Sun 17 – Sat 23 April 2016
Good People Gone, Awful Ones Still Around
Aaagh, I can’t believe how fucking depressing and unfair this year is in terms of good people dying. In a previous blog I listed the good famous people who had died to date and it was pretty grim. The one who made the most impact on me was David Bowie but then this week the brilliant Victoria Wood died as well as Prince, another hero of my teenage years. These are all people I thought would be around forever – well that shows how transient life is. But it really questions the tattered remnants of my faith and spritual side. How does God allow good people like this to suffer and die whilst self-centred dodgy politicians like Johnson, Farage, Gove, Grayling, Duncan-Smith and Putin are fine? Perhaps I just need to accept there is no God, no Karma, nothing… Just the cruel and arbitrary world we live in.
Obama Tells It Like It Is
Great to see President Barack Obama taking on the Brexit crappers during the week. So let’s run away from our nearest neighbours and build a new world with the USA – nope they don’t want us. OK let’s try Australia (nope), New Zealand (nope) or the bits of Europe outside the EU although most of them are applying to be members of the EU. Life is often shit but you don’t make things better but cutting yourself off and living in the past. We had an empire once but that was a long time ago, get over it. Don’t fall for the easy answers and dream solutions of pale, flabby, multi-chinned old white men like Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, and Donald Trump. If someone tells you there’s an easy answer, they are lying and more interested in just having power.
A big highlight of last week was enabling colleagues at work to try out a Virtual Reality headset in the office. This is linked to the wider need to engage people with charities. Indeed there was an interesting article recently asking whether charity advertising has lost the ability to shock, read here One of things to look into is whether we can use VR as a ‘cheaper’ means to get more people into immersive realities and empathise / understand what life is like for others. Obviously there are other uses as well such as training – note the recent event where a group of medical students watched the VR film of an actual operation. You can’t really appreciate how VR can take you to a different place until you’ve experienced it and I think my work colleagues enjoyed the experience.
CAST’s Fuse Accelerator
Me and Nissa had a catch up with CAST at the Fuse Accelerator we are funding them to operate. Great to see them in situ at Westminster Impact Hub in New Zealand House. We met the team and were briefed on the progress being made by the first two charities involved Breast Cancer Care and Oxfam UK. And we also got details on the upcoming Digital Fellowships for charity CEOs which we help us understand whether we can we create top-down cultural change within the voluntary sector. A key complonent may well be running hack event within the CEOs’ organisations.
Had a midweek meeting with the chair of Nominet Trust to particularly look at possible joint-working. Regular readers will know my enthusiasm for partnership working – ultimately it is exactly what the not-for-profit sector should be about as we are not built solely on competition like the private sector. It’s vital for people working in the same fields simply to keep lines of communication open and make each other aware of what they are doing. Ultimately partnership working is like pure academic research, it may have no obvious apparent use in ‘real life’ but you never know.
Mind Of My Own MOMO
Also met up with Joe Roberson last week. Joe was instrumental in the Innovation Labs project that really kindled my excitement around the potential of Tech for Good. He is now involved with the impressive digital produt Mind of My Own (MOMO) – an app designed to create deeper and more constructive conversations between young people in the care system and those looking after them. Basically local authorities contract to use it and supply it to their young people who then use it to facilitate conversations about their care with key people such as their social worker. Particularly interesting to see that the app is starting to bring in significant revenue via the contracting model; many doing Tech for Good envisage this as their monetization option but it rarely works out. Another successful model using this revenue option I think is Big White Wall
External Link Up
And finally had a link up with a group of civil servants who are interested in doing more to support charities. They can raise money but were more interested in knowing if their skills, particularly around digital, might be used as in-kind support. Again a good conversation to have and I am happy to explore opportunities that have no immediate end-point. Apparently civil servants get 5 days leave per year to do voluntary work so would be good to use that to maximum effect.
Mental Health: Walk A Mile
Mental health is another thing that interests me. About 18 months ago I worked with Chris Young at an Innovation / Hack day on an idea around getting people to walk and talk about their mental health (thereby tackling stigma, stereotyping and misunderstanding) followed by sharing the experience on social media to get a wider audience. This built on his own amazing ‘campaign’ walking around the coast of Britain and engaging people in conversations about mental health. Thus ‘Walk a Mile’ was born and is now becoming a regular event. The biggest one to date happened last week in Glasgow and it was sad I couldn’t be there. But all went well, including good weather. Congratulations to Chris for his leadership around this and to Eleanor for her ongoing support.
— Billy Dann (@BillyDann1) April 22, 2016
My Brilliant Partner
A little mention here for Dave who had a mega busy week. Indeed we only saw each other in passing, with my role as a good partner being to back him up. I can remember previous partners who didn’t have my back. Particularly the boyfriend I could always rely on to back his friends and not me. For then as he said, ‘friends are forever but boyfriends come and go’. I realise now he was emotionally immature. Personal instability is largely due to a lack of sense of security and providing that security is a key function of any relationship. Dave – you were brilliant.
Health and Efficiency
Last week a small chest infection got gradually worse and knocked me out Thursday evening onwards. I was actually forced to take a sick day from work on Friday, my first one for over two years. Chest felt rough and that horrible chesty cough with green phlegm coming up. Plus feelings of hot and cold as well as nausea and being generally zonked. Spent most of Friday and Saturday on the sofa watching crap (‘crack’?) daytime TV, abusing the internet connection, and drifting in and out of sleep. Some of the programmes can be very addictive like Homes Under the Hammer, Bargain Hunt, and Antiques Road Trip. Bigger question is why do I seem to get so many colds and sinus related problems?
I did get to the gym on Sunday and Thursday mornings. The latter one probably was the wrong thing to do. My chest infection was there and I may well have exacerbated it.
Weighed myself on Tuesday morning and was down to 13-8 (or perhaps I should say ‘back to’). Had fun and games trying to get a renewal on one of my statin prescriptions – for some reason the GP only gave me a 28 day supply instead of 3 months. Renewal can be done online but it is not clear how and the practice staff were unable to assist over the phone. I was informed that I could put in a written order, so mum went down to collect the ‘form’ for me – a tatty piece of paper photocopied 5 billion times which I just had to handwrite onto. Digital health failure there me thinks.
Books and Reading
Bit of a revolution last week as for the first time I used the Kindle I won at the silent auction at work when we raised money for Sport Relief. I successfully bid £55.55. I’ve always had a suspicion of Kindles (‘they are not real books’) – totally against my general tech enthusiasm but I knew I had to try out. The Kindle itself feels like a big phone that can’t be used to call anybody. On the daily special offers of 99p books I picked up Dark Eden by Chris Beckett (2012). I actually really enjoyed using the Kindle – small and convenient plus very easy to read. The book itself is a great bit of modern sci-fi. The theme of people lost on an alien planet is not that new but there is a message to take away about not being tied to the past and us all being on a constant journey so that we can’t stand still.
Dr Who and The Crusaders (BBC audio-book)
This is one of those classic stories featuring the first Doctor William Hartnell along with Barbara, Ian and Vicki. It is far longer than most audio-books and to be honest my head really wasn’t in the right place to listen to it properly (result of the chest infection?) The story is rich and convoluted as one would expect of the BBC in the sixties with its perceived educational role. Fun but I need to give it another go and really surrender to its grandeur.