Friday, 30 April 2010

Get it right...

This post is about the election. Again. This time, it's about design, not content. We received two non-addressed flyers in for the candidates for our constituency.

Oh dear.


Standard template (as most of these things are), however the layout on the send side is pretty poor. As for the image of the candidate - oh dear. Was that a family picture that you've cropped to size?

Score: 5/10


There's about 18
abominations against the laws of good aesthetics here, surely. And again, the image of the candidate is poor. Mr Orr looks barely alive. Never mind the policies, I'm not sure he's going to survive until the
votes are counted...

Score: 1/10

Fortunately, elections aren't about being the best looking candidate. Thatcher won, after all. Nope, elections should be about the issues. And each of these parties has their three point plans laid out pretty clearly (that'll be the tick marks then).

The SNP seemed to send us more personal correspondence - addressed to Mrs theWeir and I separately. Which is interesting as I'm pretty sure we're on the edited electoral

Anyway, it's actually a decent letter and an interesting wee flyer.

Shame that the flyer made me think of being here, in New Zealand...

So, have you had any examples of beautiful design from your candidates?

Dear people of the world

I wrote an email.

It went a little like this:


"As I was trying to find out more about each of you as candidates for the General Election, I went online. I was hoping to find out where you'd been campaigning, what you think about issues that affect the area, if you were an optimist, if you had any faith or opinions on fair trade, what you though about justice. About Al Megrahi. Or even just what you think about the place we live.

"I was pretty disappointed that I couldn't find these things out.

"So, I wrote about it on my blog. You can read it here if you like ( Not too many people read that, but it's perhaps endemic that you are all disconnected from people like me who work hard, pay our taxes, do our best to bring up our family well and respect the place we live. Yet we can't connect with you other than by email. Come on.

"Email is great, but there's maybe 76,000 of us in this constituency, 38% voted at the last election. Surely you could reach out to SOME OF US by sharing what'd happening online?

"I might have a question, but it would be different from my neighbour's question. He might think of something that's relevant that i would never think of. By engaging with many people, we build up this clearer picture of you are. And that matters.

"If there's anything recent events in Westminster have taught us, it's that authenticity matters. That being relevant is crucial.

"It's just a thought. Or two.

"I want to vote. I still don't know who I'm going to vote for. I don't know who any of you really are.

"Grace & Peace,


"PS - please don't think that a flat website with a biog is anywhere close to revealing who you are... That's like me telling you my LinkedIn profile is everything about me. Nonsense! ;->"
I sent it to 5 out of the 8 candidates for our constituency.

D'you think I'll get any replies?

UPDATE: So I've had a reply (via Facebook) from Alistair Forrest - UKIP, which I'm grateful for.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

A week to go.

And I've no idea who I am voting for.

I'm not really convinced that I am voting for a party because I agree with everything they stand for. In fact, I know I'm not. We don't elect presidents. We elect representatives.

However, I'm not naive enough to suggest that there's not an element of tactics needed to decide who to vote for, particularly in this election. Hung parliament and all that caper.

Please, don't believe the hype. Hung parliaments are *not* the end of democracy. Far from it.

Back to the plot. I mentioned earlier that I had a conversation with one of the candidates and they were unwilling to get into these new media stuff. I'd challenged Lis Bardell to commit 20 minutes a day to share what she's doing, where she's been and what she's thinking about the campaign and see what happens. Make herself more human for more people.

This is her campaign website:

I quote:
"I look forward to a continuing conversation with you – whatever your age - through the website"
How can we do that?
"I’ll also be glad to hear from you about issues that matter to you and I can be contacted at"
So I've to send you an email... okay. But what if you get 100 emails on the same topic, surely better to publish your response online.
" As we develop the site I’ll be highlighting important issues at Westminster as they affect Scotland and the Livingston Constituency"
But this page hasn't been updated for weeks. Oops.

Let's have the conversation, Lis, but can we please make it open and honest and not in the depth of email. Sure there's stuff you don't want to broadcast, but there's the opportunity for SO MUCH MORE!

Maybe we could do it on Google Wave? Or just start a blog and say hello to your consituents who ARE online.

UPDATE (22:28) a comment on my previous post from "anonymous" (!) pointed me to Lis' campaign site here (and I love that there's photos of her favourite holiday views!) and her Facebook group here. Check them out for yourself and form your own view!

