Monday, 7 August 2017

Spy Quest Mission - Part II (This time it's Personal)

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This post follows up on my professional experience of meeting Spy Quest author David Goucher and details my experiences with my youngest son.

I got excited about Pokemon Go this time last year after downloading the game to "See what all the fuss was about" after a fantastic early experience which matched John Hankes aims I felt that the all elusive "Product Market fit" had been achieved (See Pokemon Go Tech Vs Policy Makers).

The exact same can be said of my Spy Quest experience with my son.

As the meeting was in a book shop I thought I'd pick up Spy Quests Polybius and get through the first couple of chapters.

Image result for polybius spy quest

Not sure if this was intentional or not but the opening chapter being set in the 1980s provides a bit of nostalgia for the grown ups reading to their kids in the way that Wreck it Ralph does (For more about this meeting please see Spy Quest Mission - Part I).

No Way Man! Too Cool!
The day after my first meeting with David and I take my son out for a walk specifically to talk about my meeting with David.

The reason? Because we tell our kids that they can do anything they set their mind to and Mr Goucher and Agent Jones exemplifies this!!

I tell him about everything from my previous post about Spy Quest. Books are very important to us so to be able to say that David became a police officer because of the books that he read helps demonstrate one of our mantras very well:

"That Books are the most powerful weapons in the world" 

(We tell our kids that their words are the most powerful things in the world and that books are the most powerful weapons).

Of course they will come up with all kinds of "Ah what about swords, guns and bombs etc, etc"

"Well what would you do if you wanted to make a sword or gun or bomb, how would you make one?" We'll ask.

"I'd get a book about it" Point made. Thank you very much! Lol.

We discuss how getting into the police took 6 years and that his growth mindset saw him become a real life spy guy... and now he's training kids to be spy guys.

I discuss how people loved playing Spy Quest when they were on holiday so much that they told Disney to check it out. I told him that he's worked with Stan Lee's right hand man, Andy Briggs.

I talk about the plot of the first book about the Polybuis urban legend and how the hero of the book wins a contest because he's good at computer games.

NO WAY MAN!! TOO COOL!! 


Is a phrase that's used a number of times on our walk... and that's before we've even read the book or try the game! He must have stopped 5 or 6 times to exclaim the statement above.

If I worked at a school I'd most definitely arrange for David to stop by to talk about his books, as well as to discuss his work as a police officer and to run a Spy Quest mission!!

We agree to stop by the book shop to get the book.


Chapter 1 - Hooked!
Having a house full of gamer boys the plot soon has his imagination, especially as he can identify with the frustrations of being interrupted with one of his games, as the young hero of Polybuis does by his sister.

The book and David's story sure has his imagination fired up as we read the first few chapters.

Chapter 2 - Family Fun
When we come across the first Spy Quest code in the book we get the whole family involved. When was the last time that the 16 and 14 year old willingly did something that their little brother was doing?

Now let me think? Oh yeah. This time last year with Pokemon Go.

Everyone gives the code a go with some interesting (And by 'Interesting' I mean in a "we'd-be-rubbish-spy-guy-kind-of-way") results.

Isaac is keen to know if his code was right and asks if I can send it to David.

Chapter 3 - Mysterious Call
The day that I send it a mysterious message appears on Skype. It simply says

"Agent Isaac, I need your help" Agent Jones.


Just like the book we wonder about how Agent Jones was able to get in touch with him? How did they know our Skype username? We also wonder why Isaac and not any one else in the house was contacted? "

"Maybe it's because kids make the best spy guys... Just like the book!" Isaac exclaims.

Isaac puts on the headset and takes the call there is an intense look of seriousness on his face, something that the one word answers and "Ah! Yeah! Yes!" comments don't convey.

Agent Jones then speaks to me and says in a very professional and matter of fact tone

"Agent Isaac has a mission at 10am tomorrow morning... Log onto the Spy Quest website then for further instructions"

Chapter 4 - I will Say this Only Once
At precisely 10:00 We log into the website. There are 4 missions all are related to the first Spy Quest book.

It's all very cloak and danger stuff as I'm the only one in the house that's allowed to know what's going on.

"Right what's your password?" I whisper

A blank face. Well that's not the best start to his "I will say this only once" Spy guy career. Lol! Dad offers a helping hand.

NB It's worth noting that the next day he blurts out the password when we're reading the book and he exclaims "It must have been because of a code/subliminal message in the book that made me remember it" Clever Agent Jones, he's thought of everything and knows his young proteges are just starting out so has a reminder coded into his books.

Chapter 5 - The Kindness Brief
When we log in we are met with a message that says he's been selected for his spy guy qualities and because he is
"Kind and thoughtful and never gives up"

There is more of a big deal about the second paragraph than the first in our house... So high fives all round.


Chapter 6 - Mission Disaster... Intense Reading!
We check out the first mission. We have one hour to answer a question about a chapter that we have not read yet so we check it out. We type in the answer but "The Computer says 'No'"

Eh? We think to ourselves?
Maybe it's a test. Maybe we need to answer the questions using one of the codes? Nope?
Maybe there's a hidden field? Not that we can see.

The time runs out for mission #1 and the same thing happens for mission #2.

My young Spy guy is crestfallen. Fortunately we had just read a part of Polybius where the young hero also had a bad start to his career as an undercover agent.

I highlight that both questions were parts of the book that we had not read yet, and suggest we read more of the book so we're ready for the next two missions.

What followed is what Joy from Inside Out might term a "Core Memory" we snuggled up and some of the most active reading and listening that I've ever had with my kids followed. Along with all kinds of questions and Spy guy ideas.

Image result for joy core memory

We read half the book in one sitting.

Chapter 7 - Initiative
After reading the book Isaac wonders if Torraz and Boris have hacked the SQA website and asks if he can Skype the answers to the first 2 missions to Agent Jones.

Mission 3 and 4 are completed on time, without drama and using the more conventional communication channel of the Spy Quest website.

Chapter 8 - Imitation Game
Related imageIt's always fantastic when we can use age appropriate books to introduce some grown up themes.

We used Yertle the Turtle to introduce the kids to Rose Parks and the Civil Rights movement.


When talking about cracking codes and the debt that we owe to the people who keep us safe where else would you start?

There was some active learning going on when we discussed Alan Turing's work.

(Not to trivalise Turing's work but there have also been links made in films like National Treasure too).

Chapter 9 - Active Learning: Comprehension
I hated comprehension at school. Today I understand that it's called "Close Reading." What didn't help was the text chosen. Sunset Song in education has a lot to answer for!

Through Spy Quest Isaac has had the best introduction possible to reading comprehension.

But let's be clear here. While this was a great book before Agent Jones' call... Agent Jones brought the whole thing to life.

How and why did he do this?

How: By treating kids like adults and believing they are capable of more than we give them credit for.

Why: I'll refer you to my "Pinned Tweet" and earlier post to let you know "The Why"

"David if I was to say something along the lines of: 

The reason I am doing this is because the books that I read as a child helped me to find my place in the world and I'd like to pay it forward to help others do the same?' 

Would that be an accurate statement? "Pretty much" 

Chapter 10 - Confidence
Now I'm not sure if this applies to me or Isaac but the result is the same.

I've definitely seen this young lads chest a little more puffed out and more of an "I can do that." Or is it that seeing him with more of an "I can do that" attitude, I'm letting him?

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In the Famous Five and other books our kids had a lot more freedom as the fear of risk was nowhere near it was today.

