Keep it big else you’ll get lost in the weeds

•July 29, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Thursday, I was lucky to be immersed in education based thought leaders, impassioned enthusiasts, and witnessed one presenter that began her presentation sub-consciously listing Bloom’s Taxonomy hierocracy; all of which ignited my teacher past of engaging learners in new ideas.  (NB: How I wove Blooms into my classroom is another story).

I’m writing this to mark a year in working with library systems.  Working with the bright risk takers of early adopters, the smart recognisers of the early followers, the considered decisions of those of the general masses.  Throughout the life of new technology there is a trough of despair (discussed by Dave Pattern).  I see this as manifesting itself in two ways.  Those that have new technology becoming complacent in what they purchased and not keeping up with the on-going developments of the new technology becoming intermittently trapped in what it couldn’t do.  And secondly, and more frustrating for me, is the despair where late followers have had too much time to think.   This doesn’t cause trough of despair in those buying the new technology but in those espousing its virtues (either passionately or commercially).  How can such consideration completely miss the point in a number of institutions.  The despair whereby those small points that the early adopters no longer worry about are the main point of concentration for late followers.  Looking at the minute and intricate without voicing the rationale behind the technology.

In the last 2 days I have received very well considered questions from  technicians, professionals, and project leaders that have only caused despair (in me).  Showing a few of these questions anonymously to some very well respected gurus (and mates) their reaction was identical to mine “I don’t understand the question, well I do understand but I don’t know why this matters”.

And in one case I asked a library systems professional “How do I begin to answer this question” I was comforted with their response “I know how I would respond but you can write that as you’ll probably be fired”.  My thoughts exactly.  The acronym FFS would have been used.

Considering Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink ( a book on intuition, quick decisions allowing your sub-conscious to make the decision.  Trusting all your experience and cognition to determine which is right, real, inspirational, and fit for purpose.   Ignoring the second guess, the statistics, the marketing,  and just selecting what an individual knows as RIGHT.  Individually this is an excellent way to live our days with gut feeling based on your own internal voice and not reams of Q&A.

Is the big picture what quick decisions are all about?  And cloud a decision with long protracted questions and discussions.  In Gladwell’s Blink he argues that more information does not necessarily lead to better decisions.

Is spending time creating and expecting rational answers to very detailed and mostly unimportant questions a good way to make decisions?  Personally I think no but then I’m bias because it falls on me and my colleagues to answer lists and lists of ‘FFS’ questions.  When deciding to ditch my BlackBerry in favour of an iPhone did that lead me to email Apple and to expect intricate answers to “This devise should manage multiple emails simultaneously allowing the user to switch between drafts easily without the need to hunt through drafts folders”.  “Please describe how your technology handles the ‘next’ function to be able to read preceding messages”.    Each of these questions would have come for me talking to iPhone users and comparing their responses with similar discussions with BlackBerry users.  Does it make for a better decision of which technology to buy?  Does it ensure a justification of choice? Do such question keep in mind the bigger picture and the overall concept of using a new technology? No.

When reviewing new technologies for purchase I’d like to offer up the one major point that many (not all) of the very late adopters keep missing and that is to keep asking all involved “Why are we looking at this technology, and how will it help those it is built for?”  Doing this will help me get out from the trough of despair.

The thought leaders and enthusiastic professionals from Thursday would be the best people to talk to about using new technology in creative ways.  Instead of looking at the functionality of a new technology look at the application of new technology.  The technology I sell for work does allow those that use it to approach their teaching in new ways.  Spend time in reviewing your own practises with the new technology.  Will this new technology allow us to deliver in a new way keeping the bigger picture and deliver on your organisation’s strategy?  These are the key questions to ask.  These are the questions I would take pleasure in answering and you would enjoy creating.  Please no more FFS.  Be creative, be professional, and keep a focus on who you are buying new technology for.   In most cases for the industry I work in the buyer / decision makers are not the users or those that really deliver what the technology can allow.

(I would include a ‘discussion’ about Procurement Services being involved in decision making but will wait until I no longer want to inflict dull repetitive pain on all Procurement Services directors.)

*These are my thoughts and do not represent the views of the company I represent when working. This was written in my on time.


Ministry of Cam23 2.0 – pass it on

•June 22, 2011 • 3 Comments

On Sunday (for Father’s Day) I received a new cookbook Jamie’s Ministry of Food which is written on the premise of learning and sharing a recipe with at least 2 others.

Earlier this year I attended the Libraries@Cambridge event and heard Ned Potter speak clearly about ‘beyond the echo chamber’; getting the library message beyond just other librarians.   Pre-empting Ned’s delivery it was mentioned last year in discussions of  Cam23 (1.0 if you will) that academics, students and others should be encouraged to participate with this  collaborative event.

I would like to put a challenge out to you, and as the Cam23 2.0 sponsor representative I will back this up with a special prize.

With Cam23 2.0 there will be a special prize on offer for the Librarian that represents clearly they have gone beyond the echo chamber with their blogs and discussions beyond interacting with just other librarians and show interactions / discussions with Cambridge University students / academics / staff / alumni / interested tag-alongs.

Learn a new application through Cam23, teach it to a couple of others and learn from them how they would use such a tool.