And lest you think I'm having a go at the SNP candidate on her own.

Many of the others aren't up to much in this space either...

Labour (yay, it's a blog. With one post. A twitter account, with no posts.)

Lib-Dem and Lib-Dem (erm, is he actually standing...?)

UPDATE: Charles Dundas commented on my previous post - and is out there. Even on twitter here.

Conservative (just a biog and the same chat as their leaflets)

BNP (I'm not linking to their content, but actually, there's a blog and it does allow (some) comment! Puts the others to shame).

UKIP (who are at least trying, with a forum on the page, but I had to hunt to find it...)

Scottish Socialist (A full-on blog, sharing existing content, shame about the design ;->)

So, all in all, no-one is online speaking about the area, about the people, about the local issues - except (dare I say it) the BNP?!

Hoots, Mon!

PS - the excellent VoteGeek has the full candidate list and contact details. No idea who Jim Slavin is tho...

Gloves. Are. Off.

Well, at least they should be.

I'm more than a little interested in Politics. Actually, I'm more interested in the idea of Politics. I think it was doing Modern Studies at school that gave me that reflective look - rather than being an active campaigner.

If we're brutally honest, there's much in life that we like the idea of more than the actual thing itself. A clean and tidy garden. Spending time with lots of people, all the time. Owning a pet.

Okay, so those are *bad* examples. What have you liked the idea of more than the reality of?

So, having voted in every election since I've had the right to do so, this time I've actually spoken with a candidate for my constituency. Just the one, mind. I'd asked Lis Bardell how she was going to let the people of the area get to know her. "by being on the street and saying 'hello'". Great, but you can't be everywhere, and it's not something that other people can join in with.

How about taking the conversation online? Nope. Can't do it. Don't know how. Risk of failure. People can say things that aren't what you'd like them to say.

Guess what - this is the new world order.

I'm not talking about Tweeting, or checking in on Foursquare. I'm talking about being present and interacting where your constituents interact. There 76,000 people in the constituency eligible to vote, from the numbers I could find online, there might be as many as 20% of these in the 18-35 age range. That's a heap of people who you'll find online. But lest we forget that the silver surfers, so that's another 20%. Oh, and there's just under 30% between 35 and 60.

So, dear candidates. Get yourselves online, connect with people and you might reach another 70% of the voting public that matter to you. At least the ones you say that matter to you.

Still, in all this, I've found out from Wikipedia the names of our candidates are... now to see if I can find out *who* they are!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

...and relax

One of the many things I enjoy is stretching.

My back has been sore since Saturday - partly because of dancing with Mrs theWeir at Colin & Sue's 25th Wedding Anniversary, and partly because I haven't done much stretching.

There's something satisfying about a good stretch. My experience is there's many physical benefits, but mainly it's the after-stretch feeling that I like.

Something I *don't* like to see stretched is an image. It's one of those things that bug me if I see it when looking at a slide deck someone else has made. Not that everyone does it, or that it's always inappropriate, but there's something to be said for maintaining the integrity of the original image. Particularly if it's copyrighted ;-p

Jan wrote this gentle reminder and this more detailed how-to if you want to have a higher-resolution image.

Does this bug you?

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


A funny thing happened earlier today. I received an unsolicited email - that we would normally describe as spam. Nothing new there, given that 97% of all email is the aforementioned spam.

However, this one wasn't picked up by my mail provider's spam filter. It was titled "Hi". Like this post.

Then I read the content of the message.

I simply HAD to share it. It's too funny. Let's all be clear before you read tho. I have never used, joined, subscribed to - or even looked at - an online dating site. Or any dating service. Ever. Are we clear? Good. Carry on...

Below is (verbatim) the text of the email. I have added some reflections to help you understand my reactions as they unfolded.

Hello dear friend ..

[we're off to a good start, I am neither your friend; nor dear]

I see your structure on a dating site

[sorry!? my "structure"]

And both decided to write to you.

[both of whom? Are we talking about a split personality here?]

My name: Svetlana

[nope, back to singular]

I want you warned, I of Russia, and I have a woman who just do not want a deception. As I heard a lot.

[now I get a bit concerned - as I wasn't already, you understand. "I want you warned, I of Russia". So, we're dealing with the Mafia now...]

I wish you had warned once. I search for serious attitudes. I am looking for marriage and love. I do not play games.

