27 February 2010

Today's ideas about tomorrows KIM

The latest TFPL Connect event carried the intriguing title "Rhetoric, fashion or fact: today's ideas about tomorrows KIM" and it proved to be an intriguing event.

The fun started just after I arrived at the venue as the next person to arrive was a former colleague, and a friendly one too, from the London Borough of Lambeth who I had not seen since leaving there just over three years ago. It was good to catch up on the news and gossip and to also have my decision to leave vindicated as those left behind have faced redundancies, pay cuts and reorganisations.

But back to the event.

The format was similar to last time with some subtle, and useful, changes. The three panellists spoke for ten minutes each on the topic, we then had discussions at our tables before an open session at the end where our comments and questions were put to the panellists.

As always with a panel, it is the quality of the panellists that counts and this one scored a reasonable 2 out of 3 (the last panel was 0 out of 3).

The two good speakers (i.e. the ones I liked) spoke about the personal experiences of implementing Knowledge Management systems and cultures within their organisations (Birmingham City Council and The Manufacturers' Organisation). The third gave a theoretical view of the trends and future direction of KM which seemed to end with him predicting futures that have already happened.

The main message that bubbled to the surface from both the panellists and our table discussion was the need to get some of the Information Management basics right (even if they are not labelled as such). Skills around filing (classification, retention, etc.) and retrieval (search terms, taxonomies and provenance) are still important and need to be taught.

The evening ended nicely, as usual, with more conversations with the delegates, panellists and organisers over a glass or two of wine. You could argue that an evening spent discussing Knowledge Management is doing work in my personal time but when the evenings are as stimulating and entertaining as this one then that's my time well spent.

26 February 2010

Riverside Vegetaria rescues the evening

The new Charter Square area of Kingston links the old market square to the river with a huddle of modern bars and restaurants so it seemed the ideal place to head for a special night out. So we did.

But we were disappointed by what we found. The bars were bright, minimalist and featured the soft leather sofas and the brash modern art that you would expect but the menus were very limited and exceedingly boring. There were several place that we would happily have sat in for a drink but nowhere that we wanted to eat. As a vegetarian you expect the choices to be limited but surely not as limited as this; there are reasonable alternatives to goats cheese tartlets!

So we headed south a hundred metres or so where another cluster of restaurants includes the reliable Riverside Vegetaria.

As the name suggested, this is a vegetarian restaurant but that did not make the food selection any easier as all we had done is swap a menu where we want to have nothing to one where we wanted everything!

Still, a difficult choice is better than no choice and I eventually settled for the Organic Potato, Cashew Nut and Spinach Curry simply because it contains lots of ingredients that I like and ends with the word "curry".

The patio doors to the riverside were closed but the bobbing boats just a couple of metres away added to the atmosphere as did the cheery bottle of Bergerac wine.

So, not for the first time, the older generation showed the youngsters how to do it and I'll be taking advantage of the Kingston Riverside Vegetaria's experience, menu and location again before too long.

25 February 2010

From Putney to Waterloo

My second outing In Real Life with the members of the on-line Kingston and Richmond Social Group was another physical one as we walked from Putney Bridge along the Thames to Waterloo in the centre of London.

For no logical reason I assumed that we would be walking along the south side, a walk I have done several times but always in the other direction, and I was looking forward to seeing familiar sights from different angles. So I was surprised when we set off along the north bank in to unknown territory.

Part of the reason for my surprise was that my views of the north bank from walking on the south is that large sections are occupied by industry and access to the river is limited. And so it proved to be as we wandered the mean streets of Putney and Chelsea.

But the river was never that far away and we did get to enjoy it for some long stretches that became longer as we followed the river through west London.

A food and drink stop in Chelsea also allowed us to examine the locals who entertained us with their tweed jackets (men) and tight jeans tucked in to boots (women).

There were around fifteen of us in the group and I had plenty of opportunity to decent opportunities to talk to most of them, which produced more surprises.

Firstly, most of them were not English and I found myself talking to people from Italy, Finland, Switzerland, Japan and Germany. The second surprise is that only one of the people that I spoke to actually lives in Kingston or Richmond. Most of them had seen the event on the Meet-up website and just fancied a walk.

