So having seen a recent episode of QI on Knowledge I learned that facts have a half life. That is to say they decay quite rapidly. It isn’t that they were wrong, it is just that further investigation uncovers more information that obsoletes the original information. So maybe it is that they are wrong, but that we don’t know how they are wrong at the time.
I have this conversation however.
1.Did you see QI?
1. So knowledge has a half life, all that stuff I said last week is likely to be wrong next year.
2. Yep. Everything I learned at Uni is now wrong. Or at least seventy per cent of it.
1. Yeah and all you learned at School is totally gone. Like Pratchett says, Lies to Children.
2. Makes me wonder why I bothered learning it.
1. You could always re-learn it.
2. What’s the point? It’s going to be wrong again in a few years time.
This is where I stand stunned. I came to totally the opposite conclusion to this. I saw the evidence of facts having a half life not as a reason to never bother to learn but to never stop learning. How can two people of roughly similar strengths and attitudes draw such a binary opposed conclusion.
Surely this is the point. Surely we only know that facts have a half life because we carried on looking, because we learned something and wanted to know more, not less.
So everything you thought you knew was wrong, you have been spouting false information like a broken faucet spews water, so what? That’s a damned fine reason to keep looking and learning, to re-assess, to re-learn to discover.
Or you could just retreat from a world filled with a constant renewing of wonder as we uncover and discover more and claim ignorance as bliss.
I am sat in a workshop room, in a Hindu temple, in Preston, for the first ever Social Media for Women conference to be held in the North West.
I am here not just as a delegate, I had decided to come along when Jane first mentioned it to earlier in the year, but also as a sponsor as Shadowcat chose to support the event. Here with me is Claire, the PA to the Directors who is choosing to up her skill levels in Social Media as she will be responsible for doing that more for the company. Part of our company strategy will be to have more content on our site, a broader social presence and to ensure we engage on social levels in the manner we do to communities.
The social media for women conference is not intended to be a single sex event, although a large percentage of those people who are around me would probably be biologically classed as women, and would likely identify themselves as female.☆ Speaking to Darren (of DigiEnable) when I arrived I was intrigued, though not surprised, to discover that there were four men out of approximately 100 delegates.
Sat in the room, just before the keynotes, I was approached by one of the other men with a cheery 'hello fellow chap.' So I have an interesting aside. I understand why he approached me, we are at a tech conference, you have seen someone you can relate to, you approach and greet them. I think I mumbled some pleasantries, I also thought I was a little rude as I didn't stand to shake hands (a personal thing I think is polite), nor did I engage much further than pleasantries.
Why did I do that? Well, it was a knee jerk reaction, I was one of the only men in the room, I was the only man at the table, it was perfectly reasonable for the chap to say hi to me. I just wished he had said hello to the whole table.
Part of my personal delight in this conference was that it would take pressure from me. I am involved with a lot of tech conferences, I organise a lot of events. There is a pressure to try and create an environment in which gender isn't a barrier or an issue. I felt that today could be part of a positive push to look beyond gender (even with the conference title) and be considered people.
You see, I was feeling that it is a refreshing change. I might have had feelings of being a unicorn, or an elephant or an aubergine in the room...I didn't. I didn't really feel out of place, which is not how I would have thought I'd feel in this situation. The atmosphere felt nicely uncluttered of the gender issue, even for a conference that aims to promote and support one gender. Maybe that's why I didn't feel out of place, maybe that is why I was a little brusque. For that I apologise.
I am at a conference with a title that some might take as an exclusion to men/males, and the last thing I feel is excluded. I'd like to thank the organisers for doing that, part of me thinks that I should wish there were more men in the room so they could appreciate it as well, the rest of me doesn't care as I would rather just enjoy the event for what it is. I would rather that the speakers be identified by their gender and the audience be just delegates, 'we the people' to paraphrase an address.
The main thrust of the event 'for women' is not the delegates but the speakers. The organisers, Jane, Liz and Darren intended this event to be a platform to encourage more participation by women into technical conferences. As outlined in the opening keynotes the issue is not just that women are under-represented, it is that some feel they are not able. Jane (Binion of Jane's Social Media) spoke of how she once felt intimidated about attending events where her voice might be seen as less important from a gender or merit assessment,☆☆ which is unlikely to be even representative of the truth.
I guess we could see part of the strength in this conference in the studies that state social media is a pursuit with a greater upkeep among females to males. There are a lot of factors that determine this and it is different across the differing networks, but generally women are greater in numbers, more prominent and more active on social networks than men.
Another strength, that I can find, is that for once I am surrounded by women speaking about tech. I know many women in tech, but we end up at conferences talking when they are still in the minority, here the males are in the minority and that makes a difference. How much a difference can be debated by better minds than I, but for me it again feels rewarding.
So I end my first blog about this day. You can see my reaction was positive and I would like to applaud the organisers for making that happen
☆ As always I am using 'sex' to indicate a strict biological distinction and 'gender' to indicate a social choice.
☆☆ There is of course a well understood social bias towards seeing men as more technical, adept at technology.
Aside from just talking about the seven steps I have been trying to put them into usage and did so just this very morning.
So a little context probably will not do any harm. Some of this text is taken from an email I wrote in which I also discussed the seven steps.
I guess I was feeling a little annoyed...
Hmm, okay step back and explain why I was annoyed.
I can often be aggrieved at the slightest thing, tiny things are the real killer in any situation or relationship, they are the issues that are trivial but when they reoccur they feel personal.
In this case it was slight, but not minor, as it had reoccurred.
At this point there is a cat somewhere that is dying of vague, that's because it is relevant that you know the emotional context to relate to, but the actual thing is a McGuffin. It has no value either to this blog or in fact at all.
Anyway... rather than let the feelings fester, as I usually do. Or steam at someone, sometimes unrelated to the original catalyst incident, to blow the pressure. Both of which often result in me feeling like a bad person. Instead of that, I gave myself the 7 questions.
7 Questions to help you S.U.M.O
1. On a scale of 1-10: about a 2.
2. Will it be important in 6 months time: individual incidents have no value beyond the immediate, the issue is in repeats of behaviour.
