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Alexandra Murphy
Cambridge, UK
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you want the truth? Earn it ;-)
1 reply
Awesome job, Claire and the whole team! Really looking forward to seeing you go on to even greater things ;-)
Whoops, that Danah link didn't work. Check out her papers (which are really good ( and then read her blog ( WTF?
Great post, Neil. On legacy code, a couple of other favourite authors of mine: Mark Harman (KCL) and Jonathan Grudin (Microsoft Research) On blogging, a brilliant counter example of how to alienate most of your audience is Danah Boyd (Microsoft Research) Youf-inspired rant which has elicited a chorus of delighted commentry from other 30-somethings who want to type thru meetings - but can't work out why older people think that they are not paying attention!! Hilarious if it wasn't so sad - the reason Danah feels "bitch slapped" is because deep-down she WANTS to cosy up to the senior academics she has offended. A real rebel would just laugh themselves silly and get on with the next challenge. Matt
Well, Neil, it is fascinating to see how you see brands in downloaded software. Lots of insights here... I am sure that 95% of the people you come into contact know your SQL Server Tools from word-of-mouth from other power users and are therefore very disposed to like you, just like Corporate execs see that I come from an organization branded Cambridge with links to the University and immediately feel relatively positive. But that is just brand association. Microsoft products are a very good example. Right now I feel very positive about Microsoft in general because of the SPARKLING performance of Exchange as a browser on my mobile phone. It really is my mainstay - far far more useful than LinkedIn or Facebook on the mobile. Similarly Vista has really changed the way I feel about their products. That is a turnaround after years of hating Microsoft because the OS they had sold me on a series of laptops and desktops turned out to require me to buy increasing amounts of Norton, download updates on a daily basis etc and just never ever performed again. I feel like Microsoft products will do what they say, right out of the box. And I no longer feel like Microsoft is the threat to the ecosystem of European software that it was when all those awful e-mail exchanges came out in the anti-trust ( and competition ( trials. But I really have to bow to your experience of the goodwill you manage to achieve when you get someone to download your software on the other side of the world and pay you $1000s to use it on an ongoing basis. You really have a unique business model. Lets think about all the OTHER stuff Microsoft did to get my goodwill back. First, Bill Gates put enormous amounts of the money into the Gates Scholarships in Cambridge. When Warren Beatty decided to coinvest with him on societal issues, that also really changed my perspective on Bill. So clearly the Gates Foundation is having an impact. Secondly, Microsoft Research in Cambridge has really heavy-weight people - far better international reach and investment than you see in younger outfits like Google which are mostly back on the West Coast with some window-dressing in Zurich. Thirdly, Microsoft has clearly just done some much much better engineering with both Vista generally and Exchange in particular this time around. They delayed release until they had something that worked distinctly better. All these things cost Microsoft a LOT of money. Lucky old Red Gate that didn't have to rebuild their brand after completely trashing it yet. I'd also disagree with you on web 2.0 apps. I'd contrast LinkedIn, which basically WORKS because it does suggest people you might well know, compared to Facebook, which is just lousy at helping you build out a base. LinkedIn's blog scanning tool is truly useful and hugely simplifies staying in touch with what people are writing, while Facebook Status's seem to be descending into farce with the level of cross-posting from Twitter. LinkedIn really do seem to have the measure of corporate, fixed-line internet connected executives around the world and are delivering a good basic service of maintaining contact in a world where folks seem to shift jobs about once every 2 years. Whereas Facebook seem confused about whether they want me to be intimate (Friends ONLY - no MySpace whores here!!!) or promiscuously connecting (Fans!! doncha just LOVE to be a groupie) to compete with Twitter. So I would say that Web 2.0 is maturing fast, with a few standouts like Google (look at the amount of ourselves we are putting into search, calendar, books etc) and LinkedIn having a completely different brand - which will translate into folks like you and I being prepared to PAY for their cloud services long term.
Apparently, messaging people during presentations is now a serious problem in Washington and New York following the advent of a Blackberry-toting new President ( It seems that the message that it sends is, "actually my friends are more important to me than you (the presenter)". Or perhaps folks who do Twitter reason differently!! Perhaps people are getting unreasonably anxious if they have not checked their status for at least 20 minutes. The expectation that status's flow in real-time is somehow built into Twitter, which loses one of the major benefits of store-and-forward media like e-mail, in that everyone knows you can't get back to people within minutes. Personally I am disciplining myself NOT to respond to e-mails or other stuff at unreasonable hours. It freaks people out. I write my blog instead. Nice old boring blogs with their store and forward technology don't require a response from anyone... Matt Matt
Toggle Commented Jun 22, 2009 on We MUST stop meeting like this! at NESTA Connect
Congratulations, Andrew! Must have been a complete rush! Matt
1 reply
Great post, Roland! I'd love to hear more about Twitter, and particularly what you can do as an organizer to help people use it to advantage. I know that people find it less distracting than having people mutter to one another or pass notes. A few things we learned over the years that really help: - run invitation-only sessions. Make sure that everyone there is a player, no spectators. The worst thing is to have an event where everyone is just vaguely interested and has never tried actually implementing the ideas; - schedule for time between sessions with tea/coffee/snacks in a nice space for networking. Sounds obvious, but people often run seminars with no networking space and everyone is left hanging over chairs or crowding round the podium at the end; - have a brutally tough Chairperson who keeps everyone to time and repeats back "questions" from the audience in Q&A that aren't questions at all but just attempts to broadcast a general statement. If Q&A is tokenistic, set up members of the organizing team to ask awkward questions; - charge SOMETHING to keep no-shows down. Typically you can get them down from 1/3 to 1/20; - pre-analyse and pre-circulate a list of the folk coming with their interests. That way people are alive to the possibilities of a connection; - give people name badges and make sure that people who show up on the door get a badge too. The folks who really wanted to catch someone specific will get hooked up; - if possible, divide the group into "buyers" and "sellers". I've done a lot of academic/industry stuff and green/red dots on badges really helps spot at a distance if there are huddles of colleagues who are avoiding engaging with the crowd. Generally any event is meant to be bridging SOME boundary - figure out what it is and colour code accordingly. If you want to see a hilarious example of how NOT to do this, check out the impact of ranking people by "importance" at Davos ( ; - provide feed-back forms, analyse them and do post-mortems. It quickly pulls together the organizing team and you get better routines; - follow-up afterwards and find out whether people made a connection. Attendees love it and you generally learn about the outcomes - new deals being done, new collaborations. That motivates you as a team and helps you make more persuasive events for the future. Look forward to hearing more about the Twitter point!
Toggle Commented Jun 18, 2009 on We MUST stop meeting like this! at NESTA Connect