Monday, 14 January 2019

What Do TheSNP/IndyRef/Yes have in Common with Lego?

In August & September 2014 I became interested in Scottish politics because the cultural conditions of the SNP/IndyRef/Yes movement was something special.

When those cultural conditions changed... so did my support.

On the 19th September 2014 (The day after the #IndyRef result) I published a post asking


As far as The SNP was concerned, I wasn't wrong!

With 11 years in government, the nasty Cybernats... as well as the Alex Salmond Vs Nicola Sturgeon non-#SNPCivilWar, this post highlights how and why all this is both understandable, and perhaps even fixable.

Is it the beginning of the end for SNP/IndyRef/Yes Movement, as the Scotsman has suggested in an article at the weekend?

Or could the various crisis situations see the SNP/IndyRef/Yes Movement become the Lego of politics?

NB: SNP/IndyRef/Yes Movement are referred to as one and the same in this post... a distinct advantage when high in the opinion polls, but muddies the water when things are not going so well.

Donald Trump Vs Alex Salmond Vs Nicola Sturgeon
Remember when Trump and Salmond were good buddies and they were falling over themselves with compliments and favours? Remember how that all changed because of the wind farms?

Or what about Salmond Vs Sturgeon... let's all laugh about the tragic situation where someone who has either

1) Done a lot for Scotland and/or
2) Has been as big an egomanic as Trump

I waver between the two myself (But recent events suggest the egomanic option)

Regardless a deteriorating relationship between a mentor and mentee and colleagues is a sad development.

On my website I have as one of my core values empathy, so if we are all so keen to judge the actions of others' let's try to put ourselves in Sturgeon's shoes re any meetings that breached the 'Ministerial Code' 

Who WOULDN'T have held a meeting with someone that they owed so much to? 

I can't imagine a scenario where not having such a meeting would only become a bad idea with the benefit of hindsight.

And let's say, for arguments sake, that the content of one these 'It was SNP party business/ScotGovFM meetings' was around

'Hey can we maybe just drop the whole thing?'

And the answer was 'No' how much more integrity does that demonstrate Vs the kind of thing that has happened with Blair's Iraq War... Cameron disappearing after his Brexit shambles + Farage, Boris & Gove?

Equally, Sturgeon putting herself forward to the inquiry, looks like doing the right thing under a terrible set of circumstances.

You can easily see how the attempts at transparency might get punished, when far worse appears to get swept under the carpet.

How many of us have not fallen out with a colleague at work?
How many neighbours are former friends but the relationship has soured?

It's a tragic set of circumstances on a personal level, for the party and for Scotland (because of the distraction with getting on with the day job) AND given the national feeling of hope that existed 4 short years ago (Well LOOONG years in our case, but you get what I mean)

And yet people celebrate it on social media, even SNP/Indyref supporters... talk about addicted to drama!

The good news for those people with Westminster and Holyrood is they are at an advantage compared to their English counterparts, they get to air their views on Theresa May's Brexit and Salmond Vs Sturgeon... Yay! Scotland gets two dysfunctional parliaments not just one... Lucky us!

The Cybernats!
There are two REALLY! REALLY! significant dates as far as I can see things (Based on my experience and interests) for The SNP/IndyRef/Yes movement.

1) The first is the night of the September #IndyRef result... The night the BNP came to town to 'Celebrate' the #NoThanks result.

2) The weekend of #GE2015 and the photo under the Forth Rail Bridge and the following days with clapping in Westminster etc... Success was affecting the culture.

The 'No Thanks' crisis was a huge #IndyRef2/SNP opportunity and the 70+ Yes Scotland accounts meant that the infrastructure was in place to chase the 'NewPower Storm'

But the Yes Scotland team wanted to 'take their time and do it right' which was entirely the WRONG thing to do!!

"You can still dunk in the dark" went viral and "Won the Superbowl"

Often left out of the story is Oreo has a 15 person social media team ready for this kind of rapid response...'storm chasing' requires infrastructure to do well" New Power


By the time they woke up, others had seen an opportunity and used it for personal gain... and in doing so poisoned the well.and gifted the SNP/IndyRef/Yes movement with a massive headache, something I had the pleasure of experiencing this weekend.

I shared the same kind of data that I spotted
  • The weekend of #GE2015 that suggested the SNP had hit the first stage of decline
  • Prior to #GE2017 when Alex Salmond's campaign crowd funder did not reach the £4-5,000 target and asked before the election if this meant he might lose his seat. #GE2017 & How the Mighty Fall
Here were the observations that I shared at the weekend
  
The result of making some data observations? 

The Cybernats who claim to be supportive of the SNP/IndyRef/Yes Movement did nothing to help the cause they say they care about.

People unloaded on the "Wow! How the mighty fall" Tweet, so I elaborated on what I saw... a weekend of Cybernat notifications followed. Few people asked me to explain my position of:

1) The SNP has done nothing for us... our experiences with our SNP MP/MSP Vs our Labour MP

2) With Brexit being such a mess... how do we know that #IndyRef would be any different?

3) Infighting Salmond Vs Sturgeon looks like it's going to turn real nasty... real fast!

4) We have had 11 years of SNP rule and the 'Hope Over Fear' goodwill of 2014 is on the wane

Do I trust a party that has botched their own procedures when investigating one of their own to successfully implement IndyRef and/or do I have 'Hope Over Fear' re issues like currency after the brexit shambles? 

I can't say that I do! 

Is the Brexit issue the SNP/IndyRef/Yes Movement's fault? 

No, it's Westminster and the Tories/UKIP's... but that's the backdrop that IndyRef2 will play out against 4 years on.

NOW! There is the issue of Brexit which highlights very well that Scotland has no voice in Westminster... so in theory, it should be 'clean up time' for the SNP/IndyRef/Yes movement. But that's not where we are.

But on the flip side of this is the fact that Westminster have had the whole Brexit shambles so could EASILY apply the same kind of hard ball that the EU has with Brexit, thereby drag the Independence divorce bill out so long that people say:

'I've changed my mind... let's have the 'People's #IndyRef Vote' and #IndyRef3'

If the goodwill and momentum was where it was at in 2014 then calling IndyRef2 with the Brexit vote tomorrow would be inspired... With the infighting + the data above + cybernats. Calling IndyRef2 at the moment = not a good idea!

IndyRef 2014 never went over 40% until the last 3 weeks of the vote... what caused this? 

The 'Network Effects' of the #VoteYes online momentum fueled the 'Feedback Loops' offline and the rallies grew and grew and grew in the last 2 weeks.

The network effects and feedback loops have gone... as #GE2017 as well as the weekend's #SNPActive highlights this.

Culture! Culture! Culture!
Based on what I can see the SNP/IndyRef/Yes movement has had the same issue with two different groups... Something that a conversation with Community Management experts like Rachel Happe, Kelly Hungerford, David Spinks, Marc Smith, Howard Rheingold and others might have been able to help with.

Onboarding New Members in a way that articulated and preserved the culture

1) Their 100,000 members in 2014
2) New MPs after GE2015

How significant could missing this out be? 

Look at the reports re: How the party is splitting... the 'old guard' loyal to Alex Salmond and the new crop of 'progressives' who are on Sturgeon's side.

Could Lego's example help with this even at this late stage in the SNP/IndyRef/Yes Movement 3-4 years on after it's highest level of support?

Lego & Mads Nipper
Companies die from indigestion just as often as the die from starvation... they grow too fast. My observations are that

1) Indigestion, was definitely an issue  

2) Not understanding the 'social proof,' 'network effects,' and 'feedback loops' that led to 45% as opposed to Westminsters expected 30%+ and 

3) Not having an onboarding process that integrated the old SNP die hards with the new recruits (See the Nora Jones Town example too... IMHO it could easily read as the before and after 2014/5 SNP story)

In situations like this what to do? 
How about what Twitter Founder Biz Stone recommends?

Look for the Bright Spots!

When my kids became interested in Lego I marveled at the innovation ...and had no idea that the company came close to bankruptcy because it lost it's way. Thank goodness for dissenters like Mads Nipper!

Lego is also cited as an exemplar case study in making the transition from Old Power values to #NewPower in Henry Timms and Jeremy Heiman's book.


"Today, every person who's hired into the LEGO Group's Billund operations gets a tour of the small brick building where Ole Kirk and his family lived. There, they learn of another bedrock value of the company's founder "Only the best is good enough"

The motto grows out of the days when LEGO still produced wooden toys, Ole Kirk's son, Godtfred - who worked at the company since he was 12 and would eventually run it - boasted that he'd saved money by using two coats of varnish instead of three. The deception offended Ole, and instructed LEGO's future CEO to retrieve the toys from the train station and spend the night rectifying the error. Today a plaque with 'Only the best is good enough' graces the entrance to the cafeteria at LEGO's Headquarters" Brick by Brick

Lego employees also all have a bowl of Lego bricks on their desk... the reason? 
To remind them it's all about the brick. Why is that? 