3. Is my response appropriate: No.
4. How can I influence or improve the situation: This is an attempt to talk over what I feel - silly boy.
5 What can I learn: see subject line - I took the Seven Steps that's learning
6. What will I do differently next time: I am doing this, this time, if it works I will do this earlier next time.
7. What can I find that's positive on the situation: Doing this is fairly positive tbh., I feel better already.
Outcomes and Consequences
So the process actually helped me to evaluate how important this was. Okay I still will likely be irritated at this matter, however by analysing its actual value I can try to place its importance in the proper context. I see it for a minor problem, an irk, an irritant and not the example of a deeper issue, just a tiny inconvenience that I should ignore and appoint little significance to.
The questions allow me to take a step back, they are general enough to cover almost any situation, and the humour inherent in them allows a lot of ill feeling to dissipate.(2)
Looking forward to seeing if I use any more of those words I heard Paul speak on that night, and I may even continue to share if I do.(3)
(1) Shut Up, Move On
(2) Helped enormously by the amusing post card that the pictures came from and which is distributed by Paul at his talks.
(3) And at this point I am hoping that nobody thinks I am his secret stalker, I might be a groupie, but stalking is something I leave to Facebook
This is a short report on the night, I have quoted the speaker repeatedly but these are not all of his words they are more my understanding of what he said. If I have recalled poorly, expressed badly or simply mixed things up that is not a reflection of him.
The name 'the SUMO Guy' is a brand and a philosophy started by Paul and aligns with his bestselling book, it stands in typical Mancunian fashion for 'Shut Up Move On', hence SUMO. This was the first of many sayings that Paul was going to favour us with through the evening.
Paul started by stating his talk was aimed to satisfy two goals. The first was to give every member of the audience a piece of advice that they would find practical in the next 24 hours in either their social life or their business life.
The Second goal was to make sure we all had a laugh in the evening. With that in mind he made us all stand, we all turned to face a partner, or two partners if we were a three, and look each other in the eyes. He told a little tale about how Maori's would meet and rub noses to greet each other, however being respectable we wouldn't be doing that (which I am sure the person facing me appreciated). He did however make us look the other person in the eyes and then repeat a few words. They were in Norwegian so I have no way of telling you what they were. I did however discover the English translation, as did everyone else as Paul told us them. They were 'I Love you sugar baby".
When arrogance meets ignorance it is a dangerous cocktail
Paul quickly proved to be an excellent speaker, engaging the audience using insight and personal understandings gained through his life that he was able to relate with wit and brevity. Part of what made him so interesting has to be his educational achievements coupled with a clear love of people and their interactions.
The biggest challenge is how we deal with and relate to other people. How do we lead ourselves and others in challenging times
Enter the Ring
Paul states that he:
Tell it as it is
He also has a clear passion for trying to get people to look at themselves. SUMO when told to motivate younger people is often expressed as:
Stop, Understand, Move On
We learned that Paul likes to work with younger people, one of his goals is to try and make people understand the difference they can make in someones lives. The younger that person is, the more effect you can have on them. It is important to make sure your language use reflects that.
You are all utterly, completely and totally MAD, Making a Difference.
I liked the way that we were spoken to in a very natural, down-to-Earth manner, yet there was a lot of concept thinking behind this common sense speech. Much of what Paul was observing and relating to us falls into CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), as a discipline. CBT looks at much deeper emotions than the ones most of us exhibit, however the application of the technique, of how to address issues and come to understand them has merit.
Who is the most important person you are going to talk to - yourself
It was interesting to hear Paul state that much of this is simply:
developing fruity thinking
Throwing down salt (making the challenge)
We have to come to understand ourselves and part of that understanding is the knowledge that just like an airline oxygen system, before you can think of helping others you yourself have to be in a safe position. You have to put your mask on first.
Paul also had some insights that when stated seem obvious, but I am doubtful that most people practice them. One of the most surprising to me, and one I often do but I don't consciously say it enough is related to staff. Paul quoted a belief held by many companies, and shown to great effect that:
If you want to be really successful, you put your staff first and your customer second, never underestimate the appreciation of a single person
We should however raise some caution to this. Just as you can make a positive change the influence of people who are negative in your organisation is just as equally MAD - but this is not the best difference to make. Being critical is a valuable thing, it allows us to analyse and assess, being obsessively critical of everything is a quick path to negativity and cynicism.
The management of the people and the culture they operate in is important, if you manage people badly they will come to behave badly
There were a few more insights that were passed to us, and again you can easily feel they are aphoristic, but the way in which Paul presented them, how he used examples gave you insight into why they are useful:
What have I got to lose - take some action it is far better than being doomed into innaction
We must be fruity thinkers as we can easily slip into faulty thinking
* this will increase your stress and anxiety
* it will decrease your effectiveness
Inside the Ring
Change can make you feel uncomfortable - we were not programmed to love uncertainty - if it feels good do it, if it doesn't don't do it, but don't let that stop you trying
Paul wants us to move outside of a comfort zone. The comfort zone is a safe place, but it can make us complacent. If you want to learn, seek opportunities and generally grow you have to step out of the familiar, you push the boundary of your comfort zone and therefore increase your ability. However in a cautionary note Paul stated that thinking that occurs outside of the comfort zone can quite often be faulty. But if you are forewarned, you are forearmed. In my opinion it is wise to write down, to learn more and then to re-assess.
Paul spoke at some length about the inner critic, an old tutor of mine (Carol Coates) who taught me Creative Writing used to call this the Inner Policeman, the person who tells you to stop and go no further. Paul likes to see it as a boxing glove that pummels you down. The inner critic makes us think in a faulty way and it stops us stepping out of our comfort zone and exploring the unknown.
Recognising that things can go wrong,without it being controlled by you. It can be a bad day doesn't make you bad.
Never underestimate the impact of a casual conversation to lift people.
Never forget the power of words when you talk to yourself
Some people take their inner critic to a new level and succumb to the Tomato Syndrome. This is actually the Martyr Syndrome and how many of us like to play that role, to be the victim to complain like Marvyn from HitchHikers that:
Why does this always happen to me
The martyr's suffer from BSE - Blame Someone Else. You can blame someone else for the problems, and sometimes global effects do matter and make a difference such as war or economic strife. But, you have the power to affect your life and the lives of those around you, can change things but you have to make that change it rarely just happens.
Every person is a leader, even if it is only to lead ourselves
The Winner's Proclamation
The final thing that Paul introduced us to that night are the Seven Questions he came up with, I love these questions and I think I will use them repeatedly. In his talk he only spoke about three of them (1, 2 and 4) and to be honest they are very important and maybe form the initial trilogy of inquiry you can throw at a situation, and especially to address your mood.
