A little Friday fun

So along with a long overdue overhaul of this site (which should happen next week, all being well), I changed my business cards. Quite apart from the fact that my little Moo mini-cards were beginning to look a little dated (they were nearly four years old) and I love Moo’s new square ones, my old ones had a problem. Sometimes, there are things that even your best friend won’t tell you….

So here you have the old card. The image is part of a story that I used to tell about how old fashioned PR was a teapot, the new PR needs to view organisations as  a colander. And the picture of the teapot lid DID start conversations.

Sometimes the lid came off


Sadly, I hadn’t realised what those conversations might be, until a salesman at a conference asked me exactly what it is I do for a living!



So thank you Moo for keeping me abreast of the times (see what I did there?)

business cards

The new cards! (Playing it straight)

Future Shock: Part 2 – Education

Part two of a blog on last week’s NESTA  event, Future Shock.

A New Movement in Education

Panelists for this session included Oliver Quinlan, the programme manager for Digital Education at the innovation Lab at NESTA, Simon Collins, the Deputy Principle at The Brit School, and Debbie Forster, the Managing Director of DDI Apps for Good.

So again, to lay out my stall, my view has been coloured as follows:

  • I have two teenage boys who are incredibly bright, yet whose primary education didn’t help them achieve their full education potential
  • My (unfinished) PhD was around education and identity (a little more obscure and refined than that, but PhDs are!)
  • I believe that education is not schooling or indoctrination – or curriculum, although these things are part of education.
  • I believe that we have forgotten, as a society, to ask what education is for, and that we swallow that education is always a good thing.
  • Schooling should be free at the point of delivery, there is no such thing as a stupid child, and no-one should leave full time formal education without basic maths, reasoning and literacy skills, able to engage with society and with government/authority (ie access to power)
  • Our UK curriculum is completely and utterly misguided, and people mistake the trappings of private education as the things that make it successful rather than examining the real difference: contacts , environment and opportunity
  • Teachers need more room to inspire, and the profession should be valued more highly
  • Your closest school should be the best one for you because they should all be brilliant
  • I’m a huge fan of Freire’s work on conscientization and the principles of educational relevance as key to engagement and learning

Read more »

Future Shock: part one – health

I have been gently nagged to write up a blog about last week’s NESTA  event, Future Shock.

"Future Shock, next exit"The event promised to look at the important issues for the next election, but which aren’t on the agenda as yet. There were six streams, billed as workshops, and it was possible to attend two – I chose Health: Digital Technology and Patient Power as it’s directly related to a project I’m working on, and A New Movement in Education because it’s a passion. I mention this explicitly because my experience of the event may well have been very different from others who attended.

Part One: Health: Digital Technology and Patient Power

This session opened with a talk about how little technology is used in healthcare, by Dr Kevin Fong, founder and Associate Director of the Centre for Altitude, Space and Extreme Environment Medicine, a consultant anaesthetist at University College, London –  very clearly a man with an enormous brain, and degrees in medicine, astrophysics and engineering to prove it. And I had to accept this as the speaker comes from within the system. But this is at odds with my own experience – last year a close friend, who is living with ‘terminal’ cancer, had a burst appendix. The amount of monitoring technology that was attached to her, the amount of information about what was happening, that the one to one (yes, one to one) nursing staff received whilst she was  in critical care was phenomenal.

I have a strong belief that the NHS should be free at the point of delivery, that it should not be privatised, that there should be stronger links between  clinical/medical and social care, and that we cannot afford to save everyone. Despite the clampdowns in the wake of Shipman, we should sometimes accept that dying in a dignified and pain free manner should be an acceptable outcome when medicine reaches its bounds, or when the amount of money being spent to keep one person alive for two days longer could help cure thirty. But I’m equally conscious that it’s easy for me to say – it’s not me with just a day to live. I just can’t help feeling that our expectations are too high, and unless we adjust them, we may lose what we have. Read more »

Ada Lovelace Day: Hedy Lamar

Hedy Lamar 1942

Hedy Lamar 1942

You could be forgiven for believing that as a woman you have to choose one of two paths: pretty little fool (keep your head down, pretty up and bag yourself a husband) or throw away the make up and artifice and get on your inner geek.

Programs like the Big Bang Theory are great fun, and I’m a massive fan, but there is little on television to balance out that women don’t need to be like Amy Farrah Fowler to be mega clever geeks. This is a hard piece to write because, of course, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with being like Amy. The trouble is that not all clever girl geeks are like Amy, any more than you have to look like fellow character  Penny to be a waitress/actress. The show cleverly plays on stereotypes for its humour, but where are the real ‘Amy’s in our media representations?

Things ARE getting better. Maggie Philbin and Carol Vorderman have been admirable poster children for female scientists/mathematicians, yet pop culture continues only nominally to portray women as successful leaders, let alone as leading in technology and science. As technology and science are getting more airtime as they become more ‘consumery’, surely the time has come for this to change?

So for this year’s Ada Lovelace Day, I’m choosing Hedy Lamar as my unsung hero. Unsung? Many have written before about her achievements, but people write about her achievements as an actress – a very beautiful one at that –  or as a technologist: Hedy’s thoughts underpinned secure communications (and weapons) technology for the military and now ubiquitous mobile communications . In 1942, during the War, along with composer George Antheil, she patented the “Secret Communication System” –  changing radio frequencies simultaneously to prevent the enemy detecting messages. The idea was ahead of its time – the technology wasn’t yet ready,but once transistors arrived, and were small enough, it underinned ‘mobile’ as we know it.

Read more »

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