Computer Says No

As part of our adventure, we have had to find a place to live. We used the services of a relocation agent to help find potential places to live. We put an application in on the first place that we all liked – this was an apartment in Manly.

The fun really started to try and get things like electricity and broadband connected.

We tried to use a fast connect service, but they could not find the address, we tried to all the energy company directly, and on the first four attempts they could not find the address – at one point it was even suggested that we ring the competition…

Finally we spoke with Gillian, Gillian was one of those customer services people who really care, and really want to make a difference. She knew how to work the system, and was able to search and find our address…

Next step was broadband, I was amazed at the number of providers who would let is walk away as they could not locate the address and therefore believed that there were no services available.

I sat in a store of one supplier and was able to watch him enter information into their system, he was about to give me the same “computer says no” speech when I suggested he key the address in a different way. If they used the system by default, our new address could not be found, but by design it can!

This really got me thinking, as we become more and more digital, what new problems are going to arise when computers cannot find us. Is this the point where we start to fall off the “grid” and what really happens when we fall?

Moving a Digital Life

We are going on an adventure, moving our lives from England to Australia…


The last few months have been spent sorting out our belongings. It is fair to say that our house was full of things that we used, things that we have kept over the the years, and things we had totally forgotten we had. When it comes to packing up your life into a container and shipping it around the world, you do start to ask why do I have all this stuff, how much of it do i really need and what should I really take with me.

The contents of our loft has been reduced by about 90% – this was through a combination of recycling, and compression, moving stuff between boxes, to fill the space. This along with the rest of our belongings have been put into a 20ft container, that will take 2/3 months to reach us.

In terms of my digital life, that now sits in a 2.5″ 2TB hard drive – that will ship with me in my hand luggage, one can easily see how in the future (now actually) you could store this data on the cloud – although for me, the challenge there is connection and speed… but I wonder, what else might be different in the future, how much more of our life could be digitised and therefore how might that change our attitudes towards mobility…

And ultimately how might a 3d printer ultimately change the game?

How Near is Far

How near is far?


Last week, I set off with my family, on an adventure, we have been given an opportunity to try life in Australia, so we have sold up and moved south.

Over the last 6 weeks we have been slowly saying our goodbyes to friends and family, this has been the hardest part for us all, and when the time came to finally leave, it was with sobs and tears that we set off with.

Over the coming weeks, it will be interesting to see how technology helps to bring far closer to those that really matter.

I have always been amazed at how quick a simple SMS message travels around the world, a simple yet effective way to keep in touch. Then there are the social channels, many of our friends have asked that we keep in contact and share our adventures over the coming months.

The strange thing about this, is that the channel really chooses you, it would be easy to say we will post on Facebook or twitter or just on a blog. However, people all have different levels of digital literacy, and I suspect that of we really want to stay connected, we have to channel shift.

Finally, in terms of simple digital connections, there are the simple video tools such as FaceTime or Skype. These appear to be really key in bringing far closer. Through these tools, the children can see there friends, they can chat to grandparents and more importantly, grandparents can see us all growing up.

It is clear, after our departure, that there is currently no substitute for face to face – this is where the hearts connect – however when your far away, digital helps to bring far closer.

Digital Authenticity – Many Different Roles


With so many different services on the web and the blurring of the lines between personal and professional identities it means that we play even more roles on the web. As we make this move online, and switch between different roles – how do we remain authentic?

For me, authenticity is the ability to be yourself, and not try to be someone else.  This is easier said than done, we spend our lives learning from others, copying patterns & language, as a result it is easy to become a photocopy of someone else.

Occasionally you will come across an individual who is different!  In a face to face world, there are some people who are comfortable in almost any given situation, they seem to be able to talk to anyone, and seem to instinctively know what to do – essentially they are just being themselves.  How does this translate to digital.

There is a great book, Leadership Presence (Belle Linda Halpen and Kathy Lubar) which helps explain what authenticity is all about, whilst this book primary focus is about presence, within it, there is a model for authenticity.  This model has 4 dimensions to it:

  1. Being Present – the ability to be completely in the moment and flexible enough to handle the unexpected.
  2. Reaching Out - the ability to build relationships with others through empathy, listening, and authentic connection.
  3. Expressiveness - The ability to express feelings and emotions appropriately by using the means of expression – words, voice, body, face  - to deliver one congruent message.
  4. Self-Knowing - the ability to accept yourself, to be authentic and to reflect your values in your decisions and actions

These dimensions are helpful in the offline face to face world, they help us to see why that person is different, and they start to explain the skills we need if we want to grow our presence and be authentic – the question is, how do these translate to our presence in the digital world?