Richard Branson discussed how much being dropped off in a field close to his Grandmothers house at 4 was both scary and empowering as was cycling from London to Brighton (or was it Bournemouth) when he was 14.

"My mother was determined to make us independent. When I was four, she stopped the car a few miles from our house and made me find my own way home across the fields." Richard Branson Losing My Virginity

Today parents get criticised for letting their kids ride in the New York subway alone (Why I let my 9 Year Old Ride the Subway Alone).

Pokemon Go saw our streets being packed and strangers interacting with one another.

Will Spy Quest see our kids reclaim the streets?

Or would it be more appropriate to ask:

Will Spy Quest see parents allowing our kids to reclaim the streets?

Acknowledgement - User Experience
This post and the experiences of Polybius would not be possible if it was not for the way the author treats the user experience.

While he is building a business it is obvious that nothing gives him more pleasure than speaking to fans... whether meeting existing ones at book signings or winning over new ones through school visits.

I know that ours is by no means a unique experience. The books are great but the way the author treats his reads brings the books to life.

PS Regarding bringing the books to life if you download the Spy Quest app and scan the pictures in the book you'll get some cool messages. Why not make a bigger deal of this cutting edge aspect of the book?

1) I'm big on my old school physical books without all the gadgets and gizmos, and
2) The author does more to bring the books to life than any technology could

... But here's an ad with the AR aspect of the game anyway ;)




Friday, 4 August 2017

Spy Quest Mission - Part 1

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I'm currently following up on some work that I did with Pokemon Go 12 months on from the global sensation. This follow up work has involved a couple of fantastic meetings with Polybius Games Managing Director and Spy Quest Author, David Goucher.

This post details my experience of meeting David in a professional capacity and will be followed up by a personal perspective detailing when my youngest son and I check to see if the "Proof is in the pudding" with this "Ingress for kids" spy guy adventure.

So I'm checking through my old emails regarding the Pokemon Go report that I collaborated with the ISTE DigCitPLN on this time last year. There is an email from East Kilbride MSP Linda Fabiani, asking if I'd heard of Spy Quest.

I recall quickly scanning details about the game but put it in the "Check out later" pile of the to-do list. I check in on this as part of this Pokemon Go follow up and notice an article that I hadn't seen previously:

Spy Quest – East Kilbride Based Polybius Games Sleuths into Hotels and Schools Worldwide


Wow! What an interesting story! I follow Spy Quest and David's Twitter account and we have a bit of a chat which results in us arrange to meet up a few days later.

Reading the article above was the extent of the research before I met David, the reason? Because I like to hear people tell me about their story. The rest of this post is about our meeting and how, where and why I feel this innovative work will have an impact.

We arrange to meet at Waterstones where David's opening comment to me is "I love being surrounded by books, this place is like a second home to me" Ah! A man after my own heart!

My opening question to David is

"If I were to say this was 'Ingress for kids' would that be an accurate description?"

"Absolutely!" comes the reply.

To this day I cannot believe that there was an unknown battle for city landmarks across the world that would soon become the global phenomenon that were (and are) Pokestops... So I'm delighted to be aware that kids will be on secret missions under the guidance of Agent Jones and his team before it becomes a global phenomenon.

As the article above highlights, David was an undercover policeman. What the article does not pick up on are the trials and tribulations that he went through to get into the police. This story is best described by my youngest son when out for a walk where he must have stopped dead about 5 or 6 times to exclaim

"NO WAY MAN! TOO COOL!"

Early Struggles
Image result for polybius spy questAs anyone would be, I'm intrigued about the early career and I ask

"So why did you want to be a policeman?"

Looking around the book shelves David answers

"Because of the books I read when I was growing up, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and my favourite, The Three Investigators"

This was not a profession that was encouraged as his parents came from the tradition of learning a trade and getting accepted into the academy was challenging at the time.

After going through Police training he was to find that few forces were hiring but, after 6 years David did something that I regularly tell my own kids... "They can do anything they set their mind to" but quickly follow this up with IF they prepare and do their best!

Once in the force David said that he was so pleased to be doing what he wanted that his growth mindset saw him saying yes to every opportunity that came his way and led to becoming a bona fide spy guy.

This is followed by the kind of questions that must have been asked a million times

"Has your life ever been in danger?"

"Yeah, lots!" comes the reply.

"Anything that you can tell me about?" 

A resolute "No! Afraid not."

David retired from the police force after lining work up with a company that looked promising but was a rather underwhelming experience (Been there, done that and got the T-shirt!).

He could rejoin the force but would lose a few benefits and his wife said

"You've always had this idea of writing a book and the game, why not do it now while we have some savings"

But this was 2008 when the recession was biting and people were not in the mood for innovation so some tough times followed.

Your Mission... If you Choose to Accept it!David starts talking about the game and the results to date.

Like Ingress, the Spy Quest team have quietly been iterating their way to "Product Market Fit" something that can be seen by:
  • Ollie Bray's whitepaper about the game
  • Visits by then Education Secretary, Mike Russell who went on a mission
  • The fact that they are working with 120 Scottish Schools 
  • They have a 100% retention rate with their school partners.
Then there's the fact that one of the first times the game was played at a hotel a Disney executive found it to be such a positive experience the game was that a relationship with Disney soon followed.

"We got lucky" David will tell you about his experiences in startup land.

Oh yeah? And the harder you work the luckier you get!! Thinks me. A lot of thought, planning, hustle and struggle has gone into this.

When researching Pokemon Go I was struck by the fact that John Hanke's vision was around the fact that he  “wanted to build applications that would deepen people’s involvement in their town or community, to encourage people to actually meet up in the real world.”

Can you imagine having a conversation with him about his vision at the point of inception? Can you imagine the strange looks that he got when discussing the idea?

As David is explaining Spy Quest and his vision I ask, "Has this plan changed much from day one when you came up with the idea? Has Ingress and Pokemon Go changed or influenced your plan in any way?"

"Nope! The only thing that's changed is being able to say to investors 'This is Ingress for kids' and they get the idea and concept a little quicker than they did before Ingress came out" Comes the reply.

"It feels like I'm sitting opposite the next John Hanke" I mention getting a sense of this plan and vision.

Culture! Culture! Culture!
Image result for culture eats strategy for breakfast
I've recommended a few ideas and projects in this blog. Some have been a passing "This looks promising" in a blog post, others have involved investing a considerable amount of time and heavy recommendation. Not all have been successful.

I look to the culture of these ideas more than ever before! Therefore I want to highlight a little about the things that I feel are important (but which may not matter all that much to others).

One of the best ways to do this is through a question that I asked in our second meeting:

"David if I was to say something along the lines of: 

The reason I am doing this is because the books that I read as a child helped me to find my place in the world and I'd like to pay it forward to help others do the same?' 

Would that be an accurate statement?

"Pretty much" comes the reply, followed by a smile from a kind and friendly face.

But there are all kinds of other things.

  • The passion that Ollie talks about in his post from 2012.
  • The look in his face when he talks about his school visits and book signings
  • The people David is taking with him are the ones that have always been there for him.
  • The fact that his son and his friend feature on the Spy Quest certificates
  • When my son signed into the Spy Quest website as an agent he had been told that he was chosen because of various skills but also because of his kindness

As someone who's been in life and death situations he knows the importance of ensuring that the culture in his team is right as he scales, so Spy Quest may be a little less likely to face many of the challenges that startups do as they scale.

...lastly but by no means least. David is focusing on education when there are all kids of other (easier) markets to scale and roll out in.

