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Month: July 2010

We will not put our lives on hold because you want us too

hacia la diversion, con es fuerzo by fabbio via FlickrLiving with collapse

A long time ago, a British Professor visiting Zimbabwe goggled at our 15% inflation rate and said, “How do you cope?’

Twenty years later, 15% seemed like heaven. And coping had turned into a lifestyle. Oddly though, you can still attend an HRM conference in Harare infinitely more sophisticated than you will in London.  Lunch might be peculiar but ideas continue.

The power might go off repeatedly but a Zimbabwean firm has rolled out a 3G network.  Living in the UK, I have copper cables that were replaced twenty years ago in Harare and my mobile reception is so dodgy that I can’t use it for internet.

Running away from collapse

I left Zimbabwe and came ultimately to UK because I didn’t want to cope with those circumstances.  I had lived through Smith’s UDI and figured that “I had already done” war and sanctions.  It was time for alternative experiences.

A psychological model of collective responses to despair

Around six months before I left Zimbabwe, just after the Presidential elections, I tried to make a psychological model of what would happen.  I figured that everyone would make up their minds what they were going to do.  Then they would test their plan.  And after 6 months they would re-evaluate.

Of course, we had a definitive unambiguous event that marked a cross-roads.  Mostly we don’t have such a call for decisiveness and we procrastinate.

Then we were surrounded by people making tough decisions but amiably accepting that we differed in our needs and values and might go our separate ways.

And we knew we were jumping out into the unknown.  We might find our new lives hostile but few of us left a path to return preferring rather to “shake the dust from their feet and not look back”.

The Zimbabwean diaspora and the Zimbabwean survival

So 3-4 million people left Zimbabwe.  I got on a plane.  Others walked and with no exaggeration, dodged border guards, swam across a river infested with crocodiles, cut their way through fences and threw themselves on the streets of cities larger than anything they had ever seen before.

But 10-11 million people stayed.  They were the old, the young, the sick and the infirm.  They were those who stayed to look after the old, the  young, the sick and the infirm. They were also those who had fought for the liberation of Zimbabwe and were continuing in their quest.  They were those who lived “outside” last time around and “had done that” and now took the alternative route. And there were the energetic and entrepreneurial who make a go of anything.

Zimbabwe has suffered. There is no doubt.  It is uncomfortable being there.  But it has survived.  And it is this survival that I want to write about.

People don’t curl up and die because the economists and politicians and pundits say they should. They pursue their ends as they see them. They experiment and revise.  They keep going.

So Zimbabwe didn’t die.  The currency shattered all records for inflation and it remained the currency of choice long after economists said it would disappear.  It has gone now but probably more because  of pressure on the German government by activists made printing it more difficult.

Simply, action matters; not theory and not prediction.  People will not stop living just because we think we wouldn’t be bothered in their shoes.

African universities don’t die either

I’ll make this point  again using another story.

A decade ago, I was part of a team reviewing the staffing situation in African universities for World Bank.  Briefly, the a priori thesis was that Africa suffered a brain drain.  Coopted belatedly on to the team, when I was briefed, I burst out  laughing.  “You can’t get rid of us,” I guffawed.

So how do universities run when they have bullet holes in the walls (one in our sample did) and  havelittle money to pay academics?

Yes, universities suffer from “not on seat”, a Nigerian expression that someone came in, left his jacket and went out to do his own business.  But despite one university paying its staff the equivalent of one chicken a month, staff kept pitching up, kept teaching, kept examining.  They keep doing what they do. I know it sounds improbable, but it is your theory that is wrong; not the world!

But maybe Western economies began to die

Today I came across another story in Global Guerillas that illustrates the point again.

Pick up any HRM textbook in UK, Australia or NZ, and it is all about smashing the unions.  Thatcherism was a dramatic struggle against labour power.  And Thatcherism won.  It liberated the economy from the tyranny of unions!

That  maybe so but smashing the “working classes”, or the middle classes as they are called in the USA, also concentrated economic surplus in the hands of corporates.  And we see the results now.  Oh, you might have drifted off when I put it like this.  Read on.