The weather held out too and the hats and gloves that we started the walk in were gradually put away as the sun did its best to keep us warm and to brighten the views. Lots of photos were taken in gratitude.

The mix of the day was just right and I came home on the train relaxed and fulfilled. This is what weekends are for.

24 February 2010

A quiz too far

My latest go at entertaining the usual Sunday night crowd at The Willoughby with a cultured quiz was somewhat less than successful.

The TV round was reasonable enough, so was the music round, but I made the mistake of assuming that somebody might know something about books, news, or geography. Or stamps.

I included a few butterflies in response to the feedback that I got last time and still nobody knew any of them :-)

It takes a lot of effort to pull together a quiz of six round of ten questions plus the picture round, unless you simply use a quiz book like some others do, and I'm not sure that the effort is always worth the reward. So I think I'll be leaving the quiz alone for a while and will enjoy some early nights instead!

20 February 2010

Planning Kingston's future

This month's Kingston upon Thames Society meeting addressed it's core remit, town planning, with a presentation by Andrew Lynch, Planning Manager at the Council.

He was supported by an architect who has been working on some of the new strategy documents. And there are a lot of documents!

One of the more interesting ones is the Borough Charter Study which breaks the whole Borough into a number of areas that have a distinct characteristic, such as the Victorian houses north of the railway line, the Tudor estate in North Kingston and the modern development that I live in.

Each area is then assessed in terms of the amount of work need to maintain or repair that characteristics. One of the good things to come out of this is that it provides the evidence and impetus for the drive to improve places like the market square. Less good is the niggling feeling that it could also be used to preserve things as they are now rather than letting them evolve. We'll see.

We were also shown some of the Borough's development centres, i.e. large areas where they want to combine multiple developments by multiple owners to rejuvenate and revitalise them.

The picture shows the area around the Hogsmill river as it flows from Berrylands towards Kingston. A lot of this is Metropolitan Open Land but there is scope to improve the recreational facilities and possibly even to build a new primary school (Kingston needs several).

The story having started well then rather fell away at that point. The Council is feeling the pain of budget cuts and has lost some planners and while the policy team seems well staffed in terms of numbers almost all of them are very young and so lack the experience of simply living in different areas for long enough to understand what makes them work.

The Q&A session that ended the evening got me as wound up as usual! The interesting and broad ranging debate on the overall approach suddenly descended in to a diatribe on the things that some KSoc members don't like but do like reminding us all about. So we had questions and comments on the Tolworth barrier, garden grabbing and views of the church. Yawn.

The meeting may have ended in something of a farce but it had started well and the presentation by the Council officers was well worth hearing so, overall, this was a good meeting and was exactly the sort of thing that I go to these meetings for.

19 February 2010

Chinese lanterns

Last Sunday was Valentine's Day and so love was the theme of the Willoughby Pub Quiz with the questions set by Rick himself.

Luckily the questions were not too lovey-dovey and the small team of just Pete and myself were able to triumph in a close fought, and it has to be said, fun contest.

Our prizes were well up to the usual standard being something topical from the pound shop. If I tell you they carried the label "slap & tickle" then I think you'll get the picture.

We also had a rather more successful bonus prize of a Chinese Lantern each and the pub decamped into the beer garden to launch them spectacularly over Kingston. We watched them for awhile as they rose slowly and drifted languidly south through confused clouds to meet an unknown fate.

I don't know if the lanterns will appear again next week but I do know that I will not be winning one as I'm setting the questions!

18 February 2010

Keeping busy with Czech stuff

The BCSA continues to keep me busy and entertained as a reward.

We had an Executive Committee meeting last week which was pleasingly straightforward with progress being made on arranging several tempting events including (working backwards) the Annual Dinner (November), Summer Garden Party (June), Annual General Meeting (April) and next talk (March).

These meetings are informal, convivial and productive so I don't mind committing a few evenings a year to them.

The monthly socials (second Wednesday of each month) at the Czechoslovak National House are on form at the moment and I'm really enjoying them. Each month we get around a dozen people there, some old and some new, and a lively conversation starts without much prompting.

As always, I have to apologise for not speaking Czech/Slovak and then explain that I'm there because I worked in Prague for a couple of years around eighteen years ago, fell in love with the place and have taken every opportunity to go back since. I still have the photos from my last trip there in October on my iPod touch and there is usually some excuse to dip into some of them during the evening.

