Sometime more than 140 characters are needed

Sometimes you can say a lot in 140 characters. Sometimes you can’t. There were two tweets on Friday night. Close to each other tied to the attacks in Paris. I tweeted These are the days I don’t miss Storyful. — Dermot Casey (@dermotcasey) November 14, 2015 And my friend and former Storyful colleague Paul tweeted Moments like this I wish I still worked for @Storyful. Hard to beat a purpose. — Paul Watson (@paulmwatson) November 14, 2015 The contrast caught some people by surprise. So I thought I’d expand on my thoughts. Sometimes more than 140 characters are needed. I love Twitter. It is possibly my favourite piece of technology and I say that as someone who has lived, eaten and breathed technology for more than 20 years. It can be a glorious human sensor network reflecting the pulse of the planet. A learning library, a pub conversation a place of humour or enlightenment. And a wonderful feeding point for information junkies. I was having a quick flick through my timeline on Friday night when I saw news of what was happening in Paris starting to emerge. And then I tweeted that thought. And then I turned twitter off. I turned it off because I have no one close in Paris. There is no information I needed. Nothing I can do to add to or help anyone in Paris and nothing I can add to the story.  There is a small irony as I the first defining moment for me on Twitter was the Mumbai bombings in 2008. Up until then it was an interesting chat room that competed with Jaiku for attention.  Mumbai...

Digital Age Orientation Day

If you have two and a half minutes take a look at the video below on Bronze Age Orientation day. It’s short, it’s funny and it’s true. It underlines that the concept of change is not unique to the our digital age. No Company ever likes to transform itself (if the caterpillar had a choice, would it become a butterfly?) but in most cases they have learned to accept the fact that they have to. Companies have been dealing with mergers, acquisitions, buyouts, restructuring, de-localisations, re-localisations for a long time. If you’ve been through it you’ll know this sort of radical transformation is slow and painful: the all-or-nothing approach forcefully pushed by many consultants is not popular and also falls flat a lot of the time. The Digital Age is here. It’s been coming for twenty years and to succeed in this environment every business needs to be a Digital Business. We’ll be running a daylong course at the end of the month on Digital Change and how to manage it in your organisation. Our approach is gradual, offers numerous intermediate steps, defines clear deliverables and measurements and ties companies to their specific context. It’s Digital Transformation tempered by Change Management methods and experience You can find out...

Algorithms : prose written by people

As the ACLU highlights the problem of Algorithms that discriminate we need to remember that Algorithms are only as good as the assumptions that they’re based on. In reality we’d be better off if we replaced the idea of Algorithms as “clean unbiased maths” with “prose instructions written by fallible people.” But alongside the potential for bringing about social progress, the Internet also holds the possibility of contributing to unlawful discrimination. An example of this potential negative impact is a patent recently acquired by Facebook that could conceivably permit loan servicers to gain access to the credit ratings of a loan applicant’s social network and then use that information to determine whether the applicant qualifies for a loan. The patent combines the possibility of serious invasions of privacy with the realistic prospect of illegal lending discrimination. More here.  The Guardian also had a piece on some of these problems two years ago. Image of Justice via...
Snails, Systems and Slack

Snails, Systems and Slack

Paul Quigley CEO of Newswhip wrote a lovely blogpost about the great Snail Derby of 1998. Faced with the problem of getting the Snails to race in the same direction, an innovative 6yo came up with Snail Trails.  Snail trails. Snail trails are not a product you can buy. Snail trails are a streak of water, placed in front of a snail using one’s fingertip. You see, snails prefer pushing themselves over wet surfaces than dry surfaces. My girlfriend observed that a simple streak of wetness leading directly from the snail’s current position to the finish line kept them on the straight and narrow, so to speak. Snail trails saved the day, and the snail derby of 1988 was a roaring success. Paul goes on to describe how you create snail trails for customer acquisition for SaaS businesses. There is a broader lesson for businesses in the use of technology.  Demming said that “A bad system will beat a good person every time.”  A snail trail is a better system. It’s a very clever use of lightweight technology to reduce friction in a process.  Good systems do that. They reduce organisational friction.  They drive better organisational conversations.   And the value of reducing friction in processes and conversations is very very large. One company that is building organisational snail trails is Slack.  I’m a very big fan of Slack. The value of what it’s is doing is rumoured to be up to $2 Billion. Double what it was worth 12 months ago. That’s part of the value that Slack is capturing. And it reflects a small portion of value that it is creating by building better Snail Trails. /Dermot...