Tag Archives: change

Yes, I know. I used to be a blogger.

Once upon a time, my business cards declared me to be a: “blogger | photographer | techie”.

I reached the conclusion that calling myself a “blogger” was passe… everyone was becoming a blogger with the increasing democratisation of content. So what?

I’m more than just a blogger. With the help of @monkchips I morphed into being a Social Bridgebuilder. Always a fascinating talking point at parties… 🙂

And yet… I’m also, apparently, now barely even a blogger. I began this gig as a way to expose thoughts I’d been sharing on IBM’s internal social sites like BlogCentral; migrated to a mindset of “public by default, private/intranet where necessary”; but as microblogging and other forms of social sharing have accelerated, and being honest as my role at work and priorities have changed… I’ve blogged far too infrequently.

Here are a bunch of topics I need to pick off, soon:

  • what WebSphere MQ Advanced Message Security can do for you
  • the new Connectivity and Messaging podcasts
  • IBM IMPACT and our new Unconference
  • Boris Bikes!
  • the London Java Community and lightning talks
  • WebOS and the HP revival
  • History and its importance as an academic subject, and how history can get lost on the realtime web
  • Funky awesome things what I learned at the University of Queensland whilst attending LCA… and haven’t yet blogged about… because I’m full of #fail.

So there we go – some public declarations of intent. I’m sure I can rely on @QuirkyBean and my many other online friends to keep me honest!!

Never mention politics or religion

Disclaimer: as it says over in the right-hand sidebar of this personal blog which belongs to me, and no-one else, the opinions stated here are my own and not those of any organisation that employs me or has done so in the past. Just in case you weren’t sure.

All a bit exciting over here in wee old Britain lately. We had this General Election, you see, and nobody exactly, well, won. That hasn’t happened for ages.

So what happened next? Well the party with the most seats (Conservative) and those with enough to give them enough to govern (Liberal Democrats) have entered into a coalition. And we haven’t had one of those for, ooooh, ages, since the War, you know. And people are jumping up and down about a) the fact that the other lot didn’t win, b) the fact that a right-wing and centre/left-wing party can’t possibly get on and c) well it’s all so surprising, you know, what happens now? and d) well none of them have any experience, it can’t work and e) the last time that lot were in power the world nearly ended and just you watch, it will all happen again, they hate people and eat babies, you know.

One of the “rules” that I often read about blogging and social spaces like microblogs and social streams is that, as in life, it’s a good idea to avoid contentious topics like politics and religion, unless you have a point to make either way and that is the core purpose of your blog. Basically that’s for fear of showing what you actually believe in and having people point and laugh, or argue and dislike you. That’s an adage that I’ve generally stuck to and will go back to so doing shortly. On this occasion, just for once though, I’m going to comment, and admit that I’m struggling to understand the level of upset that I’m reading on “the Twitter” and “the Facebook”.

First of all, we had an election. Those that had a vote and chose to use it, voted. Those that didn’t do so can be quiet – I’m sorry, but they can, they had a chance to express a view[1], shocking and hardline though that may make me sound. Now, let’s put to one side some of the vagaries of the UK system whereby a party with a reasonable national percentage of the vote ended up with a relatively tiny proportion of the elected MPs, and just accept that the people voted, and we didn’t end up with a clear cut result.

No matter how things had gone, you’re generally going to end up with the supporters of one or more particular colour of politicians being put out that they “didn’t win”. That’s the way that elections work. If one party gets in and spends four or five years doing things which a majority of people then feel are “bad”, then you have the opportunity to remove them at the next election. That’s the system. So I think that whichever way I may lean politically, I have to just accept what “we all decided”[2], and not expect us to go on having weekly vote-a-thons until we end up with a result that I’m happy with.

Now let’s think about the possibilities of what we actually have here. This is where I get a lot more animated, in a positive way.

Whilst Labour and the LibDems may have seemed like more natural political bedfellows, being parties of the Left, or “progressive parties” as the outgoing Prime Minister would want to paint things, putting the two of them together would have been tricky. Labour didn’t “win” in terms of numbers of seats, and I’m inclined to think that the incumbent Government had run out of steam and needed some kind of a shakeup. There would have been a whole debate about “mandate to govern” had that combination worked out, too.

