An Open Letter to Medway Council,
supporting The Deaf Cat, Rochester.

[Originally written on 11th April 2011. Today, directly submitted to Medway Council to support ‘change of use’ application Ref. MC/11/1478]

Dear Laura / Kevan [proprietors of The Deaf Cat]

Following the recent licensing issues and council interventions, I wish to make my feelings known on the subject of the Deaf Cat Coffee Bar – I hope this short note inspires you and your staff to stay motivated and positive in the face of the current hurdles, paperwork and autocracy.

In short, the Deaf Cat is much more than a Rochester coffee shop, it has become much greater than the sum of its parts and for the good of Rochester’s (and Medway’s) social ecosystem it is of paramount importance that this be recognised and supported by the council, not constrained.

I applaud what you have achieved in terms of a business, but more importantly I congratulate and thank you for the diverse community you have helped align, ignite and inspire. In a relatively short period of time you have achieved so much – well done! Through my ever-growing tuttle endeavours, community connections and public/council partnerships I will do what I can to help you build the necessary bridges with other creative groups, community initiatives, creative-freelancers/entrepreneurs and the local authorities.

From the standpoint of bureaucracy and autocracy (Eg. a quick glance over a piece of paper and a tick box aligned to a column marked ‘High Street Coffee Shop’) I understand how the Deaf Cat may appear at first to be a traditional High Street coffee house, but for those who care to look beyond the business name and brick building and its categorized business genre, a unique and thriving community of local catalysts can be found and will continue to grow. Sure the Deaf Cat serves good coffee but to most of the people who use it regularly the coffee is not the reason to frequent its welcoming space… its value cannot be realised in a cost-effective cuppa, its true value is in its community of active participants and true social-capital. Given Medway’s ‘Big Society’ agenda I can see no more valuable venture than The Deaf Cat.

What can be counted doesn’t always count. And from the standpoint of social capital, that which can’t be counted on paperwork or council forms, often counts.

Thank you. Positive thoughts,
Carl

Catalyst: http://fellow.ventures/tuttle101
Co-founder: http://coFWD.org

 

Research & Development: Things I am pondering

Remapping the principles of industry and government: ‘twenty-first-century economics, social ecology, value cycles and information legacy’

(Monetization, hierarchy, distribution, curation, policy, responsibility, ethics (Ethonomics), measurement, value… privacy vs net neutrality? value chain vs value cycle? competitive advantage vs constructive advantage ‘socio-efficiency’?)

Renaissance of social participation: ‘Agri-culture of insight’

(Participation, human enterprise and social currency – to belong and make meaning. Authenticity and human/emotional linguistics: ‘yours truly’)

Intrinsic social value over extrinsic materialism: ‘Brand value, sustainability and CSR’

(Do people value getting credit for their contributions over getting paid for them? – ROI/SROI – the reputation economy and trust mapping systems)

Cultivation of nature and culture: ‘bohemia’s and acculturation’

(Diminishing social norms, Rhizomatic dynamics and human behaviours – social proof – human-factored/user-centered)

Social objects/places and augmented reality: ‘Object-narratives and Social/Virtual Currency’

(GPS, marker-based, marker-less and gesture-based – plus, hyper-local (en)rich(ed)-media and on-event credit/incentives/network-economics – sensory/contactless, augmented, near-field)

Geospatial science and the digital landscape: ‘Metaweb layers of information’

(Social layer, game layer, open-data and entities – singular, person, place or thing)

Astronaut’s side-real-time: ‘Appearances of the same star on the observer’s meridian’

(As a measurement lens for information, people and networks in the context of real-time and real-space)
(Brownian motion: you can be certain of the location, or speed, of a particle, but not both)

Social Integration: ‘Live and on-demand’

(Content Aggregation, Experience Streaming, 3G-4G Networks – the end of silo’d UI/UX, and birth of UE *engagement*)
(Multi-dimensional narrative/interaction – including ZScape Holographic/3DTV and WiFi/SmartMeter Appliances)

Cross-discipline research and design methodologies: ‘Facilitation of participation, creativity and innovation’

(Innovation requires: ART not SCIENCE, QUALITATIVE insights not QUANTITATIVE statistics, HUNCHES not FACTS, RISKS not CERTAINTIES)
(Meritocratic value – laymen & lunar-man, amateur & pro-amateur, like-minds & like-hearts)

Self-organising systems: ‘Agriculture as a metaphor. Technology is no longer mechanistic’

(Decentralised and open-source – the self regulating economy of the natural world. Biomimicry Inspiration)

Complexity economics: ‘Mathematical theory of dispersed cross-sensitivity in a self-organising system’

(Anthropology and ethnography of ideas, influence and engagement)

Academic, Corporate & Government protocol and policy: ‘Prosperity in an age of austerity’

(Should systems be focused on creating good citizens rather than economic performance? Net neutrality: The free and open ethos of civics and the internet is as stake if prioritising data/connection/freedomofspeech/human-senses for profit becomes a reality? #Civic-Data rather than #Open-Data?)