Also as always, I refueled on smazeny syr (that's fried cheese for most of us) and a few pints of Pilsner Urquell served in jugs.

The clock is always a good judge of an evening and if you get there at 6:30 and the next milestone is running for the last train at 11:30 then you know it's worked. No doubt I'll be doing the same at the next one on 10 March.

17 February 2010

Terrorism and healthcare

For every 1 person who dies in a terrorist attack globally, 59 people in US die due to lack of healthcare.
This message came to me today, as many things do now, via Twitter and it made an immediate impact because it is a simple message presented dramatically.

So praise then to the author (We Love Datavis) who managed to combine two current political stories in to one in a way that the contrast between them is shown starkly.

I sympathise with the politics too. Poor healthcare kills more people than terrorism but guess where all the money is going?

It also highlights the double-think by the right-wing in the USA. They don't want healthcare because it means giving a slightly bigger role for the government and this is clearly liberal / socialist / communist / the end of civilisation as we know it, but they'll gladly spend far more on defence which is run by, er, the government!

Hopefully a few simple messages like this repeated regularly will help to improve the standard of the debate.

16 February 2010

Back to the Grey Horse

The open mike nights at the Grey Horse are becoming part of my regular social scene, and for good reasons.

We were a little later to arrive this time and the young crowd had bagged the best seats but we were still OK sitting side on to the performers.

I was pleased to find the Winter Warmer still on (it has gone from some pubs already) as a good beer invariably means a good evening.

The music was the expected mixed bag as each of the performers did their own thing, and the variety is very much part of the fun.

Especially memorable were a guitarist whole played Flamenco style with very busy and precise fingers and the group pictured here who were pleasant but nothing more on their first stint but came back to deliver a stonking rendition of Zombie. Yes, I did sing along!

It was another convivial evening spent with friends enjoying music in a friendly pub. Of course I'll be going again.

14 February 2010

A new secondarey school for North Kingston?

There has been a clamour for a secondary school for many years and it's a cause I can sympathise with as the nearest school the Kingston Council was able to offer me for my youngest son was two bus rides away in the south of the Borough. He didn't go there.

Now a project rise in pupil numbers means that the Council is looking to build 16 extra classrooms for children starting secondary school in September 2015 and it wants to provide half of these, 240 places, in a new school in North Kingston.

So far so good but the problem is that they have failed to find a suitable site but are going ahead with their proposal anyway. The formal consultation has started and I went to a public meeting held by the Council last week to gather residents' views.

Their preferred site was, ironically, a secondary school until it was closed by the Council around twenty years ago. It now houses the Adult Education Centre and is squeezed in between another secondary school (selective, girls only) and a primary school that is growing to three forms of entry.

And that's the problem; the site is simply too small and cannot cope with either the additional buildings or the additional students and staff movements.

The Council knows this but is hiding behind the story that these are planning matters, ignoring that it's the Council that does planning and they've had a year to discuss this with er, themselves, to see what is, or is not, possible.

To make matters worse they admit that there are significant planning issues yet they have no alternative plan for providing the 240 extra places should this site prove to be unsuitable (which it will). The best they can do is spill over to the nearby sports centre which is also very problematic as the centre is very busy and is built on Metropolitan Open Land.

They also have no plans for relocating the Adult Education Centre or for the new school buildings if/when student numbers fall again.

Planning school places is a key council function and one which has a major impact on every family yet time and again Kingston Council has proved to be utterly useless in this respect. It's a compelling argument for taking this power away from them.

13 February 2010

Space Ritual shine in Sutton

Space Ritual are one of the few bands that I whenever I can and the Boom Boom Club in Sutton is my nearest serious venue (the 371 and 213 buses do it) so when Space Ritual announced that they were playing there getting a ticket was one of the easiest decisions that I've ever made. And one of the better ones too.

On the door was the event promoter, Pete Feenstra, and I was able to remind him that I suggested that he booked Space Ritual when I bumped in to him on a tube last year after a Sparks gig.

The venue may work alright as a social club attached to a (not very good) football club but as a gig venue it has some limitations, notably the low ceiling that hurts the acoustics and sucks in all the passing light.