Where is the issue on a scale of 1 to 10 (where 10 = death)
Stress makes you stupid (drugs and alcohol will also do this)
Higher your emotional involvement the lower your perspective
How important will it be in 6 months time
Your brain helps you find what you are looking for, it looks for patterns, and if you are not looking for it, you don't see it.
How can we influence or improve the situation
There may be no bridge, people complain about it, people moan and blame, you have to instead look for the answer, ask questions ('build a bridge, get over it' - Australian Proverb)
Often the resources you need to build a bridge are around you and you just want to be a tomato
Ripeness is All (King Lear)
A final thought was presented, sometimes it is good to have what Paul called 'Hippo Time'. Sometimes it is fine to wallow to feel that life is a little unfair and to feel sorry for yourself. However it is not a good place to stay, so when you visit there have a good roll around in the mud, get the negativity thoroughly out and then SUMO.
Life does not reward good ideas or intentions, it rewards actions. It is not how or whether you fall, it is how long you stay down there
Paul left us with Carpe Diem, which an aged relative of mine decided was 'Size the Day'. You must seize the moment and move with is. I have always preferred the Lear use of 'Ripeness is All'.
The talk left me in a state of positive euphoria, I was 'buzzing' a sa Mancunian would attest as I left the theatre. He was a great motivational speaker, insightful, funny and very understandable. By making his approach on a very human level with understandings gained from his own life, his own failures and how he dealt with them we were able to sympathise and emote.
His style was very natural and it reminded me of some of the other great motivational speakers I have heard, often motivational due to their passion and understanding. This is something Paul shared. If you can I suggest you attend one of his talks. If you run a team I suggest you get him in to talk to them or take them to his talk. At the very least you should buy his book, I know I'm going to, and it is going to be the first book of that type I am ever likely to read, I will let you know what I think about it at a later date.
In Sumo only one challenger leaves the ring happy. In SUMO I think the whole room was joyous.
This is the second article written from my notes taken during the 'Innovation for Everyone' masterclass held at Lancaster University and hosted by Lancaster University Management School (LUMS). The talk was presented by Mark Freel who teaches at the University of Ottawa and Lancaster University, I should also point out that he is the 'RBC professor for the commercialization of Innovation'.
A sort of metric
There is a pertinent question that I am sure everyone in business has been asked at some point in their lives and was posed to us by Mark:
What is the goal of business?
The answer he almost invariably gets, and one which he assures us some people are very insistent to point out is the only goal is:
To make money
There is however a different approach we can take. If the only goal of business were to make money there would be no appreciation of product. It is true that some people, and businesses try to enhance profit margins as much as possible and at any cost, but as can be seen from the recent food scandals this can often backfire with disastrous results.
That is because to the consumer the purpose of the business is not to make money but to provide them with a product they are willing to pay for and they judge that based on a 'value'.
The goal of business must therefore be to create value
A couple of things came to my mind when this was suggested:
How then do we measure this value?
Well if our product or service is in demand and we get repeat business that is some measure of the value.
How do we determine the factors governing what value has been gained?
These can be done with a survey, but may also be judged by how our customers interact with us. Do they say favourable things, or do they curse us for being the only, poor, solution in a depleted marketplace?
How do we determine whether we are pursuing the best business goal when we give that value?
This last is the topic that Mark addressed. How do we measure the value to the product being made in a way that can be of use to a business. He suggested the following understanding:
Let 'V' be the Value of the product to the customer
Let 'P' be the Price per unit
Let 'C' be the Cost of production
With this in mind:
V minus P is the Consumer surplus
P minus C is the Profit per unit
V minus C is the Value created
So as long as Value is higher than Price we will have a consumer surplus - the product will be wanted.
So long as Price is higher than the Cost to create the item we will have a profit.
The difference between Value and Cost is therefore the Value Created.
One could infer that to increase the 'Value Created' we must either lower the cost of production or increase the price without sacrificing the value to the customer as less sales would be less consumer surplus.
However if we increase the price we lower the differential of value to price, and if we lower the price we lower the profit per unit.
The profit per unit doesn't affect the value, but it does affect how much we as a company earn.
The danger, and one which we see quite commonly, is that the cost of production decreases, the price either remains the same at which point the company grows, or the price has to drop due to market pressures which can directly impinge on the value to the customer.
Would people want an Aston Martin car so much if they were as cheap as a Honda Jazz?
There is an inverse relationship between creating value and making profit, increased value is higher cost.
You have to stay within an area that is called the Efficiency Frontier - you have to create enough value to cost of production to stay flexible and to push the boundary. Innovation may be about pushing or changing that frontier. Push out the frontier to utilise the same cost to more value, or change the value co-efficient. Innovation adds more value without changing too much of the cost in production.
Customers typically want more of the same but for less prices:
I asked my customers what they wanted and they said "we want faster Horses" (Henry Ford)
Sometimes you need to have 'disruptive innovation'. That is the fact that you have to change the environment so that the customer comes to want your product. As the Henry Ford quote above shows, and what is commonly known, sometimes people do not know what they want as they cannot see the value of the item you are trying to sell them.
So people when asked what they need to make their lives easier didn't say a horseless wagon, they said they needed faster horses. They needed more of the same but not at an increased cost.
But you cannot change the world too quickly. people do not always see innovation as a good thing, they like the comfortable and the familiar. You have to take some of the old with the new when we make changes, even social changes. So a piece of technology may be massively smaller/different yet still packaged for a good deal of time in the same way. Think of all the empty space inside a DVD player, or a digital watch, or an electronic carriage clock.
So sometimes understanding the customer, reacting to their needs or what they don't like is innovation.
There are a few things we can identify as 'Customer Driven Innovation':
Look outside the organisation - start with the customer;
Observe customers - walk in their shoes;
Make customers active, make them an ingredient in your recipe;
Make a connection, create fans;
Don't be afraid of the unexpected.
And some ways in which you can utilise the consumers of your product or services:
Recruit the right customers - early adopters are best;
Use a structured approach - what do you want, how would you use it, what is the job that it needs to do;
Manage your expectations - customers often ask for things you cannot deliver;
It's more about needs than solutions;
Seek fresh eyes in evaluating ideas.
There are several types of customer:
The enthusiast, a small percentage of people who are geeks about your service or business;
The early adopter - the people who catch on to a new thing early, always having the latest new item, gadget or toy;
The early majority - a third of all people;
the late majority - the next third;
Hangers on - those who seek to change just as all the innovation as gone and the market is stable and not expanding;
Most people fall into the early majority or late adopters, as an innovator you need the early adopters, they will let you know what the early majority and the late majority will really need as consumers, not enthusiasts.