People don’t sit on their hands just because you told them they were worth nothing.  They carry on living their lives.  Instead of achieving their life goals by making more money by being more productive, they continued achieving their life goals and put their energies into other schemes – like second houses or just flipping their first. The goals stay.  The energy to progress is diverted.

We will not put our lives on hold because you want us to.  It simply doesn’t work like that.

A good system provides opportunities for us to achieve our own goals within a collective mutually beneficial framework.  We need a system where each of us can see a promotion on the horizon and has access to learning experiences and training that allows us to seek promotion.  As soon as the system says “nothing for you here”, we will divert our attention elsewhere but we won’t do nothing. Don’t say this is not possible; this is called HRM.  And don’t laugh.  Who hired the HR Manager you have?

Where will individuals put their energy in the UK now?

In a country as big and diverse as the UK, it can be hard to see what might happen next.  The choices are not obvious.

Certainly, at an individual level, the prize will go to those who envisage positive goals in depressing circumstances and who continue seeing opportunity while those around them become panicky and depressed.  But we will each do what makes sense to us at the moment that we do it.

At a collective level, it seems to me that we really must strengthen what Britain called the working classes.  And the best way to do that is for people who have power to limit themselves.

Instead of running around asking for 25%-30% indicative cuts, Ministers should be talking to everyone with power or unusually high incomes (and I include the unions and the local drug barons).  Ask them rather, what can you do to make the middle level guys better off. What can you do to free them up from worrying about housing and heating, food and chidren’s clothing?  What can you do to help them feel secure about their future (to aged 90) and their children’s future and prospects?

Those with power and resources must settle down those who will otherwise divert their energy where they must – looking after me and my own.  And the politicians must lead.

Instead of indicative cuts, come back to us with indicative solutions. Look us in the eye when you announce them.  If our eyes light up, you are on to something.  If we howl with laughter, deliver a sharp smack to your powerful mates.

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A personal view of the world is NOT the mark of a spoiled generation

new cell phone by grafitti with numbers via FlickrEssential intellectual skills of old

When I was an undergraduate, the hardest tasks were to format essays in Harvard or APA style, to write references out correctly, and to wade through incomprensible tomes.

We got good at all three tasks, of course ,and after two years of graduate school, I had developed good habits of checking references as a I read.  I was taking in

  • the words
  • the structure
  • the mental map of the people and history of a field

all at the same time.

Intellectual skills in the internet age

Reading on the internet is hard because even with two screens, we can’t flip back and forth between the text, contents and references quite so fast.  We also can’t take notes so easily or highlight text quite so physically and memorably.

Copy Gen Y

When I first started teaching Gen Y, I read around and saw references to their ability to organize information without a structure.  It didn’t take me long to realize that this observation was accurate.   They have their own skills born out of the internet age for checking the provenance of information and updating their mental maps.

More to the point, they don’t want structure and they don’t want “received opinions” from on high.  University lecturers brought up in another time are disconcerted by their apparently “personal” view of the world.

Publishing is the new literacy

What Gen Y are doing, without being told by us, is stepping in to the what Clay Shirky and others call the new literacy.

If reading and writing became common place after the invention of the printing press, publishing is common place today.  Everyone does it, more or less.

Just as being able to write well affects our performance in many subjects over and above English or whatever language we speak, publishing underlies our performance in every area too.  We are each responsible now for judging the quality and value of information and making it available to other people.  Just as we still have writers, we will still have publishers par excellence.  Just as we have people who “don’t write” and “don’t read”, we will have people who don’t publish either.  But publishing as a skill is now as commonplace as other activities that were once reserved  . . . like international travel for example.

When, and how, will Universities catch up?

Universities know and understand this.  At least, educational scholars do.  I saw a good presentation from someone at Open University on slideshare a few days ago.

But a fully ‘constructionist’ view of education is still seen as dippy or at best innovatory.  It is neither.  It is essential.  And we have many changes to make in the way we organize classes, assess assignments and understand what is knowledge.