The lighting was less of a problem this time as Space Ritual had brought there own to boost the club's and I got there early enough to get my preferred spot right at the front which was close enough for the dim light to reach.

I was helped in this by the club layout which, I guess driven by the large number of tickets sold, was in normal concert mode rather than having the tables and chairs, cabaret style, that they have had on other occasions.

The stage itself is rather good and offered Space Ritual more, er, space than they are sometimes used to. This was just as well as they had the full compliment of seven musicians and the diverting dancer Ms Angel, who were joined at the end by a guest saxophonist and a youthful drummer - that's ten artists on stage at the same time!

Musically the set was similar in construction and feel to that which I had heard in Notting Hill in December, though they were had Sam Ollis back on decks and the mix was a lot cleaner.

It was Sam who set things in motion around 8:30 with his mixes with the band joining him on stage just after 9pm. No idea if it was driven by the needs of the stage or by something more musical but the line-up across the stage was a little unusual with Jerry Richard (bass) and Mick Slattery (lead) swapping positions either side of Nik Turner (bossman). One benefit of this was that we got to see more of Jerry who has tendencies to wear black and to hide in the dark places at the back to the stage.

Some child must have been put in charge of the set lists as they were scrawled in pencil rather than the expected thick black marker pen. The later is easily photographed for people, like me, wanting an easy way to keep a record of the songs but with only pencil to look at I had to take my own notes. This is what I think they played (with obvious shorthand!); Right Stuff, Grass Grow, Ravaged Earth, Refer Madness, Otherworld, Atomik, Spaceship Earth, Steppenwolf, Orgone, Sonic Savages, Walking Backwards, Brainstorm, Master, and Silver Machine.

But the list tells you little about the sound which has matured and evolved over the last year or so. The songs are sometimes little more than familiar excuses to engage in extended jams before returning to the point of departure. These jams are smooth, jazzy, rocky and spacey in varied mixes that keep the Space Ritual mood going for over two hours without repetition, hesitation or deviation.

The official set list got abandoned somewhere towards the end (just as well that I was not relying on a photo of it) as the band had quick team meetings to discuss what music to fit in to the little time left for them by the promoter who (worried by the club's
harsh curfew) appeared on stage to close the act and then was in the audience to encourage them to play one more song :-?

That final song was an unexpected Silver Machine which got us all singing along joyfully if not tunefully. Equally unexpected was Nik's idea of crown involvement which started with him sticking a mike in my face! I had no option but to sing/shout, "I've got a, Silver Machine!!". That was fun for me if not for anybody else.

It take a special kind of skill to play such old songs for two hours and to maintain your own and the audience's rich enthusiasm throughout, but Space Ritual managed this with almost casual ease. That's why they are such a great band live.

My favourite twenty photos from the gig (I took lots!) are on Facebook at
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=382537&id=598910036&l=051b10ec97, I hope you like them. Some people do and I've picked up a few more Facebook friends as a result :-)

And I expect I'll be meeting up with some friends and taking a few more photos when I next see Space Ritual play, hopefully at the 100 Club in May.

11 February 2010

Heading back East for a curry

For two years in the early naughties I worked in Aldgate just as the city of business men, grey suits, coffee bars and Harry Potter rubs shoulders with the East with its colourful clothes, ethnic shops, students, housing estates and some of the best curry houses in London.

I enjoyed my time there and took advantage of my eastern posting to explore at lunchtimes by foot, bus and the driver-less DLR train. Favourite haunts then included Shadwell Basin, Stepney Green and Limehouse. A curious jumble of water, parks, faded industry and housing old and new, small and large, rough and posh.

And, of course, Brick Lane. Too many of the curry houses there have gone up-market for my liking but it is still, rightly, one of the most famous roads for food in Britain. The only real problem was making a selection and that problem was addressed by going there regularly and trying most of them.

Sitting somewhat on it's own in the lifeless desert of offices between Aldgate and the river, Cafe Spice Namaste made a brave stand for good food.

I went there a few times too as it was conveniently nestled between two offices that I worked in.

Perhaps it was because it had to work hard to pull the punters to a such drab part of town but Cafe Spice was extremely colourful in decor and cuisine.