To ensure that they don't lose their way like they did in 2001

"An animated, energetic executive who can be strikingly candid, Nipper was not shy about voicing his distress. 'Duplo was the second-strongest toy brand in northern and central Europe after LEGO... And we in all our wisdom decided to kill it' Nipper observed

In 2002 the infighting boiled over. Nipper and three other heads of the company's markets got a call to report to a suite known as 'the firing room.'If you were employed at LEGO and were summoned there, chances are you'd be unemployed when you left.

For months Nipper and the three executives had continued to press their case against Explore... The dissenters were delivered an ultimatum if they didn't shut up and loyally support Explore they would be asked to leave"

In 2004, when LEGO was deeply mired in financial crisis. Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen might well have been tempted to banish the bearer of such relentlessly negative news. Instead he offered Nipper a promotion: head up marketing and product development.

Nipper believed that LEGO had to become far more adept at letting customers help the company determine what the market wanted, instead of executives deciding what customers should want.

But all Nipper knew when he took the call from Kristiansen was that he was about to shoulder a weighty responsibility. As the overseer of all of the LEGO groups product lines, he would be the point man for resetting the company's direction" 

So, just like my post from 19th Sept 2014... Is the best still to come?

Will it my observations since #GE2015... That the SNP/IndyRef/Yes Movement will continue to slide down to stage 4 & 5 of decline that Jim Collins details in How the Mighty Fall.

 
Or will they be like Lego and there be a book called How The SNP/IndyRef/Yes Movement Reworte the Rules of Innovation in Politics and Delivered FREEEEDOM.

It would appear that both possibilities exist... perhaps one more than the other at the time of writing.

And if it was to go down to 'Stage 5?'

That would be the time and effort of thousands of people 3-4 decades of work which did not achieve their goal. 

I've worked on projects where there wasn't much to show for it at the end... it's not a great feeling. 

  
Are you a cybernat who vehemently disagrees with any of this and/or want to be a troll? 

No problem! He's my post written in your kind of language and debating style: 


But before starting your trolling bull shit please note that: 
  • I am a floating voted and will be wavering between Sturgeons' SNP and Corbyn's Labour
  • Westminster's stance on Scotland re: Brexit is a concern, so Yes for IndyRef2 does have it's merits... But the Brexit shambles and SNP record in government over 11 years does not instill much confidence in the negotioation/implementation... Feel free to convince me.
  • My main interest is in education and 30,000 teachers demonstrated against the SNP's administration and are considering industrial action.
  • The areas of deprivation do not appear to have improved any in the last 11 years
  • I have accurately predicted every election since 2014
  • Your antics on social media are doing no favours in winning the other 55% to your point of view

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Loving Kindness Meditation: The Anonymous £40... And Politicians

The definition of loving kindness meditation your introduced to in Robert Wrights book  "Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation & Enlightenment is:


"The mediation starts with you making a point of feeling kindly towards yourself. Then you imagine someone you love and direct some loving kindness toward him or her. Then you imagine someone you like and direct some loving kindness toward that person. Then you think about someone you don't feel strongly about one way or the other. And so on - until you get to an actual enemy. If all goes according to plan, you manage to feel loving kindness even for that enemy.

...It seems only appropriate to say a few kind words about loving kindness meditation, so here they are: It works for some people. But it doesn't work for me"

Robert's writing and his experiences about his attempts at meditation are hilarious... Including his epic fail at attempting to meditate and describing how his mind ends up wandering. Something that I could identify with in my attempts... and something that politicians returning to work most definitely did NOT help with!

A Little Bit of Background - Christmas Vs Back to Work Social Media
I read about this just after:

1) Having secured the amount needed for a rather desperate crowdfund campaign
2) Spending a period of time being unplugged from social media

I also started to draft this post during the Christmas break, following some AWESOME kindness on social media over the Christmas Period (See What if God was One of Us? What Would He be Tweeting About?).

I am glad that I didn't publish it until after the politicians came back to work with the cruelness of Trump, Anna Soubry's Nazis and all the Alex Salmond/SNP drama... and chatting with some lovely #Cybernats about my 'Illiterate Shite' as they put it, before adding nothing further to the conversation except for reaching for the 'Block' option.

On the flip side there has also been kindness with the #LoveThyNeighbourChallenge to help federal workers that Trump says are 'his hostages' (Reminiscent of the kindness of the early #IndyRef supporters with leaving bags of shopping for foodbanks at George Square)

Loving Kindness Meditation: Epic Fail
So I tried the Loving Kindness Meditation as described in Wright's book (AKA the extract above)... and it was an epic fail initially.

One thing that has not been an epic fail is sending positive vibes to the 23 people who assisted with the GoFundMe campaign (Something that I was to find should NEVER have been necessary if it wasn't for ineptitude from the DWP and/or my local council?! More on that at a later date).

I knew who everyone who contributed to the crowdfund... everyone except the last £40.

I both wanted to know who this was ...and tried to find out so that I could send them a thank you message, to no avail.

Loving Kindness Meditation: The Anonymous £40
My second attempt at trying this 'Loving Kindness Meditation' was to think of all the people who this last mystery donor could have been.

The essence of this £40 contribution took on a very different feel, based on... what if:

  • The mystery contributor was ABC person - Someone that I knew and liked
    Reaction: A huge smile thinking about that person.
  • The mystery contributor was XYZ person - Someone that had wronged me in some way and/or where there had been a falling out
    Reaction: Oh My Gosh! I hope it wasn't them!
    They could keep their poxy money!
    I wouldn't want their help even if they offered!
    It's partly their fault that we are where we find ourselves!
So, what if you had a crowd fund campaign for a project that you desperately wanted to see happen and the final amount needed was from an anonymous donor while reading a book that introduced you to the concept of loving kindness meditation?

I can tell you what my pre-Christmas unplugged and post-Back to Work social media experiences have been.

The Day Loving Kindness Meditation Worked

On the 23rd December after being used to being unplugged a month+
Looking forward to Christmas with the family.
Being thankful that we've come through a horrible, horrible year and
Having no problem with practicing loving kindness meditation re: the 22 Crowd Fund contributors.

I tried 'Loving Kindness Meditation' applying this mystery £40 to people that I do not have enthusiastic feelings about which - having not mastered any of the 'Not Self' stuff - feelings that I feel are well and truly justified, at least from my perspective.

And it worked!

For one glorious day, it worked! I was able to think lovely, warm fuzzy feelings towards even the biggest of takers & fakers and/or those who didn't honour financial agreements... people who helped put us into a tough situation, but these

'#Shoulder2Shoulder...Life long family friends' and
'Yes we'll pay you what we said we would' 5 times by 3 CEOs over a 8 month period.
'It may feel like it but you're not alone...You Matter...You have a voice or we would not be connected'

People were nowhere to be seen when we hit hard times... they took my time, efforts and ideas and they were off. But I was able to send them genuine and authentic positive vibes... and it was a great feeling too!

Disaster! Back Online...
If there is one thing that REALLY, REALLY winds me up... it's people's time and contribution not being acknowledged. It's something I'm super careful to always do! I'm also willing to take a stand re: my core values.

The most recent project that I've been involved with has seen any old random thing being made up after working on it for 3 years and putting 6 months hustle into it in 2018.

Compare these two posts (My one in Sept 2017 being written in response to the first one in an attempt to set the record straight!)
When I got back online after having some success at this meditation I spotted the following Tweet


Compare the Tweet above with this one in June 
(And not the only EdChange Global organiser to struggle with their memory! My son has issues with his memory too so I know how challenging it can be... you guys are in my prayers with whatever condition you have). 


Compare this also with the fact that I was sure to acknowledge the conversation that led to me finding out about this AWESOME Chrissy MacKay and the work she does at Be Yonder.

'Right Words,' Social Media and Politicians 
So the 'Loving Kindness Meditation' faltered a little... and the political classes who advocate for civility online didn't help matters this week either.

I've accurately predicted every election since 2014 and on Christmas Eve the SNP made a crass attempt to politicize the festive period, but it only got 2,900 Retweets.

... Stats like this reminded me of Alex Salmond's #GE2017 crowdfunder (65 backers and struggled to reach the £4,000 campaign target amount).


