Tuesday 29 December 2015

Lemmy RIP - Motorhead Tribute

One of my favourite videos ever - my nieces in their Motorhead tribute. RIP Lemmy.

Thursday 24 December 2015

Peace to almost all the World at Christmas

At peace with almost all the world as I listen to the carols from Kings...so much better than the happy-clappy Christingle nonsense on offer at the local church.

Makes me recall Charles Ryder's words in Brideshead when he was drinking good and old wine and trying to forget his tedious dinner companion, Rex Mottram::

'A reminder that the world was an older and better place than Rex knew, that mankind in its long passion had learned another wisdom than his.'

Wednesday 9 December 2015

How to find video for learning

Just taken part in an online presentation for the ALT Winter Conference, talking about our new Edugraph service. It's a next generation tool for mapping all sorts of rich content for edu purposes at scale. I like it because it combines the best of human intuition and creativity with the latest in machine learning. Launching next year.

The Blackboard Collaborate platform worked seamlessly.

What Trump Should be Worrying About

Wednesday 25 November 2015

A Final Toast to Jay Cross

Big respect to the organisers of the OEB Conference in Berlin next week for hosting a special session in tribute to Jay. His colleagues from the Internet Time Alliance will be celebrating his life and work as well as
showcasing his final book, Real Learning, which he had been planning to launch at OEB this year.

Many, many of his friends will be there. I am sure that it will be an uplifting occasion.

I will find it difficult to walk into the Marlene Bar next week and not see Jay there, holding court and holding a glass of Riesling.

Why Video needs its Grammar

“If we learn how something works, we can control it”

An article of mine published today looking ahead to the Masterclass I will be running at next week's OEB Conference in Berlin.

If educators learn some of the basics about how video works - and we have 120 years of film-making to draw from - they will be much more successful at engaging their students.

Thanks to ubiquitous video technology, there has never been a better time to experiment with, and master, video skills.

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Jay Cross Tributes

It has been moving to read all the tributes to Jay.  David Kelly and Clark Quinn have curated collections of the many stories and appreciations.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Jay Cross RIP

There are many others better qualified than me to comment on Jay’s contributions to thinking and learning.  I can only add memory of the man and pay tribute to the enjoyable, illuminating conversations we shared over the past few years.

A conversation with Jay was like a magic carpet ride across a rich, ever changing landscape.  You would visit the past, the present and the future in any order. No detail of that landscape was out of bounds for Jay’s curiosity, experience and opinion.  And like all the best teachers, communicators  and inspirers, Jay understood the raw, simple power of stories.  That is how I like to remember him best, convivial, glass of Riesling in hand and telling one of his great stories.  Life and work, work and life – Jay was a true expert in and blender of the two.

For a succinct appreciation of Jay's work see

Photo by Rebekah Tolley 2014

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Why do we still say "lifestyle"?

"I don't have a lifestyle. I have a life."

Jane Fonda's line in Neil Simon's brilliant 1978  movie California Suite should have marked the end of that laziest of words, "lifestyle". It didn't. In fact the word has replicated like the most virulent parasite. Through the willing vectors of marketing and media we have all been infected by the idea that we have to aspire to a "lifestyle" and that we should focus our attention on making "lifestyle choices".  It's one of the most ubiquitous of the spray-on words that no marketing puff piece can be written without. As a result it becomes meaningless.

But 1978 is a long time ago and "lifestyle" has had plenty of time to mutate into more dangerous strains. The most sinister is its adoption by fundamentalist hate merchants as a way of condemning people who don't fit their narrow templates. Same sex couples, for example, choose a "gay lifestyle". That means they can be attacked. In the first place it assumes all gay people are the same and have an entirely uniform way of living -  no doubt they sit down with a selection of glossy magazines in order to make their lifestyle choice. But of of course that's not all, "gay lifestyle" is not used by these people in an airbrushed and aspirational way, no cosy connotations of stylish brunches in IKEA kitchens. It is hissed in hate-laden speech complete - as we have seen - with innuendo of perversion and child abuse. Trite and overused "lifestyle" has become a way of delivering modern day versions of the blood libel.

Driving along this morning listening to the radio I was reminded why "lifestyle", with its blend of the evil and the banal, should best be avoided. A BBC commentator on the usually precise Radio 4 was talking on Woman's Hour about the language of Ulster politics. It was a generally critical piece highlighting how different the election discourse is in Northern Ireland. Some of the sexist language and attitudes she referenced seemed a generation out of date and was quite shocking. So far so good. But then she used the phrase "the gay lifestyle" as if it was entirely accepted and carried no other meanings or implications. It is not.

To compound the irony, a couple of minutes later in one of those brilliant Radio 4 "now for something completely different" moments, the presenter talked about something that was "not a diet but a lifestyle choice". We were then given a recipe for sweet potato brownies. Sorry to be hard on you Woman's Hour but here were two lifestyles too many.    