UnSelfish Capitalism: ‘Emotional wellbeing over wealth’

(Happiness: Authentic [not sincere], Vivacious [not hyperactive], Playful [not game playing])
(Meet your needs, not your wants. Be, don’t have. Cooperate as well as compete)

If you’d like to discuss how I could help your strategic research, creative development and innovation towards twenty-first-century economics (and an inter-dependent ecology), please do get in touch. Here’s what I’ll be reading in 2011 and if you’d like to know more here’s my Professional Bio.

An Update of Thoughts & Activities

Tuttle Projects, EmptyShops in Medway (Kent),
Sustainable-Creativity, Open-Source & Open-Data,
PodCasts, Social-Media & HyperLocal-Activity-Streams
& Community-Spaces for future-thinking LikeMinds

Yesterday (02/06/10) I re-visited the blog post I published at the beginning of January 2010 entitled ‘A new year of opportunity for a Padawan‘ and I re-read the ‘Hopes for 2010’ bullet-point list that formed it’s sign-off – in doing so I was reminded of all the to-do-lists that I (and others) have since worked through; its been a busy few months, and a busy year thus far!

Now, less than six month into 2010, I’m encouraged to report that many of January’s bullet-point ‘hopes and aims’ are well on their way to being realised, some are even complete, and much more has happened to convince me that I’m personally (and professionally) on the right road – all I need to do now is appease my bank manager by building a sustainable business model out of what I know but I’ll still remember Steve Jobs advice: “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish! ‘~)

In an attempt to mark some lines in my cognitive sand, I’ve decided to publish this update. What follows is last January’s re-prioritised bullet-point-list, accompanied by some written explanations – and just for the record, each point seems to me, to fit very neatly within the framework of Chris Messina’s latest SlideShare presentation (as embedded below). I hope the following provides some inspirational mind-fodder to you, and hopefully it delivers some mental-release and focus to me – putting such things in writing usually does ‘~)

Aim #1Afford travel & ticket to SXSW® Interactive, March 2010

I commence this update on a slightly ironic footing, my original #1 priority back in January was to “Update FellowCreative.com and define ‘What I Do’ so that I can provide my bank manager with some form of stable cashflow graph”. Today I find myself hesitantly declaring that I’m yet to achieve such stability but I’m very happy to report that I not only earned my way to SXSW Interactive 2010 in Austin Texas but whilst I was there I learned from, and met, many inspiring and forward-thinking people.

I didn’t find the time to specifically blog my SXSW experiences but I can say for certain that I benefited greatly from my trip in terms of knowledge, inspiration and connections – and I trust the content within ‘Social-Web for Entrepreneurs and Start-ups‘ (published in March) has since demonstrated this fact.

My trip state-side provided non-stop activity, when I wasn’t listening to presentations from the likes of Danah Boyd or Clay Shirky, or wrapped up in conversation, I was socialising with friends (some of whom I’d not met in person but had been talking to online for years) – in short, Austin left me speechless (quite literally horse upon my return) and I’d recommend the trip to anyone with an open-mind and a soft-spot for shiny things.

I’m also proud to note that during the SXSW Digital Mission Breakfast I found myself suggesting a bold idea to Intel (the world leader in silicon innovation, processor technologies and supporter of global initiatives to continually advance how people work) – it appears the idea has since been signed-off for implementation by Intel’s HR Vice President *~)

As a closing note on this, I’m also pleased to say that only days ago Nokia got in touch regarding LikeMinds in Helsinki – I will tweet as soon as I know more about the participatory four day trip, so far it sounds extremely interesting! *~)

Aim #2Organise a Tuttle101 Project (or bigger: BarCampKent)

I will assume that you are already familiar with the concept of BarCamp, and thus I’ll move onwards to an explanation of the lesser known Tuttle:

Lloyd Davis, the founder of The Tuttle Club, describes Tuttle as ‘a loose association of people finding a way of working better together both online and off.

As a Tuttle Club regular, I think of Tuttle as ‘a philosophy or approach’ more than a Club or Event; I perceive it less as a Noun or Event Name, and more as a Verb or Action ~ as in: ‘to Tuttle‘. I believe people are participants of Tuttle, not members or attendees. Everyone who experiences Tuttle walks away with their own unique experience and perception of its unframework, open-social-approach and value; but almost all those I’ve met describe it as ‘fun and inspiring’.