Impact 
So what about the potential impact that Spy Quest could have?

I'm not an educator so I'm not going to say that this will do XYZ in the classroom, especially not when there are white papers about the potential of the game and endorsements by the Scottish Qualification Authority and Education Secretaries.


Have you spotted a theme with some of the projects that I've been involved with and/or supportive of?

Whether my first blog post or supporting the DigCitSummitUK, Pokemon Go, the Skypeathon, exploring Edcamps or talking about Spy Quest.

It's about shaking up the culture, it's about connecting and collaborating. As a society there is a lot of divisiveness as the politics on both sides of the Atlantic demonstrates (US Election, Indyref and Brexit).

There is also a lot of discord between the halves and halve nots. How does this translate on the ground? There can be suspicion towards people in authority and can sometimes include educators... but most definitely can include the police force.

What if... Steve Jobs is right and that

"I’m 100% sure that if it hadn’t been for Mrs Hill in 4th grade and a few others, I would absolutely have ended up in jail. I could see those tendencies in myself to have a certain energy to do something wrong. When you’re young, a little bit of correction goes a long way.”  

Would the impression of authority figures change if Agent Jones was giving our young people some cool spy guy missions? I think they might.

Thought leaders like Malcolm Gladwell highlight that advantages and disadvantages amongst different socio-economic groups are more to do with cultural advantages (Social skills, growth mindsets, confidence building and learning outside of school time).

Equally researchers like Steve Biddulph highlights in raising boys the importance of young boys having male role models in their lives (Something Magic Johnston reiterates in his ASU GSV Summit presentation).

As you will see in the next post, I've seen first hand the confidence and active learning that Spy Quest provided my son... what impact would a real life Spy Camp and Spy Quest competition have for our youngsters in the summer holidays?

We've seen what Pikachu can do to get our kids out and about. I'm noticing that colleges who embraced the game included Pokemon Go in their Kids College programmes.

What could Spy Quest do to exercise our kids minds and aspirations? How empowering would it be for young Spy Quest Agents if they were on missions with college students in the way that youngsters engaged with students on college campuses?

If David Goucher has anything to do with it... A LOT! And I wouldn't like to bet against Agent Jones when he's on a mission!!

How big is this gonna be? Well if this video is anything to go by... It's gonna be big ;)

Image result for Spy Quest cursed diamond

Monday, 10 July 2017

STEM, Education and The Bloodhound Project

Bloodhound Logo
This post details how I found out about The Bloodhound Project and, after a quick look at their website, looks at how deep their commitment to inspiring young people about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) appears to be.

It's Friday evening and I am tagged in a Tweet from my good friend James Stanbridge (@Stanbridge) and it would appear he's been saying nice things about some of my previous projects to some of his colleagues.
This is followed by another Tweet mentioning a project that I have never heard of before.

STEM, industry, education and a recommendation from James to check it out... OK, says I. No problem!

First thing that catches my eye about this project who's aim is for a land based vehicle to reach 1,000 mph?! from an educational context is that their offices were moved in 2016 to UTC Oxfordshire.

I'm a big fan of UTC's precisely because of the kind of collaboration that they have established with industry. When I was working in FE when these institutions were established I felt the impact of UTCs, from a cultural perspective, could have a big impact across the sector.

I then check the projects Education page out and my first impression?

It might be tempting to say that this does not look like an "Added Extra"...something that's been done because it's part of the requirements for some funding grant or something, but add this looks like a deep commitment to inspiring young people to get engaged with STEM.

But when the opening sentence on the education page includes

"The main aim of the Bloodhound Project is to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers"

It takes the guess work out of what the project is about and their commitment to education.

Bloodhound Project Education Page
There is something on this page for students of all ages and various ways to get involved from some maths questions and competitions to becoming a Bloodhound Ambassador and helping to arrange an event at your school.

As I explore the range and scope of the project further I wonder, "How have I not heard about this before now" and remember that a lot of my more recent projects have been focused more on US education.
56,000 Educators and 77,000 pupils involved... and Uni STEM admissions increasing
I'll be looking into this in more detail but, in the mean time, to all those innovators that I've spoken too over the last few years this certainly looks like it's bringing STEM subjects to life for many students... and there's still time to register for the 3rd Race for the Line Competition.

I'll be watching this project with interest.

Me and My ZeeMaps

Image result for zeemaps logo

I'm in the process of winding up my Education Experiences due to some personal issues that my decisions to stubbornly stay on task has caused.

I wanted one of my last posts to be about one of my favorite tools EVER! Zeemaps. Why is this one of my favorite tools? Because:

1) I feel that "social proof" is far more effective than the pointless sales calls that the "Education-needs-to-get-with-the-program-but-we-still-make-cold-calls" EdTech industry still employs.

2) I'll leave it with one of my favorite authors give the other reason why this is a favorite tool:
I think knowing that your work situation might be imperfect, option B then is saying, “OK, I can still find things on the market that are interesting and meaningful to me and build those into my job.” That’s called job crafting and we see people do this all the time. 
I know a teacher who always wanted to be a musician and he brings his guitar into the classroom and there’s a little bit more enthusiasm and joy as a result  students love having the teacher who plays music. Adam Grant on Job Search Resiliency
I have always had an interest in Geography even though, like many subjects at school, I didn't excel at it... But did read National Geographic cover to cover. In 1999 I did an Open University course in Human Geography and especially loved maps, cities and the impact that diaspora had on both the places people left and where they moved to.

If I had the money (There's an ironic statement!) one of the things I would collect is old maps. Since publishing the "Business Development Ideas for Further Education" in 2011, I have created a few education based Zee Maps.

So how did I find out about ZeeMaps? Well it was through a bit of a catastrophe.

How I met your Awesomeness... Through a Disaster

When working on my Business Development Ideas for FE report I noticed how FE Commercial services were sometimes labeled as "XYZ Towns Best Kept Secret" this is 2011... the impact of the global financial crisis was being felt across the public sector, this is no time for best kept secrets?!

I map these services out on Google Maps with lots of information that it's taken ages to source... then disaster?! Something changes somewhere, not entirely sure if it's human error (Don't think that it was) or some changes at Google HQ but the colleges are still on the map, but details that I added had gone?!

Whatever the reason was I annoyed about this? Had I spent AGES meticulously importing all the infromation? I sure was and sure had... But as always, I reminded myself that Google maps was a free to use service so what right do I have to get so annoyed?

Keen not to see the same thing happen again, I looked for an alternative. Mapping data seemed to be a hot topic when I explored this but ZeeMaps was my favourite

Welcome to ZeeMaps
I have created over 20 maps since discovering Zeemaps and includes sourcing and plotting information about over 40,000 schools/colleges, educators and education stakeholders. Below are details about a few of them.

Many of the resources below have been curated in my own time and based on ideas that few people seem to "get" but which I see as significant in the future of EdTech sales and the way that ideas gain traction.

If anyone would like to see any of the incomplete maps (Or the ideas generally developed further), please don't hesitate to get in touch.

FE Colleges Commercial Services


As I detail in my Business Development for FE report there were over 1,200 commercial services that UK Further Education Colleges offered. If marketed collectively this would be one of the largest retail chains in areas like Hair and Beauty.

Like most of the maps I've curated this one includes details about each services, logos, social media feeds and contact details.

 Scottish Learning Festival 2015 - Scottish Schools on Twitter
A number of projects that I am working on have their basis in Chris van der Kuyls' keynote speech at the Scottish Learning Festival in 2015 where Chris called for more collaboration within and across Scottish Education.

