Tuesday, 30 June 2009


Let's be clear; I'm not the perfect activist, nor am I the answer to the problems people face.

But here's the thing. From some of the influences on my more formative years, I have developed a passion for Justice & Mercy. Two massive topics that are much beyond what I can cover in a few pixels on here.

Justice is key to the teachings of Jesus Christ, who lived in the tension between this and Mercy. Mercy, for me is typified by the story in John 8:1-11. Have a read for yourself to get the full Bhuna, but the question Jesus asks "where are your accusers?" leads to a clear demonstration of God's Mercy.

What's this got to do with a wannabe activist? Well, as a follower of Jesus, I believe I am to live a transformed life of Love, where Mercy & Justice do their thing alongside the most extravagant gift of all; Grace. If I am living Justly then I will be honest, fair, meeting people's needs where I can and speaking up/standing up/demonstrating support for those who are not being treated Justly.

I'm not deluded that in Western society (where I live), we're not-as-hard-done-to as many other people on the planet (see "the bottom billion"), however we are surrounded by injustice.

We are also surrounded by the opposite of Mercy; Cruelty.

So what do we do about it? Fold our hands and bemoan the state of the nation? Err, nope. Pray, asking and believing God will intervene? Yes - but that's not enough. We are called to demonstrate our involvement. I'm not necessarily talking about placards & t-shirts, or throwing eggs, but being active in Love & Merciful deed. It's not an exhaustive list of things you might try;

  • Contact your MP, MSP, Welsh Assembly member, Local Councillor etc about what matters to you.
  • Interact with those in need (I'm sure there's plenty organisations near you who would welcome a humble, willing helper)
  • Support organisations who meet people's needs
  • Oh yeah, and maybe support people you share life with - at work, study, family. Y'know, those right next to you!

I definitely could get better at all of this stuff, so pleased don't think I'm standing aloof. Just sharing my view of the landscape!

Where has all this come from? Last week, I received a BRILLIANT mailshot from Kingscare (I'll be asking them to send things electronically in the future to save some trees). George Dowdell has written an excellently thought-provoking article on his story that really encouraged me to make a noise without it being about stirring up guilt, fear or shame. But hope. Hope in Justice, Mercy and that Love beats all-comers. End of story.

What I also LOVED was that the leaflet wasn't a sales pitch for Kingscare, so no plea for cash. Just an encouragement to action in whatever way you can respond. This is part of my response.

Have a read of the leaflet. You can print it, if you need to, or pass the link on. Sure we'd love a facebook app to connect it to our networks, but we don't need that to create some word-of-mouth, do we?

Let me (and more importantly, let Kingcare) know what you think.

As a good friend says; "Get Involved"

Saturday, 27 June 2009

there's a bridge here somewhere...

Out for a wander in South Queensferry in the drissle.

Posted via email from theweir's posterous

I almost called you old...

I've had a couple of conversations recently on the topic of communication and generation differences.

I've done a couple of audio conversations (not *quite* interviews) for a work thing - the first on GenY and another on Online Collaboration. I love this stuff, and am keen to learn (and share!) as much as I can.

On Father's Day (ie a little under a week ago) I spent some time with Mum & Dad and we ended up talking about online networks and Dad (who is far from a luddite) said that these things don't really interest him as he's always just kept himself to himself. Okay, but what about when you are looking for some help to do something on your Triumph motorbike, or an issue with your mobile phone - there will be online communities or networks that will be perfect to help you with that.

Interestingly, since they moved house last year, Dad has been great at getting to know his neighbours, helping cut trees & build fences. Something that a younger generation might not do. Mum has started playing with Facebook a bit. Seems to be enjoying it and can't quite see the point (yet), but not giving up on it yet. Mum & Dad are either late Baby Boomers or Generation Jones, I'm (just) a part of GenY. Positively, neither were saying "it's wrong, rubbish and shouldn't be allowed"!

I think the ability to interact with people is one I'm relearning through a number of ways - but it's all about dialogue, not monologue.

In a meeting at work the other day we were reflecting on an event we'd put on with one of the corporate directors. We'd arranged an interview as well as questions from the floor. The interview had some business topics and some personal ones. We felt it was right that people get to know this director as a person, not just a Boss. One of the questions was "brown sauce of tomato sauce". When we were talking about it, a Baby Boomer said she felt there were too many personal questions, not enough work-related. I agreed to a point, but then the comment was made "and as for that question about the sauce...". That was it, for me. I felt the need to explain that actually people want to know that these guys are human as well. We put them on a pedestal and say "listen to my edicts", but actually they are people, with real lives, making real decisions, right?

I had to stop myself saying "my generation doesn't care about hierarchy or how important someone should be - we care about who they are (at least I do!) and what drives them". I almost said "I guess we're just from a different era". I'm glad I did. Mostly.

So, the whole experience has made me think a little more that I need to be inclusive - that communication I come up with, or help develop has to meet the needs of a diverse audience. While I don't want to water things down until they are meaningless, neither do I want to prefer one generation over another, just 'cos one of them is so stuck in it's ways that it'll never change (;-P - that's a pale attempt at irony, incase you missed it!).

