People politics strategy Technology

#RebootingIreland 2000AD, Metaphors and Messy problems

Lucinda Creighton has launched a new political party.  Or launched a #hashtag. I’m not quite sure which.

As I tweeted yesterday

“First thought on When rebooting a computer you don’t get a different operating system”

There was a lot of comment on Twitter. Dave Winer said recently Twitter can have a tendency towards “high fructose emotional rage medicine.” Mostly the comment was cynical rather than hate filled.

My first thought was of a comic. There is a panel somewhere in my mothers attic from an episode of 2000AD. It’s from the story Strontium Dog. The storyline is set at the end of a war. A military police force is being disbanded and being replaced. Panel one has the old police force. And panel two has the new police force. Same group. Different uniforms. Same system. Plus ca change.

I was reminded of that panel when thinking about #RebootIreland. When we exchanged Fianna Fail for Fine Gael and Labour a few years ago that was the transition. Mostly because the state was governed by the Troika and administered by the politicians we elected. I’m not sure that what’s intended here will be any different.

I took a look at the #RebootIreland website. I’m not quite sure what to make of it. As Tommy Collison commented

I have equal questions of what some of the other statements mean

Fostering a spirit of entrepreneurism in our public sector that will reward those who work the hardest and deliver the best results for our public services.

I’m not sure that lack of entrepreneurism is the problem with the public sector (Too few entrepreneurial teachers and nurses?). And performance management mechanisms lead to dysfunctional behaviour.  There are no doubt reforms that need to be made. It would be an idea to start with an understanding of the problem than a statement of the solution. (If your solution is a hammer, the problem will inevitably be defined in terms of nails).

So what is #RebootIreland ? Is it a statement of intent? Is it an idea? It it a marketing slogan?  Right now I’m not sure. I don’t know what its stands for or what it wants to achieve beyond some a choices of metaphor. Metaphors and symbols matter.  What does #RebootIreland mean?

The metaphor suggests a quick clean out of the system and things can continue as they do before. One other comment on twitter was “sometimes rebooting the computer clears out the rubbish that’s stopping it going forward”.  Perhaps and I don’t think so. Computer analogies and metaphors are too reductive. It continues a trend in human thinking and it doesn’t really get us anywhere.  Reductive models lead us to nonsense like the Singularity.  And one of the tweets that went around last night was the “computer says no” from Little Britain. (Which shows that you can create a hashtag but you can’t control it).   I wonder if the party without a name or policy or candidates is attempting to do some sort of Lean Political Startup? In a comment on inappropriate language and contextless shifting of ideas Dave Snowden recently noted 

Shifting partial understanding of success from one context to a completely different one as a populist recipe is of course no new thing. Neither is wrapping it up in partially understood and inappropriate language.

It would be easy to mock and its important to ask questions.  Maybe #RebootIreland is taking Francis Bacon’s view

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties

I’m reading a history of the American Revolution at the moment.  The revolution itself and many of the leading revolutionaries were quite conservative. The human frailty, stupidity, venality and conniving on every side is the most illuminating and insightful part of a great narrative.  It was very messy. Any change in Irish politics is likely to be messy.  Can we have messy around issues of substance though?  That’d make a nice change in Irish politics.


* image is Johnny Alpha wall paper from the 2000AD website

Social Media Technology

The Internet’s Memory Gap

The Internet has a funny memory. We are concerned with the lack of privacy and that nothing is ever forgotten online. It is possible that in some NSA database somewhere is every piece of information ever placed on the Internet. But a lot of time the Internet forgets.  And the Internet is a curious mix of the missing, the broken and unremembered.

Its hard to find stuff on Facebook. That photo you saw in that group you’re a member of two months ago. Good luck finding that again without scrolling through months of posts.

A few months ago the image below started doing the rounds on Twitter it was from flowchainsensei   From the style of the image I knew it was Hugh MacLeod.


So I went looking for it. It was only when I went back that I realised Hugh’s original was different.

Knowledge Experience

Despite both being widely shared, there was very little reference back to the original when the new one was shared. Frequently there was little reference to who created the new version either.