The wheels are not just coming off the old industrial structures of banks and oil companies.  The time for decrying industrial age education is gone.  We are past that stage.  We are in the thick of building the education system of the new age.  We need to be part of it.  We need to publish to our own account.  That’s how we will learn, not just personally, but as a collective.

The point is that a “personal” view of the world is not a mark of a spoiled generation.  It is an essential skill and Gen Y has grasped its necessity, intuitively perhaps, but they have grasped it.  We have to catch up.


Save time (and cut costs) by spending as much time as you need with each person

#35 March 3rd week by next sentence via FlickrWasting the time public servants

I was talking to someone in one of the many branches of the public service yesterday. “And we get a lot of time-wasters”, he said.

This is a narrative, of course.  It is the way we speak rather than any statement of fact.  But it raises the question, “Why do we regard the public as wasting our time?”

Or is our time wasted by management who are poorly trained?

Sadly, targets are the culprits.

This is the psychology.

  • A target creates a goal.  Yup, that is what was intended.
  • Goals create feedback loops.  Yes, we all know targets distract people from their jobs. We have been complaining for years.
  • And there are two further points I would like to add.
    • Simplifying life slightly, we have fast feedback loops and slow feedback loops.
      • Public servants have infinitely slow feedback loops. Slower than “Mum” who runs a house and who cleans the house today and cooks your dinner, and cleans the house tomorrow, and cooks your dinner.   In short, the work of those who serve is never done.  It is very reactive, too.  In plain English, public servants hang around a lot.   That is their job and it takes a special temperament to be able to do that without fabricating a crises or two for stimulation and entertainment.
      • Slow feedback loops does not mean the work is unskilled.  Slow feedback loops mean the opposite. The work is highly skilled. You have to work “by the book”.  “Mum” cleans the house whether guests are coming or not.  The pilot checks the entire pre-flight checklist whether they anticipate a problem or not.  They do work and they do it without anything changing visibly and without applause or immediate reward. You and I can’t do that. We get bored and become disruptive.
      • Simply, public servants look like they are sitting around but they do “hard work”.  It is hard to know that the workis done well unless you really know what you are doing.
    • The public are not time-wasters.  Well they maybe, but we waste a lot more time angsting about time-wasters.
      • The public aren’t experts in the work done by public servants.  Public servants start to take their skill for granted (as we do) and forget they can make a judgment that we will just get wrong.  We could do with their wisdom.
      • Much of the time, the public is worried they are supposed to be doing something.  Good counsel from a policeman or front-line worker reads the request in context and advises the right course of action. The right course of action might be do nothing (take two aspirin and have a good night’s sleep, etc.) and it is useful to know that.  We rarely think that doing nothing is doing good.  Public servants with with their slow feedback loops are masters of “let events unfold”.  Let them make the call.
      • Rushing people who are worried slows them downWhen we treat each request as seriously as the next or the last, people calm down and our work speeds up.
      • That’s not to say that we don’t do triage.  Triage is part of taking people seriously.  People aren’t cattle queuing up at the slaughter house.  If it is better to take one person ahead of others, just tell them.  When we have a good reason, everyone will understand, particularly if we can estimate when we will see them and give them back some control over their lives.  They calm down and work goes faster.

Successful ways of working with people is often counter-intuitive

It is possible to treat each person as an individual.  But when we go 8 hours/x people makes y minutes.  Suddenly there isn’t enough time.

One. We waste time scheduling.  Try not scheduling and see what happens.  I once went to a doctor who simply gave 10 people an appointment on each hour.  He called them in turn but saw whoever was there.  Isn’t that what we do anyway?  And if we a running late to get there for 9, for example, there is no need to panic, because we are in a buffer.

Two. We have time-wasted between appointments.  I was given an appointment at 9:06 last week.  Admirable precision.  Pity the internal paper-work wasn’t ready for her and her printer wasn’t working.

Three. There is simply a simple rule of management. Make sure management doesn’t cost more than what is being managed.  What would happen if we would remove the management and organization?  Often little but saving time and saving heaps of money?  Of course, skilled management that helps us be more productive would be cool to have particularly when it is inexpensive.