The customers you most want are the 'Early Adopters'.
What is the outcome of what you are doing when you innovate? What is the primary objective? How can we achieve that?
These are some of the larger questions that should be asked by everyone seeking to be dynamic and innovative in business.
Outcome driven innovation
How do customers think about value?
Customers buy products to fulfill a need, either a physical or emotional desire. Customers have to want something, they may not know what that want is, you have to see and fill those wants.
The job is a primary unit of Analysis
Products come and go the job is stable. You need to go out to see the customer and find out what they use and what they really want - go out and figure what the jobs are.
Ideas Versus Execution
Extraordinary execution of the ordinary - sometimes being great at something is innovative as you do more than others in your field.
So what are the domains of innovation? How and where can we utilise innovation in our companies? There are multiple domains of innovation:
Innovation in products;
Innovation in processes;
Innovation in markets and marketing;
Innovation in administration and work organisation;
Innovation in supply chains;
but maybe not in the business model.
A few final thoughts to summarise:
Invention is not a common part, it is more likely to be imitation and borrowing;
technically mundane works quite well;
What you are innovating doesn't have to be high risk;
good ideas are everywhere don't be afraid to look in odd places or explore new ideas;
innovation is about satisfying need, those needs may not be understood or apparent.
Innovation shouldn't be for innovations sake - innovate to create value;
Maximise the business between value and cost, If it doesn't raise V or lower C don't do it;
What value do your customers perceive and what are your value creation processes;
Understand how your customers use your products and services;
Emphasise on 'technology use' not 'technology creation'.
Once again I am deeply indebted to Mark Freel for such a thoughtful lecture and for Lancaster University Management School for inviting me and filling my Wednesday morning and these two blog posts with a lot of material to chew over.
This week I attended the 'Innovation for Everyone' masterclass held at Lancaster University and hosted by Lancaster University Management School (LUMS). The talk was presented by Mark Freel who teaches at the University of Ottawa and Lancaster University, I should also point out that he is the 'RBC professor for the commercialization of Innovation' - a fact he was obliged to tell us to great interest.(1) Truth be told he is I believe contractually obliged to mention his title and I shouldn't dwell on it for too long, well no longer than this anyway (does anyone think I need to say a few more words about it?).
An overall synopsis of the lecture was to explore the theme of innovation with a particular emphasis for business. The University had this to say:
This talk is concerned with approaches to innovation that provide the foundation for identifying and creating value. Businesses are warned that “not to innovate is to die”. Dramatic changes in product or production technologies promise great returns to customers, producers and societies. However, they can also be costly, high-risk strategies. Professor Mark Freel will provide an insight into how ‘new value’ can be an alternative or complimentary innovation within business. He will be discussing the understanding the nature of value: what it is, what it’s worth and who defines it.
Mark has had a great deal of experience in studying and teaching business courses and has a particular passion for looking at innovation. was a lot of interesting themes that Mark explored and his approach was very engaging. It was clear that he was an expert in the firld as he was relaxed and fluid in his presenting.
I am glad that I decided to take my iPad and make notes of the lecture. I am also glad that I sat in the second row, reserved for hecklers, as that meant I was close enough to get eye contact and make comments.(2) There is sometimes a stilted nature to these events, people gather who don't know each other very well. Some of them may not have attended academic lectures for some time, added to that the people from business will be familiar with formal lectures where discourse is discouraged.
My approach these days is to be more relaxed in lectures, and sometimes more conversant. The speaker will indicate if he needs to move on if they are confident enough, and if they are not you can usually determine that and adjust your behavior appropriately.
Enough about that however and lets move on where we look at one of the central themes. I should note that these are taken from the lecture notes I made and I have added my own personal interpretation and reflections. Where I have quoted the speaker directly I have tried to do so with block quotation or quotation marks. This is not his lecture, it isn't even a pale reflection. It is my take on what I learned.
That said, I should take no reward as it was a great talk and any value that is gained from this is a reflection of the quality of the original.
To innovate or not to innovate, that is the sort of question...
The first part of the lecture was focused on the nature of why we innovate and what it means when people innovate or don't innovate. Something that impressed me was that Mark didn't attribute the standard:
Not to Innovate is to Die (Chris Friedman)
as being the most appropriate thing to do. In fact he was a little cautionary.
He identified that there is a classic understanding of two types of company:
Those who innovate: who are seen to do better than;
Those who don't innovate, who can stay stable, make small gains or stagnate and recede.
However this is not the whole picture, there are in fact three types of company:
Those who innovate well, who do a lot better than;
Those who do not innovate, who may do well, may not, or may stagnate, who do better than;
Those who innovate badly. They are the ones who tend to fail.
Those companies that don't innovate do tend to perform less well than those who innovate well. However the companies that innovate badly tend to do much worse than those who do not innovate at all. Innovation can be a strong factor in growth but it is important not to base the whole of your strategy or business plans upon one innovation.
Non-innovators, those who innovate badly, tend to die
A good example of a pair of companies that have innovated badly can be seen in the hard to sell area of personal electric transportation. The very first example of this was the C5, and a 90s follow up was the Segway.(3) The C5 died a slow and painful death in the 1980s taking an entire company and the spirit it felt of British idealism with it, the Segway has survived only because of a limited niche market and a bunch of chilled out hipsters. The C5 was the nail in the coffin for Sinclair.
The Sinclair C5 with Clive Sinclair sat inside, the last nail in the coffin for Sinclair as a company
This shows that not only was the market judged badly, but the company made a very bad decision to base their entire business plan on the success of a single product. As the C5 was left to gather dust and be a painful memory of British entrepreneurship the company was taken to pieces with elements that were successful (the computer arm) being merged rather forlornly into Amstrad and it's chief office, Sir Clive, needing to re-image himself and move on.
innovators out perform non-innovators but this affects performance and stability
When people look at, or think about innovation, or when they themselves try to work out how they can be innovative, they fall into a trap. That trap is narrow themes. Innovation can appear to have some really narrow themes, limited ways of being understood.
The first is a mistake that is commonly held that innovation is somehow linked to a mechanical or technical thrust. This is perhaps baked into our mindset, we are spoon fed the notion of innovators as scientists or engineers pushing the envelope of what is known or understood. They are rarely seen as the ordinary person, the man who decides that a small triangle of plastic will keep the pizza lid from touching the pizza, keeping the food fresher and better presented and allowing the boxes of fresh food to be stacked higher.
