May 09, 2007

Speak up, speak clearly, speak online

It was in one of those reports about that group fondly referred to as "The Youff" where they said that as a sixteen year old nowadays:

"If you're not online you don't exist."

That is, if you've not got an online presence, a Bebo page, a MySpace account or a humble blog then don't even attempt to pretend that you have anything worthwhile to say.

It's flippant and extreme, to say the least. But the importance of sharing great work and ideas online (in amongst the naturally less great ones we all have) is gathering pace.

I spent all of today working with about 40 or 50 seven to eleven year olds and their teachers from eight schools, learning the basics of podcasting and digital video so that they could return to their classmates and teach them how to do it, too. Their 'silly' trial runs were brilliant, so brilliant that I've implored them to publish them on a school blog asap - I think they will.

Img_4996 Speak up, speak online
But it also got me thinking about professionals, especially those working in technology. If seven year olds get the concept of 'showing off' what they've done, taking pride and criticism in equal measure, then what about 27 year olds, or 57 year olds? "Who would be interested in what I have to say anyway" is the usual response.

What happens between childhood and adulthood, the latter supposedly when we are doing our best work (and getting paid for it)?

If you work for the public sector it seems normal that the public expertise be shared in a manageable fashion for colleagues and other public servants, too. A blog is a great way to do that. Manageable from the perspective of writing it (I'm doing this in ten minutes at the end of a day when this thought is fresh in my mind) and manageable for the person wanting to learn (they don't have to go anywhere to get the information or pay for a consultant to show it to them). They want you in person to lead a course, or give a keynote? That's less manageable, something that doesn't fit into the day job. They have the time, energy, desire to learn? They can learn from you and do things their own way from there on in.

If it's so damned obvious, then why, given the opportunity to publicise your profit-making company, raise its profile, find a new partner or investor, do you not take it up? That's exactly what about 30 attendees at BarCampScotland did in February (right) when they didn't add their names and weblinks to the BarCampScotland wiki page. I've just added them by hand from the attendance list, bringing the total number of attendees to 148. These are information or technology specialists, trying to make money, publicise their service or product and they don't tell anyone about it in the one place where investors and potential users will go for more information.

So my first point, in Speak Up: If you don't tell people about what you're doing online, in 2007 you don't exist. And don't expect people to know how wonderful life is on your side of the fence if you haven't taken it online.

Speak clearly
As Blethers noted in her post at the time, the BarCamp oration was not the best. If you're going to talk about what you're up to it does need to be in an interesting, engaging way, well written or spoken and, at the very least, audible. Many of the tech events I go to have plenty of exciting products and services with huge potential for huge $$$s, but it's all lost in the delivery of the message. Speaking clearly and thinking clearly reassure people that you know your onions. Forgetting to mention that your business makes $180,000 a month (like Anil did with MoBuzzTV at Mediatech2.006) or munching your words helps clutter people's thoughts on what your product does. I've fallen victim to it before, starting with the tech instead of the teach. Now with something like eduBuzz, the interface couldn't be simpler: two buttons, one web address.

Img_4246 And now for your homework
There are two books I've come to love for summing up these issues around self-expression: Simplicity and Smile In The Mind. Read them and maybe some of the other ones here. They'll fill in all the gaps that I, being nevertheless slightly unclear, have managed to miss out...


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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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