Month: June 2010

Boom chicka wah wah of fabulous women by Jane Copeland

written by copingwithjane.com

Imagine doing work which involved being a connector between the future and the present. It is quite apt that as my first subject, the woman whose boom chicka wah wah I will be sharing with you, is the unique and extraordinary Annalie Killian.

Killian’s keynote presentation on ‘Being Helpful is the New Black’, or as it was titled on the AITD National Conference program ‘Emergence of a participatory culture to accelerate organisational learning’, is when the penny dropped. I discovered that there is a new sort of quid pro quo emerging, called social capital. It was the catalyst that catapulted  this former social media phobic Gen Xer, into the world of the new digital networked community of social media. I have just mentioned the word catalyst without even realising that it’s Killian’s official title at work: a catalyst for magic. It’s a big statement, and well in fact she is. Director of Innovation at AMP, Killian’s work focuses on building a culture of collaboration and innovation, a place where employee creativity is nurtured and channelled.

What is your boom chicka wah wah? “Being totally at ease with who I am.”

Follow Annalie on twitter

What is really significant about Killian, is the innovations she has been responsible for. In the workplace, Killian is a champion and driver of the adoption of emerging technologies in the web and mobile web space, social networks and social media. Some of the more unique, and some would say slightly left of center initiatives, include:  creativity challenges for user-generated content on the AMP Intranet, social media cafes, a creativity bootcamp, and a creative challenge to IT professionals. However the major initiative and a project sited as her favourite, is  AMPLIFY -a thought leadership festival that explores the intersection of technology, science and art with society. AMPLIFY  draws global experts to Sydney to discuss and bath in all things innovation.

Really what Annalie is doing is mixing things up, rocking the boat so to speak. New thinking and new ideas mean change, and as you can appreciate as wonderful as it sounds, challenging the status quo can’t be easy. To be an innovator is to be different and this comes with its fair share of hurdles. And that is what is appealing. Having an impact on the way we do things, must have taken such strength, self belief and passion to drive it forward and continue to do so. Enormous in fact. True to her twitter name @maverickwoman, Killian is indeed a transformational change agent.

So here’s my interview where I try to uncover and share the special ingredient, the essence of my first modern day Heroine, so that you can take it away and create your own magic.

What is the best magic you have created to date?

While I love to create stuff in the physical sense with my hands, I seldom do these days. My creativity is much more applied at a macro-level. I enable creation by others, I make opportunities possible, guide the process, and remove obstacles and barriers so the magic that’s already there, can flow freely. It’s a funny fragile thing. It requires a safe space for a bit of risk-taking and vulnerability, and that’s what I try and carve out. I can’t tell you how many times IT geeks, accountants, corporate folks- essentially NON-artists, have left me speechless by coming out with work that is far more creative than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams- despite being labeled “a so-called creative type.” That definitively proves what is a fundamental belief I have….ALL people are creative. It’s not a special kiss from the gods that singles out some folks and leaves others with “uncreativity”.

Has there been anything significant that happened in your life to make you take the path that you took?

It’s an interesting question. I’d have to say no, I can’t pinpoint any conscious event that triggered this route, I have just fallen into every role I had except for my first 5 years at Deloitte. I did learn something when, as a city girl, I ended up with Deloitte in Zululand, desperately unhappy in a small town and disengaged with my work and community but feeling trapped by marriage. I was very unhappy, but I eventually realized that the only thing I could do was leave (at the time a price too high to pay), or stay and look for ways in which I could make my world a better place. When I stopped focusing on myself and sought opportunities for making a difference for others, my whole world changed forever. It’s the most empowering thing ever to know that one person CAN make a difference – and you never look back from there, you just want to keep taking on bigger and bigger challenges.

What does an average day look like to you and how important is your time management?

I don’t have an average day. But I do struggle to contain them because I work in a totally seamless way. There is no separation between life and work. I love my job so much I would probably keep doing what I’m doing regardless of the financial rewards of pay. The satisfaction and meaning comes from the work and impact and challenge, not the carrot or stick. So, you can see in what camp I am philosophically when it comes to what motivates people. It’s doing meaningful work that makes you feel worthy.

How do you engage the imagination of young girls in technology?