Aside from the physical aspects, innovation doesn't have to be physical. Innovation can be social, or it can be a structural change in an organisation, it can be a shift in administration or marketing. Innovation is a shift, a dynamic movement, it is not linked to a single discipline.
A list of some of the narrow themes includes:
Invention is central to innovation. This is particularly true when we look at innovation in a technical sense. However a lot of invention is in fact copying and borrowing. We stand on the shoulders of giants, and that isn't a bad thing. There is a lot of value to be gained in not being the absolute first person to do something.
Innovation is new technologies. See above. There are very few absolutely new technologies, we mostly just work existing technology in a new way.
Innovation involves substantial changes. No, it really doesn't have to, sometimes the smallest change can be massively important and innovative for an organisation.
Markets are uncertain. They can be, but generally they have pretty determinable factors, don't be scared of being creative.
Failure is common. If you simply innovate from new technology, if you only look for brand new, then failure is going to be a companion. But it doesn't have to be. look for more sustainable ways to innovate.
A high risk = high reward. Nope. Sometimes you spend a lot for a very small reward as you totally misjudged the value of what you were creating.
Innovation is about solving problems. Innovation can be about solving problems. However sometimes we innovate because we can. We innovate because it is a new idea, a different approach and it may not solve a problem. You can create a need for something. There was no problem that video games solved. It wasn't as if children were sat doing nothing before they came about. They simply presented a different way of being entertained. It was innovative, it created a vast new field of entertainment. It didn't really solve a problem, in many ways it created a whole bunch of its own.
So it is good to look at what the narrow themes that we normally see innovation locked within and to not be limited by them when we ourselves seek to be innovative in a good way.
That is where I am going to end this current post. I will likely write my next post on some more of the themes Mark explored such as the goal of business and a metric for understanding that.
(1) Okay maybe that was a tad too sarcastic.
(2) Because, you know, I am normally so quiet when I sit anywhere else.
(3) The Segway was originally recalled at great expense to its originators as there was a fault with the braking. To this day aside from the usage in tours and at some large companies and government organisations the Segway remains a rarely viewed item.
On Wednesday, 11th September 2013, I attended the Lancaster Tweet-up organised between Jane's Social Media and Lancaster ESTA. These meetings have been running bi-monthly for the last two years to the delight of the local business fraternity.
However this meeting was tinged with a little melancholy. It was a great event. It was great to see regular and new faces. It was ace to try and enjoy a 'speed-networking' event. But, it was also the last event of its kind in Lancaster. The Lancaster Tweet-up, the 11th, was the last one of 2013 and the foreseeable future.
But it is not all gloom and doom, in fact there is no gloom whatsoever...
A Little Backstory
About three months ago Jane approached me with a proposal. She wanted to evolve the Lancaster Tweet-up into a new beast, the Lancaster Social. It was to take its inspiration from the Preston Social but be an animal of its own kind.
Jane had thoroughly enjoyed creating and running the Lancaster Tweet-up, but also thought that there was more that could be done. There would still be a great role for Lancaster ESTA but her ideas for the event she would like to see hosted in the future meant opening up the number or people who could host. Also she wished to expand the scope but reduce the number of meetings. And, brave soul that she is, she also wanted me to help her to do that.
Jane and I had a very productive coffee and a series of chats about the shape of the new event. Then we had a second coffee and Ian (Messr Norton of Shadowcat infamy) was along to sanity check us. From those two meetings we had an event, a plan, and a shape for the future.
It is a free to attend (as in there are no barriers to attend but there may be a small charge by the hosts for the room so we reckon it will be a fiver) event. Any network, any background, any person;
We want to encourage communication between Government - Academia - business - Community - Networks - Individuals;
This is about cross-pollination, we don't care what you belong to, come join us;
You don't have to be a resident of Lancaster, Lancashire, UK, but you do have to be there in person.
As a part of the event we also want to introduce people to 'open tools for open business', but this could also be 'open tools for open usage', for non-businesses. The basic premise is that each meeting will have a short 9ten minute) introduction to an open tool with a quick Q&A following. We want to introduce people to the tools so that they can be aware of what's available to support them.
So, please feel free to add yourself, your organisation, your business to the site, once you have submitted appropriate text we will make you an editor so you can add more material and upload images. We want to attract as many people, from as many backgrounds and walks of life as possible. The Lancaster Social seeks to be inclusive, we also seek to empower you. if you want to join in the team you can do. We ask that you be sure you can:
Spare the time, promising and not fulfilling is a waste for everyone.
Have the skills you say you do to help. We all want people to learn and to grow but this is not the place for that as no one has time to teach. Though if you have the skills but need the practice...welcome aboard and well volunteered.
I look forward to engaging you all more on this in the future.
Jane and Rachel decided to make a film that could be used to supplement a companies social media policy. For them film was ideal as it is 'an easier medium (for the audience) to process'.
Jane and Rachel had some big ideas for what they wanted to achieve with the film, it had to be:
a popular and digestible work
But it also had to convey the issues they see in the growing social media world. Companies are now facing an uphill task not just to implement policy but to educate their workforce on what that policy means.
There are many issues that when you create a social media policy. One of the largest is that it will quickly grow into a long list of rules with amendments and exclusions to cover eventualities. Jane has good experience of this as in a previous job she was a manager who often needed to write such policy documents and has seen the pitfalls of creating such pieces.
Companies create top-down social media policies that become rule-heavy tomes. People are also unsure of the distinctions between their public life and their work life, where do they stand in regards to how the comments are treated. It is easy to sign a document without realising to what you are agreeing.
There is a real issue that people do not understand just how visible their social comments can be, even if they maintain a private account. They can quickly find themselves being quoted and re-shared with a wider audience than what they intended. If you use social media and instantly delete there is often still a record of what you said that can be retrieved or shared with others.
In the UK alone Social media is a growing phenomena with:
40% of companies use social media
50% of companies encourage staff to use social media 
The film also has interesting opinions on copyright and use of logos and professional links/sites which are useful to contemplate and not what people would normally consider.
As before the film struck me as a competent piece. With the ability to brand it to company usage the value is apparent, it can be used as a rounded introduction to the issues around social media usage that would complement staff guidelines and training.