When I heard Chris' talk I thought "I know what is needed to implement some of these ideas" and got to work. In September and October 2015 this including finding out how many Scottish Schools were using social media.

Some interesting observations with this map was seeing how many Scottish Schools were active on social media compared with how many politicians are. There are lots of comments about online abuse targeted towards the political classes, who are responsible for education policy... are they doing enough to support our teachers and young people to become digital leaders and encourage positive digital citizenship?

Scottish Schools on Twitter research featured in TES Scotland
Digital Citizenship SummitUK
As a direct result of the project above I became involved with organising the second DigCitSummit and mapped people who spoke at the first summit and the one held at Bournemouth University on January 2016


Education Conference Exhibitors
For the last few years I have curated information about suppliers who attend major education conferences like ISTE, BETT and the ASU GSV Summit. 

Something that I found quite curious was the fact that exhibitors would attend one event but not the other. There may be a lot of reasons for this (Focusing on UK/US markets so not making the trip across the pond etc), but feel there is an argument to be made that this is an issue of costs.

We see this very clearly through the startups who attend the ASU GSV Summit but not ISTE and/or how it's mostly the big tech companies who attend multiple events each year.


I published this map when working with Declara on the 2016 ASU GSV Summit and started adding ISTE 2016 speakers when working on the ISTE data curation project.

Pokemon Go - Mapping US Community Colleges
When Pokemon Go came out there was a lot written about what this game would and would not do in education but there was a bit of a problem with some of these articles... they were written when school had finished for the summer so the only people who experienced the game when students were around when it came out was Further Education institutions.

We mapped out over 2,500 US College campuses and intended to do a lot more with this... with it being 12 months since the game came out maybe we'll pick up on this again soon.


Scottish Learning Festival 2016 - Scottish MIE Experts
When I attended the 2016 Scottish Learning Festival it was suggested that I check out what Microsoft is doing in Scottish Education.

I have kept an eye on ambassador and "super user" programs in the US and UK over the last few years and when I checked out the number of MIE experts in Scotland and the rest of the UK in September 2016 there was a bit of a jump.

In October and November I curated a number of UK and global MIE and Skypeathon resources.

Microsoft Innovative Educators UK

Microsoft Showcase Schools
2015 & 2016 Skypeathon
By the time I had explored all things MIE the 2016 Skypeathon was upon us and I noticed that only a couple of Scottish schools took part in the 2015 event... I wondered if putting "social proof" to work (And a little hustle) might get a few more people involved.

I mapped out the schools that took part, who they connected with and plotted the distance each school traveled in 2015. 

The aim here was to show how many schools were taking part in the hope that the popularity of the event would see others join in the 2016 event. 

In 2015 2 Scottish educators traveled 36,000 virtual miles, in 2016 15 Scottish educators went over 150,000 miles.

I started to curate a map of people taking part in the 2015 & 2016 event

NB Neither the 2015 or 2016 Skypeathon data is 100% complete... but have the data to finish it if/when we get the time and/or support needed.

January 2017 Fake News & DigCit - Mapping US Politicians 
In January 2017 "Fake News" became a thing and, working with the DigCitSummit Founders, we thought we could introduce some workshops aimed at critical thinking based around what we read and believe.

We curated all the offices and social media feeds for Senators, Congressmen and Mayors along with details of their regional and DC office addresses.
US Politicans

April 2017 - Edcamps
As I detailed in my recent post Who Sells Edcamps... And Eventbrite in Education? I detail the various resources that I've curated in the last few weeks around Edcamps.

Edcamp Map
I hope it is obvious by looking at some of this data that a great deal of time has gone into curating these resources and that, as CMX (And the Skypeathon data) highlights "social proof" can be very effective.

Instead of calling people about this product or that, I've explored the way that successful ideas have gained traction.

Instead of sourcing leads to make cold calls I've sourced information from social media to provide more complete data sets.

There's a lot more that can be done with this and am happy to discuss with anyone who is interested in finding out more and potentially, supporting some of this work.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Who Sells Edcamps... And Eventbrite in Education?


As an EdTech sales guy who realised that my calls and emails were becoming less and less welcome (And effective), for the last few years I've tried to identify "Where the puck is going to land" as the saying goes in the world of EdTech.

I've explored what major tech companies do differently and, through my EdTech Report, tried to detail the importance of finding "Product Market Fit" before scaling sales and marketing operations.

"Many start-ups ramp up sales before the product is ready" Why Startups Fail

"Sales & marketing departments must refocus away from selling products and toward creating relationships. Partnering with customers is a key component. The primary challenge here is not technical, but cultural" Geoffrey Moore Crossing the Chasm

This post (Which may be one of my last Edu-based posts... Because, well... EdTech is Tough!!!!!) picks up on these same themes by exploring Edcamps and Eventbrite.

Pointless Sales Calls
Making the transition from sales to Community Management has not been an easy one... Especially living in Scotland where there are few EdTech companies and even fewer #Cmgr opportunities.

It's frustrating enough reading books like Hatching Twitter and discovering that the founders became involved with this startup through living in the same apartment building and a chance encounters in a coffee shop. But when I say to some critical friends who know a thing or two about major tech companies:

"If I was in California I'd just camp outside the offices of a tech company for a week until they took me on"

The response?

"A week? ...William you'd be hired within a day!"

Instead I have the experience of going to job interviews and, knowing how busy educators are and how much they detest pointless cold calls... not to mention all the research I've done and previous projects where results were achieved without any calls being made, posing questions like:

"Do you REALLY think that you need to be making cold calls to get traction for products today?"

This is followed by an awkward silence and a rather short interview. Then again you're reading the thoughts of someone that thinks sales could be a short term role (See Where Do You See Yourself in a Year), they might feel out of place anywhere.

In 2012 I noticed that 40 companies were mentioned 400 times in the first 5 weeks of #EdTechChat... without a sales rep anywhere to be seen!

In 2013 I noticed that over 40 of C4LPT's top 100 tools for learning were either free or tools and/or were created by major tech companies (See Who sells free in Education).

So knowing the importance of

1) Developing relationships
2) Ensuring that companies achieve product market fit as they get traction without making any calls, and
3) Being aware of how annoying those calls are to educators

What do you do? Well, I look for the "bright spots" and pitch in where and when you can?

Who Sells Edcamps?
In April the organiser of Scotland's #Cmgr Meetup, Jamie Johnston, shared CMX's article with me about

How Edcamp Scaled Up 1,500 Community Events Connecting Educators All Over the World


As with my observations with #EdTechChat, C4LPT's survey and Pokemon Go I wondered

"So who is it that has been selling Edcamps to the hundreds of organisers who have taken time out their busy schedules to run these events?"

I wouldn't be surprised if the answer was none. It's probably been the case that an educator attended an Edcamp, found it to be great PD and wanted to get involved.

Educators iterating their way to "Product Market Fit" with an idea and scaling in a way that many a "Disruptive EdTech Startup" would be envious of comes as no surprise to me at all!

A comment in this article that stood out for me was:
"I was reading an interview on EdSurge from 2015, where you had said there was no master mailing list"

"Right, I know what to do" thinks I... I can put some of my curation skills to good use and see if I can help back fill some of this data.

The article estimates that there have been 1,500 events and I saw a Tweet where Dan Callahan had the number at 1,400 in March

I have found 2,150 Edcamps, 1,933 of which can be found on this Edcamp Map (Need some additional info before I can add the other 200+). This map includes organisers, links to websites, SM feeds, logos and registration pages.


