I hear you have fallen on hard times. I have two product suggestions:
1. Make a mobile that is purely a telephone
2. Make a phone in the shape of a pen
The two could well be combined.
1. Pure phone
There are countless millions of older people who would appreciate a mobile phone but they can’t manage the complications. If they were offered a phone, which was just a phone, they might be interested.
You could promote it as “SMS-FREE!” “CAMERA-FREE!” “INTERNET-FREE!” “MENU-FREE!” “Like phones of old: you talk on it!” You would have to invent a generic name. Purephone? Cleanphone? Straightphone?
It would have no alarms, no recording, no FM radio, no messages, no answering service, no “settings,” no adjustments. Continue reading
Here’s a presentation I gave to a conference called – unhelpfully – Art for Art’s Sake. It was actually about new approaches to participation in the arts, about finding ways of connecting people to the arts – and the arts to people – which go beyond the traditional arrangement of government subsidised Grand Purveyors of Culture getting bums on seats to consume High Art. The day was spent with presentations from five arts practitioners in the morning and then three people from outside the arts in the arvo. Those three people were me, an economist, a scientist and a non-partisan political campaigner from OurSay.
When the organiser rang me I was rather taken aback that she’d want me to speak, but she mentioned her topic and I said that I’d always thought about what I did as involving careful listening to people and trying to interact with it in terms of one’s preconceptions of what made good policy – always trying to update that as one went along. She liked the sound of this and I said I could describe the construction of the Button Car Plan as an exercise in that method. She liked that idea but I wondered whether it would be quite what the arties were looking for. When I saw some of the earlier presentations from the artists I got pretty excited about what some of them were doing and decided to talk about our work at the Australian Centre for Social Innovation as you will see from the presentation above.
Other materials to help you understand the talk are the slides I spoke to (ppt) (hastily cobbled together from other slide packs I’d constructed previously) and here is the video I showed during the presentation.
I’m doing some research for a talk I’m giving in New Zealand to heads of private schools – the invitation for which came from a similar talk I gave to the Australian Heads of Independent Schools Association. I’m sruiking the wonders of education 2.0 about which I’ve waxed and waxed on this blog. Who would you trust to guide you in your adoption of such obviously sensible technologies?
Obviously the power of the web should be used, but how? What are the pitfalls and what are the things to really focus on. Well I’ve got a nerve telling anyone anything. I did do a stint as a school teacher – a kind of self-funded Teach for Australia gig before there was such a program. And I’m an enthusiast for the web, for web 2.0 etc. But that’s it. So what would I know? What real research have I done. The problem is most people are in the same position. With bits of insight, bits of experience etc. And what kind of ‘research’ would be useful here. What kind of research would have been useful for Mark Zuckerberg setting up Facebook, Steve Jobs thinking of the iPhone or the Mac or Jimmy Wales wondering if Wikipedia would work. Or any of them trying to make those products and platforms better?
So who do you go with. The TED talkers? The consultants? Academics? Well the academics are peer reviewed after all. But then there’s a problem. What’s peer review doing in a field like that? It could add some value at least in principle. But does it? Well the academic articles that I’ve seen are more or less the same hunches marketed in the TED talks, or different ones. But they’re dealing with a massively complex subject - and no matter how many data-points one had on a topic like ‘blended learning’ (the combined use of online and ‘traditional’ learning methods) the conclusions one draws can’t really be extended beyond the circumstances of their adoption. And there are any number of ways to blend learning. As one can see from the chart.
And what we end up with is empty kinds of assurances as to what conclusions one can draw which are nevertheless shoehorned into the genre of any other academic article - which is to say one can’t make a claim that the sky is blue without references. And great lengths are gone to to provide the patina of science – single things are measured and reported on with great seriousness. But the conclusions are lame generalisations just as cliched and ultimately empty as the supposedly less ‘rigorous’ consultants and TED talkers – though the latter are partly marketing their profile and reputation elsewhere – along with the charisma of their presence and presentation.
Below the fold are the substantive conclusions from a summary article introducing a whole thematic edition of Internet and Higher Education (the reference is 18 (2013) 1–3, since you ask) It’s entitled “Blended learning policy and implementation: Introduction to a special issue” of by Ron Owston. Does this add anything to your understanding of the issues? Continue reading
Attentive Troppodillians will be aware of the Australian Centre for Social Innovation which I chair. After looking awfully like our ‘runway’ was coming to an end (as we stay in startup land) our first and still flagship program is growing strongly. Here’s a news story from South Australia.
If you’re interested, relax back on an armchair and watch this 27 minute doco as if it were Australian Story. It’s entertaining and inspiring.
Though if you want just the highlights in the condensed version – they’re here – in a 6 minute video
This video is a bit more focused on the building of the program – ie it’s co-design with its intended beneficiaries
Today’s column in the Age and SMH
Public private partnerships (PPPs) haven’t been such a happy experiment. Using private money to build arterial roads just increases their cost because private capital requires much higher returns than government borrowing.
But I’ve long wondered about a different kind of PPP that plays to the respective strengths of public and private sectors, rather than their weaknesses.
The economic textbook says governments must build public goods because private endeavour can capture only a tiny fraction of their total value to society. But Google, Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia are all privately provided public goods. What’s going on?