Fast forward to the first week when people are back at work and on the 8th Jan 
  • Alex Salmond starts to trend and the trolls come out in force to back Salmond and threaten Leslie Evans (@PermSecScot)
  • Anna Soubry is trending on Twitter because of Nazis
     
  • In the wee small hours there is the Trump Address from the Oval Office re: his wall.
NodeXL maps were made up for Alex Salmond, PermSecScot and Anna Soubry

Top Words in Tweet in Entire Graph:

I followed the 3 events on the day as I've had a number of observations and insights on these things over the years... Including blaming politicians for much of the abuse online AND because I don't feel that this negative/violent commentary will necessarily remain the case (But not through anything that the political classes will do to curb the negative, angry and violent sentiment: as Cambridge Analytics and Trump demonstrates).

The 8th of January was a great example of A Day in the Life of the Internet?... Or the Plot to a Toy Story Movie? because in spite of all the hatred we see things like:
  • People demanding that everything from the #TrumpAddress to be Fact Checked
  • The #LoveThyNeigbourChallenge to help US federal employees


But here's the kicker... Following these events on social media the findings from the 'Right Speech' article (re The angry cab driver) in my last post as well as Why Good People Turn Bad Online (Re: You can feel yourself getting snarky) they are100% spot on!

Watching this stuff on your screen for a full day really does affect your mood... and your words and ability to master 'Right Speech'

In addition to this, Marc Smith's comments from 'Voices From the Well' 26 years ago are also 100% accurate... that banning controversy like political tribes from platforms is unlikely to happen.

The outrage like the ones above from 7/8th Jan (Holyrood, Westminster and The White House) is good for business for social media AND the political classes... But for users it's perhaps about as productive as Cesar Sayoc attending a Trump rally.

But when the 'Network Effects,' 'Feedback Loops' and culture is right, it sure has been good for the SNP and Alex Salmond.

But is this a trend that's likely to continue?
Perhaps not... Karma can be a bitch sometimes.

#The45 were not looking simply to put #Team56 into Westminster for 2 years... they were looking for change.

The #ValueEducationValueTeachers and pending industrial action highlights how short of the mark this came... that's before we even get into the #SNPCivilWar or what the data from #ActiveSNP is telling us.

But don't blame me... I voted 'Yes' and tried to bring a number of Digital Citizenship and Community Management events to Scottish education and politics: #GE2017 & The SNP: How the Mighty Fall.

But I'll need to blame myself any time that I find that Twitter and the political trends that I feel compelled to click on if/when they are not good for any 'Right Speech' or Loving Kindness Meditation that I'm exploring.

          


Tuesday, 1 January 2019

What if God was one of us? What would He be Tweeting About?

This post wonders if the kind of kindness and collaboration from The Well is one of the potentials of social media going forward... If you look in the right places it's certainly looking promising!.

Since first hearing about the awesome impact and acts of kindness on the early online community 'The Well' in 2015, I have been fascinated with this virtual community... so much so that when planning any new projects I review some of the awesome resources about this fascinating space.

A few days ago I found out about NodeXL (@NodeXL) founder Marc Smith's (@Marc_Smith) college thesis about The Well ...
  • Before seeing kindness trending on Twitter via Penny Appeals (@PennyAppeal) homeless campaign #WhatWouldJesusDo,
  • This was followed by Sarah Millican's (@SarahMillican75) annual #JoinIn campaign for people who are alone at Christmas.
  • Then on Boxing Day I heard about Give And Take's (@GiveAndTakeInc) platform Givitas via Good Morning America.
This led me to wondering if the Mosaic Science article is correct, like RedditRevolt Vs Reddit Place, that social media growing out of it's adolescent phase? 

Or to put it another way: As it's Christmas + given the #WhatWouldJesusDo campaign + The kindness shown via #JoinIn + all the Christians who get involved with Trump & Brexit politics... I wondered, as the lyrics from Joan Osborne's song puts it:

"What if God was one of us?"
Just a slob like one of us 
Just a stranger on the bus 
Tryin' to make his way home?"

Where and when would He be getting involved on Twitter and Facebook on the bus on his way home? 

Background
I've been fascinated with The Well and Adam Grant's (@AdamMGrant) Give and Take since I read about both. Through reading Katie Hafner's (@katiehafner) book (In 2015) I wondered if social media today would head in the same direction as The Well did.

July 2015         The Epic Saga of the Well
Jan 2016          DigCitSummitUK Closing Remarks - Own Your Words
May 2018        Why Good People Turn Bad Online
June 2018        Tech Story 2 - The Wild West of the Internet (Inspired by New Power)
June 2018        What has Natures Metropolis (And ISTE2018) Got to do with the Internet?
June 2018        A Day in the Life of the Internet... Or the Plot to a Toy Story Movie?

Politicians talk about "The Wild West of The Internet," in EXACTLY the same way visitors spoke about Chicago in the 1880s... Surely the internet and social media will get settled in the same way?

The Epic Saga of the Well highlights both the potential of social media and online collaboration... and the dangers when there are differences of opinion.

As I'm doing some planning for a new project I reviewed Howard Rheingold's (@hrheingold) book 'Virtual Communities'

My Christmas Online... Some Serious Learning!
18th Dec Virtual Communities - Ch 1 The Heart of The Well
Whether my #StartupEduChat/#EdTechBridge involvement, my interest in the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, The UK Digital Citizenship Summit I was involved with, Being an early support of Declara or developing the #CMAD inspired 'Connected Educator Appreciation Day' since 2015... Jane Jacobs work and the things that members of The Well achieved have been inspiring to read about:

"Within hours, people started doing things in half a dozen directions on their own initiative. The raw scope and diversity of the resources available to us by pooling our individual networks was astonishing. People who had medical connections in New Delhi were brought in; airline schedules and rates for medical evacuation were researched; a fund was started and contributions started arriving. Casey used the net to find a possible telecommunications site in New Delhi where they could relay information for Frank, Elly's ex-husband, who had flown to Asia to help with what was looking like a grave situation… Within hours, we knew how to get such medical equipment in New Delhi and whose name to mention. We knew whom to call, how to ask, what it cost, and how to transfer funds to get Elly delivered to a hospital in the San Francisco region. "It gives me goosebumps," reported Onezie, as the topic unfolded on the WELL. "This is love in action."

Educators may recall that Howard featured in Michelle Cordy's (@CordyM) ISTE 2016 keynote.




The extract above reminds me of Jane Jacobs 'Life and Death of Great American Cities' which I read in 1999 as part of my OU course in Human Geography about how order is created in the chaos of the city.

"When Jimmy Rogan fell through a plate-glass window (he was separating some scuffling friends) and almost lost his arm, a stranger in an old T shirt emerged from a bar, swiftly applied an expert tourniquet, and, according to the hospital’s emergency staff, saved Jimmy’s life. Nobody remembered seeing the man before and no one has seen him since. The hospital was called in this way: a woman sitting on the steps next to the accident ran over to the bus stop, wordlessly snatched the dime from the hand of a stranger who was waiting with his fifteen-cent fare ready, and raced into the Ideal’s phone booth. The stranger raced after her to offer the nickel too. Nobody remembered seeing him before, and nobody has seen him since" The Life and Death of Great American Cities

Why on earth The Well founder Stewart Brand's (@StewartBrand) 1997 "How Buildings Learn" wasn't part of this course, I'll never know! Marc Smith's 1992 paper about The Well reminded me of Jacobs work


18th Dec Voices From the Well
I read this paper three times and simply could not believe how insightful it was...as well as how relevant it was to social media today. I think I tweeted half the report out, but a particularly relevant comment for this post is:

“Faced with vast quantities of information, getting just the right piece can be a formidable task. The WELL acts as an organic knowledge filter; each of its thousands of users sift through large amounts of information, they often hold expertise on one subject or another, and each can be drawn upon by others in the community” Marc Smith


25th Dec Charting Connections in Your Community
After reading Voices from the Well I watched a 2016 San Francisco #Octribe video with Marc Smith talking about NodeXL.

Smith highlights how:

"Some of the people who borrow money from you are not the same ones who would lend you money or drive you to the airport" (What Adam Grant might call a 'Taker'?)


"Are there neighbourhoods [on social media]? If so what separates group one from group two?"
With so many people now on social media, do we need to now think of this space more like physical spaces?

For example, there are lots of tourists in Glasgow's City Centre and in the museums etc, but few might be visiting the most deprived areas that make up for some 59% of the 100 most deprived areas in the UK.

"Some issues that you think are controversial aren't all that controversial... it's just that 15% of the population are really noisy"
Marc advises that there are some conversations you would not join in on. It would be HIGHLY unlikely that I would visit Holyrood (Scotland's Parliament) if I was in Edinburgh and join in any debate

... So why do I do it online? What is the impact of reading all the 'Trending' tweets? For politicians to turn us all into 'gammons'?

"Once I took a cab ride with a driver who was listening to a talk radio show. The program was a litany of the host's resentments and anger toward other individuals and groups.