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Learn from Hillary

Whatever you think of Hillary Clinton's politics or track record, her campaign kick-off video launched this week is an object lesson in great communications.

Watching some of the lamentable efforts in our UK election campaign makes this even more powerful. First and most importantly it develops and sticks to a simple theme "getting started". That's how all great ads work - one simple message that builds and then delivers. By the time Hillary comes on screen you really get it. By the way it's the oldest rule in the book but surprising how even comms professionals can ignore or forget it.

Second it is completely up front about being inclusive. Commercial advertisers, marketeers and sit-com writers get it that today's America/UK/Europe is diverse - they have to because revenue depends on connecting with as big a part of the nation as possible. UK politicians should stop cowering in their fear of UKIP or the Daily Mail and realise that too.

There you go - no rocket science.

Monday 23 March 2015

Hollywood Maasai

The latest bulletin from my brothers Juma and Frank has them on a trip to Los Angeles. The food is still very unimpressive (Californians eat all that chicken and fish - no food for a warrior). Frank, however, says that Santa Monica Beach is "nice like Paje".

Maasai don't like water a great deal so this is praise indeed. I was with Frank when he touched the sea for the first time in Paje in 2011. It was quite something to see a six foot something warrior shying away from a tiny wave as if it were going to engulf him.

Sunday 15 March 2015

Maasai Burgers

Juma and Frank - my two closest Maasai brothers - are in the USA just now. I'm not entirely sure how they have managed to persuade Middle America to sponsor them on a cultural trip but they have. They are very adept at it -- they were in Germany last year.

They are very pleased with the welcome and find the USA interesting.

We tend to assume, in the rich countries of the West, that anyone from Africa just can't wait to settle and grab their bit of the American or British or Australian Dream. Legally or illegally they will have to stay, so intoxicating and superior is our way of life.

Juma and Frank make the following comments as they count the days until their return to Tanzania.

1. Why do Americans eat such dreadful food? The pizza and hamburgers are particularly bad. Don't they have any pride and desire to eat proper meat? The two warriors plan to slaughter and eat a whole cow, just the pair of them, as soon as they get back to their village in Tanzania.
2. It's too cold.
3. Some American customs display a complete lack of common sense. Juma - who is clearly in his mid thirties, not only a warrior but a village elder to boot - was asked for age ID when he ordered a beer.
4. It's very difficult to watch Manchester United matches.

Tanzania here they come.


Saturday 14 March 2015

Jeremy Clarkson Irreplaceable?

Remember the BBC's Biggest Star?

Clarkson isn't the first BBC presenter to be hugely popular, overbearing, rude and seemingly irreplaceable. Back in the 1950s Gilbert Harding was almost as famous as the Queen and definitely - in those pre-celebrity days - the number one TV and radio "personality". BBC managers suspended him on more than one occasion but he was always reinstated. I'll wager that any petition to keep him on the airwaves would have reached several millions.

Harding's brand (although in those days branding was something you did to cattle) was being the rudest man in broadcasting. He was a  pompous and exceptionally unpleasant character both on and off camera. But he was also a true revolutionary - breaking the cosy fireside world of broadcasting and bringing the unexpected onto the airwaves. Audiences loved him, or loved being shocked by him, and the tabloids faithfully reported every insult or slight he doled out. I rather like a story told of when Harding met a mother and her two children. The great man was used to being mobbed by his public and when the two kids remained seated in his presence he remarked to the mother that her offspring must be crippled. Imagine that in 2015.

Harding died suddenly, on the pavement  outside the BBC's headquarters in 1960. He was 53.  The BBC was forced to manage without its premier star. The world didn't end and only weirdo retrophiles like me have the slightest clue who Gilbert Harding was.

Sunday 15 February 2015

Great Britain sidelined on the World Stage

War in Europe is a serious business. In the 21st Century it is a shameful business. There are too many depressing echoes to the Ukraine story.

So it has at least been encouraging that leaders have been - in Churchill's words - doing a bit of "jaw jaw" to try and stop the "war war".

But where were the UK's leaders? Once upon a time Britain always had a seat at the high table. For such a military and diplomatic power anything else would have been unthinkable.

As Europe's leading leaders and the US worked for a solution with Ukraine and Russia where was our Prime Minister?

Of course busy at a photo opportunity on the set of British TV soap Emmerdale.

Whatever your opinions on Blair, Brown or Thatcher they would never have allowed themselves or the United Kingdom to have been sidelined like this.

Sunday 18 January 2015

What would Ganzswein say...?

It's not Prada, not Armani, not even C&A.... The wonderful Pope Francis in his plastic mac. Gay.org must have been squirming in his Valentino undies.