[pack up the house, Jenny, we're on the radar of Russians with "serious attitudes"]

If you want to play with me, then do not write for me. If you are looking also for true and pure attitude then I shall

[now you're just confused. "if you want to not write for me". are you expecting connection by semaphore?]

wait with impatience your letter. I send you as pictures, and I hope to receive your replacement.

[c'mon, you're playing now. you want a letter now. by your own logic, that means if I write to you, I don't want to play. But wait - what is this about sending me "as pictures"? Is this the 21st Century equivalent of sleeping with the fishes? And you're talking of my replacement? Am I to expect a replicant coming to live life in my place? Oh dear, this is email from another planet now...]

I hope we learn that the friend, best friend about the future. I will study, so you can help me, even with what we should do

[eh? you what now? you want to study the best friend? so it's refinatley alien, and we're looking at abduction now. JINGS!]

Overall, it was easier for us.

[back to plural again, there's more than one of them...]

I am a happy person love life and desire to be happy.

[define: "person" and "happy" for me, Ms bi-polar Russian?!]

I of Russia, the city where I live, St. Petersburg, I am very beautiful city. I do not really talk about the city. I love the city. I hope you, I of Russia should not be confused.

[now it's the city speaking. but it doesn't talk about itself. Then it does. "should not be confused". Too late.]

My birthday in February, 19 1980. I anniversary, it is very beautiful day to be happy again.

[now we get an insight into the emotional state of the correspondent. She wants to be happy again, but only on her birthday. which is 10 months away. Sorry about that. Maybe it's not the city after all, St Petersburg has been around since 16 May 1703]

It is pleasant for me, I wish that we continue our friends that we have not lost our interest in us.

[I'm not sure we're friends, but there's no chance of loosing interest]

Dear friend, that our desire was great fun. It is nice to know we talk about a friend of a friend.

[enough with the friend & dear chat, but who is the "friend of a friend" we've been talking about? erm...]

Forgive me please, but I should go. I wish you wrote for me more than I knew more about you.

[you are forgiven, bewildering and very, very confused.]


[is that your real name, or are you just playing games again?]

And that's it. No really, that's it. There were some pictures (*not* indecent), which added considerable more intrigue to the piece.

Perhaps this was a real person. Perhaps this was really the City of St Petersburg, demonstrating (badly) it's first attempt at AI. Perhaps it was some alien observers trying to get their paws on another victim.

Or maybe, just maybe, it's a spammer with a real sense of humour.

No matter what, it's pretty funny.

My favourite part?

It has to be "I see your structure on a dating site". You can't see that as anything other than the work of a comedy genius.

What's your favourite part?


This is, interestingly enough, my 200th blog post since I moved from iWeb (here) to Blogger (erm, here).

I've known the number was approaching for a while and had a few ideas, but when I was playing with the weeWeir tonight, it all became clear.

You see, Beth is doing what we all do and growing. She's doing it pretty well too. Jenny and I are grateful for such a treasure. Beth is our wee promise in action.

So tonight, I'm breaking with my own position. You can read about that here.

This post is about my family. Beautiful and complex and delightful.

Beth was getting ready for bed and decided she'd like to wear a hat. Off she trotted to find one, but her hats were nowhere to be found. She found a pair of gloves. Infact, she found one mitten, came back asking that it be put on her hand and then went to find the other glove.

Then she was keen on a hat again. So I gave her a hat. It's spring mind, and she's in her jammies. I love this kid.

Then it was time to brush her hair. Not the most enjoyable of activities for Beth, but we got there. I, now sitting on the bottom step in our hall, asked if she wanted to brush my hair (as you do).

Beth put on her hat (at a jaunty angle), pulled on one of the mittens and stood on the step. Next made three intentional swooshes through my hair with her brush and looked intently at her work. She then put her arm on my shoulder, rested her head and smiled.

I could have wept.

Then it was time for bed.


So here's to you Beth, keep bringing a smile to our hearts.

(strike a pose...)

(couldn't resist including a wee snap of Mrs theWeir and I too!)

Monday, 12 April 2010

Why do I care about what's happening online?

Quite simply because the world has changed, is changing and will continue to change.

It's the way of things. Sure, there might be nothing new under the sun, but change is always happening.

Look, you just changed too.

So, with that in mind, here's something to shake your thinking: The Collapse of Complex Business Models by Clay Shirky.