The cab driver apparently listened to this poison all day long, and he was quivering with rage. He responded to the litany with foul expletives, occasionally slapping his hand on the dashboard for emphasis. The cab seemed filled up with hate; I could barely breathe. It was a great relief when the cab ride was over.

This incident showed me that Right Speech is not just about the words I speak, but also the words I hear. Certainly, we cannot banish ugly words from our lives, but we can choose to not soak in them.

Practice of Right Speech has never been easy, but thanks to 21st-century technology speech takes forms unimaginable in the Buddha's time. Through the internet and mass media, the speech of one person can be flung around the world. 
As we look at this global net of communication, there are plenty of examples of speech used to inflame passion and violence and to separate people into sectarian and ideological tribes. It's not so easy to find speech that leads to peace and group harmony.

Sometimes people justify harsh speech because they are speaking on behalf of a worthy cause. Ultimately, stirring up acrimony is planting karmic seeds that will hurt the cause we think we're fighting for." Right Speech
   
So that's some of the learning that's gone on from a personal perspective over the last couple of weeks.

...Let's take a look at what's been happening on the world wide web.

1980/90s
"...even if The Well itself should disappear, its mystique will continue to exist in the minds of people searching for a reason to venture into cyberspace. Forty years from now, The Well may be remembered only dimly, or not at all. But it will have left behind a lasting imprint on our culture, as we will be left with the lush promises it whispered into our ear" The Epic Saga of the Well

2018
"The good news is that, in spite of the horrible behaviour many of us have experienced online, the majority of interactions are nice and cooperative… As Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil points out, we’ve had thousands of years to hone our person-to-person interactions, but only 20 years of social media. “Offline, we have all these cues from facial expressions to body language to pitch… whereas online we discuss things only through text. I think we shouldn’t be surprised that we’re having so much difficulty in finding the right way to discuss and cooperate online.”

As our online behaviour develops, we may well introduce subtle signals, digital equivalents of facial cues, to help smooth online discussions. In the meantime, the advice for dealing with online abuse is to stay calm, it’s not your fault. Don’t retaliate but block and ignore bullies, or if you feel up to it, tell them to stop… If social media as we know it is going to survive, the companies running these platforms are going to have to keep steering their algorithms, perhaps informed by behavioural science, to encourage cooperation rather than division, positive online experiences rather than abuse. As users, we too may well learn to adapt to this new communication environment so that civil and productive interaction remains the norm online as it is offline" Why Good People Turn Bad Online

Christmas Online 2018
24th Dec: #WhatWouldJesusDo 
On Christmas Eve Homeless Charity @PennyAppeal's Christmas campaign #WhatWouldJesusDo was trending, encouraging people to help out with homelessness.

Unfortunately, it did not take long for the chatter to go from discussing homelessness to others joining in with all kinds of political & religious snarkiness (...As well as some good humored and funny comments too)

25th Dec #JoinIn 
On Christmas Day I saw the #JoinIn hashtag trending with people taking time out to chat with those who were feeling lonely at Christmas... If you've not seen Sarah Millican's interview with Russell Howard, it's well worth checking out!!
26th Dec Give And Take: Givitas
On Boxing Day I spotted a Tweet about Reciprocity Rings and '5 Minute Favours,' clicked on it... and LOVED! what I saw:

I loved it so much that I put this Givitas Declara collection together with over 80 articles about Givitas

Based on this Beat Generosity Burnout article, this platform seems particularly relevant to educators

"Some of our favorite recent data points come from more than 400 second-year teachers (from pre-K through high school throughout the United States). At the start of the year we asked them a series of questions about their approach to helping; their answers allowed us to predict how well their students would do on end-of-year academic achievement tests.

Here’s a sample question:

Imagine that you’re teaching a geometry class, and you’ve volunteered to stay after school one day a week to help one of your students, Alex, improve his understanding of geometry. He asks if you’ll also help his friend Juan, who isn’t in your class. What would you do?" Beat Generosity Burnout

Both The Well and Adam Grant highlights that there are extremely generous 'Givers' out there, as well as plenty of people who will take advantage. (Keep an eye out for my 'Anonymous £40' and @BeMorePirate 'Here Be Dragons' posts in the New Year).

Both The Well and today's social media demonstrate that they have addictive properties about them.

So, I'm looking forward to seeing what this '5 min favour' purpose built platform will look like and what it will achieve.

My hope is that NodeXL and Givitas will help any networks I am part of to become 'Community Clusters' who encourage a culture of giving.

"You are the result of all the relationships you have" Marc Smith.


I've learnt a lot about the relationships that I have online in the last 12 months... I guess Henry Timms (@HenryTimms) and Jeremy Heimans (@JeremyHeimans) is right

"Those on the side of the angels, who want to spread compassion, promote pluralism, or defend science must grapple with a painful reality: That New Power can supercharge hate and misinformation"

"What if God was one of us?"
Just a slob like one of us 
Just a stranger on the bus 
Tryin' to make his way home?"

Where and when would He be getting involved on Twitter and Facebook on the bus on his way home? 

I wonder who I'll meet online and where my social media adventures will take me in 2019?

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Christmas Presence

2018 has been a year of loss and as I reflect on it all, I'm thinking of Christmas Presence a lot more than Christmas Presents.

For the last 5 years I have worked on the exact same goal that lead me to very nervously hitting that dreaded 'Publish' button on that first post. Articles like Lost in the Ghetto have never been far from my mind... along the way I've found invaluable resources like Collaborate Vs  Collaborate and There is No App for Patience.

There have been some big wins and plenty of reasons to be hopeful. For example, 2015 alone saw me
  • Connect with James Stanbridge (@Stanbridge) who saw the value in what I was working on 
  • Agreeing with Chris van der Kyul's #SLF15 keynote that Scottish educators need to collaborate more and that education lacked leadership
  • The Education Secretary asking me to share details of the #DigiLearnScot consultation with my PLN
  • Having enough experience with politicians to know that the positive cultural conditions would not last long... finding the Core Values that would allow me support any particular project or idea... but leave enough wiggle room to say 'I'm not as supportive of this any more if/when the culture changed.
  • Accurately predicting The SNP clean sweep in #GE2015 (And every election since then)
  • Accurately predicting that - at the height of their success (The weekend after GE2015 result) - that The SNP were in trouble because I spotted stage one of How the Mighty Fall: Hubris
  • My being involved with the first education movement and
  • Securing my first paid gig as a Community Manager via a career goal of working at a hot shot Silicon Valley start up.
But there have also been some tremendous lows too...and 2018 will be remembered as a year of painful losses
  • In August, the only home our three boys will have any memories of living in got repossessed. This was the result of non-payment of money that was assured for work that was carried out (Throw in the heartlessness of the Government owned 'Too big to fail' NRAM + DWP incompetence and complete apathy by the political class and you'll get an idea of how I felt about the matter. (Startups can be tough... So can edu & EdTech).
  • In April my Mother-in-Law was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away in November
  • In Sept/Oct a project I had developed since 2015 and worked on from Feb-Oct was supposed to do in 2018 what one in 2015 was supposed to do... But that progressed without my involvement toward the end.
  • In December, when "The funds were low and the debts were high" as the poem goes, I was ready to quit.
A few days before the funeral I was informed that our possessions that were in storage was at risk, as the account had fell into arrears. 

The day after the funeral, I turned to the only option that I felt was left - make the fact that we're facing some challenges public and try to crowd fund it.

I put a crowd funder together but didn't hold much hope that the amount needed would be raised. 

£700 may as well have been £1 million... So I contemplated on what I'd miss most about the next loss.

It was the photos and books - probably the reason why my last 2 posts have been full of extracts (The baby photos to follow in future posts no doubt. Lol. But if you can't wait til then a couple are in Tech Story).

Or if you prefer... Here is Alexander getting anointed as the King of Scotland. (Couldn't Resist. Lol)


An Unexpected Place of Healing
An Unexpected Place of Healing is the name of the Ted Talk of Declara Founder Ramona Peirson who found herself in an old folks home with 100 wise grandparents after numerous operations following hit by a drunk driver when she was running.

I found an unexpected place of healing regarding the challenges from this year, which was courtesy of Dexter Dias, and the stories in his book about The Ten Types of Human.

Sure we've had a tough time... But
  • We didn't have to sell one of our kids into slavery to make ends meet like Anthony's dad... 
  • Are not haunted for selling a baby like Anna is. 
  • We did not find that our best option for survival was a mirgant boat like Siara and Patrice escaping the Central African Republic, or 
  • Sold into slavery for trying to rescue girls like Lena from the sex trade
  • It doesn't take us an hour to 'Blink a paragraph' like Dawn does
We were lucky enough to have citizenship in a country that has a safety net... and connectivity to put a crowdfund together.