We often get more done by being patient.  I know the arithmetic doesn’t suggest so. But arithmetic is not the right analytical tool for this problem. I am a numbers person but turning everything into “3 men dig a trench . . .” simply tells me your arithmetical training stopped when you were 11.  My that is harsh . . but you asked for it.

Using arithmetic to solve the distribution of public service is a constellation of intellectual errors.  And you know it is wrong because it doesn’t work.  If feels wrong.  Stop repeating yourself and try another way!

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Ingratitude is sooner or later fatal to its author

The language of morality, character and virtue is back!

And gratitude is one of the most popular concepts to be given wholehearted support by Martin Seligman and positive psychologists.

Write a gratitude diary daily (or at least weekly), we feel a positive mood more often, we detect more easily positive events in the noise of negativity, and we fell more energetic and hopeful.

Tipping our hat to the positive, not matter how bad the negative, is fun and gives us the energy to cope with whatever the world throws at us.

But this is motherhood and apple pie, as Americans would say.  What of the opposite?

The test of morality is the desirability of immorality

Positive psychologists don’t like talking about the opposite of morality, character and virtue because many of them are clinical psychologists, and they are, well, sick of that stuff.

But what will the absence of gratitude, or ingratitude, do to you?

Here is a Twi proverb, courtesy of @africanproverbs.

Ingratitude is sooner or later fatal to its author.

Maths of chaos theory

Chaos theory will predict just so.  Initial conditions predict final conditions.  In mathematical language, x at time 2 is equal to x at time 1 plus/minus or times/divide something.

When we start out ungrateful, we will continue ungrateful until something changes.  We may simply make our lives so unpleasant that we decide to mend our fences and start to say thank you.

Phase states

Sadly, chaos theory also predicts that when we are in a sufficiently sour mood, we change states from one where we can recover, and will recover, to one where we move into a narrow space that is hard to get out of.   Ultimately we might reach a third state which is a dark cell of solitary confinement of our own design.

Simply put, we cannot expect ourselves to be infinitely resilient.  Shit happens, but sufficient shit overpowers our ability to cope.  The moral of this observation is not to make life harder for ourselves.  It is hard enough already.

Kindness is not self-indulgence

There is no point in beating ourselves up, though, for being ungrateful.  Sometimes we are. We know we shouldn’t be careless or resentful but when we are irritated for some reason, we may find our generous spirit has left us.

Then the gratitude diary comes into play again. It is quite surprising what good things are happening around us while we are taken up with inconvenient, churlish and distasteful aspects of our lives.

And sadly, when a gratitude diary is not a discipline that we do whether we feel like it or not, we might go days without writing it, our mood lowering and the rubbish in our lives slowly displacing the good.

When we have got it bad, then, as poet David Whyte says, “The truth is found in a walk around the lake.”  It is time to gain perspective and we do that from getting back in touch with nature and the good in our lives.

The discipline to respect the positive in the world is an important discipline.  We cannot, and do not function without it.


And apparently off the point but not, TED has posted Mandelbrot talking about his career.  Gratitude is in the same class of phenomena as cauliflowers (yes it is!).  To get an inkling of the maths, watch the video.  To get a sense of what mathematicians do for a living, watch the video.  To get a sense of enormous gratitude and humility in a career that could have been frustrating other than for attitude, watch the video!

And then watch the second on African fractals!  Mandelbrot worked on fractals and they are seen all over Africa in design of buildings, artwork and . . . democracy.  Go on . . . watch it!

Ron Eglash

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My internal GPS uses faith, intuition and discipline every day to calculate my position

Saying of the daywhat a mess by leanulfean via Flickr

Paulo Coelho tweeted today (and he does many time a day)

My internal GPS uses faith, intuition and discipline every day to calculate my position

It’s presumptious to re-phrase his words but I know a lot of people who are bothered by poetic language and who might find “faith, intuition and discipline” so “unscientific” and “contradictory” that they tune-out.

Let me provide some behavioural examples


Imagine that I am doing a piece of work that I dislike. It doesn’t engage my attention.  It is unchallenging.  It’s not sociable.  I learn little.  I don’t think it adds value to the world.  These conditions seriously challenge my ‘faith’ and fill me with ‘despair’.

