The starfish and the spider on catalysts and firestarters?

ocean colour scene #3

I have been reading (listening to) the starfish and the spider for the last few days when walking. I never heard of it till I heard one of the interviews on the after on podcast. It feels like the Catherial and the Bazaar for the internet age, ever so relevant.

Something really got me thinking… The idea that The Catalysts sound very similar to The Firestarters?

The book identifies a set of people the authors call “catalysts”, who tend to be skilled at creating decentralized organizations. The authors list several abilities and behaviors (called “The Catalyst’s Tools”) that “catalysts” have in common, including:

  1. Genuine interest in others.
  2. Numerous loose connections, rather than a small number of close connections.
  3. Skill at social mapping.
  4. Desire to help everyone they meet.
  5. The ability to help people help themselves by listening and understanding, rather than giving advice (“Meet people where they are”).
  6. Emotional intelligence.
  7. Trust in others and in the decentralized network.
  8. Inspiration (to others).
  9. Tolerance for ambiguity.
  10. A hands-off approach. Catalysts do not interfere with, or try to control the behavior of the contributing members of the decentralized organization.
  11. Ability to let go. After building up a decentralized organization, catalysts move on, rather than trying to take control.

This book has some similarities to books like The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell, as both identify certain sets of people who are important to change in a society or an organization, and try to define the attributes that people belonging to these sets have in common.

I think the Firestarters is next on my list, as I’m keen to see if there is cross overs or should I tweak my title to catalyst?

The end of Schemer?

I really liked Schemer when I first heard about it. I remember calling it inspirational networking.

Well my friend Matt today pointed out it might be closing sooner than I imagined. Adam Coder points out what to be fair I’m also thinking after reading this Engadget leak.

We can’t blame you if you haven’t heard of Google’s Schemer; the goal sharing service launched at the end of 2011, but it hasn’t received much publicity (or traffic) since. Accordingly, the crew in Mountain View may be close to shutting Schemer down. Google Operating System has leaked an internal version of Schemer’s website that includes an unfinished closure page inviting users to export their data. It’s not clear how serious Google is about closing Schemer, however. The internal site may reflect real plans, or it could be a just-in-case placeholder; we’ve reached out to the company for a definitive answer. We won’t be surprised if Schemer gets the axe, though, when Google has shut down more beloved services in the past.

Looks like its the end of the line for Schemer and its a real shame because I’ve introduced it to quite a few people who quite like it. Even I have been using on and off quite a bit.

So seeing how Google are hell bent on getting rid of anything which doesn’t seem to fit Google+, has no moonshot inspiration or make them money right now.. What would I suggest happens to Schemer?

I’d love to see the BBC takeover from Google. Hear me out, its not as nutty as it first seems.

The improvement and inspiration in peoples lives is something at the heart of the BBC, ok we’re mainly talking about Great Britain but maybe its time we looked further a field. Lots of the goals on Schemer match or fit in with a BBC programme (TV/Radio/Web). For example my goal to head to TokyoThere’s 36 BBC Learning resources about Tokyo. 3 about the religion. 188 verified and checked websites. With some crowdsourcing (hate that word too) a combination of what the BBC recommends and what the people actually use, you can easily see fantastic guides for everything from reading more on the tram to going to Tokyo.

Maybe I need to write this up in more detail but thats for another day.

Interestingly with all this talk about closing down Schemer, I’m thinking what happened to the whole decentralised networking thing? Is there a way to take the best parts of Schemer but bake it into the web? Heck it could be a WordPress plugin or a RDF/a or Microformats/Data?

I have been writing my new years resolutions in the public on my blog for quite some time. I was surprised to found out its been since 2008 I have been doing so. If I remember rightly it was something to do with Critsiano Betta, Miss Geeky and a series of posts about new year resolutions.

Anyhow I’ve inspired someone others to do the same. Andy and Tim.

inspired by @cubicgarden I blogged my new years resolutions

And thats one of the wonderful things about Schemer. Seeing how your goal inspires others. You can also aid/help people get their goals. This naturally happens when you state your goals in public. For example… here’s a comment from Rachel offering her help with my genealogy.  On Facebook theres also more.

The importance of having your own blog/space, yes but its the collective nature which could make it a replacement for the almost dead schemer?

TedXManchester2: The Story of Me

I’m just back from TedXManchester where I gave one of the most fascinating talk of my life.
The story of me came about in a conversation between myself and Herb Kim a while ago. Herb was wondering if I  might want to get involved in TedXManchester2. And somewhere along the line we talked about the possibility of someone from the BBC talking at the upcoming event. Anyway, in a roundabout way, we got around to talking about the possibility of talking about mybrushwithdeath.
I think Herb was very surprised when I said I’d love to do it and we got talking to Isabella from the Cornerhouse about the possibility. I remember that night because it was in Tai Wu and Herb ordered a bottle of Sake, which we never did quite finish 🙂
The presentation I’ve kept under wraps for a long while because I didn’t want to spoil it in advance and I’m only really known for giving presentations about technology or dating. I did show a couple of people who wasn’t going to be at Tedx, but generally it was a need to know bases.
So it went extremely well. All the comments I’ve seen on Twitter and Tedx chatroom have been pretty positive. Lots of people came up and said lovely things to me afterwards.
I know there was some criticism about being left in the room for 7 days but… remember I have no memory of anything, so it might have been I was actually wondering about but not right in the head, as the bleed was most likely happening from just after the election.
I’m glad I pretty much held it together, although when Herb did the introduction, I almost started to cry as he explained what happened from his point of view. As I took the steps, I thought there is no way I’m going to hold it together long enough, but I did – just… By my eyes, I hit the 18min mark almost dead on, which is great because that’s how long its taken when I did my test runs both times.
It was fantastic to tell my story on the scale of TedxManchester, and I really thank everyone for listening to my story, there is so much I cut out of the slides to make it fit including the problems I had in Hope Hospital (which I got a official written sorry for), the story of how my sister and mortgage adviser (Billie) saved my flat, the reaction to being told who won the general election and the whole mydreamscape idea.

I don’t think I will need to ever tell the story again… I’m coming up to my 2nd year since the brush with death, and I’m feeling great (although very tired right now). I was going to add to the end of my presentation, the story continues…

I just know someone/some people out there was inspired by such a personal story and if that helps, my job was done.


Of course I didn’t say anything about the other speakers at TedXManchester…

TedXManchester 2012

Mary Anne Hobbs gave a fantastic talk with no slides and no real prompt, amazing stuff. Its actually funny because I felt like her talk fitted really well with my own although we were hours apart. Passion is infectious…

Tara Shears really made particle physics sound quite simple and Tom Bloxham was quite likeable in what he was saying. I had a little chat with him about the New Islington area before the event started and he wasn’t as defensive about it as I thought it would be. Maybe he hears it all the time. Martins 12min talk asking why there isn’t a startup hub in Manchester was interesting and got me thinking about my plans for Smlworld.

Dan O’Hara

Dan O’Hara and Brendan Dawes were great as you’d expect… But a massive shout must go to Herb & Isabella for putting the whole thing together and picking such great speakers to talk…