It might be tempting to wish that you were a citizen of this country and had a name like Fred Goodwin and/or were an old school chums of Vince Cable and co at RBS and/or NRAM when times get tough and were 'Too Big to Fail" so get billions within 24 hours. HOWEVER... Chris Sacca highlights how he knows:

"Some of these jerks personally and professionally and while young graduates may envy their private planes and chalets...I'm hear to assure you that every single one of them [corrupt liars in business] is haunted by demons. Their public denials come at such a compounding cost to their souls... their family and friends can smell the stink of dishonesty on their clothes" 

In this inspiring commencement speech where to advises young graduates to: Be Helpful

Stories in Dexter's book don't half put your own troubles into perspective... and remind me of The World is Mine poem..

The Ten Types of Human was a very personal example of how, if we stop and remind ourselves how much worse off others are to ourselves, you can find yourself to be extremely grateful for what you have.

The books are back and the 23 people who contributed to this crowdfunder have been in our thoughts and prayers like you would not believe!

All I want for Christmas... Is Christmas Presence
My mother-in-law lost the power of speech in the last few days and, as I highlight in my Family Matters post,

We sat the boys down and said that she had lost the power of speech and was on a lot of drugs, we then asked them if they wanted to see her to say goodbye, or if they’d prefer to remember her as she was.
  

As her health had deteriorated over the last few months, I asked the boys if they could remember what they talked about in the last proper conversation that they had with their granny.

I'm not sure that I could... But I can tell you what I can remember, with some regret.

I remember all the visits when I was busy doing 'important work' of one description or another trying desperately to find the money (that never came) to prevent us losing the house (that we lost).

How many of those visits where the 'important work' and had little affect on the overall outcome would I have traded for the opportunity to be totally, completely and 100% present? 

How many of those conversations that I felt were either pointless or irrelevant and/or about a topic I had no interest in would I like to go back to and be more involved with?

How often was I, not only not present, but completely stressed out and frustrated in the presence of the kids over the last few years... what impact did the stress and frustration have on the overall outcome of where we find ourselves today? Not one bit of a difference.

When Dexter mentions the word 'family' to his students it gets met with a mix of groans and laughs... but after a few stories and interventions his students soon change their tune.

Anther of those fantastic things called books helps to draw out the ridiculousness of our actions Vs the over all result.

In "What Got you here won't get you there" Marshall Goldsmith details the conversation he had with an executive who says he works such long hours so he can provide for his wife and keep her happy.

Goldsmith asks "How is that working out for you... with your fourth wife," noting that the other divorces being a result of the executives' work-a-holic tendencies. #IronyIs

So, with the benefit of reflection, some painful losses, Dexter's research and last but by NO MEANS LEAST, the kindness of 23 people and their generosity...

I have all I want for Christmas... the photos and books are back!

Furthermore, the kindness of those people helped to stemmed the losses of 2018 and helped facilitate the healing process. 

So I don't want any Christmas Presents this year... All I want is more Christmas Presence.

And any fans of The Alchemist might be interested to know that the point I stopped trying so hard with some of the EdTech/Startup/Professional goals things started happening.

“Before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up. It’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one 'dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.” Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

"When one is truly ready for a thing, it puts in its appearance" Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

I'd like to end this post with my  faviourite quote which is Emerson's 'To Laugh often and Much"

To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

...And I want the people who have offered with all their time and assistance this year to know that, if Emerson's description of success is accurate... then you have indeed succeeded, because we'll be breathing a little easier because of your time, kind words and support. 

Thank you all! Wishing you a Merry Christmas with lots of Presence... And a Happy, Healthy & Prosperous New Year.

I know a few people in my PLN who are having a tough time, you're in our thoughts. 

We hope #NotAtISTE G+ community organiser Jen Wanger gets the best possible outcome from her CT results later in the week: The Journey Shifts & Jen Wagner Support






Friday, 21 December 2018

Bullies, 'Takers' & Ostracism

This post looks at how living by my core values can see me excluded from groups and how - through exploring the early online community The Well - these issues are by no means new... But research shows that social rejection is pretty painful (especially when you've invested a lot of time and effort), and looks at how ostracism in schools is shaping the attitudes of the tech community ...and can also have tragic consequences.

In my ACEing Made to Stick post I wondered how much of a lack of that all important 'sense of belonging' Scottish school girl Aqsa Mahmood felt when deciding to become an ISIS recruiter... The extracts in this post provide evidence of what social rejection does to people.

Since September 2015 I have being Using these Core Values and they have been applied regardless of the audience

  • Whether an Education Secretary
  • The so called 'life long family friends' (Their words, not mine) who claim they were #Shoulder2Shoulder with me (Again their words not mine)... before blocking me and deleting all posts and Tweets that featured our 'collaboration'... which effectively amounted to playing on my kind nature and taking all they could.
  • Or an idea that I work on for 3 years but if others ignore the recommended project guidelines and/or norms but then take over ...and just make stuff up and about how it all came together.

I've been taken in a fair bit by people with their compliments and flowery words... that is, of course, until they have gotten all the time, ideas and connections they can out of me, then it's

'Thank you very much... See ya sucker!'
(Indeed, sometimes there is not even a 'Thank you very much.' Lol) 


If you then have the gall to call people out on how their words and actions don't quite match up... you soon find yourself blocked (Even when it's accounts that you created and developed for 6 months before those people got involved with a project you have worked on over the course of a 3 year period?!).

I can't do much if others don't "Own Their Words," the mantra of The Well and the topic of my #DigCitSummitUK Closing Remarks post... but I do have a choice in how I react.

I have called people out on their BS... I also have qualitative and quantitative that suggests this is not uncommon in education communities on social media, which is part of the reason I'm writing about my experiences in this post.

I'm looking at some new projects and - as usual - before starting the planning stages, I have reviewed reports about The Well and was re-reading Howard Rheingold's (@hrheingold) 'Virtual Communities' (Howard featured in Michelle Cordy's 2016 ISTE Keynote) and saw that NodeXL's (@NodeXL) Marc Smith (@Marc_Smith) had done his Masters Thesis on The Voices of the Well.

I've read this document three times in the last 48 hours and noticed how:

1) The issues I've experienced are not new
2) That my reaction wasn't in any way unusual... In fact it would appear I have been entirely predictable


Indeed some commentators highlight that the reason Silicon Valley was such a collaborative place in the early days was because of William Shockley

"Shockley was such a massive asshole it is really hard to know where to start. He is most famous as the inventor of the point-contact transistor that would d​efine modern electronics. The achievement led to the establishment of Silicon Valley, and also won him the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics.
But according to his partners John Bardeen and Walter Houser Brattain, with whom he shared the Nobel,
 Shockley​ was a total fraud. They claimed that they had created the first working transistor without him, and only tacked his name on it after he threw a tantrum. According to Brattain, this photo from a publicity shoot for the transistor was "the first and last time William Shockley ever laid hands on it.

It's no surprise, then, that Shockley's collaborators kept fleeing him to found​ their own companies (one of ​which was Intel). It was simply impossible to tolerate Shockley's unbearable jerkness of being. He would publicly fire e​mployees, humiliate them with demotions, or try to take credit for their ideas." 
Standing on the Shoulders of Giant Jerks

5 Beloved Scientists Who Were Actually Bullies


This mirrors Nolan Bushnell's observations in 'Finding the Next Steve Jobs' and how the world is filled with poseurs.

"One of the biggest lessons I've learned over the years is that the business world (and by extension, the world itself) is filled with poseurs. these people are quite clever at figuring out what you want them to say, and then saying it exactly the way you want to hear it.

I first learned about the onmipresence of phonies during the early years of Atari. The custom chip business was very difficult and time consuming. And because it could take at least a year to get a completed custom chip working, a whole cadre of people posing as chip designers would always find ways to leave the company or get fired before the chip ever worked. Steve Jobs once told me that there were many employees at Apple who never got a single chip working. I told him it was the same at Atari. These people were able to go from job to job to job, doing something that seemed creative but yielding zero output. I remember one guy whose nickname became "I Almost Have It." Every time we'd ask if his chip was ready, that's what he'd say.

You have to be wary of poseurs. So how do you recognise them?

For one thing, don't rely solely on credentials in hiring. In the chip world, for example, someone can have terrific credentials in chip design without any ability to get a chip engineered. Such poseurs know how to build up a terrific looking resume. you'll soon find out it's their major talent.

The poseur's fundamental skill is the bluff. For some reason they don't feel a need to go past that, which is why they are easily unmasked. At Atari, I once hired two people who came from Hewlett-Packard. At the time, HP was considered the best company in the field. If you'd landed one of it's executives, you felt pretty lucky. These guys were like butter: so smooth, so polished, so frictionless. It turned out that they didn't know how to do anything except shine at an interview, and, once on the job, take credit for what their underlings did.