In “History of the World in 100 things” running on BBC Radio 4 at the moment,  I heard instructions given to icon-makers.  Say a prayer.   Forgive your enemies and remember God is watching you at work . . .

This is apt when we have a dreary task, not so?  Clear my mind of other grievances (my lousy work is grievance enough).  And then start my work imaging that “my god”,  or my destiny, is watching me.

Feeling “my god” watching me do whatever it is that I do, will bring all that I value to that work, however awful or even terrible that it is.  Thinking that “my god” is watching, having a conversation with “my god”, helps  me concentrate and shape the work more in the image I believe appropriate.

If you scientific in your thinking, then test  the idea. Try it. Do you not have a mental image, however abstract of what is right about the world?  Doesn’t bring that image into the room with you help you find value, not matter how dreary the circumstances?


I understand intuition to mean very simply that our brain processes information at many different levels.  Much of our processing is unconscious and much is actually . . . inaccurate.  It helps to take a moment to let the whirring of my brain catch up with itself and to determine what I think and why.

If I don’t make time,  I am likely to be confused (not become confused, be confused) and take wrong turns.

I need to slow down.  I need to take time to close my eyes and listen for the furthest sound.  I need to label your emotions an let it all come together. What is the rush anyway?  Ah the clock, the boss!  Funny how we always have time to do things twice but never have time to get it right the first time.  I tested what I am saying by staring at those old ropes,  Instead of feeling mild irritation, I became clear about what I would do and why.

Slow down and get sorted.  And don’t forget to close my eyes and incorporate the most distant sounds.


I am not to sure what Paulo Coelho meant by discipline and I deeply suspect that the meaning I learned in childhood is wrong.  I’ll take a stab at it and  put it this way.

Most of the time, when we are out of sorts, we think the world is not being kind to us.  The secret is this.  The world is not about us.  The mountain is there whether we are here or not.  The mountain doesn’t care so much about us.

Discipline, possibly, means mindfulness and being in touch with what is happening around us.  It helps to feel the carpet beneath our feet and the keyboard below our fingers.  What is happening around us?  Then we know what we need to do.

I’ve always regarded myself as disciplined.  I keep my promises.  I do my share of unpleasant tasks.  I put in extra work.  But goal orientation and conscientiousness isn’t discipline, I think.  Respecting the right of everything to have its own existence, independent of mine.  Respecting everything around me rather than ignoring what does not serve my goal – that is possibly the discipline of which Paolo Coelho speaks.

What do you think?

My internal GPS uses faith, intuition and discipline every day to calculate my position.

I am here.  It is right that I am here.  All the things I perceive make sense, if only I take time to sort them out.  And everything else has a right to be here too.

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Cost-cutting is upside down and inside out

Inverted by mgjefferies via FlickrTwitter culture

Twitter is such a good example of the benefits of distributed, leaderless, co-creation.  Lots of grown-up lol cats like what we are cooking!  Yes, I am serious.

Today, I was working on some tedious table creation in Excel and I dipped in-and-out of Twitter as brain relaxation between chunks of work.  This wasn’t time-wasting, at least not for me, because as any half-decent psychologist knows, we can’t  work much longer than 10 to 15 minutes at  a stretch without taking a mini-break to manage fatigue and to restore a sense of what is woods and what are trees.

Some back and forth between @loudmouthman @freecloud @dt and I soon created the ultimate Twitter experience – the total confusion much decried by Twitter’s critics and the insights to weave together several half-finished conversations that I’ve had while I’ve been buried in Excel.

I resolved to write down why I find the political conversation around the budget cuts so dissatisfying.

Cost control models are no substitute for strategy or leadership

Controlling costs is nonsensical as a leadership strategy.   Accountants out there don’t have a heart attack!  We still want you to count the beans  but the purpose of life is not to control costs.   Remember what Napolean called us : a nation of shopkeepers?  I rather admire shopkeepers and the till must be ‘manned’ ; but a till does not a shop make.