Being Present

My hunch is that this is harder in a digital conversation, than it is face to face.  Especially if you consider the number of different simultaneous threads of comments / conversations that an individual can be involved in at one time.  In a digital world, this is considered to be acceptable, in the offline world people tend to expect you have one conversation at a time.

I suspect being present is still relevant, it could be as simple as keeping up with the thread, answering questions / comments that come your way, or knowing when you need to step out / away from the debate.

Reaching Out

It has never been easier to reach out and connect with people, places and organisations, new channels are opening up every day, so it should be easy to build connections through the social media platforms.  For me, an interesting twist in reaching out is the field of influence – it is not just about the number of connections you have, influence is about how “content” shifts and your role in the conversations.  Ultimately, this is not just the number of connections that you have, its the conversations that you have with those connections that are important!


This is just hard online – in many instances the words on the screen have little or no context and it is almost impossible to know whether these words are congruent with what is really going on – face to face, you hear the inclination in the words, you see the expression you can read the body language – these senses can be lost in the written word.  You sometimes see the use of emoticons, whilst these can, in a humorous way, convey the intent of a statement, they do not give any indication of whether that is true to the sentiment – There is a lot to learn about the expressiveness – especially in a world of 140 characters…!


As you learn why you do the things you do, how you do the things you do, and what you do, self knowing in the context of a digital journey is about how you translate yourself from the physical world into the virtual world.  They why, the what, the how are all still important and the way in which we translate these across our various roles on the web may ultimately determine how authentic we are.

Moving on-line is a journey, there are new tools, new languages and new protocols that we need to learn, we need to become literate, we need to learn what is acceptable and we need to translate our true-selves into that world, and rediscover the why, the what and the how…!

Digital Legacy – leaving footprints in the bits and bytes

When others look back, what will out digital footprints says about us, how will others find this, and how do we ensure that there is context surrounding this content.

The White Tower - Tower of London

This weekend we had a brilliant day out at the Tower of London, a place that I had not visited since my childhood and as my son is doing a school history project we decided that it was time to dust down the myths and legends of our family and try to bring them to life for him at the Tower.

In my family history, I could recall stories of a relative who was a Yeoman Warder in the 60′s and I could remember elements of the stories about living in the tower, living room walls that were 23ft thick, your drinks cabinet is an arrow slot and how members of your family have been christened and married in the Tower.  These stories prompted our visit to the Tower of London.

As with all good adventures, before moving forwards we decided to look back, to find out more about our own myths and legends.  A few phone calls and emails later, we received a digital image of a picture / script that details the history from records in the Tower of the Yeoman post that my relative held.  This was a great start as it listed in detail who had owned the post since 1661 until his death in 1968.  We also found out that his name is recorded in two places inside the tower.

That is where our adventure started, the story of a Yeoman Warder and his post, that came into our family.  If you have never visited the Tower, it is an amazing place, parts of it date back to 1078 and it is full its own myths and legends, like the polar bear that was kept there and used to go fishing in the Thames and of course the stories of torture in the Bloody Tower.  This place can really make you slow down and reflect.

As we explored the Tower, we were able to get into the Chapel, and see where our family name is recorded on the memorial roll of Yeomen Warders, we were also lucky enough to talk to one of the current warders, who knows the family, he was able to take us to the club and show us pictures of the the warders that he served with, and finally took us into the Byward Tower to show us another record of his name.

Of course, in a digital world, it would have been easy to get pictures of these walls, but without the context, without the experience these would have much less impact.  The little things the children saw, the keys, the lamp, pictures all gave context and helped build up a picture of a life from a very different age, serving the traditions of a truly different world.

Being reflective, this got me thinking back to my previous post about digital presence, in creating a presence, do we also create a digital legacy and what impact will that legacy have on future generations?  And how will this information be accessed when services, technology becomes obsolete finally, without the context of our surroundings will this information still be relevant?

Traitors Gate

Facebook are rolling out their version of a timeline, perhaps this is the first real legacy application – pulling together of so much information in one place creating a picture of where we have been, what we have done.  For some this maybe helpful, but it would seem that people are nervous about so much information being collated in by one organisation.  I am sure this is also the tip of the iceberg – with the concept of big data, organisations are working fast to be able to paint a rich picture of each of us and our lives.