Osper is a smart new London startup. Here’s its pitch to Angel investors.
Osper is a cash card for young people with a mobile banking app with login for mum and dad (with parental controls) and login for young people (which teaches responsible money management).
The cash card can be used anywhere, is setup within minutes and doesn’t require bank visits or complex paperwork.
The parent app can instantly lock the card, track transactions in real time, and manage loans from the bank of mum and dad! The young person’s app allows them to manage their own savings goals.
That’s all well and good. I’m surprised that the only mainstream parental ‘app’ that’s at all common in my experience is ‘net nanny’ type apps which filter out porn from websites. One of the things I’ve always wanted was software that would enable me to give my kids time limits for recreational use of a computer or a TV. Oh and software on the house wifi to enable you to check out what people were using it for, or, if you don’t like that, to impose download limits on different users. Alas, I think with enough savvy some of these things are possible, but they weren’t easy. And there are only 24 hours in the day.
This is an email I received earlier today from Karen Mahlab – and I offered to reproduce it here for the delectation and contribution of Troppodillians everywhere. The winner of the competition will be flown steerage to London for a weekend at Buckingham Palace with the royal carriages at their command.
In partnership with Philanthropy Australia, The Myer Family Office, The Myer Foundation and the Sidney Myer Fund, Pro Bono Australia is seeking nominations for the most significant 50 philanthropic grants in Australia.
Our aim is to increase the profile of Philanthropy in the public eye nationally. We are well below international standards in this area. We already have a couple of hundred nominations registered which is wonderful at this stage.
I’d be most appreciative if you could have a think about whether or not you have a personal favorite for nomination. It can about the impact a grant has had not necessarily its size.
I am sending this to you because of your extensive professional networks and your interest and/or deep involvement in your own areas of specialisation and philanthropy.
See below for more details and please excuse the non personalised email. Also, feel free to pass this on to anyone else in your networks who may have a potential nomination.
Get a load of the UK Cabinet Office Minister’s delivery.
It’s fabulously low key, informal, indeed intimate compared with the formal bullshitting mode of almost all political utterance, and straightforward. It is of course ‘spin’, as it couldn’t be anything else. The Gettysburg Address was spin. But what I find thoroughly delightful about it is the way in which it simply dispenses with the entire genre of the public statement.
Of course there’s a reason for the genre of the public statement, because a public statement is not an intimate statement to a single person. However it is now so thoroughly debased by Orwellian corporatespeak “The Government is committed to a fairer Britain for all Britons”, that it’s a breath of fresh air to start again.
Reminds me of this issue I drew attention to in a previous post:
One of the things that intrigues me about the world is that acting is never ‘realistic’. For instance whenever you listen to a documentary and some scene is ‘reconstructed by actors’, you can always tell that they’re actors. They say their lines like they’re in a play or a movie, yet they’re acting real life. Strange isn’t it? They’re professionals at feigning life, and yet, when their only job is to feign life, not to ‘put on a play’ which is understandably a kind of hyper-real-life, they can’t do it. I’d like to understand why this is so. I’m sure it’s not a reflection on actors that their acting is not fully ‘realistic’, just as a TV presenters speech to camera is not like they speak normally, and just as when we give a speech to a group it’s not the same voice we use to speak to each other. Still I think it is a very telling reflection on actors that they show little sign of doing something completely realistic on the rare occasions when it’s called for.
Though it goes against my contrarian grain, I’m a huge fan of Steve Jobs. (Call it contrarianism squared).
This is a relatively new malady which has been produced by watching quite a few videos of him and reading a bit about him. It’s really remarkable to watch the steadiness of his vision right back to before the Mac. And to be able to deliver it is remarkable. All the other famous businesspeople in history (OK I don’t know more than a few but I guess I’m thinking of Henry Ford and Alfred P. Sloan) dominated a particular industry and company for a generation and achieved remarkable things.
I think of Jobs as to business and innovation what J. M. Keynes was to public policy in the 20th Century. Keynes made three interventions in the world of ideas each of monumental proportions – The Economic Consequences of the Peace, The General Theory and the negotiation of the Bretton Woods financial architecture. Jobs had the Apple I, Apple II, Mac, and the convergence appliances iPod, iPhone and iPad. And this was in between being chucked out of his company for a decade or so.
In any event, Christine Wallace’s John Hewson quotes him on the revelation of learning some economics “As soon as you get an equilibrium approach to life, suddenly you realise that a lot of what you’d thought was wrong.” In the above quote Steve gets the religion of the division of labour, but infuses it with his own perspective on innovation. Here the division of labour becomes a distribution mechanism for innovation and he demonstrates very nicely how miraculous it is.
I thought that Steve’s little sound bite was an excellent way of making a point we’re at pains to make at The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI). It’s that most philanthropy and government exertion on public goods presumes that learning how to deliver them is a relatively straightforward thing – why a politician has a chat with a staffer on their way to a business lunch and voila – a school mentoring program is born. So we don’t spend any serious time or resources figuring out how to do it well. We don’t do R&D on the delivery of complex services.
We do at the Centre for Social Innovation and think we’ve got something pretty amazing to show for it. And because we’re generating new knowledge – it’s scaleable – in precisely the way Jobs is speaking of in the video. Here’s a short video about our most mature product so far – though we’re working up several others in the area of ageing.