  1. Cost-added models are passe. I am not going to be happy with a teacher or a doctor because they cost more, or they cost less.  I will not buy a Snickers bar either just because it cost you  a shilling or a florin to make.  Let’s wise up.  Cost is not important. Value to the consumer or citizen is important.
  2. Public services aren’t discretionary.  We have public services because we need them.  Public services are not a luxury.  If we cannot afford them  we are done for.  Though the army is the extreme case it makes the point clear.  If we cannot afford to defend ourselves, then we will have to reconstruct our entire nation-model because, in short, someone else will be in charge. The only discussion worth having in the public service is what is essential and why. What do we have to make happen?  When we have agreed on what is essential, we will make it happen.  We aren’t dunces (or at least we aren’t that hopeless).
  3. Cost-focused models assume virtue matters. Since when did the English believe in cause and effect and a grand idea?  (Not sure about the Scots, Welsh and Irish).   The international financiers may like us because we control our cost; and just as easily they might not.  I am betting they won’t because their essential psychology is macho.  Show weakness and you are done for. Show that you are willing to cut your own people off at the knees and your essential bargaining  position is gone.  They know you will agree to anything.  Bad move.  Any cost-cutting should have been done very very quietly.

What is the alternative to government by book-keeping?

So if I take away your cherished dream of a country run of us, by the book-keepers, for the bookkeepers, what is the alternative?

  1. Do the work.  Decide what is essential and do it.
  2. Understand innovation.  Let people get together and thrash out ideas.  1/200 may be worth it.  Budget for 199 being trashed.
  3. Put in good accounting systems so we can pay Ceasar what is due to Ceasar when it is due.  This is not living by cost control.  It is simply having good book-keeping so we can get on with our lives without constant cash flow crises.   A cash flow crisis tells us that we had shoddy book-keeping not that we spent too much money.  Though both may be true, we cannot have a crisis without bad book-keeping. Restore some professionalism in public book-keeping (=make the data public).

The country is just like our house

Conservatives tell us that running a country is no different from running a household or running a shop.  Many of us might challenge that statement but let’s take what we learn from running a household or running a  shop.

  1. Necessities are necessities.  We can’t provide them unless we know what they are and unless they come before everyone’s luxury.  Necessities are necessities.
  2. A day out designed by Mum and Dad will be a day out with whining kids in the back seat bored at the restaurant table. Plan this outing as a family affair using everyone’s ideas.   Good things do not come out of pre-defined criteria. Good things come out of us working together to enjoy our lives.
  3. Budget simply.  The envelope system works fine.  Put money for the rent, electricity and food aside.  People aren’t daft.  They will figure out how to have fun with what’s left in the fun jar.

Twitter is a fine example

And all this for wasting time on Twitter.   No, all this from following some basics.

  • I had set my goals for the day.
  • I am working consistently.
  • I am putting some ease into my day so my mind doesn’t wander and create rubbish that I will have to redo later.
  • I am being creative in breaks from necessity and the “hardness” of rule-bound behavior.
  • I have a list on my pad and I time myself.  My bean counting adds to my life by telling me where I am.  If something very important came up, I could switch my priorities easily.

A week of Excel is a hard week – not unlike a financial crisis.  I’ll get through it better by keeping my goals clear but in their place allowing some ease and respect for the people in my life and what is truly important.

Oh, let me be blunt.  Some people need to stop behaving like pratts.

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Does crowd-sourcing work: InnoCentive and c,mm,n

Bringing home the bees by tastybit via FlickrCrowd Sourcing is in

Courtesy of the new coalition government, crowd-sourcing is in.  I must say I haven’t used any of the government’s crowd-sourcing facilities.  I’ve just watched the chatter, and in some cases squealing, on Twitter.

But because it is a topic of the moment, I’m going to add links to crowd-sourcing elsewhere in the world.


Innoventive is an open-source website for scientists.  Normally, firms like Procter & Gamble offer a bounty or prize for the best solution to a problem.

The news of the moment is that Innocentive called on scientists to figure out how to manage the spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

After some initial interest,  BP declined to engage with scientists though Innocentive.  I have no first hand knowledge of this so see the link for more and let me know, please, if this article is wildly out.


c,mm,n is the world’s first open-source car.  Apparently, the specs are in Dutch.  I haven’t looked because I doubt I would understand the specs.