Other Edcamp resources that I have curated includes:

·         An Edcamp Account Twitter List
·         An Edcamp Organisers Twitter list 
·         An Edcamp Logo Pinterest Board
·         An Eventbrite Edcamp Pinterest Board    An Edcamp Map with over 1,900 entries with links to websites and social media feeds 

I'm not sure if it's obvious or not, but this has taken quite some time to pull together. Is this more productive and/or does this develop relationships more than sourcing leads to make calls?

As someone with one foot out the door of EdTech, I don't think I'm best placed to give an objective response to that question.

What I can tell you is that I've found lots of educators who appreciate this approach... but few EdTech companies. Those that do are doing fine all by themselves... with a little help from Educators, without ever speaking to them.

Need evidence of this? I wonder how many Edcamp organisers who use Eventbrite have spoken to the company?

Who Sells Eventbrite to Edcamps?
So over 2,000 Edcamps. I pitched in and helped out "Just because I could" and because I felt that I could add value in some way.

When curating this information I found that not only were (at least) 1,073 Edcamps using Eventbrite... but if they had used a different registration page for a previous event, once they tried Eventbrite they stayed with that platform for future Edcamps.

I wonder how many Edcamps Eventbrite have sponsored to get that kind of traction/exposure?
I wonder how many sales calls they made to Edcamp organisers to get over 1,000 events signed up?

Like many companies that have a high level of uptake they are:

1) Not a dedicated Education company, and
2) Are free to use

As Edcamps are free and Education may be quite a small market for a company like Eventbrite, they may not even have noticed the way that Edcamps are assisting with their growth.

Social Proof
As CMX says in their recent How a Strong Community Creates a Better Customer Experience article about Urban Sitter,

"When it comes to trusting a babysitter, friend and family recommendations carry the most weight. Social proof at this scale is hugely influential" 

I am not an educator so to say that "This product or that is amazing" doesn't really matter one way or the other. Furthermore me taking up educators time to try to tell them the product is amazing seems like a waste of my time and the educators.

I feel that spending a few weeks to pull this together is far better use of my time... Even if few others agree with such an approach.

Take a quick scroll down this Edcamp Eventbrite Pinterest Board and see if you agree.

I Got Bills! Bills! Bills!
As I highlighted at the start of this post making the transition from sales to Community Management has not been an easy one.

This is complicated by the fact that EdTech is going through a transition with more educators leaving the classroom to work for suppliers and the fact that, well... EdTech is tough!!

Educators seem to appreciate the approach that I've taken but the skills don't seem to be quite there yet for the companies who are doing great work and see the value in Community. Others (who have perhaps not yet achieved "Product Market Fit") don't get how cold calls and spammy emails are not essential to their growth.

The best way to get work in Community Management is to pitch in as a volunteer... I've pitched in and volunteered for about as long as I can (And, in some cases, with rather questionable results!). So I may need to move on. More on that in the next few posts.

A Quick 5 Min Favour...
When I was exploring the idea of crowdfunding educators PD through #Get2ISTE, it was not until I was able to demonstrate the value that an Educator provided free of charge and suggesting that the work I put in be contributed to this idea (See I'm An #EdChatMod... Get Me Out to ISTE2015 for more info).

I wonder if a similar approach might nudge the needle forward a little here too? 

There are a couple of things that I would like to achieve before moving on. So if you see the value in any of the work I've spent time on since April I wonder if you might be in a position to do one of the following?

1) Sign up to EduMatch (Esp if you are a UK based educator)

Sarah Thomas (@sarahdateechursupported members of her PLN and the UK Digital Citizenship Summit by making the trip from the US to the UK

2) Check out Sumdogs regional and national competitions

Michael Sinclair (@FilltheGapLearnhas supported some of my initiatives (and Sumdog have supported some Edcamps), it would be great to help him with his work. (Btw the competitions are free to enter)

3) Help spread the word about Forfar Acadamy's Crowdfunder (@FATech_Edfor Drones. They have 8 days to hit their £1,510 target and only need £200 to achieve that.

4) Going to ISTE this year? Please check out Frog Education (Who are developing the Facebook of Education) and animation company Plotagon... Both of whom have supported projects like our ISTE resources curation project.

5) If you've organised an Edcamp in the past and would like to see this work completed, please feel free to fill out the details on this survey Edcamp Survey and I'll add the information to the map and other resources (Resources will be shared with the Edcamp Foundation when complete).

If it was not for Bob Baldie seeing past some (intentional) snarkiness in some of my previous posts, there are a number of things that simply would not have happened.    

On a personal note, I have a lot of insights from exploring this data and it would be good to finish it. If anyone has an interest in supporting this work so it can be completed, please let me know.

Goodbye Edu...
Some posts to follow that will go into how, where and why I have found #EdTech to be a little too tough and/or my ideas being a little too ambitious (Gotta love that "Optimism Bias." Lol).

Time to focus on the Attainment Gap a little closer to home and help 3 kids make sense of some of the questionable decisions I've taken when trying to make a difference.

Apologies if this post isn't a little more upbeat in places, but it is what it is!... And I'm not alone.

When looking at Edcamp sponsors from 2011,2012, 2013 suppliers that were getting a lot of love from educators are no more. So perhaps as well as asking "Who sells free in education", we should be exploring "Who is it that pays the price of free EdTech?"

The CMX article about Edcamps highlights that 

"It is, in fact, possible to change the world from your dining room table" 


I've done my best to listen to the sector and with the time, tools, resources and skills that I have with not much more than working from a battered old laptop from my dining room table... Edcamp people, you have my respect! Kudos to you ;)

Saturday, 10 June 2017

#GE2017 & The SNP - How the Mighty Fall



On Thursday night Alex Salmond declared that "No one saw it coming" when he spoke of the Conservative and Labour Party's revival as the Scottish National Party lost 21 seats in the UK General Election.

This post details the accuracy of my predictions with election results since September 2014 and how the things that facilitated my predictions come down to:

Network Effects + Feedback Loops (#IndyRef) - The 5 Stages of Decline (#GE2015) = #GE2017

I also argue that the #GE2017 results can be traced back to 21st and 22nd September (The weekend after the Scottish Independence Referendum)... Something that I tried to highlight to the SNP at the time.

Not Being Heard
I have tried to engage with people at the SNP in a meaningful way since September 2014.
  • I tried to get in touch straight after the Independence Referendum
    (SNP Check your inbox on 21st Sept 2014) 
  • I tried to let people know that I see signs of trouble at the height of their success 
  • I let them know that I spoilt my paper in 2016.
If you have insights that prove to be accurate but struggle to be heard... when and where should you speak up? Before disaster? During? After?

Well... I have spoken up before, during and after various train wrecks of initiatives that people in Education have been involved with. I have also tried to raise the alarm since September 2014 with The SNP with the content of this post.

Speak up before hand and you're being negative. Speak up at the time and you're dismissed out of hand, silenced or ignored. Speak out afterwards and it's either you coming across as being smug or rubbing salt in the wounds etc.

Regardless of when you speak out or the reaction the fact remains... opportunities for change are lost!

Susan Cain highlights this in her book that the introverts who tried to raise the alarm about the impending banking crisis were not heard. The risk taking extroverts saying that "We didn't hear the introverts"

I have little interest in politics and use the example below to demonstrate to Mr Salmond that I saw this all coming a mile off... and in the hope that my voice and ideas might be heard with future education ideas or, in the event that I leave education, to demonstrate my community management skills and insights.