If you are a sole trader, an employer, or a human resources employee I think you would be wise to either purchase a copy or have Rachel and Jane brand a version for your companies needs. I think it is especially useful for those people employing new staff or educating existing stafff on changing company policy to match the rise in social media usage.
It is useful for anyone who regularly uses social media to promote their company to view this video as there is something that will either surprise or inform you, it will certainly give you an introduction into what you should consider when utilising social media sites.
 I think that there is also the issue that many companies don't realise that what they are writing as a series of reactionary rules may not be enforceable if an issue arises.
 No citation seen (I likely missed it watching the video while taking notes).
I was at the Lancaster Tweet-Up on Wednesday evening (27th March), organised by Jane Binion of Jane's Social Media and Michael Hallam of Lancaster ESTA, where I saw the talented Sarah, of Backroom SAM, give a short presentation on her company.
Sarah is a sole trader and Backroom SAM provides affordable [Support - Administration - Marketing] to local traders in the Lancashire area, though she will cover business as far south as Preston and north to Kendal.
So why did she focus on providing an individual service as an independent trader to a small regional area. Well she has five strong reasons that she was able to share with us, Sam is:
What this means is that Sarah likes the local area and the local people. Sarah is also a member of ESTA which is an association of ethical local traders dedicated to providing good service, transparency of relations and ethical business practices.
Sarah is flexible in the services she offers and in the range of packages she makes available, giving everything from a short course in focused marketing to a full multi-media targeted marketing plan. She will also provide administration for office tasks to the small trader.
She is also multi-talented and it was clear that she invests a lot of time in keeping herself conversant with modern social marketing tools and electronic campaigns. She will also advise on aims and objectives and identify a marketing focus to suit your goals.
If you are local to the Lancaster area I recommend you talk to Sarah, she will help you identify your marketing needs and bring an approach to solving them.
Jane is taking a leap forward into addressing a growing modern phenomena which is the blurring of the boundaries between social life and work life. There have been a number of high profile examples of people being embarrassed, bringing companies into disrepute, or sacked for expressing personal opinions on social networks that fall foul of the persona their employer may wish to reflect.
This is a growing issue and a legal minefield with no clear advice seemingly on offer.
This is where Jane has stepped in. Jane has a great manner and a way of taking a complex policy issue and distilling it into a series of easy lessons and clear instructions. The video she has produced will walk you and your staff through this very modern problem.
Jane has gone one stage further though. By working closely with Quay Creative she can offer customised videos, branded and tailored to your company. She can also provide a bespoke video that expresses any internal issue in a precise and plain spoken manner that gives an easy to digest policy and message.
Take a look at the video and then take a long moment to consider giving Jane a call and seeing if she can work with you. Jane is an ethical trader and member of her local ethical traders association, she is dedicated to the local region and the people who live and work there.
Sponsoring an event as important as the Perl Quality Assurance Hackathon is an important mark of the respect and regard in which they hold the Perl community. The hackathon is not a hugely visible event outside of the community, and to many potential sponsors the fact that it is more concerned with improving the language and the tools as opposed to promoting the language itself is actually detrimental. There is no immediate return to the investment, the audience is the people who are concerned with quality assurance and language veracity.
But that would undersell this important event.
Many of the members of the Perl community look to this event to improve the language, they are aware that the people who attend this event are often at the cutting edge of not only quality tools but the development of the language itself. The sponsors are seen as important contributors, not just to the corporate ecosystem but the the qualitative aspects of the language and community.
It is, therefore, with great regard that I introduce you to our sponsors.
This, of course, would be a massive oversimplification.
cPanel are a core company in a very large industry. The cPanel product has been long established as an industry leader and to many people it is the industry standard, which is a difficult task is a pool so large and so full.
cPanel live and breathe Perl, the system is developed on top of the perl language and they as a company have come to be known widely in the community as a sponsor, supporter, promoter and organiser not just of perl people, but of community events and language development.
It is a colossal honour to welcome them as sponsors of this year's quality assurance hackathon and it is a fervent hope that this association will continue for a number of years to come.
If you say DjikMat to the perl community the image that springs into mind is of two of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. It is hard to think of this company, who have been a core of the European perl scene for more than a decade, without seeing the smiling faces of Liz and Wendy.
Once again it is with extreme gratitude that I get to thank these two magnificent people for their unflinching support of the community, their unwavering dedication to the language and their authoritative presence that truly makes any modern perl event a special occasion.
It will be an honour for the organisers to welcome them to this year's hackathon once again.
Dyn started a mission to redefine how we manage DNS more than a decade ago, and in that time they have become the industry standard for excellence at this task. The fact that Dyn use Perl to accomplish a great many tasks is no real surprise, and to those of us in the Perl community the fact that Dyn is once again gracing the list of sponsors at a perl event is no surprise either.
Matthew Horsfall has been a prominent member of the perl community and has represented Dyn at a number of events. Once again he will be traveling to the Hackathon to further the cause of quality assurance and represent a great company.
It isn't very often that you can think about a recruitment company and instantly have a list of positive contributions they have given to a community. This isn't to sound disparaging about the industry, but their involvement is usually just to make money and move onwards. Eligo are a little different.
Eligo pride themselves on getting the best candidates and the best situation not just for companies but for the individuals they place in those companies. Rick Deller, the Perl specialist at Eligo, takes that very seriously.
Rick has made himself a member of the local perl community and active in the perl world. Rick and Eligo were not just sponsors at the London Perl Workshop, Rick attended the event and was a member of the panel on the perl job market.
Since then Rick has gone one stage further and has teamed up with Dave Cross to take Perl into the universities and to attempt to educate the next generation of coders as to the shape of the job market and value of training and community.
Eligo don't just want a strong job market, they want a strong language and support a strong community. Rick volunteers to be a member of our community and to me that makes him invaluable. it also speaks volumes for the company he represents and who seek to support our community.
$foo Magazin is a quality producer of perl articles and discussions and its publisher Renée Bäcker is an ardent supporter of his local German Perl Community and the wider perl world.
$foo Magazin is a regular name on the sponsors list for perl events and once again I have the real pleasure of thanking them for their contribution to the Perl QA Hackathon. They were the first company to jump in with an offer of sponsorship the moment after my call for sponsors landed in the inboxes.
If you bump into Renée make sure to thank him for his unflinching support of our community and let him know that it is greatly appreciated.
There is no wonder, to my mind, why there is a list of superlatives that describe excellence in French, that's because I have the honour of knowing many of the French Perl Mongers.