I can imagine a future where this type of picture is constructed from all the different services that we use, something that pulls together our footprints across the different services that we chose to use – this perhaps could be the ultimate archive and allow others to see our legacy.

A final twist, and perhaps a future product is to chose where this archive lives and how it is presented.  Could you imagine printing and binding your digital legacy into your personal journal, being given an ISBN number and with a copy lodged somewhere like the British Library.

As our digital presence grows, do we need to worry about the footprints we leave behind? Should we be concerned about the story they tell and should we considered how this information might be used in the future – by us, by organisations or by those who have a genuine interest in the footprints we leave behind?  After all these will become our own myths and legends.


Digital Presence – Health, Wealth and Happiness













As we use more digital services, we leave more prints across the web, this is your digital presence – is it a game of chance, or something you should start making conscious decisions about…

I am currently on a digital journey, building exploring the web and building my networks as I believe these will become increasingly important as we move further through the digital age.  Welcome to my first blog post, in many ways this has been a long time in the making and there are many people along the way who have inspired and encouraged me to write.

I have always been interested in change, and can remember sitting down about 15 years ago, talking with one of our grandparents, at the time, they were fast approaching 90 and we were talking about how much changed she had seen in the world over her lifetime.  At the time I was amazed at the scale of the changes, and in many ways was envious as there was no way I would ever see this level of change in my lifetime.  As I look back now, I begin to see that I was wrong, the world continues to change, for better and for worse at an ever increasing pace.

Much of this change is digital, today we are able to do stuff that we could only dream about a few years ago. It was not so long ago, when we talked about mobility, this meant an old Nokia / Motorola phone, perhaps a laptop and a modem that typically needed to be plugged into something.

Back then, it was a futurist dream, but today, I am writing my first blog post, using an App, on an iPad, in a hotel, connected to the web via 3g – in many ways we have come so far so fast.  Given the pace of change, many of the cool things may have passed me by, and I often thought digital was something that was done by others, who I believed were in a different space to myself – a space that I did not fully understand.

Late 2010,  I was lucky enough to work with Paul Greenberg, Estaban Kolsky and others running a SCRM summit this was the first time that I had started to see how the web was coming together in networks and how these networks were starting to shift the balance of power away from companies to individuals and was opening the doors for many new / disruptive businesses.  Specifically this was the first time I had really seen twitter in use across a community and through the work I was doing I started to play in this space, mainly sharing links, retweeting things that I found interesting.

For me, this was the real start of my digital journey, the world has changed, and I needed to change.

Recently, I have been involved in a series of discussions around building the social enterprise, one of these sessions was hosted by Antony Mayfield giving a talk on digital literacy and digital presence.  This was a really interesting conversation and introduced me to the language of digital presence and digital literacy.  These two terms have become increasingly important to me and in many ways have started to influence my digital behaviour.


During this Antony talked about the conscious decisions that we should make about our digital presence and importantly the time that we need to invest to become digitally literate – this really set me thinking about my own online presence and capability.

I am sure many of us have ways in which we pause and reflect on where we find ourselves to help us work out what we should do next. I typically do this through the three dimensions of happiness, health and wealth, it seemed relevant to use these to audit my digital presence:


I have a presence on many of the social platforms, the ones that I found myself using most are Twitter and Instagram, I suspect these are the platforms that I am most literate in and have chosen to invest time in. I enjoy the pace of twitter, the way it “flocks” and the way it allows you to connect fast with experts and seek opinions.  It is a great tool for connecting, learning and having some fun.  In many ways Instagram is similar to twitter, it is a lot of fun and provides many different windows on the world as well as some really cool pictures.


In the context of what Antony talks about, I think it is fair to say that my digital presence was, in my opinion, a little unhealthy, I had a presence building on twitter, but no real digital home. The cure was a domain, and perhaps this blog – time will tell whether it helps, or is valuable to someone somewhere… Watch this space


For the purpose of this conversation, I would talk about wealth in the context of knowledge, inspiration and connections. This is where digital presence can be amazing, there is a ASE deignshop axiom created by Matt Taylor that suggests:

To argue with someones else’s experience is a waste of time… To add someone’s experience to your experience, to create a new experience is possibly valuable…

For me, this is the wealth of experience that you can unlock with the right digital presence…  Welcome to my blog, welcome to my digital journey.