All of us have been taken in by poseurs at one point or another. The trick is to learn from the experience rather than endlessly repeat it" Nolan Bushnell, Finding the Next Steve Jobs


Any time I experience this kind of thing I make a conscious effort to ramp up my 'giving' because, as Adam Grant (@AdamMGrant) highlights in To be a Good Leader, you don't have to be a jerk

"People who have gotten burned too many times. In learning to stick up for themselves, they've over corrected [and become an ass hole]"

But I am aware of educators who have had similar experience with working on Twitter chats, Edcamps and/or other unconferences and then get a little more wary and less collaborative as a result.

Like the comment to Gerard above from Voices from The Well, any time I have felt people were using my collaborative nature to build their own online reputation based on my time, efforts and creativity... I've been just as clear about how I've felt about the situation.

And if people decide to make stuff up about me, my involvement, contribution or any he said/she said gossip, I remind myself of Plato's wise words


A couple of failed attempts, you might think... Well... Yes... and No.

Yes, because the projects didn't fulfill their potential.

No, because:

1) Marc's Voices of the Well highlights how tough (and fragile) these movements, projects and communities can be.

2) I'm learning all the time

3) Through examples like William Shockley, we know that the shared experiences of collaborating with an ass hole can lead to empathy and bonding of those who survived working with horrible people like him.

4) Finally, Sam Conniff Allende (@SamConniff) highlights in Be More Pirate (@BeMorePirate) how this is a typical scenario:

"In the workshops we run, this second stage is where things really get started, we break into crews and a sense of mutiny begins to fill the room. Making new rules can be complex, but that's not where we start; the first thing to do is get a crew to choose the one rule they collectively most want to break, and then begin the task of remaking it.

In this challenge, we've seen things get pretty heated; crews fight, split re-form and commit to actual rule breaking there and then. We find that when you really reconnect with that rule you know needs breaking, and actual alternatives begin to emerge, with a crew ready to change them, pirates begin to get serious" Sam Conniff Allende, Be More Pirate (P106)

I've been working on the same ideas since my first blog post in 2012... So it's just a case of continuing to get the experience... and finding people with that all important (and extremely elusive) combination of:

1) Shared values and
2) A shared vision.

If and when I've 'Told it like it is,' this has been very much for the reason that Howard Rheingold highlighted on The Well and the Tweet at the start of this post... in the hope of trying to warn others about what my experiences are and to articulate why I don't trust this person and/or that group?

HOWEVER... have I gone about articulating this in the right way? Erm... Perhaps... 'Most definitely NOT,' is the best answer to that question.

The reason I have not gone about things the right way can be found in 'The Ostraciser' chapter in Dexter Dias's book The Ten Types of Human.

But even if I had executed things better, the Kathy Bolkvac example demonstrates that you don't get any medals even if you take difficult decisions... Even if you are right.

On the other hand, as the Ten Types of Human extract from last post highlights via the brave women in post-earthquake Haiti, if there are enough whistle blowers coming together and shining a light on a situation... it can make a difference.

What's the alternative... a world with more Donald Trumps, Steve Bannons, Nigel Farages, Boris Johnstons poisoning the well nationally, as well as all the William Shockley's out there benefiting from others time and collaborative nature?


"They took the benefit of my work and made me contribute it as a gift" Ayn Rand's Howard Roark re: Cortlandt design

“A house can have integrity, just like a person...and just as seldom" Howard Roark

The rest of this post include extracts from Live Work Work Work Die and 'The Ostraciser' in Ten Types of Humans... I wonder if we'll see any game changing and/or global edchange as a result of these extracts?

I hope educators take on board the long term effects that being ostracized and socially rejected has on their students... speaking from experience: It fucking hurts! Check out Elon Musks experiences.

Elon Musk was Bullied and Lonely as a Kid - Then he Found Computers & Business

In September I read Lois Lowry's book The Giver and Corey Pein's 'Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley'... and when hearing that people like Peter Thiel have acquired New Zealand Citizenship and their private island there, you see how close a world of people living in Lowry's book is.

Live Work Work Work Die.
Justine Tunney 2014 blog post addressing "Silicon Valley and geeks in general" called for a "Nerd Nationalism" motivated primarily by personal resentment.


"We don't fit into this society and we never will... We're placed in public schools that bore us - when we're not being assaulted and ridiculed by bullies. We have trouble procreating because society finds us sexually repulsive. We're ridiculed in the press. We're unwanted in our communities. Angry kids throw bricks at our buses when we go to work. We're denied a voice in our government

...But a new day had dawned. We've grown powerful thanks to the tech industry. In many ways, I feel that geeks already rule the world, we just haven't figured out how to reign. So we need to up our game, get smart, and start asking ourselves what we can do to put the fear in all these people" Corey Pein (P232)

Chilling stuff! You should see the attitudes to 'The Aristocracy of Brains"...Be nice to the geeks and nerds kids, they just might be our new rulers soon.

Pokemon Go

"So, last question, and I want to get a little more personal. Why are you so obsessed with maps and location? 

…I grew up in a really isolated town in West Texas, so I kind of grew up daydreaming about other places …And I think a lot of people who grow up in small towns share that feeling of ‘I can’t wait to go out and see the wider world.’" John Hanke, Inside the Mind of Google's Greatest Idea Man 

The rest of this post includes extracts from The Ten Types of Human... With Nolan Bushnell highlighting that, like Elon Musk exemplifies, the bullied sometimes get to have the last laugh. Who can blame them if they 'can't wait to go out and see the world' then prefer to live in a homogeneous community of techies given these horrible early experiences.

The Ten Types of Human: The Ostraciser 

Big Brother 10

Sree Dasari applied for Big Brother 10 in 2009... but things did not go well for him... He was treated as an outsider. His heavy Indian accent was ridiculed by Marcus Akin. Dasari frequently misread social cues and misinterpreted the fragile social politics of the house. He earned the collective opprobrium of housemates by drinking the alcohol allowance of Russian resident, Angel. The Russian boxer was a teetotaler anyway, but it made no difference: the group considered that Dasari violated the norm. He was perceived as a disruptive and destabilizing presence in the House.

...When he was evicted he then had to run the gauntlet of a different kind... He was met with a deafening barrage of boos... He said in his eviction show that he didn't care about being evicted as it 'wasn't about winning or losing. It was about the experience.' A few weeks later, Sree Dasari slashed his wrists. (P93)

"Humans are animals. I think we all live under the threat of being punished. On all sorts of levels, in all sorts of ways. It does govern our behavior. Being ejected hurts" Marian Wong (Senior Lecturer at the School of Biological Sciences at Wollongong University and studies Goby fish).

...As we speak an article comes up on my Twitter feed 'How Loneliness can affect your mental health.' A study reveals that social isolation can increase your risk of having a stroke or coronary disease by 30%.

'I feel like I am completely unlovable,' says Miley, aged 32, who constantly suffers from depression.

'These are very real social problems,' Wong says. 'The shame and shunning across social animal species, same thing - to maintain the norms. We humans are such a social species that ostracism is bound to have a very powerful effect on us.'

In what way? To do what?

'To make us do what we wouldn't otherwise do. Our research shows just how amenable social animals are to being manipulated. That's the thing: the group norm influences us, whether the norm is a good one...or not' (P104)

To be evicted from a group, any group, involves a kind of social death. (107)

Analysis of the historical, anthropological and cross-cultural records attests to the ubiquitous presence of human ostracisation across time and space. In humans it can occur in a highly formalised fashion... such as shunning among close-knit communities like the Amish. It will be found in virtually every children's playground and in other kinds of playgrounds: The Internet and social media.

...Living with other human beings, as well as being the solution [To defense from other animals etc], is also a significant survival problem: the perennial problem of other people.

UN Police Officer - Exposing Bosnian Sex Traffickers

Kathy Bolkovac UN International Police Task Force, Drafted an email setting out everything she'd discovered about the abuse in Bosnia (Young girls being trafficked and authorities turning a blind eye). She sent it out to dozens of senior staff - both DynCorp and UN - all the way to the head of the UN mission in Bosnia. Her hope was it would burst the bubble. With it people would be brought to their senses. They'd wake up. How could they not?

...But this is what happened.... The abuse of hundreds of young women went on. The more Kathy spoke out about sexual enslavement, the more she was frozen out by colleagues. She was isolated in the cafeteria. She was avoided as if she carried a contagion..

People started interfering with her files... Papers went missing... Superiors removed her from cases... Her investigations were sabotaged... Her position became intolerable. She was redeployed, away from the Trafficking Office and human rights work. She was reassigned to check radios and answer the phone. Then she was suspended. A series of allegations were leveled against her. Then she was dismissed. The death threats began.