On the face of it, it seems odd that we can design a car but not fix an oil spill.  Would the car go, do you think?

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UK economy watch: Plastic Electronics

Industry: Plastic or Organic Electronics

Market Size

2010 . . .USD2bn (GBP1.3)

2020 . . USD120bn (GNP80.2)

Growth = 60x or 6000% in ten years

Government Subsidies

#1 8 projects to build the supply chain and “overcome barriers to UK exploitation of plastics electronics technology”

GBP7.4m including CBP800K from Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC

#2 5 projects to develop commercial prototypes

GBP1.0m by Technology Strategy Board

Two of the projects

Announcement from  COI


Circuits are printed cheaply onto rigid or flexible surfaces and rival silicon-based electronics in lighting and solar panels.


As at July 2010

David Willetts, Universities and Science Minister

Iain Gray, CE of Technology Strategy Board



Technology Strategy Board

Announcement from January 2007

British Interests

Plastic Logic (with Merck in Dresden and management in Mountain View

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Dance in any way you know how

Let's Dance by zenera via FlickrI’m reading David Whyte‘s The Heart Aroused.  It’s profound. It’s illuminating. It connects all the many facets of contemporary management theory: poetry, the positive movement, the mytho-poetic school and hard core complexity theory.  It’s difficult to summarize though

Today, Bukik left a comment on this blog.  Most of his work is in Indonesian ~ which I can’t read.  But some is in English.

From Bukik’s site, I learned this:

“While I dance
I cannot judge
I cannot hate
I cannot separate myself from life.
I can only be joyful and whole.
That is why I dance.”

Hans Bos

I tried to discover who Hans Bos is.  Maybe an American living in Illinois?  I would like to know.

Thanks to Bukik, I have a good quotation to illustrate the contemporary quantum idea and older eastern idea that we are our relationship  with the world.  And almost paradoxically, our relationship with the world is good when we dance, and dance.

Dance in any way you know how.

A good thought for a Sunday morning and good respite from reading economic reports.

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Break your blogging learning curve into 10 chunks

Wordpress Meetup by David Recordon via FlickrHow to post a blogpost

I have a friend who went from loathing computers to editing blogposts. . .overnight.  I goggled.  That’s not a steep learning curve.  That’s Batman.

So I suggested, he write a ‘new post’ and still thinking that is a huge learning curve for a magazine-themed blog, I’ve put together these steps.  It’s not a complete “button-push” guide (Batman doesn’t need that).  It’s the chunks one needs to get a post together.


1 Login just as you did before(http://websitename/wp-admin and put in your username and password).

Find “add new post”

2 You should be in the Dashboard.  Look top left and you will see “Posts” on the left.  If you go to “Posts”, you get a list of Posts.  If you choose “Add New”, you will see a familiar page.  It’s blank and ready for you to write your masterpiece.

Write your stuff

3 You can continue to write your post in Word and cut & paste.  To save yourself some aggro,  cut and past using the special WordPress rabbit hole.  When you look at your “Add New Post”, you will see two rows of buttoms.  Look for the clipboard with a W on it.

If you can’t see the buttons, check two things. Look just above-right of the buttons and you will see Visual and HTML.  Make sure you on Visual.  (HTML means code – you’ll need that later and that’s why the screen might have come up that way).

Then if you still can’t see the W, click on the very right hand button on the first row. It makes the second row come-and-go.  See why I thought you might need this list.

Now you have “clipboard W”, hit it and a new box called Paste from Word comes up.  Paste (or Cntrl V) and choose Insert at the bottom.  All you are doing here is stripping out any Word-specific formatting that might give you a headache later.

Your masterpiece should be in front of you.

Make your stuff look nice

4  Right now, your post looks like a teenager wrote it.  You can put in some headers by going to the Paragraph button on the left.

Click the little arrow to get the drop-down list and add some Heading 2.   Just put your cursor on the phrase that is a heading, go to the drop-down list, and click on Heading 2.