On this Day #GE2015...
As the hangover from #GE2017 takes place and people are discussing Theresa May's future I am reminded of what I was doing on this day in 2015.

This also happens to provide a little balance that it's not just the SNP that I find elitist, arrogant and really don't care about anything but themselves

(Sorry, you can argue about lots but my experiences are mine to internalise, and that has been my experiences with the political classes... I can easily justify this statement, just ask me about them!)

The day after #GE2015 I started to work on a document where I share my experiences about what I felt was happening in politics since August 2014.

I wrote this document in a coffee shop where, based on the conversation the people next to me were having, they were rather senior people from the Labour Party. During a lull in the conversation I did something that I have only ever done once or twice before, I said "I'm working on a document that I think could help"

The only other 1-2 times I've done this is when I have been extremely confident that I could help.

Whether because he was an arrogant Old School Boy type or because every man and his dog had an opinion (And an interest) in politics in Scotland in 2014-2015, he said (in a rather dismissive kind of tone) "No you're all right mate" and preceded to look at me as if I were something that he'd scrapped off his shoe.

I continued writing with a  wry smile on my face because I felt my insights had more merit than many of the political pundits, "his loss I thought to myself... no skin off my nose either way!"

Two days after this encounter the big photo shoot took place with all the SNP MPs under the Forth Road Bridge and the post-Independence Referendum hashtag got a make over - from #The45Plus (Or whatever they decided to use by 2015) changing to #Team56.

It was then, two days after the record swings, unprecedented landslide victory that I said to myself

"The SNP is in the first stage of decline" 

I highlight this in a post at the time but also emailed a few critical friends to say

"The SNP are in trouble... you heard it here first!"

On Thursday 7th June 2017 Alex Salmond said that that

"No one saw it coming" 

I've made some rather accurate predictions since September 2014.

The comments and extracts below include a summary of the most relevant comments regarding what could have happened... starting with where it all went wrong September 2014.

...And I don't mean being 5% short of Independence... I mean in the 2 days that followed the result on Social Media.

How One Weekend in 2014 Affected the SNP in 2017
I am not political in any way, shape or form. I'd given up on the political classes a LONG time ago. But in September 2014 I started blogging in support of the SNP.

This had NOTHING to do with Independence, The SNP or Politics. It had EVERYTHING to do with the potential of the CULTURE that they had created. See Page 1 of this Ideas for 2016 & 2019 Candidates for more info (Written in May 2015 and circulated to MPs in all parties).

So, like many, I joined in what became for a 3 week period, a fun and vibrant community of people who bought into the "Yes" change can happen message (But would eventually became a rather disappointing "Yes! We've got 56 of our mates some cushy jobs!" Instead)

I don't know what the mechanics of this campaign were, or how much the campaign managers knew what they were doing... but I can guarantee that they didn't know how valuable what they had was, or how fragile it was if it wasn't looked after well!!!!

Since the 1970s there have been ardent advocates of Scottish Independence, stanch and in various sectors and who have been trying to further the cause.

Now obviously it took decades for this group to campaign to get the Scottish Parliament/Government and then secure the referendum.

However, even when these supporters secured the referendum the polls for Independence didn't go much beyond 34% until the last 2 months.

In the run up to the vote, for whatever reason, the "Yes" movement caught fire. Maybe that lecturer who was always a bit of a "Lone Nut" when it came to Independence had found enough early adopters. The same with the Biker who established "Bikers for Yes" and Women, Asians and the other "Yes" groups.

For 20 years SNP activists were marching to their own beat
 ...Until 3 weeks before #IndyRef, then you coudn't see them for the crowd
By early September the "network effects" were in place and there were so many rallies and of a significant enough size that people started to take notice. The people at these events seemed hopeful about the potential for change and were having fun... so I joined the conversation.


Image result for 2014 indy ref crowds

#VoteYes Sept 2014... First Signs of Trouble

Like many, I joined the fantastic humour at the national water cooler that was #IndyRef and #VoteYes. I went to a few rallies and wondered if Jane Jacobs ideas could be quickly and easily implemented in this culture of hope and enthusiasm for change.

The first sign of trouble was when people I was speaking to on Social Media advised that I go to some pro-SNP meetings... I lasted 10 minutes.

The atmosphere was VERY different to the public ones. Let's just say that I got an idea of what it must have been like to be at the Nuremberg rallies. (NB This was not an event organised by The SNP but was full of pro-IndyRef advocates)

This wasn't the kind of Jane Jacobs diversity of the public event, this was more like I'd imagine what a 1970s SNP AGM might have looked like ...all about politics, political point scoring and either #VotYes... or go away!

When I was leaving I got a smug "Bye then!" by someone in the crowd, and another "He must have been a #NoThanks spy." Erm, yeah! very good?! Goodbye indeed!

The night of the result the Vote No camp were rioting in Glasgow and what happened?

The Network Effects from #VoteYes didn't disappear after the vote... Nor did the humour (initially) the #VoteYes crew took to Twitter.

The Weekend in 2014 that Cost The SNP Votes in 2017
During this evening and for the weekend there was all kind of chatter and engagement with and between the Vote Yes and No Thanks camps. There were Tweets like

"I voted #NoThanks but I wish I was in the #VoteYes camp" 

The comments in reply?

It depended! It depended on who replied. It might have been

"Oh, that's OK we forgive you come and join the fun" 

Or it could be

"Fuck off you voted #NoThanks you Unionist bastard"
(Not my words the kind of comments by SNP/IndyRef supporters on Social Media)

I was there man! I saw what happened that weekend. Lol! Couldn't resist

I would have said that the majority of the people were the former as opposed to the latter. Many in the #VoteYes camp were asking on that first weekend:

"What can we do with this, the vote has ended but how can we keep this movement going?"

Again, just like the IRL public "Yes" rallies, text book Jane Jacobs stuff... fantastic and inspiring! The potential was so exciting!

In my opinion, only one group could have shaped the new culture... the 70 or so "Vote Yes" campaigns with a co-ordinated message of

"This is who the post #VoteYes crew is, this is what we're going to do... and this is how we're going to do it" 

(AKA Dave Logans "Identify your core values and align them with a noble cause")

EVERYONE and I mean EVERYONE of the political classes, just sat and watched and wondered what do we do now?  Except one.

One opportunist turned what could have been 45% of people being active community members into the angry 5%, both taking over and wrecking all the good work that the SNP/Yes Alliance did AND gifted the SNP/Yes Alliance with a headache that would have taken moments to address in Sept 2014... but one that is almost impossible to fix today. This damage was done in the space of 40 hours or so.

The cost of this 40 hour absentee period of the creators of it all? In my opinion, it's quite possibly cost them IndyRef2. Don't believe me? Just ask the 2017 MPs and MSPs in any party other than the SNP what they think of Indyref2?

Alternatively go ask Kezia Dugdale and Nicola Sturegeon what was said about the potential of IndyRef2 in Sept 2014. I believe this conversation is a point of contention today, but regardless of what was or wasn't said, I think Dugdale might have been more open to the idea of #Indyref2 in Sept/Oct 2014 Vs today.

The Weekend After Two Elections Before
The #45Plus was mentioned in the Scottish Parliament as a threat from people like Labour and, understandably so! The Network effects and Feedback Loops were very powerful indeed and had a devastating impact on other parties.