'You better be prepared to lose your job, lose your career, lose your financial savings, to lose your retirement, because you will be discredited, and they will do everything they can to harm you.' (118)

Kathy Bolkovac had been trying to expose the truth. But now she was out. She was ostracised. She sued DynCorp for unlawful dismissal. Her claim was that she was demonised and ostricised because she had made what in the law is called a 'protected disclosure'. She blew the whistle. It led to a bitterly contested court case. During the proceedings, DynCorp admitted that three of its staff had been sacked for using prostitutes. One of them, the company accepted, had 'bought' a 'sex slave' and kept her in his apartment. He'd paid $700.

Bolkovac won. The court found that DynCorp had sacked her because of her efforts to raise awareness of human trafficking cases and exposing corruption.. The tribunal chair said,

'It is hard to imagine a case in which a firm has acted in a more callous, spiteful and vindictive manner'

But Kathy has found ot impossible to resume her career in international law enforcement.. She has become a 'marked woman'.. None of the officers implicated in the sex trafficking and prostitution in Bosnia has ever been prosecuted. DynCorp subsequently won a series of lucrative military contracts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Haiti, among other places. DynCorp announced being awarded a US State Department contract to provide policing services in Iraq three days after dropping its appeal against Kathy's unfair dismissal verdict.

'When you blow the whistle,' Kathy says, 'history and experience over the years show that the odds will be stacked against you. That's what I've learned from the whistle blowers I've met Since'

Kathy Bolkvac was in the end excluded from the group. She has not subsequently returned. She did carry a contagion. It was the truth. In the opaque twilight world of illicit brothels and backstreet bars in which young women were incarcerated and outside which international agency vehicles would pull up for business, she had indeed violated a norm. She had dared challenge the squalid status quo. She had disrupted the quiet complicity of the strange micro-world that was raw and ravaged post-conflict Bosnia.

If ostracism is indeed used by group members as a form of threat management and social control, in the dysfunctional world that operated almost autonomously in post-conflict Bosnia, Kathy Bolkovac was considered a threat. Not only was she a threat, but the truth was.

It was too dangerous for the status quo; disastrous to the perpetuation of the harmful and profitable practices that had flourished following the international intervention. It would threaten jobs, careers and wallets, greed, lust, power; it would call into sharp question the legitimacy of the international mission.

How could a risk of that magnitude be managed? By ostracizing the messenger.

There is another reaction, of being seen not to conform, of not belonging, may have contributed to the institutional indifference to the human rights abuses that Kathy Bolkovas uncovered. Other people suffer; we stay within the safe circle. And so it continues: the circle and the suffering.

It feeds on our need to fit in. It preys on the pain that keeps on giving. It takes the courage of a Kathy Bolkovac to defy it.

Eventually Bolkovac's tireless advocacy of the rights of young exploited women led to officials suspected of being implicated in the trafficking having to resign. More needs to be done, much more. None of them were prosecuted.

'Charges were never brought because no one allowed any of the investigations to be completed' Kathy says

'You know, over the years people keep asking me where I got the strength from. How I did it and didn't back down, even though I was shut out, targeted, attacked. Well, it's a pretty simple thing...Right is right and wrong is wrong... I think it pretty much comes down to that.'

Compare this with the news today that a parent in Scotland got accused of bullying their local council when she complained about bullying at her child's school?!

Frozen Out Frisbee

Man (Kipling Williams Professor of Psychology at Purdue University) and dog were taking a rest on the grass by a lake, sitting on a blanket, pretty much minding their own business, when something rolled along the ground and into his back. Williams turned to see it was a Frisbee.

'I turned and saw two guys waiting for it. So I picked it up and threw it back to them and thought nothing more of it. Who wouldn't do that? But to my surprise, the guy who caught it threw it back towards me. We didn't speak, but we started playing Frisbee.'

In the complex lexicon of park politics, where we come up close to unsorted strangers, it was, Williams says, 'an invitation'. The game proceeded with the usual forehand flicks, backhands and hammer throws. Then after about two minutes, and just as suddenly, the men stopped tossing the Frisbee in William's direction.

'At first, I found it kind of funny. Like they were playing around with me. Then I realized that Frisbee is not heading in my direction again.'

Williams was out.

'The thing made me feel foolish. Bad, tremendously bad. It was awkward, a kind of humiliation. I felt hurt.'

He tried to rationalise it. Just a few moments before he didn't even know the existence of these people. In all likelihood would never see them again.

'So why am I feeling this bad for something this trivial? Why should I actually care?'

Kip Williams knew it was important; he knew it spoke to something important to us. It hurt him.

'By cutting me out of the game, they made me feel invisible... as though I had never existed'

The Frisbee game had only lasted 2 minutes. How and why did that rejection actually hurt? He wondered. What kind of pain was it? He knew he had to bring it under experimental control.

Social ostracism is something he had wanted to research for 8 years and hadn't worked out a way to do it. Now a Frisbee game gave him a clue. He would play Frisbee. Cyber versions of it.

'It was a really clean way to manipulate it in a lab'

In the laboratory at Purdue, Williams and his colleagues began using a number of strategies to manipulate human encounters. They loaded the dice in carefully constructed cyber games; direct the pain; exclude some volunteers; have others ignored or rebuffed. Some people are ejected from chat rooms. For others, it's simply the sting of an averted glance. Whatever the device, it's directed at delivering social pain.

'We wanted to see how minimal we could make this event and still get feelings of ostracism' Williams says.

He succeeded. There is now a substantial body of experimental research documenting how the brain registers this pain. The research shows that we recruit the same or similar neural systems as when we experience trauma that is physical. Thus brain structures are activated such as the anterior insula, which assesses pain severity, and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, which is linked to the emotion of physical pain.

Naomi Eisenberger (UCLA Psychology Department) states in her article 'Broken Hearts and Broken Bones' that although we are able to distinguish between the two types of pain, it appears that they share neurobiological and neural substrates... When people speak of social rejection, they use phrases like 'he hurt my feelings,' or 'she broke my heart.' This applies across cultures, with social pain described in terms of physical pain in almost every language. In fact, over the course of evolutionary history, she believes, the social bonding/attachment system may have 'piggy-backed' onto the physical one. Thus the mental module may not have developed independently. It may not be entirely freestanding. But the social pain people describe is more than just a metaphor. It actually hurts.

One of the remarkable findings of this line of research is that for all our bluster and posturing, as Williams says, social pain

'Hurts us all about the same in its initial effect and personality doesn't appear to make much difference at first. The variance is in how we cope, that's where the individual difference kicks in, but we are all hurting about as much.'

Pain is a method of social control. It is used across the animal kingdom by all kinds of social animals. Groups that ostracize deviant or onerous members become more cohesive. Concomitantly, however, the prospects for ostracized animals are not good.

'When you're out, you're eaten' Marian Wong

In 2013 Joshua Unsworth was in Year 11 at St Cecilia's Roman Catholic High School in Longridge, Lancashire. He lived with his mother and father in a converted farmhouse in the nearby ancient village of Goosnargh. But Joshua was also on Ask.FM. The site is a social media hub created by two Russian entrepreneurs, Ilya and Mark Terebin, the sons of a Red Army soldier. It is based in Riga, Latvia, beyond real regulation. Controversially, the site allows users to post comments or questions to other users anonymously. This feature has been called by child protection charities a 'stalker's paradise'

While he was on ask.fm, Joshua was repeatedly told over a period of time that no one liked him. One of the messages read,

'Honestly no one cares for you even your parents don't want you, there gonna put you in care'

On 4th April 2013, at 6.50am, Joshua Unsworth was found on land behind the family's farmhouse. He had hanged himself. Paramedics were called but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Just months before these events, Josh posted a YouTube video in which he said he'd seen how much despair there was on social media among young people. He said he'd come up with an idea to help. He would try and support anyone who felt isolated and alone by posting his mobile number; he offered anyone who needed it 'a friendly chat.' Joshua was 15 years old when he died.


In 2000, Williams and colleagues published a study he had conducted with colleagues at Purdue. Using a computerized version of the Frisbee throwing in the park that he called Cyberball, they had 1,486 people play a ball-toss game. The cover story they told participants was that the study was interested in 'mental visualization' of who was playing, what the temperature was like, and it was irrelevant who got the ball. In fact, it was all about who got the ball. After a few early inclusions, the research volunteer would be excluded as the others players on the screen carrier on without them - as if the volunteer was no longer there. Invisible. Those who suffered this social rebuff - albeit a virtual one - when subsequently interviewed reported significantly reduced levels of self esteem, control, belonging and meaning in their life. It wasn't 'real': It was a virtual game with anonymous others they did not and would never meet. Nevertheless they experienced it as real pain.