I had the opportunity recently to turn the clock back a few years and turn a dull meeting in a nearby office to a good night out with a friend. It was with some trepidation that I suggested the relatively long and bleak walk along Prescott Street in case the restaurant had changed as much as a lot of the Aldgate area has since I worked there.

My worries were eased when I saw the familiar vivid colours and vibrant furnishings. The menu pleased too with a wide choice of things that I had never heard of described temptingly. Picking food was a mixture of judgement, experiment and adventure that conjured up something beyond our expectations in originality, taste and (thankfully) genuine spicy heat.

The only negative point was the unbelievable price we were charged for two large bottles of Cobra. Next time I'll look at the wine list instead of just making the quick and obvious choice.

But the beer incident did little to detract from what was a real culinary and cultural joy. I will go back there again and I just hope that it is not another seven years before I do so.

9 February 2010

Finishing Jekyll and Hyde

Logica's new brand will impact everything that we do, including the way that we write.

Earlier this week I went to a training session on the new Tone of Voice given by our writing consultants called, imaginatively, The Writer. It was an informative and fun session with lots of opportunity to practice what we learnt as we went along.

Our first task was to try and complete Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. All nine attempts and the original where then read out and we all had to try and guess which one was the real one. I was very pleased that four people thought that mine was the genuine article! Do you think that you would have been fooled too?
About a week has passed, and I am now finishing this statement under the influence of the last of the old powders. This, then, is the last time, short of a miracle, that Henry Jekyll can think his own thoughts or see his own face (now how sadly altered!) in the glass. Nor must I delay too long to bring my writing to an end; for if my narrative has hitherto escaped destruction, it has been by a combination of great prudence and great good luck. Should the throes of change take me in the act of writing it, Hyde will tear it in pieces; but if some time shall have elapsed after I have laid it by, his wonderful selfishness and circumscription to the moment will probably save it once again from the action of his ape-like spite.

And indeed the doom that is closing on us both has already changed and crushed him. Half an hour from now, when I shall again and forever re-indue that hated personality, I know how I shall sit shuddering and weeping in my chair, or continue, with the most strained and fearstruck ecstasy of listening, to pace up and down this room (my last earthly refuge) and give ear to every sound of menace. Will Hyde die upon the scaffold? or will he find courage to release himself at the last moment? God knows; I am careless; this is my true hour of death, and what is to follow concerns another than myself.

I do not know how long it has been since I last wrote in this journal, nor what has happened betwixt times. Hyde came. His passion and violence is all around me in torn clothes suffused with cold dark blood and in the smells and colours of ladies. And now a knock at the door. My next chapter begins.

7 February 2010

Surprises at the London Wetland Centre

The London Wetland Centre in Barnes is just a couple of short bus rides away (65 and 33) and I'm a member (not sure how that happened) so it seemed like a good place to take some friends on a fresh winter's day.

And it was.

The wetlands occupy a large area of marsh land that lie between Barnes to the west and the Thames to the east.

The centre is in two parts, one has small ponds and lots of tall reeds and the other (pictured) has large shallow pools.

A maze of footpaths weave around and between the ponds and pools to make it an interesting day out for casual walkers like myself. For the serious bird watchers and there were lots there with their tell-tale binoculars and long lenses, there are several hides throughout the centre that allow you to get up close and personal to many of the birds.

The point of the centre is to provide a haven for water birds amidst the urban sprawl of central London and a lot of them just do this.

My recognition of birds goes little beyond "is that a duck?" but even for people like me there are plenty of interesting birds.

This is still true in winter when the clever ones are off enjoying themselves in north Africa and have no intention of coming back until it's t-shirt weather here. They are not stupid!

I'm fairly sure that bird this is a swan and that it is (mostly) black with a red beak. At least I can be certain that it is cute and well worth taking a photo of.

If you want to know what other birds are there at the moment then have a look at the wetlands centre's twitter feed.

There is also a board listing the recent visitors in the reception building that also houses a cafe where we had some refreshing and warming drinks before embarking on the second part of the exploration.

The wetlands and the birds were what I expected to see but the art works were a pleasant surprise.

The reedy pondy part of the centre is festooned with works of art on a natural theme and usually constructed from waste items.

This leaping heron is joined by a host of other birds and even two crocodiles. The swans made out of umbrellas were a lot of fun too.