Take 10 minutes to read this and then post your thoughts on how this might impact the way you live...

Don't Panic.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Authenticity: who are you anyway

So, Mitch wrote about Personal Branding being dead. I think he's got a point - but I'm not sure I agree entirely.

I heard in a piece on a recent episode of Spark that the team at OK Cupid try to come up with the statistically most-effective way to succeed at making a connection on their service. it's all about the Maths.

But it's not.

And as soon as we say "here's how to do it", then many of us (including me) will think "we've got it" and follow the twelve steps to instant success. Whatever the context for those steps. But you and I know that life is far more nuanced than that, right?

And we also know that

This is why I think Trust Agents works. As Chris and Julien keep banging on about this being an opportunity for you to shine. I think is what Seth is getting at in Linchpin too (tho I've not yet read it, if you have please chip in your views)

And to be fair to the fella from OK Cupid, they are not suggesting that if you follow the norm you'll get a connection.

Interestingly, the people to were most successful at using their service were those who displayed some kind of personality.

Which is great because now we can self-publish and tell the world (and our one reader) what we think, who we are and what we had for breakfast then our true colours can come through. Our light can shine and our flavour can be evident.

And that's what we were made for, after all!

This is the light I want to shine. What about you?

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Is there a link between turning people away from a B&B and the Apple iPad?

Now that's a daft question.

Of course there isn't.

Or is there.

Privacy, rights and permission are in the focus at the moment:

there's the gay couple being turned away from a home-run Bed & Breakfast

There's the US preacher who was stopped from speaking (and arrested) because he was "anti-gay".

Then there's apple's drive to open up a new market - and control it.

Reading this about the iPad (Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing), I recognised a lot to agree with. I also read this about the iPad (Stephen Fry in Time magazine) and was taken by the quest for engineering purity. And this is worth a read too.

There's two worlds colliding: freedom & control.

Both Doctorow & Fry talk about both ideas.

Doctorow wants freedom to tinker/understand, control over what his devices can do (and what content he can use them for.

Fry wants freedom from glitch-laden hardware & software, allowing him to control how he interacts with content.

Those who run a B&B from their home want the right to say who they welcome into their home. Others want the right to stay in any place that makes itself available as a B&B.

A guy who passionately believes something wants to respond with his views (non-violently) when people ask, others want to be able to silence people who disagree with them. Whether he's right or wrong in your view - the fact he was locked up for answer people's questions and expressing his opinion - without violence. Hmm...

Clearly, there's a ton of detail being missed here, and I'm not coming down on one side of the other, but I think there's a link.

The iPad is beautiful (I'm told). It's functionally amazing and heralds another shift in how we interact with content.

But that it's locked down - which means there's limitations on what can be done on the platform. It's controlled. Not that is an entirely bad thing. Infact, it may help prevent our children who are fast becoming users of these tools & technology.

But this is one to watch. Particularly given that Apple have announced a new form of advertising on their mobile devices - and "ads will have access to location, accelerometer, and a lot of other stuff."

I ain't preachin' fear, but do you think we should have our eyes open and be aware of what's going on around us?

Friday, 9 April 2010

Will you share your life with these people?

Many people social networking is a fad.

Plenty others say that's nonsense and it's the future.

I'm becoming more aware of the need to be an active part of a community. I'm thinking that this is where it's at.

Whatever the community - a family, a student flat, your colleagues, the guys in the pub you see every night, the parents you spend more than a passing second with - these connections enrich our lives, or at the very least give us something to talk about!

Back to this technology stuff. Whatever happens in the months and years ahead, we're unlikely to end up back in the dark ages of having to phone a bank - never mind go into it - to find out how much is in our account. But that's not really social.

As the network effects start to infiltrate how we consume content (has anyone else found that following the twitter feed relating to a TV show or live event while watching said show/event) the experience becomes richer, albeit a little nosier. Sure, we've still got to learn how to filter and how to find space to reflect and form our own conclusions, but there's something in the connectedness that can add such depth.

Finance is typically something we don't talk about much. Well, we probably do, but it's generally in abstract.

What happens when some of the walls come down and we can feel comfortable sharing our financial experiences with our (genuine) friends?

I work for a Financial Services company (please don't unsubscribe now...).

What does it mean for our organisation to embrace this change - how can we lead it?

I'd love your thoughts!