I really enjoyed this profile of Rurik Bradbury, the man behind the amusing Jeff Jarvis parody account @ProfJeffJarvis:

A main target of Bradbury’s satire is the Orwellian lengths to which major tech players go to distort language. […] Bradbury’s semantic umbrage is not limited to big platforms like Facebook or Google. He also takes issue with “meme hustlers” who try to fill the Web with their deep thoughts so they can sell books and charge high consulting fees. He thinks the sharing economy espoused by Uber and Airbnb should actually be called “poor persons as a service.”

To give you a taste of his medicine, here's a typical tweet:

And another:

Is satire trolling?

I've always enjoyed his work, because it does nicely capture the inherent ridiculousness of the outer edges of the field I work in. Jeff Jarvis himself has been less amused:

Now I tried to talk to my imposter-troll earlier in his two-and-a-half-year and 17,500-tweet campaign against me. He didn’t have the balls. After he affected my reputation with someone I’ve met, I sent him another message, saying he’d crossed the line. He still doesn’t have sufficient balls or the decency or the mere maturity and civility to talk to me. Hasn’t he had his fun already? But there’s no reasoning with trolls; indeed, that’s the definition of a troll.

I struggle a little with this - satire and trolling are distinctly different things, although exploiting someone's failure to recognise that it's a parody account, not the real one, does come perilously close to trolling (even if the victim in this case clearly takes himself far too seriously).

Still, satire is a valid part of our intellectual life, and I'm uncomfortable with dismissing it as trolling this easily.

Like The Doctor in Doctor Who, every now and again, the Interhacktives website falls over, and then gets up looking different, with a changed outlook on life. Except The Doctor does this at irregular intervals. And Interhacktives does it once a year.

Abandoning metaphor.

Interhacktives is a website run by the MA students in Interactive Journalism at City University, and is "supervised" by myself and Ben Whitelaw of The Times in the Social Media & Content Strategy module I run. It's a site that the students are expected to run themselves, and which contributes towards their assessment at the end of the module next year.

This year's design is nice, clean and fresh looking:

Interhacktives on the web

Getting responsive

And, finally, it's fully responsive. (Last year's design had a mobile theme, but not a responsive design.) This is the new look on iPad:

Interhacktives on iPad

Mobile-ready

And on iPhone:

Interhacktives on iPhone

A personal touch

One touch I really like is the nice, clear and consistently designed authors page:

Interhacktives: Contact Us

Only one actual new article up so far - but I'm looking forwards to seeing what they do with the site.

Newsstand 2014 ios8

Interesting piece from a couple of months ago, on the faltering pace of change in tablet magazines. It makes a good case for what's gone wrong - and an even more compelling one for some missed opportunities:

A successful tablet magazine requires a complete restructuring. “It makes no sense to me that Conde Nast and Hearst, with so many titles, have been unable to present consumers with the opportunity to mix and match from those titles,” Zeff said. “That type of curation is what we do every day with our Facebook and Twitter feeds. We pick and choose where we’re going to get our information and if there’s something we don’t like, we mute it."

I think it's inarguable at this point that there are two major issues as well as the ones listed in the article:

  1. Too many publishers just "shovelling" their magazine editions onto the tablet without thoughtful format changes - poor user experience keeps people from coming back
  2. Apple's Newsstand becoming less and less useful with every release of iOS.

As Glenn Fleishman wrote, reflecting on the up-coming demise of The Magazine - one of the few tablet magazines that genuinely did something different - Apple has really made it hard to like Newsstand:

Finally, Apple turning apps in the Newsstand essentially invisible curtailed any possibility of a revival. Marko Karppinen wrote sensibly in October 2013 that his publishing platform firm could no longer recommend to its clients that they develop new publications to appear in the Newsstand: “Once downloaded, Newsstand publications are hidden away within the Newsstand app.” If I moved my app out of the Newsstand, all the in-app subscriptions would have been cancelled, dooming it.

There's no doubt in my mind that the general idea of magazines will survive - most of the pure-play digital websites I read regularly are, essentially, magazines in conception. The only question that remains is "will anything that looks like existing print products survive?" - and that's looking more dubious by the month.

Simon Gough:

At some point, caring about how many friends and followers we have will be the preserve of the self-obsessed and the corporate. What really matters is what we can do; how we can embrace the fluidity of the web as a living stream, and make the most of it.

Amen.

Let's try this again

Well, hello, blog. I'm sorry I've been neglecting you. I've been terribly busy, you see. We're right in term time at City University, which always keeps me busy - but added to that, I've recently landed the biggest contract I've had since I went into consultancy, and it's for one of our national newspapers. Time is at something of a premium.

Plus, my daughter has learnt to open doors and turn on light switches, which means that I'm currently woken by the bed lights going on at about 6.30, with a cheery 2 year old saying "sleeping time is over, Daddy". And that's the good mornings. On the bad ones, she's affectionately poking me in the cheek. 

Little does she know that sleeping time ended when she was born.