This geographically diverse, yet structurally competent, group have been responsible for a whole swathe of events in Perl's history. Their members can rack up renown as organisers of events such as:
French Perl Workshop
Quack and Hacks
Perl Quality Assurance Hackathon
They also created ACT (A Conference Toolkit) and provide many of the banking services for perl events in Europe.
But they contribute not just their time, energies and abilities, but their money. Once again they are contributors to the Perl Quality Assurance Hackathon and their generous donation will result in refunded travel costs for some of the attendees. One day we can all track them down and buy them that much deserved beverage of their choice and shake them warmly by the hand for their continuing support and dedication to our community.
"Return Of Kings is a blog for heterosexual, masculine men. It’s meant for a small but vocal collection of men in America today who believe men should be masculine and women should be feminine.
ROK aims to usher the return of the masculine man in a world where masculinity is being increasingly punished and shamed in favor of creating an androgynous and politically-correct society that allows women to assert superiority and control over men. Sadly, yesterday’s masculinity is today’s misogyny. The site intends to be a safe space on the web for those men who don’t agree with the direction that Western culture is headed. Click here to send an email to the team.
Women and homosexuals are prohibited from commenting here. They will be immediately banned.”
they should be fucking shot
people who should be castrated
they should not be shot. nor castrated. think about it.
they should be smothered in fucking love and compassion. possibly the only way they’ll ever snap out of it.
$50 says if you castrate/shoot them they’re bound to just build a nastier website.
don’t perpetuate the cycle. rise.
Thanks Amanda Palmer aren’t u a gr8 persun
Don’t you DARE say these men need “love and compassion”. Our anger is a legitimate reaction to all these sorts of sistematic hate perpetuaded by white cis het men. I REFUSE TO GIVE ANY KINDNESS TO SHITTY PEOPLE LIKE THEM.
We will not perpetuate the cycle. WE’LL SMASH IT.
watch the world go up in flames as an eye for eye leaves us all in a pile of cosmic hate-filled fire.
I think we should be angry. But can you really fight hate with more hate? Doesn’t that just perpetuate the cycle?
yes. we can and should be angry. this website is mad cray.
"THESE MEN SHOULD DIE SLOW DEATHS/BE CASTRATED/MUTILATED" and those responding "FUCK YEAH"
is stooping right down to level of mindless violence and non-respect that this website is perpetuating. and it’s exactly the response that gives forward-thinking feminists a bad rap in as a bunch of maniacal “man haters”.
so yes. feel anger. share feelings. respond with truth. but don’t use wrong speech, or get violent. or say anything you wouldn’t say in the actual company of these human beings.
it still amazes me that some women think the correct response to this is “LET’S KILL THESE PEOPLE.”
really, ladies? would you call up the mother of the guy who started this website and say “hello, ms. smith, i think your son should be castrated and die.” ???
no. really. honestly. you wouldn’t. you’d be angry, but human.
so let’s please get our shit together and treat each other - yes, even the people like this - with dignity and respect.
golden fucking rule, people.
otherwise we all stay in the fucking gutter.
Amanda Palmer has been my hero since I was 13, I’ve seen her in concert five times, but I’m an adult now and realizing how fucking problematic some of the shit she says is. Like this. 'Rise above the hate' are you fucking kidding me. I will not 'rise above' anything I will obliterate those tools. 'Don't threaten them you'll just reinforce the man hating feminist stereotype!' Why the hell would I want any man around me that guzzles that kool-aid, or for that matter doesn't think my 'man hating' (aka FEAR) is justified. Not gonna cuddle these assholes into submission, really rather just eject them into the sun.
No Amanda, just no. I am so disappointed.
and i’ll say it again, and i’ll never stop.
rise above the hate.
it’s actually possible.
and it’s the way out of here.
you want out?
you want websites like this to go away?
you want everybody on the planet to be happy?
including this guy?
you wanting to “eject these people into the sun” will not help matters. at all. ever.
if you think it’s “not okay” for these men to use cruel, violent speech and awful imagery, surely it’s also “not okay” for anyone - including you - to do the same.
if you cannot see the connection between your violence and their violence, you aren’t looking hard enough for a real solution to the larger problem.
a problem that i think we can all agree we need to fix pronto.
So Teresa May wants to introduce fast entry to UK ports for businesses people and probably celebrities of a certain wealth bracket…
Will it be faster than the service offered to those who live in the UK and pay taxes?
That aside this notion of fast entry to prevent loss of business is pretty abhorrent. Surely the better answer would be to improve the whole system, not engender a culture of avoidances for those deemed special.
The excuse that this is to benefit us all is facile. There is no guarantee that this move is anything more than appeasement by the Home Sec. to the more frothy members of her party.
Once again democracy is easily bought. Fair values, the notion that we are all in the great ship Britain together is gleefully mocked.
"This is going to be my last tour for a long, long time." Wait, how long is long long? I'd love to see you.
<p><a class="tumblr_blog" href="http://amandapalmer.tumblr.com/post/65330441458/this-is-going-to-be-my-last-tour-for-a-long-long">amandapalmer</a>:</p>
<blockquote><p>after this tour is over (I end in Vienna in mid-November) I am ending this round of the grand theft orchestra. </p>
<p>I’ll be doing 10 shows, solo, in Sydney for the Sydney festival in the amazing spiegeltent (January 9-19) and after that, i’m stopping. </p>
<p>i am going to write a book, start a home with neil in upstate new york, and take the summer relatively off for the first time in about…12 years. it’s been that long since I took a true break from touring. </p>
<p>i am also going to start work on a giant long-term theatrical project/original musical with my director hero, steven bogart. </p>
<p>i am also going to fully clean my apartment in boston for the first time since - NO SHIT - 2004. that’s the last time i vacuumed. expect interesting pictures. </p>
<p>i don’t know when I’m going to tour again, or how, or who with, but it won’t be for a while. I’ve been on the road pretty much non-stop since 2002 and it’s time to take a fucking break. </p>
<p>i also need to get back to writing music. as nice as it is to be known for being a feminist, a kickstarter maker, a blogger and a general pain in the ass, i miss the days when people knew i was a good songwriter. this last record i made, Theatre is Evil, was the best of my career, hands down, with the strongest production and best songwriting i’ve ever delivered…and i feel like the poor record itself got drowned in the murky seas of Everything Else.</p>
<p>time to balance the scales…brush off self, re-tune strings, collect thoughts, simmer the chaos, and ready myself for whatever is next, armed with a new song.</p></blockquote>
I read an excellent article some time ago about how movies are using Cyan and Orange a lot, especially colouring in post processing.