Anyway, what do you think? Have you had any similar experiences or experienced something that connected with you & colleagues of a different generation? Leave a comment and share your story!

Thursday, 25 June 2009

reclaiming the space?

I recorded this about weeks ago and forgot to share it.  Some thoughts that came together when out walking the dogs on a Saturday morning.

Download now or watch on posterous
this is where I live.3gp (6429 KB)

Posted via email from theweir's posterous

Media is changing (in case you hadn't noticed).

I was struck recently with surprise at the number of empty video rental shops. Gone. While that is hard for those who have lost their jobs, and for the ripple impact on local economies - there's a number of factors.

Loads of things like family gaming (Wii), Postal DVD rental and of course, online video.

This talk by Clay Shirky, recorded at New York in May 2009, explores the shift from silo'd media, to connected, global, social and media. It's well worth the 17 minutes to watch.

I particularly liked that this wasn't mass-hysteria, but based on what is going on in our day. I guess we have to decide how we respond to that. We are moving from a mature model media (where we've had a pretty clear idea of how it worked) to the early-ish days of a new model. It's not going to be the same, which means that it might not be comfortable for people to deal with the change.

At the end of the day, people working in Communications have a choice to make - resist until you are extict, or get on board and shape the future!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

but I've already bought it?

Those who want to buy music legally (based on the current payment model) may have been wrestling with the issue of having to re-purchase the same content on a different format. The same applies for many entertainment formats - the shifts from vinyl to cassette, cassette to CD, CD to MD (okay, maybe not), but certainly from VHS to DVD.

It seems a bit wrong to expect people to pay for exactly the same material on a different format.

When I read this post by Tom Peters, I was reminded of the issue. Here's the intro:

Everywhere he goes, Cool Friend Dan Ariely, the behavioral economist, meets people desperate to understand what is going on with the economy and why we were blindsided. In response to this demand he has updated his book Predictably Irrational. On the shelves May 19—today!—you will find Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.

It seems that the it's okay to charge because there's 25% more insight in the book, but to my mind, it's pretty simple. I bought the book. I don't need to get another copy of the content I've already got! I have a receipt (it was bought from Amazon), so Dear Dan Ariely (or at least your publishers) can you give me access to the new content as a PDF, please - even for a few pounds?

What are the chances?

Monday, 8 June 2009


Earlier this year, I attended Internet World 2009 at Earls Court.

One of the sessions I attended talked about the legal considerations that people should have when looking at web 2.0 (what does that mean again ;))

I'm going over my notes again and was reminded of an example given about an employee in a company's sales team who had a significant contact book on various social (and business) network, built up over a number of years. The employee left one company to join another and used his contact book to sell to the same people on behalf of his new employer. There was a dispute between the company and their ex-employee over who "owned" the contacts. There were contact on networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and others powered by Ning.

It ended up in court as both sides claimed ownership and the ruling was in favour of the original company. Not the individual...

This has some pretty serious implications for people as they look to use social networks to further their reach - and for us as a company as we start to reach out to customers...

My view is that contacts made in the conduct of business are probably the employers, however those made at home, outside the employer's time are not. What's your view?

Sunday, 7 June 2009

So All May Eat Cafe

I've been catching up on the 1000+ items not read on my RSS reader.  

Came across this from Seth Godin.  I hope you are inspired by this (and the previous post...)

Here's a sample from Bonnie:

www.soallmayeat.org is truly remarkable. Imagine going into a restaurant and seeing no prices on the menu. You might think that the food was really expensive, but that's not the case at the So All May Eat (SAME) Cafe in Denver, CO. The fact is that there are no prices on the menu because everyone pays what they can, many people pay more. There's no cash register, just an envelope that patrons get with their meal. In that envelope goes a few dollars, a fair price for the meal, a hearty donation or nothing at all. The envelope then goes into a simple wooden box. Everyone gets a great home made meal at a price they can afford. If someone can't pay anything at all they are asked to help out in the kitchen, serve some soup or clean up for an hour or so...and they are willing and happy to help out. It's not a free ride or a handout, it's honest work for an terrific hot meal. Founders Brad & Libby Birky not only make a difference by providing a free meal but they have also created thriving community of people who care and are cared for.

dinner. from a factory?

Since being on a few distillery tours when on holiday, I've had the thought of *industrialisation* of our food on my mind.  Many of the places I visited dented (if not shattered) the feelings I had that our Whisky industry in Scotland was a boutique, or cottage thing.  Still using the same tools that were used 150 years ago when things really started.  But no, in order to make the product (that's what it is, right) there's a certain amount of mechanisation required.

I guess that's inevitable with success, but it tends to take some of the *magic* out of it.  Albeit that some bright people worked hard to develop systems and machinery that can produce the quality product in the same way (even if it's not all done by a hand!).

Thinking about the industrialisation (that I recognise revolutionised the world beyond recognition and that the developing world is trying it's best to play catch-up in), this didn't help much.  (but the next post provided some hope!)

Might not see this in the UK cinemas, but I imagine it's a story we could all learn something from!  Gets me thinking about stewardship of resources and stuff like that.  And makes me want to cry about our lack of respect for life.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Why am I surprised?

