Simplifying my quantified self


Not that I entered the communications profession for an easy ride but some topics are more sensitive to talk about than others, as is finding the most appropriate way, places and times for people to access and understand what is being communicated. Having trust in those explaining things is a big issue too. “I’m a PR guy I would say that wouldn’t I” etc More on that here.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter if not everyone knows about something. There are times when people do find out about things but they might not be interested. There are however times when people need to know the implications of something as they might need to make a choice that affects them or others. Times when they need to understand what is being talked about so they see it as being for them.

Big data, open data, and use of people’s health and care and personal information are some of these topics. And there are many organisations involved in this which makes it even more complicated.

This isn’t a post about what ‘big’ or ‘open’ data is or the pros and cons of using personal data or who owns what or what will be done with data and whose quantified self  is better than another persons. There are many attempts covering that elsewhere on the web. What I’m musing on here is how you might bring about a useful discussion so that people have the chance to understand what is happening, how people can find out what it means and what their options are once they are informed. Similarly how those coordinating discussions get a feel for how a wide range of people feel about the communication and engagement opportunities and the topics being discussed.

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Walking the digital corridors

IMG_20130325_125339A couple of years ago I ran a pilot project at Leeds City Council looking at ‘voice, context and digital identity’ as we looked to introduce social networking. I’d been intending to write about the subject of digital confidence once the follow up work to the pilot was more developed.

During the last couple of years I’ve also being following the work of Catherine Howe on networks and democracy. A particular post ‘Digital leadership or just leadership’ was particularly relevant to the work I’ve been doing. Following Catherine’s latest update on Social Media why bother?, I had the opportunity to meet her to discuss and which spurred me to now post on digital confidence.

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More with less – really?


About three years ago I went to a conference. The promotional strap line included the term ‘doing more with less’. Now you know that feeling you get when you read or hear something and think – ‘not quite sure about that’?

I was at a meeting last week and again the term was used; “we are in unprecedented times – we need to do more with less!”  I heard it used by someone on the TV news this morning too.

I recently read a post by Paul Taylor which included a section ‘Language matters’. Much discussion followed another great post and for me, that section and title says it all.

Language really does matter, especially if you are in a position where you need to enthuse and encourage others to get through tough times and need people to be innovative and creative in how they do things. Statements like “we need to do more with less” really don’t help – they might even have the opposite effect.

Sentiment aside, is it even possible to do or get more with less?  ‘Work smarter with less’, yes. ‘More for the same’ – dig deep, share things out, perhaps. ‘Work together and pool smaller budgets for a better deal’, okay. But more with less? Really?

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A different faith

yemenOf all the films I’ve seen, the one that made me think the most was Salmon fishing in the Yemen. I don’t know what the pull to this film was as I’d not heard others rave about it and it didn’t catch my eye when it was a trailer to other films. Fishing is not my thing either. I’ll come back to why it resonated with me shortly.

This has been an unusually tough week for me and perhaps others I work with too.  I’ve attended two leaving dos and have two more before the end of the month. I know a fair few people who will be leaving next year also. I realise it’s tough for everyone, however national and local messages about difficult times to come in public sector service provision are increasing and are clearly changing in tone.

The implications, and weekly reality, of less folk to do what is needed are increasingly being felt. Some things need to change to accommodate this.  ‘More with less’ isn’t going to work and hearing it being said switches people off rather than engages them in what might be. ‘Less with less’ is the reality, and isn’t universally recognised as there’s perhaps still too much “we’ve always done it this way.” 

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Becoming an older person


We often use the term ‘I feel old’ rather than ‘I am old’. Maybe there’s something telling in how we express our age. My gran always dodged the age question by responding with “I’m as old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth.” Never would she tell us her age.

In six months I will be 50. Five. Zero. That’s a notably half decent number in cricketing terms but not so much if you were playing darts. I suppose it’s a significant number, as is any birthday with the zero on the end, apparently.

When I fill forms in I know that shortly I won’t be in the 45-49 category anymore but I’ve never really felt different because I’ve reached a certain age. With everything I’m involved in at work with colleagues and at home with family and friends, I’ve really not thought about it as ‘the big Five O’. Until today that is.

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The kite


I was rummaging around in our box of family photos, (from before digital!) when I came across this image. One of those chance shots that captured everything. So I took a photo of it with my phone, made it square and there it is; digital.

Exploring devaluing friction


Use words like ‘disruptor’ or ‘activist’ when talking about organisational development or business change and there will probably be a few eyebrows raised.

“Disruption! – we’ll have none of that round here thank you kindly, even though things need to change”

It’s been a year since seeing the sun go the other way across the sky showed me that being prepared to see things differently can make a huge difference to how we interact with others. Well, another penny dropped whilst on my travels; about how what we value might be perceived as different to what others value or see, even when it’s the same thing. Similarly, that how we demonstrate what we value might be the relevant part.

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