Friday, 28 December 2007

Jump In! #5: Paul Reynolds on blogging

Paul Reynolds, joint md of McGovern online and TV tech commentator, talks with Marie Young about blogging and social networking. Find out: * How he started blogging * How to discover your voice * How a company can incorporate blogging This is part 1 of a 2 part interview. Next week Paul takes on Generation X's dirty little secret! Get the latest Jump In for free in iTunes or on the web. Subscribe at  

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Do you work on the web?

One of the cool things I learnt about as a result of BarCamp (see interview here and info on my "presentation" here) was

It's what's known as a meme - in other words, it doesn't really "do" anything or have any particular purpose, but it's kind of cool, and will probaby have some great spinoff that we haven't predicted.

See my profile, or find out how to add your own.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

What's the role of oratory (etc) in a conversation age?

(Warning 1: Pseudo-academic language ahead, from a writer who should know better)

(Warning 2: The actual point of this post is right at the end. Persevere. Or cheat and skip right to the end)

Things are changing. That seems to be the intro to every article I write these days. Mostly because it's true.

The biggest change I see - whether it's in the world of business, leadership, media or even religion- is from one-way message delivery, to two-way message discussion. It's the age of conversation.


In business, witness the proliferation and popularity of books like We Are Smarter Than Me (to which I was one of 3000-odd contributors!) and Join the Conversation.

More specifically, leadership is being deconstructed as an idea. It's early days for this, but the book I'm currently reading, Leadership for the Disillusioned, outlines one academic's efforts to discover a leadership that liberates rather than enslaves. Most of that is done in a dialogical way.

Media has been slowly becoming two-way for about 15 years or more, beginning with talkback radio and now extending to the many channels available on the internet. Now it's becoming mainstream as newspapers, TV and radio make it easier to converse with them through the internet.

And in religion, at least in Christianity, people are simultaneously pressing forward and rediscovering their roots. The book So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore portrays a way of thinking that is outcome-focussed, rather than programmatic. It exposes many of the religious institutions we take for granted as driven by guilt and fear, a diagnosis I endorse, having been part of several churches and wondering what we were doing wrong. Fortunately, the book posits a simple but profound answer.

So my question is ... what happens to the old one-way methods?

I know the new barely ever completely replaces the old. Television didn't wipe out radio, for instance, but it did redefine it.

So, what will the next century or so hold for:
  • Political speeches
  • Blockbuster movies
  • Sermons
  • TV commercials

Why did I write this post? Mainly because I got home from BarCamp last week - one of the most genuinely interactive conference experiences I've ever had - and I really really really really wanted to see a good movie. A real movie. A two-hour long, popcorn movie. And it made me think, will we have movies in twenty years? What will they look like? So there you go.

Now it's your turn. Please comment! :)

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Jump In #4 - BarCamp Auckland

Simon Young talks with Ludwig Wendlich,16-year-old web developer and organiser of BarCamp Auckland, an UnConference for web people. Find out about the future of conferences, and what it means to you as a communicator. Get the latest Jump In for free in iTunes or on the web. Subscribe at  

Friday, 14 December 2007

"Fat and happy Anglosphere"?

I love it when you stumble across someone else's perception of you or your country. In a article, Tim Ferguson says of the OECD report on student performance:

Arguably, the surprise is in the fact that Australia and New Zealand are also in this top bracket. A prejudice of low expectations holds that the fat and happy Anglosphere is also dumb, compared with the Asians and a few Baltic standouts. Not necessarily so, though the U.S. has only middling scores in this study; the U.K. did somewhat better.

First of all, yay for us! New Zealand is living up to our own story of being small but nimble and smart, a story Ferguson tells for Asia:

Commodity prices are up, but the most enduring natural resource is the human mind. That is the essential explanation for many of Asia's great modern successes, and the premium for knowledge is only growing with advances in information technology.

I've long thought that's what we had going for us. Maybe I've just been hanging out with the right crowd, and reading too much Idealog.