I argued on posts in 2014 and 2015 prior to the result that the GE2015 polls were probably not wrong and that there was little any other party could have done to prevent the GE2015 result.

However, while the pundits said that that

"It will take the Labour Party 10 years to recover"

From the 2015 Election in Scotland, I was screaming at the TV (And writing in this blog) "Oh no it wouldn't! It could be turned round as early as 2016 or 2019 (When the 2017 election was supposed to be).

Disagree with my assessment so far? Well political types will argue with their own shadow. Political candidates will dismiss their own leader (In the most brutal of terms too... that is of course until they start winning, like Corbyn did).

So disagree and argue all you like. It's not me that lost their job on Thursday. It's not me that ignored the Tweets, posts and emails that I sent.

I've predicted the results as they unfolded when MPs, media and political analysts and experts were saying "This can't be right, can it?"

...Here you go:

19th Sept 2014
As Scotland wakes up to the fact that the hopes of Independence have been dashed and the army of #VoteYes feel "a little down" and are licking their wounds... this Glasgow nutter wonders if victory might be snatched out of the jaws of defeat. Is the best yet to come? Yes Scotland

28th Sept 2014
"This post includes information as to why I would advise that, based on Technology sales and roll out principles, Labour and the Conservatives should just pack up and go now, and why a second referendum appears to be inevitable

[Other parties] task now is like Yahoo Vs Google, My Space Vs Facebook... ie you had your chance and you blew it. If you want to get Alex Salmond style popularity, stop off at Newcastle and declare the North East free from Westminster and you'll be the peoples' champion too" Achieving the Impossible

7th Oct 2014
There were a number of posts written to try to encourage and/or influence the culture of this impressive network. I would argue that the culture was set the first weekend after the #IndyRef result.

"On Sunday/Monday (21/22nd Sept) leadership of #The45Plus group was missing... A leadership that could only have been established by the 60+ "Yes Scotland" accounts, as this was the unifying thing that brought a diverse group together. Here's 2 things that I believe should have happened: integrating #VoteNo people and setting the culture with a new shared goal and identity"

The culture is now set, and hell mend anyone who disagrees with someone who voted Yes! We are the angry boycotters. We are the anarchists. We are the cybernats and it would appear that our mission to piss everyone off and to argue with anyone who disagrees with the hard line we decide to take.

Oh, and by the way, we're not very good with our maths... because 100% of 45% agreeing with each other is still only 45%, no matter how much more strongly we may or may not believe in independence, this is still a minority. 
#The45Plus... Where Did it all Go Wrong?

As someone involved with some digital citizenship initiatives, I think the political classes need to take a long hard look at themselves when they complain about Trolls and encouraging Tech companies to do more!

6th May 2015
So the SNP look to disrupt the political landscape in tomorrow's General Election. This post details how, if you look at events in the context of the adoption of technology, the result was not only inevitable, but that I predicted it eight months ago during the Scottish Independence Referendum (See the extract from 28 Sept 2014 above).Why SNP Domination was Inevitable 

7th May 2015
As I highlight above, I was more interested in the cultural conditions of the "Yes" campaign compared with SNP/Independence.

Furthermore my core values include the fact that we'll collaborate with anyone and everyone... so I sat down to write this document: Ideas for 2016 & 2019 Candidates

The intention was to reach out to people in Labour to say that no one needs to resign as it wasn't a policy or leadership issue.

I thought I'd have a few days to do this as the time for reflection and soul searching might last the weekend... but, BOY! Those guys don't hang about when there's blame to apportion!

The soul searching lasted all of about 12 hours before those long knives were out!

I'd encourage the political classes to stop and think for a moment about what might have been re: Labour's result if candidates did indeed campaign for 2017 in 2015 in the way that I suggested?

Would it be PM Corbyn today? I think it might have been! So the SNP might want to think themselves lucky or Labour kicking themselves... depending on the shiny badge that you have on lapels of your expensive suit that you get on expenses.


9th May 2015 (But post written on 9th Sept 2015)
When SNP MPs social media pictures were changed from images of candidates in their constituencies with their activists to the photo opp with Nicola Sturgeon and the #The45Plus (or whatever pro-Indyref hashtag was being used by then) was changed again to #Team56 (ie it's now all about us, not them).

It is hear that I wondered if I had spotted an all too easy to miss tell-tale sign of Jim Collins first of Five Stages of Decline.

Two days after the election we saw #The45Plus, a hashtag that represented the 1.6 million people who voted Yes in the referendum was replaced with #Team56... the 56 MPs who were headed down to Westminster to fight over where they sat and picking up their £75,000 + expenses.

There was also some changes with photos on MPs Twitter profiles, from candidates in their constituency with supporters... to member of #Team56 replacing them with pictures with their leader under the Forth Rail Bridge. How significant is this? Read Adam Grant's book "Give and Take" and you'll find it's quite telling.


When listening to all the commentators regarding the general Election result 4 months ago, who were saying "It will take 10 years for the Labour party to recover in Scotland" I was thinking "No it wouldn't!" It could be turned around by 2016... if they did things differently to the political classes usual methods, employing community management methods and "creating new patterns of engagement" Labouring on with #Team56? How to Rebuild Trust When It Is Broken



“When you are at the top of the world, the most powerful nation on Earth, the most successful company in your industry, the best player in your game, your very power and success might cover up the fact that you’re already on the path to decline. So, how would you know?” Jim Collins, How the Mighty fall

All the fighting over seats and clapping (And other behaviour that comes with hubris) suggested that stage 1 of decline had been reached.

While there is a good deal of snark in this post about the political classes, there is no criticism about this stage and NOTHING but empathy... maintaining the culture as you experience success is SO difficult to do... But is also vital!

Just imagine what could have been for Labour if there had been unity either since 2015 or the 2017 campaign? Blairites continuing to mess things up long after the "Things can only get better" bull shit?!

I shared these insights with MPs of all colours of shiny badges at the time. Some engaged. Others didn't

Local Elections 2016
Those who did we had a conversation.

I had discussed with Declara what they could to in the brave new world of 140 Character politics (Which, believe it or not, *Just Might* Have had an impact with the yet-to-be-coined "Fake News") AND keep those Network Effects and Feedback Loops in place.

I kept in touch with some of those who engaged as well as all candidates in my constituency with these random thoughts, observations and ideas.

In 2016 it was all the same colour of shit for me so here's what I did and here's what I told people what I did.
There was little by way of meaningful engagement for a proponent-turned-detractor... But grateful to those who did.

5th May 2017
The local elections and "The miraculous Tory revival" (But no real surprise to me), surprised many, as did my observation when others were saying "Get rid of Corbyn" (Again). 


This Tweet led to a quick check in on the pointless political classes (Problem with the rhetoric used in this post? Call, email, Tweet me to ask me about my experiences and see what you'd make of our hard working MPs/MSPs if you were me. #TheRhetoricIsJustified!)

11th May 2017
My views up until this point were along the lines of "I feel pretty bad for Corbyn, he seems like a good guy... but don't think that good guys do too well in the world of politics" Then I saw two things:

1) The inspired use of social media by Labour, and
2) Who one of the most vocal people were on those hashtags was


Will Black author of the fantastic "Psychopathic Cultures and Toxic Empires" which is a brilliant complement to one of my favourite books "Tribal Leadership" helped to explain what was happening with #IndyRef, #Brexit and how all people really wanted was change, but were consistently being let down so look for change in a different way and/or with a different party.

An expert in spotting psychopaths and toxic/psychopathic cultures supporting Corbyn left me wondering "What if... What if this time really was different?"