So here's a funny thing. okay, so not funny, just an observation.

I've been mucking about with online social *stuff* for a number of years, after Jenny & I spent time in New Zealand and wanted to keep in touch with home. But it's really only been about 18 months since something clicked in my brain and I really got interested in what's going on.

On a personal level, I love the interaction, sharing life with people and being able to formulate an idea in words & pictures. From anywhere. But only if you want it.

Why do I enjoy sharing my life - it's not the most interesting, but it's what I've got and hopefully being alive online is helpful for others too. It seems that being connected online (thru a social network, reading friend's blogs, following people's flickr streams or coonsuming their tweets) fosters a greater level a understanding between us. At least for me it does.

Why? Because I understand a little more about the way you see the world.

This has been in my head this afternoon as I found myself in a (real world) meeting when someone I don't know other than thru LinkedIn asked how my daughter was. Then, later, @CRayDancer referred to her as babyB.

I was a little taken aback. Why? I track the traffic on my blog (thanks Google Analytics), my flickr photostream, my mobile pictures, my twitter links etc etc. I think it was the crossover to the real world (that I don't get a lot of as I don't get the privilege of live *real world* conversations with them very often. (by the way, it's one world, just different expressions of it!)

Anyway, it felt good to know that people understood some of my back-story before we spoke.

If anything it means I don't have to repeat myself!!

And what about you - do you get much cross-over between the different expressions of life?

Please share your views here!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

"the whole"

Yesterday, I had the privilege of being back in a recording studio playing some drum tracks for a new project.  Inspired by a conversation with David Stewart on Facebook, here's the story...

Clive Parnell,  who was also part of IndigoEcho, managed to get some funding together (through his employer UCCF) to get some worship songs recorded - with a view to giving over 1000 CDs away to students.  I've heard the songs over the past few months as he has worked the melodies out, thought a little about structure and pace and all that good stuff.  Despite my best intentions, I've not been able to contribute much to this process - time & energy being considerable factors in that.

So, last week I had the chance to jam through the songs with Clive, Gary Francis (also of IE *fame*) and Thomas Dean (not of IE, and in fact far younger than I like to consider at this time.  We played through some ideas and I came out pretty confident that I had some good ideas.

In the past when I have recorded, it's been songs that have been played for a year (at least) so the parts were pretty much sorted out live and we were just replicating that for the recording.  Even when I helped on the Mystery Tent recording two years ago, while I'd not been playing the songs, we had a clear idea of how things were to work.

Clive had recorded the guide parts for the tracks in Monday.  When I turned up at Foundry Music Lab yesterday, got set up and ready to go, I wasn't quite prepared for what happened next.  We basically re-wrote most of what I was playing on the spot.

I had a few choices to make - either spit the dummy, get all precious about *my parts* and go in a huff or just respect the perspective of the producers and get on with it.  I went with the latter (part of me thinks 10 years ago I would have gone with the former, but that's what 10 years will do for you).

Why did I *submit* to these guys who I don't really know?  Three reasons - they do this for a living, I don't and they had a wider perspective than I had at that moment.  They were seeing (okay, hearing) things that I wasn't.

I recognised that we also had a common purpose.  To make the best recording that we could.  We all have a stake in adding to the whole rather than trying to be the whole.  I think you learn this the hard way. Or at least I am!

My experience on the day was great - we got some tremendous sounds (once I figured out what I was supposed to be doing).  I'm eager to hear the other parts (I won't get that until the mix is complete this is a simple session gig for me).

My thought on production - live or recorded
Musicians (as with many artists) can be a fickle lot.  But for anyone involved in doing collaboration as part of a team (musical or otherwise). Spending a day watching and listening to an experienced producer at work can open our eyes to what is possible when it's a team blending their sounds together.

There's a great many cliche's about teamwork, about seeing the landscape as others see it, so let's avoid them, but basically, having a sense of the strategic view can really help people contribute to "the whole".

Or being humble enough to listen (and respond to) the request of an arranger/producer. 

That said, the producer/arranger has a huge responsibility to foster trust with the people they are working with. Trust is not a right, it must be earned. You can have all the experience or musical ability in the world - but if you can't interact with people and understand their map of the world then you run a huge risk of people disengaging from the process and then it's just conflict - which left unresolved doesn't help anyone.

While there's really not a formula to make successful music, there are principles here about honesty, trust and (ahem) harmony that can be practiced - that can be worked at to improve them.  If you want to get better at team *stuff* then you can do something about it.  First, get your house in order (ie get over your pride!) and then share your views by listening (!).  Hear what people have to say, try it out.  If it doesn't work, talk about it and have some real reasons why.  Get beyond *just 'cos* as a reason because, frankly, that wasn't any good after Primary 7!

If someone is better than you - find out why.  What's the difference?  Do you need to be as good as they are or are you able to be excellent at what you do so that you can make a unique contribution to "the whole".

At risk of sounding like a marketing slogan - be all you can be!


What about you - what's your view on contributing to "the whole"?  Have you done this in a musical sense or otherwise?  Have you learned when to shut and let other things happen?