Secondly, I've never come across the "prejudice of low expectations" about our "fat and happy Anglosphere" - although I am secretly (or not so secretly) very happy but not surprised that we are, on aggregate, smarter than the US.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Jump In! #3 Boyd Wason on communities

iJump cofounder and catalyst Simon Young talks with Tango Communications' managing director Boyd Wason about: * how to engage audiences using social media * which social networks are "hot" * how to create a marketing strategy that really engages Subscribe to this podcast for free at  

4 ways Twitter is like God

Twitter is like God. Not in that it's omniscient, omnipresent or omnipotent, but in that Twitter is:

* experienced in many different ways (on the site, using Snitter, Twitterific, Twitteroo, Tweetr, Twitterpost, Twitterlex, Twhirl, several IM clients or cellphone)
* a source of genuine fellowship (=having something in common)
* ignored by many in the world, who don't even know it exists.
* maligned by people who haven't tried it for themselves and can't see the point.

Okay, so I'm not a theologian. But don'tcha reckon?

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

I'll be (probably) presenting at BarCamp this weekend!

I'm a bit behind in blogging about BarCamp Auckland, the unConference happening in East Auckland this Saturday.

I've written about unConferences before, but this is the first time I'll actually be attending one. As far as what time I'll be presenting, or even my subject, it's hard to say. At an unConference it's all organised (or disorganised) on the day. It's spontaneous and in the spirit of conversation. I love it!

Find out more at the BarCamp Auckland website. See you there?

Saturday, 8 December 2007

What does a real community look like?

This post covers spiritual topics, but it's relevant for anyone who's part of a community - or wants to be, or wishes they weren't.

So you don't want to go to church anymore
is by Jake Colsen, a pseudonym for two authors who have opted out of the organised religion game that many people call church.

This book, a fictitious story based on the two authors' experience, does a fantastic job of raising concerns that many people have about church, and offering some solutions that are simple, but very, very scary.

It's not only fantastic reading and thinking in and of itself, it's also a powerful example of storytelling as a way to communicate complex ideas. It's a journey, this book.

And there's a podcast to go with it, appropriately called "The God Journey". Some very good listening to be had.

Don't misunderstand what this book is about. It's not simply saying don't do church in buildings any more. It's saying set aside the shackles of structure and set your relationships free. Advice that's just as much needed for the corporate world as for the church world.

As one of the authors said in a recent podcast, they're not against the "organised" part of organised religion, but against the "religion" part. It's become a cliche, but that doesn't make it any less true: God wants a relationship with us, not for us to try to please him with religion.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Jump In #2: Dwayne Alexander,

Dwayne Alexander, former CEO of apnfinda, talks about his new startup, Hear how to get your whole team motivated, manage change, and harness the power of social media.  

Saturday, 1 December 2007

What is the 21st Century's A-bomb?

From the 1945 through 1989, the biggest thing in world affairs was the atom bomb. Now, it's religion.

That's actually good news, because while many of us would struggle with nuclear physics, religion is arguably easier to understand. Or at least, we've had more exposure to religion than to radiation.

Like many readers of this blog, I've grown up in a western country, in the Christian tradition. But even as a member of the Bible-believing Open Brethren, I never learnt that much about the history of the Bible.

So it was very interesting to read Karen Armstrong's The Bible: A Biography. It's a whirlwind tour through all the versions of the Bible - the Torah, the Talmud, the New Testament, the Kabbalah... and so on!

Armstrong has done some serious homework here, and made the complex simple. Instead of delving too deeply into theology, Armstrong tells simple stories about people, and what they believed.

It's not an unbiased book. In fact, Armstrong is making a strong case against fundamentalism of all kinds, and a plea for understanding and love, ignoring the parts of the Bible that are negative or harsh, and meditating on the parts that are loving and kind - quoting many theologians, both Jewish and Christian, orthodox and otherwise, through the years, who have also advocated this approach.

I appreciate this book, but tentatively disagree with some of its conclusions. I say "tentatively", because I have no scholarship to base my disagreement on, just a tiny bit of subjective experience, and gut feeling.

And I say "some" of its conclusions because overall I believe Armstrong has written a rational, emotionally intelligent and respectful biography about a book that means so much to so many people, and it's an attitude I agree with.

I'd recommend The Bible: The Biography as a (somehow) very thorough yet very fast tour of one of the books that has shaped western civilisation, and continues to wield a lot of influence today.

I started this post by comparing religion to the atom bomb. Like nuclear power, religion can be a force for good or for evil. It's also the force that's driving world issues - yet unlike the atom bomb, which was a single, big thing, religion is a complex, fragmentary issue. We've got a lot of learning to do.

Want to learn about Islam? Read my review of The Q'uran: A Biography.

Need some other spiritual thoughts? See my posts tagged spirituality, or my old blog Oh God, I think I'm a fundamentalist.