Then in the last few days I’ve seen this variation on the meme. Also funny as “everything on the internet eventually results in reference to cats” (Casey’s 5th rule)


When I try to figure out who created it I get “Found shared in the Web, by Unknown Artist.” among other links. The oldest link to it I’ve saw is on this page from the 5th of Feb 2014.   There is also a link to it on Facebook from the same date. Eventually after a litte digging the original traces back to Ron Letkman on Twitter. (Ironically his own website appears to be part of the Internet’s Memory Gap)

There is also a variation on the theme here .  And a tumbr on Hughs image here

Also creative

I like the way ideas can get cut and sliced and shared on line. That we recreate and build on each others work and ideas. I’m bothered by the way that it can be hard to track back the evolution of these ideas over time. You can sometimes find the information if you dig. But who’s going to dig?

A few years ago Simon McGarr wrote about the Meaning, Memory and the Media.

News media want things to be new. They feel inhibited from reporting things unless they have a ‘news hook’, whether or not the information would be of value.

Because of this focus on the new, memory is devalued. The ultimate logical extension of this is 24hr news, which has all the time in the world to report, but only the memory of a goldfish with which to do it.

His question asked in a broader context, and relevant in this narrower one was

For citizens with a memory, the question of how our country got here is not a difficult question. The hard question is how we get elsewhere?

How do we get elsewhere?

The image at the top of this is from Martin de Jonge on flickr shared under a creative commons license

People Social Media Technology

From rec.humor.funny to Twitter

Eoin Kennedy is running the second open conference Congregation in Mayo. This is the intro to the piece I wrote as price of entry.

I can’t think of a worse way to spend time than to take most of a weekend, drive across the country and discuss techniques to use Social Media to market your business.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend than to engage with interesting people around how we share and shape the world we live in.  From a distance Congregation may be either or both of these things. A bit like Social Media itself.

I first used Social Media in 1989. We called Usenet and there is a very small distance between it and social media we use today.   I used it to consume volumes of Star Trek parodies on rec.humor.funny and have serious discussions on Neural Networks with researchers from around the world. What is most interesting about Social Media isn’t its newness, it’s that we keep making and remaking similar tools to help us sense and share and shape our world.

you can read the rest of it  here

Photo Credit Ledelle Moe via Flickr

Quotes Science Technology

Looking up with a sense of wonder and curiosity

I grew up with a sense of wonder and curiousity.

Carl Sagan, Issac Asimov and Nicholas Casey helped imbued me with a love of science. The third person was an amazing Science and Physics teacher.

Oscar Wilde said “We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars”

And Sean O’Casey wrote

Boyle: An’, as it blowed an’ blowed, I ofen looked up at the sky an’ assed meself the question — what is the stars, what is the stars?

Joxer: Ah, that’s the question, that’s the question — what is the stars?
Boyle: An’ then, I’d have another look, an’ I’d ass meself — what is the moon?
Joxer: Ah, that’s the question — what is the moon, what is the moon?

Over a decade ago a group of scientists asked similar questions and following their curiosity did something to find out the answers. Today a tiny probe sent 500 million kilometers finished a 10 year journey and in a monumental step for our species landed on a comet. It is a truly wonderful day for science and for wonder. Today instead of looking down the human race looked up.

As a species we need to choose wonder, choose science and hope, choose courage and ambition.


Design for desktop is the new dad dancing

Design for desktop is the new dad dancing. It’s embarrassing and often frustrating for your audience. Back 12 years ago not designing for poor bandwidth was the error of the day. It was the worst form of  dad dancing.

Developers who were used to building client server systems were running applications on internal LANs and then wondering why customers were crying over the speed of deployed websites. Latency issues and dreadful bandwidth were typical problems. Throw in usability issues and there were plenty of disasters.

These days not focusing on mobile first is the same sin. Its all very well to worry about how well the screen will look on the shiny 4K desktop screen but its much more likely that the customer will look at it first on the device closest to hand – their phone. That link on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn that they follow to you. Thats probably on their phone.

Even if you’re not building an app your site needs to be mobile first. Especially if you’re not build an app, and even if you are building an app.

Google measures load time of websites in fractions of a second.  Your customer is judging your site on their phone in a similar timescale.

Technology Uncategorized

A post a day to keep the blogger at bay

An interesting conversation with the very insightful Mary Carty made me realise that if I was going to blog a little I needed to blog a lot.

So this blog is  a thought journal, a collection of curious things, a thought catalyst.

Rough not finished. Letting some ideas out so they can mix and some new ones can climb in.

A post a day to keep the blogger at bay.