Or add some words for a heading, put your cursor on any word in the heading, go to the drop-down list, and click on Heading 2.

If you left other words on the same line as a Heading, they are also turned into a heading.  Just go back to the list and hit Paragraph, move the words where they should be, and make the heading-phrase into a heading.

Save Draft

5 Now it is time to save. Accidents do happen.  Top right is a Save Draft button.

Add a category and some tags

6  The Category tells the computer where to put your post.  Highlights is one of 5 posts in the flashing box.  The others go in the boxes on the front-page.  Choose one (side right).  If you chose Highlights, you will need to pick an old Highlighted post later on and change its category to something else.

Tags are a modern index.  If you are writing about soup of the  day, put in soup, specials, butternut, for example.  Later on, when you want all your soup posts, or all your butternut posts, or better still, when a customer wants to know all the things you ever did with butternut, they will search for your tags.  They will put butternut in the search box and the computer will list all the posts about butternut.

If you forget your tags, it is not a disaster. It’s just untidy and we can fix it later.  If you forget Category, the computer will get confused and probably just save your post and not show it to anyone. We can fix it later too (by editing), but you will be confused too for a moment because it will look as if your masterpiece has been gobbled up.

So if something funny happens, check whether you forgot your category.

Add an Excerpt (at the bottom)

7 More writing.  Add a short summary at the bottom of the page in the Excerpt box.  I find the summary come sreadily to mind andis often better than what I wrote about.  Use 2-3 sentences.  They go in the highlight box and in the box on the front page.

Add a picture

8 Now for a bigger job – add a picture. We will do this in two parts.  First, we will look at just adding a picture for the Library.  Then we’ll look at bringing in a new picture.

  1. Put your cursor top-left of your post.  Later, you can experiment putting it elsewhere.  For now, just do it the regular way.
  2. Look just above your buttons at Upload/Insert. The icons that follow are pictures, video, music and ? (you tell me!)
  3. Choose the first icon.  A new box will come up with three choices: From Computer (your box), from URL (from the internet), Media Library.   You’ll use From Computer when you put in your own picture. For now, use Media Library.
  4. We have heaps of pictures on there and you can see that sometimes it is simpler to use your own.  For now, find the picture you want (or can use – perfection comes later).
  5. Click show and you will see a screen that you will use often.    Baffling.
    1. For now you want the Link Url (that’s where the picture is physically sitting right now – on  a big computer in the States).  Highlight it, and copy it ready to paste it just now.  If you forget, you will have to come back here; that’s all.
    2. You want alignment – right will do fine right now.
    3. And you want Medium.   The picture is probably bigger.  You want the computer to fix the size to around 500 x 300.   Any smaller and it looks messy.  Any larger, and it takes over your screen.   The computer will sort out the resizing.  Just pick the best option.
  6. Insert into post and wait a few seconds.  Hey presto, you can see it with your words.   Save Draft (Accidents do happen!)

Add the picture url

9  Remember just now you highlighted and copied the url.  Whiz down your post to the bottom where you see Custom fields.  Paste the url into the box on the right. Make sure the box on the left says “image”.  Update if an update button pops up.

Also make sure that there is no blank space before the  http of your url. I often get a blank trapped there and that causes the picture not to show on the front page.  It doesn’t destruct the picture; it just causes confusion.

Add a title

10  Last job now – add your title.

Keep it short and keep it original. Google uses the title to find your post.  So you can’t say Soup of the Day everyday.  Perhaps start just be giving the soup its full name.  Butternut Soup.  Chicken Soup.  You’ll get more imaginative as you warm up.


All done.  Post and check. Hit on the blue button, top right, that says Publish.

Wait a bit and then when it says it is done, hit on MuchAdo at the top left and you will go to the Home Page.   You should see your post where you wanted it.  (Remember to re-categorize one of the Highlights if you need to).  Hit on your post and you should see the whole post.

Well done.  More experiments later.  This is a heap of learning even for  Batman. And call me if things get muddled.  Life is too short to be annoyed by computers

Now I’ve written this in Word so I am about to follow my own instructions.

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