The London Wetlands Centre stimulates the legs, eyes and mind and is a great place to retreat. I'll be going again.

5 February 2010

Hoaxwind at the Bridge House II (E16)

The trip to Canning Town to see Hoaxwind play at the Bridge House II in Canning Town was quite an experience which I shall relate in the traditional beauty competition manner, i.e. in reverse order.

The worst part was the journey home. The Jubilee Line was shut for maintenance so the route home was convoluted. Anticipating this we left the venue after just two songs from the headline act, Alan Davey's Gunslinger, and headed to the local DLR station. So far so good and we had a short wait for the train to Lewisham.

Sadly when we got to Lewisham it was shut. The last train anywhere had departed and we were left at the mercies of the late buses. A difficult investigation found that the 185 was the only bus that went anywhere near Central London so we took that.

We had options on where to change and settled on Vauxhall which proved to be the right choice as by the time that we had determined that the N87 would take us all the way to Kingston there was one rolling into the bus station. Another easy change in Kingston to the 65 took me home.

All that sounds very reasonable, and there was very little time hanging around anywhere, but because it was mostly by bus the entire journey took just over 3 hours :-((

The second worst part of the trip was the travel there which, until we went home, seemed like the worst journey imaginable. A couple of just missed trains and a DLR train that changed its mind on where it was going meant that a journey that TFL said would take under 1 1/2 hours actually took over 2 :-(

The venue itself was bit of a mixed blessing. Inside it is plain, but functional. There's a bar, a good size stage and some unexpectedly impressive electronics for such a small place. Outside, well... it's in an industrial estate in Canning Town. The poor location balances the cosy interior and make the quality of the venue neutral overall :-|

With all that Hoaxwind would have to be really hot to make the evening even remotely bearable. Luckily they were :-))

The stage, sound system and lighting really suited Hoaxwind and they delivered the best set I've seen from them yet.

To satisfy my own curiosity as much as anything else, I made a note of the set list this time so I can reliably tell you that they played: Orgone Accumulator, Needle Gun, Assault and Battery, Quark, Death Trap, Shot Down the Night and Hassan I Sahba.

A very select best-of selection dictated by the brutal time restraints but any set-list with Orgone, Assault and Hassan is going to be very good. I was not the only one singing along madly (and badly) to all the songs. I almost started dancing at one point but I left that to those with more skill and/or more alcohol.

The songs were delivered with their usual enthusiasm, charm and technique; they looked and sounded wonderful.

The only minor gripe was that Tony's undressing routine was so slow after the wig had been discarded that we only got the briefest of glimpses of the skeleton suit right at the very end.

Travelling for five and a half hours for a forty minute set seems a little extravagant, and I am not sure that I would want to repeat it, but the forty minutes of musical delight in the middle made the trip worthwhile.

Here's hoping that Hoaxwind play closer to home next time (there are rumours of a major gig in Ramsgate) and that they repeat whatever it was they did that worked so well musically this time.

4 February 2010

2000AD Prog 1670

For reasons that I find hard to understand, not everybody reads 2000AD every week, despite the consistently excellent stories and art, so there is still some work to do to educate you all.

The easy way to do this is to show you the front cover of the latest issue, Prog 1670, which is drawn by the unbelievably good Clint Langley who has featured here more than once before.

This is exactly what an evil robot should look like.

What you cannot see here (because it's not on the 2000AD website) is the equally good back cover which shows Volkhan's compatriots, including Mek Quake and Blackblood. They are pretty evil too!

Pat Mills deserves an honourably mention as well as he invented the ABC Warriors longer ago that both of us probably like to admit to, he's still writing cracking stories about them and he was immensely approachable, nice and stimulating when I met him at the recent Comica event.

2000AD is still the galaxy's best comic.

3 February 2010

This is why I live in Ham

The summary says it all, Ham lies between Richmond Park and a long bend in the Thames. The result is plenty of wild open spaces to ramble through and a long tow path to stroll along.

The weekends are when the rambling happens and the scenery is enjoyed at leisure. During the week the quick strolls reinvigorate me after long hours chained to the PC in my study.

This picture was taken during one of those quick strolls which was made just before sunset.