So, writing in the evening is not exactly a great idea right now. 

But, the thing is, I promised myself I wouldn't do this. I would not neglect the blog (and the networking) when I got busy. And sometimes I just have to write myself back into blogging.

And that's exactly what this post is. 

Hello. Again. 

Warning: Liveblogging. Prone to error, inaccuracy and terrible, terrible crimes against grammar. This post will be improved over the next 24 hours

Lauri Feinsod

Lauri Feinsod uses the power of conscious business change to unleash people's potential

20 years ago, Lauri was diagnosed with something very serious - life-threatening, in fact. And she was one of the three worst patients the doctor had ever seen. He recommended that she be flow to Texas and put in isolation so she could be studied - and maybe - maybe - helped.

But she recovered.

What happened?

Well, it was an opportunity to hit the reset button on the system called her body. She didn't just get better - she got best. The symptoms of the disease went - but so did other things, she thought were inherent to her. She rebooted herself, and she's used that experience to create a new kind of business.

Her invitation? For us to practice the four states of being that allowed her transformation:

1. Super Here

This is the state of being so present we connect much more widely with things around us. This can be cultivated. Just intend it. If you practice this, almost anything becomes an opportunity to become super here.

How do you call it forth in a business? The easiest way is to create spaces. It can be as mundane as a celebration, or as elaborate as an eight week training programme. They held a "birthday month" gathering, where staff who shared a birthday month gathered together. One member was worried about her ethnicity and its link with 9/11 - did people blame her for that? She'd carried that worry for six year - and that space allowed her to deal with it.

2. Living the question

The invitation is to live the question. What is the question that best describes your calling in the world?

What is the potential of corporate culture to be a positive force in the world? That's the question they walk in their business. They're within minutes of being a zero landfill organisation.

3. Being the field of potential

Think of anyone you admire - you can probably sense that they do some of this. They presence the potential of what they do far beyond what they do themselves. What is the facet of the diamond for you, that you will presence?

Caring survival

That comment is soft, yet ruthless.

4. Witnessing Brilliance

If you do the first three - you may unleash the Kraken. If you enable large groups to co-create a better future, that what was in the way before can tend to bubble up. In the face of residence or noise, Take in what you get from beauty or brilliance, and give it out in times of stress or resistance - and that enables you to keep forward momentum.

There's no need of trauma, for dire illness to start playing like that. Support each other in hitting the reset button ourselves, our organisations and the world.

Joel & Michelle Levey

Joel and Michelle Levey build resilient lives and organisations through mindfulness

The Leveys work with the military in the US - for six months at a time. They work to allow soldiers to stop fighting a war inside, through their Jedi Warrior programme.

We live in the VUCA era:

  • Volatile
  • Uncertain
  • Complex
  • Ambiguous.

You need to train your brain to cope with this - and that's what the Leveys help people do.

For example, they posit that people were created to be loved, and things to be used. We've got that the wrong way around, and that's the cause of so much trouble in the world. Solutions are often inherent in problems. Plants that irritate grow next to those that will heal. The word "Vuca" means "wake up" in the Zulu language - and that's what we need to do; wake up to the interconnectedness of everything.

The elements of mind fitness

Michelle Levey

There are three key elements of mind fitness:

  1. Intention
  2. Attention
  3. Attitude.

As you train your mind, you are changing your brain, and your ability to change the world. This is neuroplasticity - the idea that our brain changes in response to what happens around us, and in us. The more certain neural circuits are activated, the more they grow. What we pay Attention to changes us. We bring Intention to bear on that to push our Attention where we want it to be.

Attention

How often are you in a room with 300 people giving full Attention, as Meaning attendees are? (There are remarkably few open laptops, bar your humble liveblogger). How many times are we surrounded by Zombies, running around within attention? Google asked them to design a mindfulness and meditation laboratory - and then roll it out to 24 locations worldwide. That led to hubs elsewhere, linked via Hangouts to share and meditate. That led to gatherings and mindfulness sessions at various sites. They do "GPauses". That pause is the space between stimulus and response - and the change to over-ride old, conditioned responses.

Intention

What is the Intention of people attending this conference? Is it about our own needs? Our colleagues? Our clients? Or all beings? Do we bring all the people touched by the decisions we make into the discussion?

Attitude

What Attitudes allow you to optimise you Attention and Intention? The Attitude of curiosity - openness and learning - for one, the beginner's mind. Being caring, open and non-judgemental all help.

Working for the military was a heart-opener for them. The amount of compassion and openness they found was not quite what they expected. They encountered one leader who was most proud of the number of humanitarian operations they'd done.

The world's first mindful organisation outside of Asia, was one division of HP, which had seen its GM poached. It was in disarray - but mindfulness brought it focus and business success.

Surfing the disruption wave

Joel Levey

How do we surf the waves of change?