15th May 2017


As a result of the fun #FortheMany social media campaigns and because an author like Will was supporting Corbyn I wrote about how and why I felt Corbyn could win at the expense of the SNP:

My views about global domination by the SNP and their cult popularity status changed drastically 2 days after the General Election. Yep, while everyone had the champagne out at the height of their success I was disagreeing with the pundits that "It would take 10 years for other parties to rebuild in Scotland" 
Labouring on with Team56 how to Rebuild Trust.

Where did these insights come from? I spent a year watching an organisation that I had invested 10 years of my time with slowly but surely slide down Jim Collins "5 Stages of Decline" and recognised them with an organisation that I'd supported for a couple of years.

I have seen nothing to suggest that the SNP have not moved from 

Stage 1: Hubris, to 
Stage 2: The Undisciplined Pursuit for More (The announcement of #IndyRef2/#ScotRef in March), and Stage 3: Denial of Risk (The local election results on the 4th May 2017 and dismissing the result by other parties).

A party with such large numbers of supporters two years ago and only 65 people supporting Salmond's Crowdfunder... WOW austerity must REALLY be kicking in!


Today I am spending as as much time on pro-Labour hashtags as I did with #IndyRef/#VoteYes/SNP ones... for the same reason. In 2014 the VoteYes movement was fun and buzzing, today the Corbyn movement appears to have the better culture.

is supporting Corbyn a waste of time and a wasted vote? Well... It wasn't until 2-3 weeks before the Independence Referendum that things took off for the "Yes" camp (Go check the polls in July 2014 the Yes polls were at 34%... The same as Labour are today).

The "network effects" from the 2014 referendum that made the unprecedented GE2015 SNP result possible are starting to fade... what does this mean for Labour?


Well old Labour supporters have not gone away... as the network effects for the SNP fade they *Just Might* develop rather quickly for Labour. The May Local Elections show that I'm not the only disaffected SNP supporter and inaction will lead to more Tory rule.


If the feedback loops that once worked in the SNP's favour three weeks before an election through buzzing and fun conversations on their hashtags remain in Labour's favour could enough people return to their old voting preferences before Independence and Brexit as a result of these inspired social media campaigns by Corbyn within 3-4 weeks? Well there isn't just the IndyRef precedent there's also the US election.

Indeed, has Corbyn studied what worked for #IndyRef and Trump with their respective grassroots movements and rallies with large crowds?

If so will Corbyn be able to do enough between now and June? Will there be enough of the 2014 Network Effects for the SNP? Will Labours Feedback Loops be fun enough to bring old Labour voters back?

Time will tell but I can sure see why there's been a close in the polls and an increase in bets for Corbyn. 

#GE2017 From #VoteYes to No Thanks - A Lesson in Culture & Loyalty

NB It might be agrued that Stage 4 has been reached with the #IndyRef rallies on this weekend the day after Scotland Vs England.

I took an interest in everything that was happening here and, while there was the odd RT or #GE2017 reply, there was no huge engagement.

Sure I was sitting on the fence, but there were two other things: The Leaders Debate and my personal and professional experiences with the Political Classes

Leaders Debate 
As I highlight in the Ideas for 2016 & 2019 Candidates from 2015, I explored MPs Tweets and have a GE2015 Twitter list.

In my #GE2017 From #VoteYes to No Thanks - A Lesson in Culture & Loyalty post I detail all the things that I've done to support MPs... but had hardly any engagement with them.

I played a fun game during the leaders debates, I had the TV on, watched the "Pleb channel" on Twitter where people argued for this party or that and the "GE2015 MPs" channel where they spoke amongst themselves and/or spoke about themselves.

So hang on a minute? You want me to put you in a £75k a year job + expenses, don't come back to me on constituent issues and don't engage on SM

  WHEN I'M ACTUALLY ARGUING AND FIGHTING FOR YOU?!

#NoThanks

A Personal Note...
I have had on-going issues since 2010 and not a single MP has done much more than send me a "Thank you for your enquiry, there's nothing we can do" so I am under no illusion as to how much me, my family and our issues feature on MPs agenda, or other constituents for that matter

In my last post the SNP almost got my vote for GE2017 because of someone who had built a relationship through replying to the odd email I sent through from time to time. 

The day before the election, knowing that my MP or the party in power will have very little impact on me one way or the other... here's how it was decided:

From 2010-2015 I had Labour MPs who provided the same non-existent response to constituent enquiries as well as my SNP MP. 

So I thought, whoever comes back with the best Tweet will get the vote. With a difference of 265 I wonder if the SNP candidate wished they had either accepted my offer of helping our with her campaign in 2015 or replying to my Tweet on the 6th June. 

Equally, I wonder if the 2017 result was because after all the hope of the "Vote Yes" campaign and the "Network Effects" and "Feedback Loops" that it created to deliver the 2015 results have faded as I predicted they could/would and saw people return to old voting habits?


If the good and the great of the political classes have a better argument. Great. But that's what I've seen.

I have been involved with Digital Citizenship initiatives and wonder at all the 

"We need to do more about MPs and online abuse" 

But what have MPs (From any party) done to influence and/or curb what their own supporters have said?


How many members of the opposition have called #IndyRef2 a divisive campaign recently? 


The two potential post-IndyRef #VoteYes movements: The one that filled George Square with food for food banks and good humour... and the one that threatened to boycott those who held views the #VoteYes crew didn't agree with? 
SCOTLAND
How many MPs would be calling #IndyRef2 a divisive campaign if the more positive aspects of the early post #IndyRef #VoteYes momentum was give over to the people with good humour and who filled George Square with food for food banks... instead of the angry 5% political activists who put others off?

Alex Salmond, The SNP and politicians can say that they disagree with any of the assessments here and that there are other things at play, and they are welcome to do so... I make ABSOLUTELY NO CLAIM to be an expert in anything... especially the stupidity of the political classes and their reasons for what they do.

But please, please do NOT say that "no one saw it coming" when I saw it a mile off! And tried to let people know!

But then again, I know from experience that it's difficult to tell anyone anything when hubris exists as a result of success... just as I empathise about the situation (Why else would I take time out from what I'm doing to write this?)

I also appreciate how challenging it is to keep the culture that delivered the success as an idea scales.

Thank You SNP
There is a note of thanks to be had here. I knew about the 5 Stages of Decline by spending a year in an organisation who went through these stages.

I've known the importance of developing and protecting the culture that you create for some time, it's good to see the impact of not doing so and how quickly things can unravel on someone else's dime/project.

I am one random blogger. Out of work because there are no #Cmgr roles and few EdTech comapnies in Scotland. How many other one time supporters with an idea or insight or two have you overlooked?

Is this a good time to highlight these ideas? Two days after a serious defeat? I tried to highlight this before during and after the fact... you tell me, when was the right time? What did I need to do to be heard?

Sorry if the timing sucks, but as you found on Thursday, you suck too... but don't blame me, I voted "Yes"  I tried to tell you too.

I'm not sure if I'll be remaining in education, but the offer from my post in May 2015 remains:

"This process could be used in many areas of Scottish society. The SNP benefited from the kind of process that major technology companies utilise, so they know it works. When I'll be impressed with the SNP, or any other party, is when they decide to use these principles in other areas, not just politics.

If any politician (from any party) wants to know how to continue to take advantage of this process in politics or, ideally, apply to other areas, especially in education, you know where to find me if you have any questions." 
Why SNP Domination was Inevitable