The location is by Teddington Lock, which was built to by-pass the wier in the picture. The footbridge across to Teddington provides an elevated platform from which to savour the river as it curls indolently towards Kingston. Magic.

2 February 2010

Twitter exposes local Lib Dems

There is so much about this story for me to like that I just have to pass it on with a broad grin on my face :-))

I have never liked the local Lib. Dems. having been forced to mix with them, and to fight against them, when I was more involved in local politics around twenty years ago. I found their attitude very juvenile with all the emphasis on getting elected and none on policies or beliefs. Their get-elected-at-any-cost tactics included inventing scare stories that apparently had to be dealt with urgently but, amazingly, not until a Lib. Dem. MP was able to turn up for a photo opportunity.

In contrast, one thing I do like is technology and the way that it can be used to connect people and share information even on the move.

So when a mobile phone with a camera and Twitter combined to expose another Lib. Dem. trumped up scare story then my delight was two-fold and immense.

The rest of the story is taken directly from the famous Guido Fawkes' blog simply because he says everything that I want to say.

Loose Lips Sink Ships

A big round of applause to the Liberal Democrat activist Dan Falchikov who spent an entire train journey mouthing off about how he stirred up a rumour that had been picked up by the press about the closure of Kingston Hospital. Richmond MP Susan Kramer quickly got a campaign up but little did Mr Falchikov realise he was infact sitting opposite the Mirror’s Kevin Maguire, who was commuting in from his million pound suburban mansion:

On train a bloke’s boasting on mobile he got Evening Standard to claim Lab has secret plans to shut Kingston Hospital - 9:57 AM Jan 27th

He’s “a manifesto to write”. Tory? Wearing Hibs scarf. Clocking his details. May sneak photo to track down. Or could always ask! -10:01 AM Jan 27th

This is the Kingston hospital scare bloke. Anyone know him? He’s a loud mouth in public places http://tweetphoto.com/9705183 - 11:42 AM Jan 27th

Ta all Tweeters. Hospital phone man ID’d as Lib Dem activist Dan Falchikov. He should stop SHOUTING on trains - 3:22 PM Jan 27th from web

Clearly a fan of EyeSpyMP, Maguire snapped the loose lipped liberal and plastered his first name and photo across Twitter. He was soon identified. No where is safe anymore… the walls really do have ears (and cameras).

Kramer is up against Zac Goldsmith’s extremely well funded campaign and is obviously feeling the heat if she is fighting so dirty that she has stooped to having her campaigners make stuff up. Goldsmith has jumped on the story unsurprisingly. Once again it is another blow to the image of the Liberal Democrats as fluffy and nice that Clegg and Cowley Street constantly spin. On the ground the yellow team are spiteful and vicious.

1 February 2010

LIKE 10 - Information behaviour and cultural change

The most recent LIKE (London Information and Knowledge Exchange) event was a resounding success, as usual.

The familiar elements were there, twenty plus people discussing a subject that they are all interested in over a few drinks and a meal in convivial surroundings.

This months event had a slightly different format with one of the LIKE founders, Virginia Henry, interviewing antipodeans Liz Scott-Wilson and Carol Scott who explained knowledge sharing and record keeping from the perspective of a railway engineer and a social worker.

In each case they understood the value of records but gave little importance to maintaining them and preferred to speak to colleagues rather than referring them.

The interviews and subsequent whole-group discussion threw up some familiar themes, such as how to convince somebody to share knowledge when there is no immediate or direct benefit to them.

A variant of Information Literacy (one of my many hobby-horses) arose too in that we have all developed our own schemes of note taking etc. because nobody has ever told us how to do this.

I also found myself questioning, not for the first time, whether it is sensible, or even possible, to try and keep records about complex and subjective matters like the well-being of a family.

An unexpected insight came over dinner when our table got on to the subject of pub quizzes and discovered that we all do them, we all pretend not to take them seriously, all delight when we get a question right when nobody else knows the answer and we all had horror stories of when our correct answer was unfairly dismissed by a moronic question master!

This ubiquitous delight in the depths of our personal knowledge may be a symptom of the social issues that prevent us from sharing our knowledge freely and easily. I need to thing more about that.

It is because LIKE offers these insights and new thoughts that I keep going. The social elements help greatly too, these are fun and stimulating people to be with.