  1. An eyes wide open acceptance of reality - embrace the reality of your situation, and embrace what you need to survive and thrive
  2. Accept that life is meaningful
  3. A creative spirit makes do with what is available to innovate, improvise and explore new possibilities

Your only real advantage is the brain power in your organisation. The more you practice Mindfulness, the more you change you brain - do it enough and you essentially rewire your operating system.

Warning: Liveblogging. Prone to error, inaccuracy and terrible, terrible crimes against grammar. This post will be improved over the next 24 hours

Bob Doak

Bob Doak works for WL Gore & Associates - a global business whose products you've probably worn.

He's a case study of a big, old organisation, but one that lives values that many assume are liberal or cultish. And yet, Gore don't owe anyone money - so they're probably destroying it. And Bob Doak is terrified to think what he'll be like when he's over 35

WL Gore & Associates was founded in 1958 and is privately held - and has over $3 billion in sales. Their staff - in 30 countries - are associates. It's one of only five companies to be on every "100 best places to work" list since 1984. They're written up as innovators all over the place. Bob Gore is their chairman - and he's firm that the products must do what they say they do.

Their products are everywhere - clothes, aircraft, full cells. But most people know them for their consumer fabrics. Their medical products division is "growing like topsy". Their products are used for minimally invasive procedure.

Divisions, lattices and slaying bureaucracy

They have four divisions: * medical * electronic * industrial * fabrics.

They keep the core technologies centrally, not in the divisions. The divisions are run by business people, so think to deadlines and targets. Held centrally, they can do long-term research. Their core products need to be hard to copy, and viable over time.

They're a lattice-base organisation, and strive for minimal bureaucracy. You do need some with 10,000 people - but can minimise it. They're keen on innovation and creativity in their internal systems - and leadership is defined by followership. Without it you're a manager - and if you're a manager you're gone.

Their objective? Make money - and have fun while you're doing it.

A presumption of trust

They work with a presumption of trust in people from the moment they hire them. They encourage self-direction. It allows people to grow and be more creative, and that leads to passionate champions. Nothing happens at Gore unless there is a passionate champion to drive it. You can't have a good idea for someone else to do - if it's such a good idea, do it yourself.

They organise into small, connected teams. There's no hiding place in a small team - but it makes people feel empowered. They're not a democracy - a leader makes a decision - but all people are able to have input, and all are in the same boat. All associates are shareholders. Individual shareholding grows year on year.

They buy companies - but for their technologies, not their revenues. They're patient about getting products to market.

The Gore Principles

  1. Freedom - the most misunderstood principle. The freedom to help the enterprise and to grow in knowledge, scope of responsibility and skill.
  2. Fairness - they strive to be fair. That's not the same as being the same. Fair is about fairness, not equality.
  3. Commitment - everyone makes their own commitments - and is responsible for keeping them.
  4. Waterline - we'll always use others' expertise when making decisions that might be "below the waterline" - that might risk the company. It's a challenge getting people to take risks, but they encourage it in situations that aren't below the waterline.

Feedback is a gift - but "a funny one when your bum is sore from being kicked". Teams rank each other. Compensation is a secret between you and the enterprise. It's not equal - but they strive to be fair, to match contribution to compensation. Credibility is earned.

Getting the right people is painful - it's hard to find them.

(And with that, Bob evicts himself from the stage, as he notices Tom Dixon lurking…)

Warning: Liveblogging. Prone to error, inaccuracy and terrible, terrible crimes against grammar. This post will be improved over the next 24 hours

Stefania Druga

Stefania Druga equips people to solve their own problems through making and play

Growing up as a girl in Transylvania, Stefania was conditioned - like most people - into the traditional play roles of boys and girls, with the proscribed toys for each. To counter this she created HacKIDemia - to encourage girls and boys to play together, make things together and - as she discovered they wanted to do - get involved in meaningful projects in local communities.

Affirmers - the project that emerged - wasn't about making as a hobby, but as the heart of the communities in Africa they worked with. It was a necessity. They selected 10 teams around Africa to propose projects to aid the local community. Mentors from one project would move on to the next to share learning. Our desire to "go and help" isn't always helping, because we lack the context of people living in similar conditions, and thus struggle to effect meaningful change. Local context and skills matter.

In some places they had challenges accessing electricity, or parts. All the projects - and their challenges - are documented on the website, and a book is coming.

Local makers, local lessons

What did Stefania learn form this? She had to learn to let go and trust the process. The people were more important than the outcomes, but you need systems. Don't let challenges compromise your values. Humour is incredibly valuable when things get hard. Remember that there are "15 stones" - and you can never see all of them. And we need to be willing to learn from each other.

This is not as sexy as synthetic biology or artificial intelligence, but this is where real change is taking place. People have to find the courage to stand up to parents and governments to make their ideas happen and solve problems.

Western economies are complex. Nigeria's economy is very simple - but complexity leads to GDP growth. Change comes from recognising local innovation and diversity - and promoting it.

In the face of all the challenges we face as people and a planet - we need to play together. We cannot afford to be arrogant, and impose our values on others. Instead, we need to invite people to a conversation about how to deal with these problems.