Mead on Male Liberation

Margaret Mead wrote:

• The male form of a female liberationist is a male liberationist — a man who realizes the unfairness of having to work all his life to support a wife and children so that someday his widow may live in comfort, a man who points out that commuting to a job he doesn’t like is just as oppressive as his wife’s imprisonment in a suburb, a man who rejects his exclusion, by society and most women, from participation in childbirth and the most engrossing, delightful care of young children — a man, in fact, who wants to relate himself to people and the world around him as a person.

That’s a thought-provoking paragraph. It appeals to my humanist side. Mead was mentioned in an RSA Animate which then made me go and look for more of her writing.

Permission to buy?

Michael B. Johnson, one of the Pixar illuminati messaged Tristan O’Teirney on Twitter this morning:

Square is two items – it’s a tiny credit card reader attached to the audio port of a smartphone and it’s a piece of software that enables payments to be taken.

The ability to take payments when out on the floor of your retail space has obvious advantages but their restrictions often make them impossible to remove from that retail space. The advantage of having it connected to a mobile phone is that you end up using your existing data connection to send the credentials and receive the authorisations. Square is limited to iPhone and, at the moment, limited to the USA.

Local companies like AirPOS can provide much the same service with the additional ability to use the same software to establish a ecommerce site (the software provides you with not only a till where you can record payments but also a web site where you sell stuff, with the added bonus of an integrated stock control system.) As it’s an AIR application it’ll run on Mac and Windows laptops, tablets and netbooks as well as dedicated PCs and it’s on the way for Android phones (and probably Windows Phone 7) as soon as the AIR client for these platforms is stable.

AirPOS is one of the StartVI “high growth” companies and also was accepted to the recent ITLG awards event in Limerick. They’re in the midst of receiving their Series A funding after a very rapid development cycle and a sensible beta period with selected customers both in the UK and the USA.

I have always said that it’s better to accept credit cards than business cards when out at business conferences. Trying to re-ignite a conversation after a conference with only a business card as a reference can be difficult. Make the sale then and there.

Your customer wants to buy your product otherwise they wouldn’t bother speaking to you. Make it easy, give them permission.

Movember update, Week 3

While it’s not quite a “Selleck” yet, it’s certainly filled out. It would be nice if it was the same colour as the rest of my hair 🙂

I did have a dream where Arlene and I were running, no idea where to. And she was trying to colour my moustache from “ginger” to “black” using Mascara. I have no idea what that means.

Anyway – here’s my Movember donation page. It’d be swell if y’all could swing by and add some pennies to the total.


This morning I had two meetings with two local companies.

The first was with Paul and Dee from Paperjam, a local brand and design company responsible for some of the most iconic and lasting designs in the industry. We talked about their commitment to excellence in branding, their conscientious and research-oriented approach to the development of a brand and their desire to work with excellent people. They’re intending to do some work with Digital Circle in 2011 on the importance of establishing a brand as well as doing some exclusive work with StartVI companies on improving their brand impact.

The second was with Stuart from Paperbag and we talked about the future direction of their company which specialises in the development of apps for iPhone and Windows Phone 7 and their development from a services-based company to one that also has their own IP and product. They’ve some exciting plans and a heap of great products (as well as being an active and contributing member of Digital Circle) and I’m very excited to see the development of their business in the year or so I’ve known them.

The thing they have in common (other than the word Paper) is that they’re both started by young entrepreneurs who have big ambitions and a lot to offer. Both already export most of their work outside of Northern Ireland and fulfill all of the conditions of being an InvestNI client so I’m going to help both of them avail of some of the supports which are available from our local offices.

Mindmapping the future

Digital Circle, my current job, is an ERDF-funded project supported by InvestNI. The project ends in early April 2011 so I’ve a few months to start thinking about what to do next. There are quite a few choices so I fired up Omnigraffle and drew a map of them. I’ve annotated a few of the choices with the costs/risks/rewards of each on my private copy but it’s a document I’d quite like some feedback on.

What the heck does disruptive mean?

