Mistakes are simply opportunities missed

Mistakes

I am in love with this idea right now… It comes from something I heard on NPR’s Ted hour about making mistakes.

The show is made up of a few TED talks but groups them together under one general theme. In the part which made me pick up my ears, a bunch of jazz musicians, improvise around each other and their mistakes (as such).

HARRIS: So someone could conceptually perceive that as a mistake. And the only way that I would say it was a mistake is in that we didn’t react to it. It was an opportunity that was missed. So it’s unpredictable, we’ll paint this palette again, he’ll play it. I don’t know how we’ll react to it, but something will change. We’ll all accept his ideas or not.

Mistakes are simply opportunities missed!

Collaboration or as I’m reminded by Jon, CoDesign is based on these principles. Something I’ve been thinking about a lot.

It’s much more organic, much more nuance, it’s not about bullying my vision or anything like that, it’s about being here in the moment, accepting one another, and allowing creativity to flow.

Beautifully said…!

Storytelling through different types of frames

As part of my investigations into Perceptive Media, myself and other colleagues are deconstructing storytelling down to its most logical parts. Part of this is understanding the history of storytelling and other aspects of storytelling which are outside the mainstream consciousness.

It was the other day I spent extra long in the shower listening to NPR’s TED radio hour, as it was all about stories.

In this hour, TED speakers explore the art of storytelling — and how good stories have the power to transform our perceptions of the world.

The one which struck a chord with me was Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk on the dangers of the single story. Chimamanda gives a great example to start.

So I grew up in a small university town in Nigeria, and started reading quite early. And I read a lot of British children’s books, which was not unusual. This was the norm for children like me. And so when I started to write, I was writing exactly those stories. All my characters were white and blue-eyed. They played in the snow, they ate apples, and they talked a lot about the weather – how lovely it was that the sun had come out. Now this, despite the fact that I lived in Nigeria, I had never been outside Nigeria. We didn’t have snow, we ate mangoes, and we never talked about the weather because there was no need to. My characters also drank a lot of ginger beer, never mind that I had no idea what ginger beer was. And for many years afterwards, I would have a desperate desire to taste ginger beer.

In Chimamanda’s own words

What this demonstrates, I think, is how impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story, particularly as children. Because all I had read were books in which characters were foreign, I had become convinced that books, by their very nature, had to have foreigners in them and had to be about things with which I could not personally identify.

The power of the story is that powerful. And I conclude listening to her talk and the other TED talks on the show. Mass publishing/broadcasting is partly to blame for this.

Of course in my usual way, I wonder could Perceptive Media could/would make this situation better? I believe so, but how?

In this case, personalisation could be a good thing. Yes the fears of echo chambers and filter bubbles, have to be wary of but on the other hand a well written story is adaptable to almost any culture. Its the inflexibility of the medium which is causing African women to grow up thinking white blue eyed ginger beer drinking kids are part and parcel of the medium. Yes you can point the finger at globalization but its deeper than that. Its inherent to the medium of publishing and broadcasting… in my honest opinion.

If Perceptive Media can remove or even dislodge the dangers of the single story, I would be very happy. As Chimamanda finishes her talk saying…

Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.

Big Data should be the word of the year

bigdata_network

I heard Geoff Nunberg’s piece on NPR’s podcast and I got to say, although I’m pretty much big dated out from BBC Backstage (in a nice way) I’m in total agreement. Here’s a few key points… Well worth listening to in audio form…

Whether it’s explicitly mentioned or not, the Big Data phenomenon has been all over the news. It’s responsible for a lot of our anxieties about intrusions on our privacy, whether from the government’s anti-terrorist data sweeps or the ads that track us as we wander around the Web. It has even turned statistics into a sexy major. So if you haven’t heard the phrase yet, there’s still time — it will be around a lot longer than “gangnam style.”

What’s new is the way data is generated and processed. It’s like dust in that regard, too. We kick up clouds of it wherever we go. Cellphones and cable boxes; Google and Amazon, Facebook and Twitter; cable boxes and the cameras at stoplights; the bar codes on milk cartons; and the RFID chip that whips you through the toll plaza — each of them captures a sliver of what we’re doing, and nowadays they’re all calling home.

It’s only when all those little chunks are aggregated that they turn into Big Data; then the software called analytics can scour it for patterns. Epidemiologists watch for blips in Google queries to localize flu outbreaks; economists use them to spot shifts in consumer confidence. Police analytics comb over crime data looking for hot zones; security agencies comb over travel and credit card records looking for possible terrorists.

It’s the amalgamation of all that personal data that makes it possible for businesses to target their customers online and tailor their sales pitches to individual consumers. You idly click on an ad for a pair of red sneakers one morning, and they’ll stalk you to the end of your days. It makes me nostalgic for the age when cyberspace promised a liberating anonymity. I think of that famous 1993 New Yorker cartoon by Peter Steiner: “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” Now it’s more like, “On the Internet, everybody knows what brand of dog food you buy.”