Since then I have been very aware of it. I just rewatched Skyfall and noticed how much they have used that colouration in I this movie, it wasn’t so apparent in June cinema (projected colours), but massively visible on Blu-Ray.
So I changed this year, after almost 5 years, from owning an iPhone to owning an Android device. It might be that switch that makes me feel this way…
…I just cannot get excited by the new phones. So updated speed, bit more ram and more disk space in the top end. A nicer camera and some very funky software updates…
…and the fingerprint thing is sweet but not really revolutionary…
…but not exciting.
The design is now feeling a little staid. It just underwhelms, sorry,it was stunning when it first came out, and I loved the 4, but the 5 is just a stretched 4 and i don’t think it is a good look at all.
And they have been in this shape and look for too long. So they changed the colours and baked the edges a little tighter, but really is that it?
Sometimes the conjunction of news events sickens me, in the same list are the two items ‘hundreds of thousands of refugees are starving in Syria crisis’ and ‘Spanish club pays 90 million in highest transfer fee for a Football player’.
There is a reason we have an economic crisis, we don’t know how to spend money properly.
Defending the Fantasy Genre with Terminal Intensity (for the official Edgar Wright show at Gallery1998) – 18” x 12” (numbered edition of 30)
My friends and I fell head over heels in love with Spaced when we first saw it on Channel 4 over a decade ago. The general predicament of the characters, the countless references to pop culture from our generation raised by VHS and Playstation, it was as if our own minds had somehow collectively made a sitcom without any of us knowing about it, and made it far more amazing than we ever could have imagined. To this day I don’t think I’ve connected with any television show in such a visceral way.
So, when I was invited to contribute to the exhibition, after already having created artworks inspired by Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim, it just felt like a good time to return to the seminal show. When I started to think about what to do, it became clear that all the main characters needed to be in there, and as many of the minor ones I could squeeze in too, so something rather epic began.
Skipping to the end (!) I could call it a labour of love, but it didn’t really feel like labour at all.
The show opens Tuesday, August 20th, and remaining prints will be available online at some point after that.
Not sure what I’d use instead of this term, I am fairly certain though that I am beginning to hate ‘mansplaining’ and its usage.
I read a blog where someone was accused of it because they were talking about an item and the person they were talking to was an expert. So what? Maybe they didn’t care about gender, maybe they just were enthusiastic? Maybe they were breaking the ice, sure that might sometimes be creepy, but you could have told them. However what you do is say nothing while silently categorising them…wait, how is that different to how they are treating you?
In the same manner that I detest it when I use gender specific rhetoric myself and then realise it is blatantly just awful. I can see why it became a good term to use, now I see it only used as abuse :/
Nice to see the UK government’s newly directed Bulldog Force, formerly known as UK Border Police and Immigration, toughening it up and abusing immigrants.
From the blissfully understated advertisements shouting get out jhonnie wog, to the tweet storm, and now the reported stop and search of people caught wearing dark skin, we are brought back to the days of actively promoted government funded racial profiling.
This stuff is so blatantly abusive that even the head of UKIP is calling it nasty.
What next? Being stopped for wearing foreign clothes in a built up area? How about talking in a funny accent? Do we have to bring out the being in possession of an offensive wife?
Oswald Mosely is sat upright in his tomb doing a jig of joy.
The Job Fair is underway in Room 2.120 of the Thompson Center.
This is a great opportunity to visit the Sponsors and learn about career opportunities available from the many companies. It is also a chance to pick up some of the special swag that the companies have brought along just for you.
If you are looking to further your career or to get an understanding of who is hiring, or simply want to come along and thank the sponsors please visit.
You can also make a donation to The Perl Foundation while you are there to help them continue to support you, Perl and our community.
So it was a long flight and Harrison Ford stayed with me for a a lot of it and I finished Ender’s Game. Still a little unnerved, though it is a thing we can all do, try it, read something and use the voice of a well known actor or personality like a Morgan Freeman or Yoda.
Detail from the Ancient Celtic Battersea Shield, 1st century BC or early 1st century AD, made of a sheet of bronze. It is one of the most significant pieces of ancient Celtic military equipment found in Britain.
BBC article on UKIP MEP defection to the Conservatives:
Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps said he was “delighted” to welcome her to his party.
"She brings a wealth of experience - and a dedication to fight for what’s best for the British people in Europe," he said.
Surely her ‘fight for what’s best’ is our removal from Europe?
I never understood the approach of being an MEP to resist being a Member of Europe. I see the logic of bringing down the system from within, but all this turns out to be is a clumsy and ineffectual assault that only harms innocent people and not the overall structure.
Information Technology and Services | Lancaster, United Kingdom, GB
I have worked as a designer and Internet Interface designer with several years experience of design software for print and online (Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, CorelDraw, Inkscape, The Gimp, Flash etc.); I have a good working knowledge of HTML and CSS and will program using these languages from a text editor.
I also have worked as a project manager and small team manager with responsibilities for IT development and planning in a small business.
Currently I manage a small business focusing on software and open source project development and consultation. This has led to experience in management, training, accounts (including works payroll), project planning, scheduling and timetabling, promotion, marketing and research into community and joint project ventures.
My current goal is to develop my company into a more prominent publisher of open source and bespoke software and to instigate new projects and challenges.
Eventually I want to live near a beach and work from a laptop with a good wireless connection and a view of the sea :)
Specialties: Salary negotiation and budget planning; css and html standards; internet development and planning; company goals and achievements; project scheduling; marketing and promotion
2008 - Present
co-Leader / North-West England Perl Mongers
2008 - Present
Organiser, Supreme Overlord / London Perl Workshop
The London Perl Workshop is the premier Perl event on the UK calendar, and known throughout the world. Mark has been the organiser for this event since 2008.
This specific post was created using WordPress for Android on a mobile phone. This explains but not excuses any incorrect or unusual typography, brevity or formatting.
...is married to Leigh and has two sons called Benjamin Connor and Elliott James, they all live in Lancaster, UK with a cat called Darwin and several tropical fish. He stumbled sideways into the magnificent world of Perl by way of linguistics, literature, a publishing company and an undefined close association with Matt Trout. He is a neophyte evangelist of modern Perl and an advocate of Enlightenment thinking.