Paul Smyth, one of the investment managers at eSynergy wrote:

if you are looking for funding in the next 6-8 months and you have a different idea – and that means properly different, something that isn’t a ‘me too’ with a different angle then come and speak to us.

eSynergy are the fund managers for NISPO the local government-backed investment fund. They have a proof of concept fund (vouched in arrears) and a VC fund (as well as two other funds, one for each university).

I wonder about the definition of disruptive though. Looking at industries which have been disrupted –

  • who would have guessed that a company could make money in online search after the dot-com boom. We certainly had plenty of search engines but Google was disruptive with their own brand of “me too”. And they’ve retained that edge by investing heavily in disrupting industries where their competitors make money but giving it away for free (email, productivity, etc).
  • who would have though that Apple, having narrowly missed death and chased the home movie market would have made a right-angle turn and chased the music market with such gusto to the extend that less than a decade later, they own it? Others were doing online music – just doing it badly. Others were doing MP3 players, just again doing them badly.
  • who would have identified Amazon as truly disruptive, selling books online. Now, Amazon was founded in 1994 and now sells pretty much everything. They’re my default location for books, music, games, consumer electronics. They took 7 years to turn a profit and now have revenues of $24B. Were they disruptive? Ask booksellers on the High Street.
  • who would have predicted that people would become addicted to the Blackberry device from Research in Motion which has turned a tiny Canadian company into a $15B company. RIM is weathering a hughe onslaught from other disruptive technology such as Android, iPhone and other hungry smartphone manufacturers. But they were the first with the vision that we’d want email on the go.

I am concerned that local investors don’t necessarily have the education and experience to deal with something that is truly disruptive as opposed to something that seems extraordinary. At BizcampBelfast earlier this week, Kevin Parker put the following definition on screen:

Invention is the process of turning cash into ideas. Innovation is the process of turning ideas into cash.

And I really like that definition. If you were reword it to indicate the difference between disruptive and extraordinary, it might read like this.

We may see and want the extraordinary every day, but we tell ourselves we need the disruptive.

I’d like to invite you to explain in the comments what is disruptive, how it affects you, how it makes you feel. And if you can fit a definition (not unlike the one above) into around 140 characters, then post into the comments. I’ll give a £10 iTunes voucher to the best one (so make sure to include your contact details)

Musing about Learning and Teaching Technology

There’s a group of companies here in Northern Ireland who are focused on the growing educational technology market.

Educational technology is, for most part, just the application of general technology to the education market without necessarily the grounding of technology with pedagogy or learning. Technology manifests as tools, as a medium and as a network. We might use Photoshop to teach a certain skill, we might populate a wiki, blog or other content management system in order to store and record or we might use email or instant messenger to communicate – but none of these have any specific pedagogical or learning purpose.

I suppose the difference is whether you are using the technology to teach as opposed to teaching about the technology.

Some of the ideas I have regarding ‘educational’ technology are certainly in the tools, media and networks areas. Tools to inform parents of progress, new methods to deliver established content and the development of peer groups beyond the school all fit into these neat categories.

Applying game reward principles to learning and teaching is an enhancement that I can’t accurately describe in the context above. While the tools may be the browser or the iPad, the medium may be the web or dedicated apps (with graphics, sound, video) and the network may be the reporting of achievements (either to the peer group, the teacher or the parents), the process of matching the query to the answer, the process of imparting the techniques for research and the striving for success will be part of the pedagogical delivery.

During my schooling, knowledge was analog. It was written in books, passed on through a formalised oral tradition and collected in condensed form for schools. This meant that if you wanted to know something, you had to visit a library, open a book, ask a teacher. The answer would be both “best effort” and also subject to the local bias of a region. To find out any depth of information, you had to be truly curious. Today, the search for knowledge has become trivial. A tool (the browser) used to access a medium (like Wikipedia) across a network (the Internet) brings the knowledge of the largest encyclopedias into reach of the most casual researcher. For depth, for interest, however, we have to rely on the innately curious; the quality of wanting to know more than your peers, to become excellent at something.

We have to develop the learning and teaching curriculum to create curiosity for the curious will inherit the earth.