'This was in contrast to those who were included, so it is a statistically reliable reduction. Something real happened' Williams says.

Even when some selected players were in fact computer-generated and not other humans down the cyberconnection, they still were adversely affected. This led Williams and his colleagues to conclude this was a pretty 'primitive' reaction, something deep down.

'We could see it. They were in an MRI magnetic chamber, and their brain activities when they didn't get the ball. We could see a significant activation of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex which is the same region of the brain that is activated when people experience physical pain'

There are now over 175 published papers of studies or analyses of Cyberball alone. People have been studies playing it from the ages of 7 to 85. In one parallel study in the Netherlands, participants kept feeling the pain of rejection, even when being passed the ball would cost them financially. People continued to want to play with others even if the game involved tossing an imaginary explosive that could at any moment obliterate everything.

'Think of it this way, it's the conceptional equivalent of feeling bad when you're not invited to play Russian roulette. That's how strong the urge is' Kip Williams

Ostracism threatens our need to feel we belong, that we are worthy of attention - are not invisible. It is a pain, Williams says, 'that keeps on giving.' The reaction to such social rejection can be both fundamental and fierce.

On Wednesday 24th November 2004, it was the first period of the last day of school before Thanksgiving at Valparaiso High School, Indiana.

James Lewerke, a 15 year old class member, offered to close the classroom door and turn off the lights for the video. He stood. His teacher, Ashley Dobis, daughter of the State Representative Chet Dobis, thought he was being polite. Students tended to behave well with her. They liked her. So when Miss Dobis gave permission, Lewerke got up. He was a generally quiet boy with pretty good grades. But when he turned to face the class, Dobis says, 'He just had a look in his eyes.' James Lewerke pulled out a machete and a serrated tree saw.

He slashed 7 of his classmates with the weapons.

As he rushed out of the room, several courageous teachers tackled him. One of them kicked a weapon along the school corridor. Later Lewerke told the police that he targeted his fellow pupils indiscriminately because

'They were all the same to him'

In the aftermath of his rampage, it was reported by the Indianapolis Star that

'He was so invisible at High School this fall that students who sat next to him didn't even know his name'

'To repair the pain of invisibility, we may provoke other people into paying attention to us, to force others to recognize our existence. Ostracism is a thread that weaves through case after case of school violence' Kip Williams

In 2003, Mark Leary and colleagues published meta-analysis of school shootings in the US since 1995. They called it, 'Teasing, Rejection, and Violence.' They found that 87% of incidents had as a major contributory factor acute or chronic social rejection. In that period, 40 children had been shot dead in their school corridors and classrooms.

'They are past wanting to be liked or readmitted into society, they may even want to be immortalised for their actions, even their death. By doing what they're doing they're going to get noticed. They'll be invisible no more'

'When Animals experience extreme physical pain,' Naomi Eisenberger, speaking in Reject, a film about ostracism, says 'one of thier first responses is to attack whatever's nearby. This sheds some light on why people may be aggressive after they feel rejected. The extent to which there's some overlap between the system that regulates physical pain and the system regulating pain of rejection, means people may become aggressive in response to social rejection'

'I'm not insane, I'm angry' Luke Woodham, 16, to psychiatrists when arrested in 1997 for opening fire with a hunting rifle in a cafeteria at Pearl High School, Mississippi. He killed two, wounded seven.

'All throughout my life, I was ridiculed, beaten, hated'

...Cognative systems are likely to have developed to solve recurring vital survival problems, including the problems of group living. Deviance from the norm may trigger similar systems to those directed at distancing from contagion. Group members who loyally hold onto the pervasive group norm avoid individuals who depart from or transgress it in a similar way to that in which they avoid disease-bearers. As such, ostracism amounts to a social isolation which can be viewed as a kind of quarantine, with the ultimate sanction being total group isolation.

As it floated and shimmered through the air towards him, the Frisbee that changed Kip William's intellectual life carried with it a message about human communication and connection. Of course, tossing a ball or a Frisbee by oneself can provide the same aerobic and energetic workout, more so if we wish. It's just not phenomenologically rewarding for humans - at least some of the time. But simultaneously, we have a residual, often unvoiced, fear of the fun stopping, of it being taken away, of our being unfriended, unfollowed.

What is all this for?

Beyond a few, relatively rare exceptions, most of us need the impromptu Frisbee games of life with strangers. The opportunity for fruitful future interaction means that the sting of social rejection may be an avoidance adaptation to encourage steering clear of behaviors that lead to exclusion, a method for promoting social bonds. In broad agreement, Williams says,

'I think it has an evolutionary basis. We have evolved as social animals, and it's important for the survival of a social animal to maintain a connection with others. So we are wired to detect hints that we could lose it.'

But that group connection is not free, it comes at a cost.

Groups have norms - rules. Ostracism or its threat operates as a form of social control, the enforcement of norm conformity - even if it is not fair or equitable, even if it is pathological and harmful. The power of ostracism derives from its targeting of our vulnerabilities and insecurities: The fear of not belonging - ultimately, of being alone.

'So as we have seen, interesting patterns of behavioral responses to ostracism. For many people, they will conform more to a unanimous group, even if that group is clearly wrong in their perceptional judgments. They will go along with it. They will be more likely to comply, to obey a command' Kip Williams

In other words, they become more susceptible to social influence, to avoid, as Williams puts it, the 'kiss of social death'

We ostracize; we are ostracized. We are the Ostraciser; we are it's victim. Ostracism lances surgically straight into our mind. Neural systems fire; avoidance systems are engaged; social pain feels like real pain. It is real. Whether the mental module has developed independently or recruited pre-existing systems for physical pain, we are constantly alive to its signals. Acceptance, rejection, they matter. Rejection can lead to serrated tree saws in the classroom; blooded knives being kicked along school corridors; the slashing of wrists after a reality TV eviction; a well meaning boy like Joshua Unsworth walking quietly out of his parents farmhouse and into the trees.

The Last Laugh...?
While Justine Tunney's comments are a little in 'your face' and harsh... In chapter 11 of 'Finding the Next Steve Jobs' Bushnell suggests that employers 'Find the Bullied'

"Many creatives believe in themselves and their own creativity. They were often those kids who knew they were smarter than everyone else in the class - and still believe it. They're often right. That's why they can be so obnoxious.

Many other creatives, however, were the ones who were pushed around and mocked for being different, for having odd ideas, or for dressing strangely. The other kids made fun of them all the time. The teachers tried to knock some sense into them. Their parents despaired of their ever being 'Normal.'

Some of these kids faught back, but many didn't. Nothing makes people conform quicker than the fear of getting hurt, bullied or mocked. Pain is a great motivator.

As surely as other kids, teachers, and parents can knock the creativity out of children, companies can knock the creativity out of their employees, running their self-confidence along the way. That's particularly true if the person's identity is constructed around creativity. It's almost impossible to maintain your sense of self worth if you propose interesting idea after interesting idea and your company refuses to adopt any -or even, perhaps, entertain any. Worse, the company may mock them.

This response is a form of bullyingas bad as the schoolyard variety. How frustrating and unhappy it makes a creative - all those great ideas they would have brought the company have amounted to a heap of nothing, and now they sit around in the office, feeling terrible about her ability to perform.

A great number of companies brag about the creative people they have on staff. But this is not because they actually experiment with creative ideas. It's because they know it sounds good to say they have a creative company, wether or not they let their creatives do anything. Meanwhile, their poor, underutilised creatives are slowly trained into believing that creativity just gets them into trouble. And so, at their next job interview, they downplay their creativity.

"I don't think I want to go through that again" they think "I'll play it safe this time"

These creatives need to find a job where they can be, well, creative - who they truly are. At some point you will be sitting across from one such person at a job interview. Draw them out. Make them feel at ease. Maybe they won a poetry competition at school, or first prize at a science fair, or was the lead in a local play. They have learned over the years to hide this part of themselves, which is actually her most valuable and interesting characteristic.

Some of my best employees have come from companies where their talents were totally wasted. I remember one particularly toxic comapny that put together a little show of their employees' creative ideas. They were never going to put these ideas on the market, but they wanted to show them off to shine a spotlight on their originality. The employees who really excelled at this event were the ones who never got their ideas across at any other time. This demo turned into something of a job fair for these people - all of them were picked off by other employers who saw their full potential.

Warning to companies that refuse to foster their creatives: Don't put on a show to highlight these employees for your competitors.


I'm off to explore some of the loving kindness meditation I've been reading about in Robert Wright's book... and send some 'Beams' to a few people... Because you never know if/when you might bump into old 'friends' and 'collaborators' again.