So we’ve got the Tories and the LibDems. But wait! They can’t possibly work together! One is historically a party of liberal freedoms and the other is a party of… small state and liberal freedoms[3]. Actually the thing that really struck me yesterday was when I heard the BBC political correspondent Nick Robinson remark on the PM programme on Radio 4 that Cameron was a student of Vernon Bogdanor at my alma mater, and that he admired Benjamin Disraeli. Disraeli was probably the archetypal radical liberal Conservative who made sweeping concessions and improvements to the conditions of the working classes in the late nineteenth century, extending the vote and conducting a remarkable kind of realpolitik that had been unknown until then. This is potentially a very interesting role model for Cameron. Another point is that those people who are concerned that the Conservatives are “the nasty party” run by right wingers who hate ordinary people and want to tax them to look after the rich whilst (preferably) bombing Europe and ethnic minorities [yes yes, I exaggerate for the sake of effect] should be positively welcoming the fact that under Cameron they have now entered into what appears to be a fairly wide-ranging deal, concessions on both sides, with a party that should help to draw them close to the political Centre and moderate those supposed nasty urges. Oh, and if Cameron is prepared to offer electoral reform now, which may in the future go beyond Alternative Vote to something more… well that would be a big change, but the history of the past 300 years of British politics has been all about change. It just may not seem like it when you find it difficult to look beyond an immediate generational horizon.

I’m excited. We’ve not seen such a coalition before in the UK. We’ve got two young party leaders of the same age and generation, both of whom were impressive on the campaign trail. Thanks to the large number of discredited MPs who left Parliament after the expenses scandal, we’ve got a large number of new, younger MPs who are untainted by the past. We’ve got an apparent spirit of cooperation. We’ve got a substantial number of apparently-talented new Cabinet ministers who impressed during the last Parliament. Oh, and there hasn’t been a bloodbath with lots of backbiting in the past few days – it seems as though our elected representatives have actually had mature conversations with one another, and the outgoing leadership has left with dignity[4]. And ultimately, a majority of folks potentially on both Left and Right get a little of something they’d hoped for.

It actually doesn’t matter what I think or what I believe one way or the other here – let’s all do something we don’t do very often in this country – let’s get behind the leaders and show some support. Let’s be positive and believe that this can work, at least for now. One way or another, we as a country voted for change this time around. We didn’t necessarily get the X or Y or Z party that we thought we might get, we got something different, but it’s definitely a change. Let’s go with it.

[1] … assuming that they weren’t unable to get into the polling booth on the day according to some press reports :-/ or that they weren’t Jamelia, who proudly and rather stupidly showed off that she’d never voted during Young Person’s Question Time before the election.

[2] … assuming that we accept that our system is “broadly” democratic… bear with me on that one

[3] … this is where I dust off my History degree! 🙂

[4] … although I’ll still look forward to reading the history of this period and all the inside stories in 10 years’ time!

Update 13/05: thanks for all the interest, comments, and tweets about this entry. Glad that the post seems to be resonating with folks – which just goes to show that “rules” about what to blog about can be bent to advantage every now and then 🙂 Really enjoying all of the feedback, thank you.

Smart Planet

IBM’s Chairman and CEO, Sam Palmisano, has been speaking to the Council of Foreign Relations in New York today. He’s been discussing how the planet is getting smarter:

These collective realizations have reminded us that we are all now connected – economically, technically and socially.  But we’re also learning that being connected is not sufficient.  Yes, the world continues to get “flatter.”  And yes, it continues to get smaller and more interconnected.  But something is happening that holds even greater potential.  In a word, our planet is becoming smarter.

In the speech, Sam talks about how the world has become instrumented, more interconnected, and devices more intelligent. And he talks about how the current world crises – ecological, financial, and others – represent an opportunity for change. The next step for the globally integrated economy is a globally integrated and intelligent economy and society.

Some of the problems and solutions that are being mentioned are interesting.

67 per cent of all electrical energy is lost due to inefficient power generation and grid management… utilities in the U.S., Denmark, Australia and Italy are now building digital grids to monitor the energy system in real time.

Congested roadways in the U.S. cost $78 billion annually in wasted hours and gas… Stockholm’s new smart toll system has resulted in 22 percent less traffic, a 12 to 40 percent drop in emissions and 40,000 additional daily users of the public transport system

This is exciting for me on many levels. Let me step up through them.

As regular readers will know, I’ve become increasingly interested in pervasive computing and home automation. The little “Current Cost craze” that has swept through my group of friends at work could be seen as a mark of the individual interest in applying technology in a smarter way. I’m excited that this has widened out to a group of folks who are supporting Chris Dalby’s Home Camp idea in London later this month.

Secondly, beyond this individual approach, it ties in to some of what I heard at the recent Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin… people talking about the opportunity for technology to change the way things work, from Tim O’Reilly’s keynote on the way forward for Internet technology and innovative thinking, to Tom Raftery’s brilliant GreenMonk pitch on Electricity 2.0.

 

STOP Studying the world. START Transforming it.

Finally, and most broadly, it’s a hopeful vision which resonates when lately, things do sometimes appear bleak.

 

Technology can help society. Let’s go and make it happen.

New York Times article on Sam Palmisano’s speech

YouTube Smarter Planet videos

Update: a couple more links, if you want to get involved…

Smarter Planet on FriendFeed

Smarter Planet on Tumblr