations. In the first, more widely used manner, it means someone performing some task without pay, in contrast to a “professional” who would be paid for the same task. In this sense, labeling someone an “amateur” can have a negative connotation. For example, amateur athletes in sports such as basketball or football would not be regarded as having ability on par with professional athletes in those sports.

Where this can be interesting is in the case of the Olympic Games. Most Olympic events required that the athletes be amateurs, or non-professionals. To receive pay to perform the sport could have disqualified an athlete from an event, as in the case of Jim Thorpe. Such regulations are now nonexistent for all Olympic sports with the exception of boxing.

Also in the areas of computer programming and open source, as well as astronomy and ornithology, many amateurs make very meaningful contributions equivalent to or exceeding those of the professionals. To many, description as an amateur is losing its negative meaning, and actually carries a badge of honor.

The other, perhaps somewhat obsolescent usage, stems from the French form of the Latin root of the word meaning a “lover of”. (See amateurism.) In this sense, retaining its French inflexion (“am-a-tEUR”), an amateur may be as competent as a paid professional, yet is motivated by a love or passion for the activity, like a connoisseur. In the 17th and 18th centuries virtuoso had similar connotations of passionate involvement.

Indeed, another thriving example of such work is Amateur Dramatics – whether plays or musical theater. Often performed to high standards (but lacking the budgets of the professional West End theatre/Broadway theatreversions) and with an intense passion for the scene.

It has been suggested that the crude, all or nothing categories of professional or amateur should be reconsidered. A historical shift is occurring with the rise of Pro-Ams, a new category of people that are pursuing amateur activities to professional standards.

This is a sticking point for a lot of the opposition to many things, and thinking about it more. Its got to me too. For example, recently I was pulled into a heated battle about the quality of content in blogs. The other parties were saying the writing was not professional enough. Now instead of outlining examples of brilliant writing like Paul Ford's Ftrain. I should have said no, on a whole its amateur writing but thats no reflection on the quality. I was drawn into a debate about professionalism without me realizing. Miles said something profound about my blog the other day, which relates so well to this and I only just saw the link. Obviously this is me power phrasing – I read your blog because its your thoughts and ideas not some wannabe wank wanting to play by the mainstream rules. And he's right, I dont want my blog to be in the Technorati top 100. I dont care that my blog is worth nothing to the mainstream media, its not the rules I'm playing by sorry.

Cluetrain #81 : Have you noticed that, in itself, money is kind of one-dimensional and boring? What else can we talk about?

Cluetrain #88 : We have better things to do than worry about whether you'll change in time to get our business. Business is only a part of our lives. It seems to be all of yours. Think about it: who needs whom?

Amateursation (is there such a word?) once removed from its below professional setting, its really easy to reclaim back the word as its what drives the long tail of Internet content. But more interestingly is the Pro-amateur word which I would categories some of the podcasts I hear and watch as. For example, IT conversations is a pro-am of podcasting. Its content is not broad like mainstream media, it sticks to a niche audience and adopts all the values and spirit of the amateur marketplace. Likewise the Rev3 guys are certainly the Pro-am of the videoblogging. I cant quite put my finger on it but Digital Life TV feels closer to mainstream media than Systm.Maybe thats why I end up skipping some parts?

I'm not quite done with Paul Graham yet….

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