I have wrestled with this one for a long time and I think that’s because technology jobs are stereotyped by media as the socially inept geeky types writing code in solitude in the basement. I think we have to fish where the fish are….where are young girls hanging out, and what do they use. Then paint a career in technology as an extension of what they are probably already doing, which is probably online shopping or messaging their friends on social networks!

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were 15 years old?

That I would have about 5 careers by the time I was 50, and that it’s more important to try lots of things at 15 than obsess about one thing. I had a lot of angst because I didn’t have a clear picture of what I wanted to study. It doesn’t matter- just study something and get good at it. Work at it so you can master it, but consider that a starting point to a beautiful meandering journey that may sometimes take you down blind but interesting alleyways, or occasionally, take the fork in the road…..your career choices at 15 are not an end point.

In terms of your personal style (physically) what would you say your signature item was?

Clothes wise I think its eccentricity- creating a contrast or going for the unexpected. I have a great love for accessories and used to wear hats a lot in my late teens/early twenties- everything from berets to elaborate statement pieces with a dramatically long feather- stuff that literally stopped people in their tracks.

“When I stopped focusing on myself and sought opportunities for making a difference for others, my whole world changed forever.”

If you had to describe yourself as a pair of your shoes, which pair would they be?

Definitely my black Gortex Ara boots – totally plain with a comfortable 2 inch heel. They always keep me dry and warm in even the wettest, iciest conditions but look elegant. I can even walk in them…for miles!

What do you want to see more of?

I want to see a focus on beauty as well as function. I think aesthetics are neglected and it is a psychological driver for sustainability. Beauty has enormous worth and we should actively pursue it in all the consumer choices we make. Choose one beautiful thing and treasure it instead of buying many cheaper utilitarian but uncherished products that you may throw away because they don’t have enduring value.

What would you say to young women who want to create magic in their lives and for others?

What are you waiting for? Everything that will happen in your life, for the rest of your life, is up to you. Own it.

Penny for YOUR thoughts.What did you get out of this post? Do you think everyone is creative? How do you define innovation? Leave a comment and be part of the community.

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The Cognitive Surplus and connected creativity: Does the Internet Make You Smarter?

By CLAY SHIRKY

[CovJump1] Charis Tsevis

Digital media have made creating and disseminating text, sound, and images cheap, easy and global. The bulk of publicly available media is now created by people who understand little of the professional standards and practices for media.

Instead, these amateurs produce endless streams of mediocrity, eroding cultural norms about quality and acceptability, and leading to increasingly alarmed predictions of incipient chaos and intellectual collapse.

1.8 billion

Estimated number of Internet users world-wide

But of course, that’s what always happens. Every increase in freedom to create or consume media, from paperback books to YouTube, alarms people accustomed to the restrictions of the old system, convincing them that the new media will make young people stupid. This fear dates back to at least the invention of movable type.

As Gutenberg’s press spread through Europe, the Bible was translated into local languages, enabling direct encounters with the text; this was accompanied by a flood of contemporary literature, most of it mediocre. Vulgar versions of the Bible and distracting secular writings fueled religious unrest and civic confusion, leading to claims that the printing press, if not controlled, would lead to chaos and the dismemberment of European intellectual life.

These claims were, of course, correct. Print fueled the Protestant Reformation, which did indeed destroy the Church’s pan-European hold on intellectual life. What the 16th-century foes of print didn’t imagine—couldn’t imagine—was what followed: We built new norms around newly abundant and contemporary literature. Novels, newspapers, scientific journals, the separation of fiction and non-fiction, all of these innovations were created during the collapse of the scribal system, and all had the effect of increasing, rather than decreasing, the intellectual range and output of society.

To take a famous example, the essential insight of the scientific revolution was peer review, the idea that science was a collaborative effort that included the feedback and participation of others. Peer review was a cultural institution that took the printing press for granted as a means of distributing research quickly and widely, but added the kind of cultural constraints that made it valuable.

We are living through a similar explosion of publishing capability today, where digital media link over a billion people into the same network. This linking together in turn lets us tap our cognitive surplus, the trillion hours a year of free time the educated population of the planet has to spend doing things they care about. In the 20th century, the bulk of that time was spent watching television, but our cognitive surplus is so enormous that diverting even a tiny fraction of time from consumption to participation can create enormous positive effects.