Oh, and the recipe I learnt and cooked for 6 others on the weekend was Pasta Shells with Creamy Smoked Bacon and Pea sauce.

Little insight to someone’s little world

•September 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Phill:  “Hello can I please speak to Jack Branch”

Lady: “Who?”  “Branch”? [laughing] “no one is called Branch”

Phill “I received an email from Jack Branch from South Angle College Library on Saturday”

Lady “We are not open Saturday”

Phill “Do you have someone in your library called Jack”

Lady “no, what is this about?”

Phill “I would like to talk to Jack Branch to discuss the Historic Guardian and also an on line database Jack emailed me about called BHI”

Lady “is that a electronic thing?”

Phill “yes, accessed through your computers”

Lady “Sorry, I don’t know what you are talking about you may have to talk to Jack about that”

Phill “Do you have someone there called Jack?”

Lady “No, everyone is in a meeting”

Phill “when does the meeting finish?”

Lady “2:20”

Phill “If I call back at 2:30, would I be able to talk to Jack?”

Lady “Of course you can they work here”

Lady, please do not venture outside you may hurt yourself.

[Person’s name and library’s name changed so I can keep my job]

Meeting for the sake of a meeting

•June 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I’ll keep this short sharp and to the point, nothing more frustrating than a meeting that hasn’t rhyme nor reason for happening.  In this case no need to blog if noting further to add.

Nearly all I was going to write has been skilfully written by  To comment on Library Wanderer’s blog I would like to state that I have been to quite a few meetings with Librarians when there has been ‘room meat’ others pulled in to the meeting with nothing to add, irrelevant work scope for the meeting and even worse ‘room meat’ asking annoying pointless questions that drag the meeting into a unproductive line of discussion.  I’ve sat in a 2 hour meeting with me and 12 librarians, productively minimal.

Though I work with libraries I am in the corporate realm whereby my meetings are tracked and reports run.  Outlook is secondary to the CRM calender I use on a daily / hourly basis.  Doodle would be classed as the Aromatherapy of calendars, trace element of useful tools but you have to wish with all your might for it to be of any use.

Social use 2/10

Work use 0.0001 /10

Organising a Rowing outing actually there may be a use…

Aye, Google

•June 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment
iGoogle –
  • Rationale
  • Content
  • Critique


I saw a work colleague (ex-librarian) with iGoogle about a year ago which forced the Magpie Effect then click, stuff, blink… done; easy as {insert own simile here}.  there was no fuss in setting it up as I had my Google mail profile etc.

I like to have information put under my nose, at a very quick glance I can take in a mass of new information with iGoogle and instantly determine if I want to get distracted or if I should continue working.


This page is in a state of flux depending on what information I would like pushed to me or what simple tools I need at quick access.  My current list is:

  1. Weather minimised as I have a window to see today’s but tomorrow’s etc is a mystery
  2. Google News this is a mainstay and a very good allowing me to customise my feeds (note the New Zealand News)
  3. My GoogleReader reading list.  A new addition and will write about Google Reader in a separate blog.  I have a RSS feed from ProQuest informing me of the good work Helen Clark is doing.
  4. Twitter this widget is clunky and about to get the chop
  5. Gmail minimised
  6. Currency exchange calculator, can’t wait for the day I can not have to use this. [self edited what I wanted to write]


iGoogle is not an essential tool in my day but it does provide me with another quick channel to information and tools. Using Chrome as my main browser the 4 tabs that open up are iGoogle, Salesforce, Facebook, Twitter; I have to use IE (I’m breaking out in a rash now just thinking of having to use IE) for 2 other work websites.  The flexibility of Chrome I have fast access to the many sites I use which have no place in iGoogle as they are  specific and usually authentication required sites.

iGoogle is narrow in function but it does fulfil that function just as a spoon has a narrow function and fulfils its own function.

I would like iGoogle to have a widget that notifies me if any content on a particular website changes without having to access the full site and I would like the existing widgets to not be so clunky.

All in all I give iGoogle a 6/10 for functionality, 9/10 for doing its job of pushing the information I want under my nose, 7/10 for reliability, 10/10 for ease of use, and 10/10 for reminding me everyday of the amazing Chemical Brothers concerts I’ve been to.

I’ve had it for more than a year and I vote aye Google.

Discussions with my Fixie

•June 3, 2010 • 2 Comments

I am an active soul, one that enquires about things and I am genuinely interested in nearly everything (as long as it doesn’t bore me).

In the 1.7 score I have lived I have been involved in many industries, social groups, past times and dreams. My most recent being strangely attracted to libraries.  My work demands I interact with libraries but as a salesman I can be removed and distant form these webs of discoverers and politicians.  But I find myself very interested in the teaching, the technology, the many different ways a library can be put together and run, the near humanitarian nature of libraries, and the competitive collaboration.  Most of this magnetism stems from my experience as a teacher, work with charities, and childhood love of puzzles.  Libraries are forever in a state of flux and I believe it is this that is so appealing to my Value of change for growth and undiagnosed mild and tamed ADHD.

I am not a librarian, nor do I pretend to be, I am a salesman that has never sold rubbish, I am a professional salesman.

Some of these blogs maybe platitudinal some even overly platitudinal but others highly critical, opinionated and childish.  Just like when I was a Radio Announcer the audience is there but are they listening.