Wikipedia took the idea of peer review and applied it to volunteers on a global scale, becoming the most important English reference work in less than 10 years. Yet the cumulative time devoted to creating Wikipedia, something like 100 million hours of human thought, is expended by Americans every weekend, just watching ads. It only takes a fractional shift in the direction of participation to create remarkable new educational resources.

Getty Images

CovJump2

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34.5 hours

Time an average American spends watching television per week

Source: Nielsen

Similarly, open source software, created without managerial control of the workers or ownership of the product, has been critical to the spread of the Web. Searches for everything from supernovae to prime numbers now happen as giant, distributed efforts. Ushahidi, the Kenyan crisis mapping tool invented in 2008, now aggregates citizen reports about crises the world over. PatientsLikeMe, a website designed to accelerate medical research by getting patients to publicly share their health information, has assembled a larger group of sufferers of Lou Gehrig’s disease than any pharmaceutical agency in history, by appealing to the shared sense of seeking medical progress.

Of course, not everything people care about is a high-minded project. Whenever media become more abundant, average quality falls quickly, while new institutional models for quality arise slowly. Today we have The World’s Funniest Home Videos running 24/7 on YouTube, while the potentially world-changing uses of cognitive surplus are still early and special cases.

That always happens too. In the history of print, we got erotic novels 100 years before we got scientific journals, and complaints about distraction have been rampant; no less a beneficiary of the printing press than Martin Luther complained, “The multitude of books is a great evil. There is no measure of limit to this fever for writing.” Edgar Allan Poe, writing during another surge in publishing, concluded, “The enormous multiplication of books in every branch of knowledge is one of the greatest evils of this age; since it presents one of the most serious obstacles to the acquisition of correct information.”

The response to distraction, then as now, was social structure. Reading is an unnatural act; we are no more evolved to read books than we are to use computers. Literate societies become literate by investing extraordinary resources, every year, training children to read. Now it’s our turn to figure out what response we need to shape our use of digital tools.

The case for digitally-driven stupidity assumes we’ll fail to integrate digital freedoms into society as well as we integrated literacy. This assumption in turn rests on three beliefs: that the recent past was a glorious and irreplaceable high-water mark of intellectual attainment; that the present is only characterized by the silly stuff and not by the noble experiments; and that this generation of young people will fail to invent cultural norms that do for the Internet’s abundance what the intellectuals of the 17th century did for print culture. There are likewise three reasons to think that the Internet will fuel the intellectual achievements of 21st-century society.

First, the rosy past of the pessimists was not, on closer examination, so rosy. The decade the pessimists want to return us to is the 1980s, the last period before society had any significant digital freedoms. Despite frequent genuflection to European novels, we actually spent a lot more time watching “Diff’rent Strokes” than reading Proust, prior to the Internet’s spread. The Net, in fact, restores reading and writing as central activities in our culture.

The present is, as noted, characterized by lots of throwaway cultural artifacts, but the nice thing about throwaway material is that it gets thrown away. This issue isn’t whether there’s lots of dumb stuff online—there is, just as there is lots of dumb stuff in bookstores. The issue is whether there are any ideas so good today that they will survive into the future. Several early uses of our cognitive surplus, like open source software, look like they will pass that test.

The past was not as golden, nor is the present as tawdry, as the pessimists suggest, but the only thing really worth arguing about is the future. It is our misfortune, as a historical generation, to live through the largest expansion in expressive capability in human history, a misfortune because abundance breaks more things than scarcity. We are now witnessing the rapid stress of older institutions accompanied by the slow and fitful development of cultural alternatives. Just as required education was a response to print, using the Internet well will require new cultural institutions as well, not just new technologies.

It is tempting to want PatientsLikeMe without the dumb videos, just as we might want scientific journals without the erotic novels, but that’s not how media works. Increased freedom to create means increased freedom to create throwaway material, as well as freedom to indulge in the experimentation that eventually makes the good new stuff possible. There is no easy way to get through a media revolution of this magnitude; the task before us now is to experiment with new ways of using a medium that is social, ubiquitous and cheap, a medium that changes the landscape by distributing freedom of the press and freedom of assembly as widely as freedom of speech.

—Clay Shirky’s latest book is “Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age.”Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page W1

A great theme to explore during AMPLIFY11: Everything connects.

Plugged In – Connected Women

Interview with yours truly by Lorna Brett published on connectedwomen.net.au
Plugged In  
Missed opportunities: one woman’s appliance shopping misadventure
Posted on: Wednesday, 2 June 2010

By Lorna Brett

 
Shopping is meant to be an enjoyable, almost therapeutic experience – isn’t it? Yes, but the reality is it can also turn into an extremely frustrating exercise too. With the internet and its world of information and networks at our fingertips these days, it’s not unreasonable to expect to be able to find product details and reviews with minimal fuss. One connected woman found during her shopping adventures however, that independent appliance product information and reviews across all areas of the internet are almost a myth.

As a key innovation and social media expert for one of this country’s largest financial institutions, Annalie Killian knows her way around the internet, and so she immediately went online during her kitchen renovations to search out the appliances most highly rated by her peers. As an early adopter of all social media networks and tools, (dating back to the beginning of social media in 2002 with www.ryze.com) Annalie’s researching and networking skills are almost second to none – and the lack of independent product reviews on the internet disappointed her.

“I found it extremely difficult to find any reviews not written by the manufacturer. I went onto Choice and found even them to be far behind; they hadn’t even reviewed the latest models in most cases,” Annalie told www.connectedwomen.net.au

Specifically, Annalie was looking for information on a new Samsung Nanotech washer she had heard about that uses silver particles to clean clothes. Aware of nanotechnology as a new phenomenon and of the fact that ingesting silver into the body turns one blue, Annalie extensively searched the internet for independent reviews. Frustratingly, she was unable to find anything on blogs, discussion forums or anywhere on social media.

“It was a similar exercise with kettles and toasters. After shoes and handbags, women like nice looking appliances. And as many nice-looking appliances I could find in David Jones, I had no way of knowing if they functioned well. I even went on to Twitter to ask my community, and I got no response at all other than from Clodagh Higgins,” Annalie said.

Clodagh (friend of Connected Women) and Annalie sat down to discuss what they perceived as a serious missed opportunity by appliance manufacturers.
“We discussed the fact that appliance makers should be watching twitter. If they enabled a #hashtag search around keywords such as kettles, Sunbeam or Philips for example, the time poor of us would be able to go for a quick coffee break while we’re shopping and find out what we want to know in that short span of time,” Annalie told www.connectedwomen.net.au 

When Twitter is used well

Annalie experienced “astonishing and delightful” customer service via Twitter from a well-known telecommunications company who responded to her tweet for assistance. Following her Twitter alert for help, the company contacted Annalie directly, solved her problem and then followed up to ensure she was happy with the result – and Annalie doesn’t see why appliance manufacturers don’t behave the same way.

“Imagine if you could ask a question about an appliance or brand on Twitter and solicit a similar response – maybe in the form of an invitation to their showroom to see their range or an offer to be sent recommendations from other users,” Annalie said.

According to Annalie, the uptake of this kind of communication by businesses is astonishingly slow as they view it as yet another overhead, and appear to be scared people will use it solely as a complaint channel. Annalie believes they should view Twitter as the business growth tool that it is.

“Twitter is not a waste of time as some of these companies might think. If manufacturers had a twitter alert connected to a phrase appropriate to their products, or to their Twitter name then they would be able to respond quickly, have a conversation, get their brand name out there and create a relationship of trust. Remember you never know how many people are watching a conversation on Twitter!” Annalie said.

Twitter, a shopper’s best friend

Twitter is now available in the palm of one’s hand thanks to the advent of smartphones, giving it the opportunity to become a woman’s must-have shopping accessory should manufacturers and brands take the time to embrace the medium.

“If I were Philips for example, I would include my @twittername on my in-store display or on my product packaging as a means to direct people to a channel of information. People shopping for small appliances won’t necessarily be researching beforehand, as these are products you can fit in the car. So in many cases people want to be able to access the information quickly – and Twitter is the perfect way to do this,” Annalie told www.connectedwomen.net.au

“Companies that don’t embrace social media are just leaving money on the table,” she added.