If you’re a likely friend of Harry Tuttle, I do hope to meet you soon:
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My personal understanding of Tuttle continues to evolve daily but today I’ll pose the following definition: ‘a participatory action or moment in time, where the spaces between people (as individuals or in groups) provide an open-mind and conversational canvas for transversal lines and alternative angles of exploration, learning, perception, approach, collaboration, ideation and innovation, resulting in positive-participation and social-value‘ – or put simply, to Tuttle, is to have a great excuse for an open-minded conversation over a coffee or beer, plus its free to participate and provides a much better platform for social-interaction, education, inspiration and creative collaboration than any structured conference, speed-networking programme or lead generation event I’ve ever attended.

In September 09 I decided to introduce Tuttle to the community of Medway in Kent (UK) – Tuttle101 was born. Now, only eight months later there’s a ‘casual community’ mailing-list of 78+ and an expanding ‘core community’ of participants who actively propel things forward and encourage evolutions of the concept such as Tipple. Last month (17th May) Tuttle101 welcomed 19+ participants at 9:30am on a Monday, with a further 15+ appearing for Tipple101 on the evening of 25th May.
Click here for the latest info on Tuttle101 and Tipple101.

Such community participation was somewhat unexpected, but its been magically inspiring and welcomed; it has also presented challenges of time, resource and the eternal questions: So what’s Next? Is such a thing Sustainable? How could it be done better? Where’s the Value (social, financial, educational, transversal) ?

As it turned out, Tuttle Club founder Lloyd Davis had been asking the same questions – on 15th May 2010 I spent the day at TuttleCamp discussing such things amongst a small group of nationwide Tuttle participants – the agenda for the day ‘come talk about tuttle, lets see what happens’ – suffice to say it provided interesting and stimulating conversation between people who wouldn’t normally meet.

I left with a few nuggets of inspiration to ponder: 1) Tuttle – its not for everybody but it is for anybody. 2) Tuttle works best in a publicly social space such as a Café or Bar, partly because hosting drinks and washing-up is already catered for, but mostly because it automatically supports social inclusion and openness. 3) At least one person needs to assume the role of saying hello to new participants. 4) Twitter, more often than not, provides the social back-channel to Tuttle, and thus it automatically supports the unwritten rule of no business cards or name badges. 5) As highlighted by the principles of Activity Theory and Open-Source Community Management, Tuttle appears to develop both a ‘casual community’ and a ‘core community’, whilst removing any formal sense of hierarchy.

So, what’s next on the agenda for Tuttle101? Well, in many ways that’s up to the community but one core conversation from TuttleCamp continues to surface – the idea of Tuttle Projects. The concept of ‘core community participants’ being able to provide value to a wider community through collaborative projects – this interests me greatly and I hesitantly find myself paraphrasing Erasmus Darwin and Jenny Uglow’s book The Lunar Men: “a group of enlightened improvers abounding in charity’s deeds and everything valuable in human life, principles, ethics and social liberty”. The word ‘charity’ is perhaps a little misleading but ‘social-value’ is more my mindset – and already such projects have begun to present themselves:

A. Medway Council have expressed an interest to engage the Tuttle101 community in the redevelopment of their public service website – more information here. Such engagement is yet to be confirmed but things certainly look hopeful.

B. The result of much co-working and floor101.org related discussion and inspired by the national Empty Shops campaign, the tuttle101 community (@BecomeKnown @DavidBahia @OnMeJack & @FellowCreative – helped by Steve @KentishFella at Royal Tunbridge Wells #Twuttle) collaborated over the course of two days to Geo-Tag and Photograph 136 #EmptyShops across Medway – the result of which can be seen here as the beginnings of an Open-Source Platform ~ more information can be found under ‘Aim #3’ (below).

C. As the community grows and new faces arrive in the mix, opportunities and like-minded projects are beginning to present themselves, only last week I gave up a day of my time to help out Gary Weston @LightVessel21 – LV21 is a 40 metre steel-hulled lightship being transformed into a floating cultural facility, designed to provide a range of services promoting and supporting the creative industries in the Medway area and beyond. And please note, if you’re any good with paint-brushes, hammers or abseiling lights, Gary @LightVessel21 is happy to welcome all hands on deck! please ‘~) http://www.lv21.co.uk

LV21 Light Vessel

D. A PodCast, it seems that Steven @OnMeJack and myself @FellowCreative are in the midst of attempting such a production to help engage others in conversation and spread the word of local like-minds and unsigned musicians; as well as furthering discussion and connections towards HyperLocal-Activity-Streams and Community-Generated-NewspapersTheBridgePodCast is now available here!

E. The final Tuttle Project to mention is that of a KentBarCamp – at this stage there is nothing even planned, let alone confirmed, but I feel it worth mentioning that a collaborative group of like-minds is slowly forming that might just be able to realise such a feat in Kent ‘~)

If you’d like to participate, or have your own idea for a Tuttle Project(s), please do get in touch, and please do SignUp for Updates.
In addition I’d like to note: Tuttle101 is not owned by anyone, it merely exists because of its growing community of people – and this means that the community are free to shape it, use it, or discard it, as they please. With this in mind these assets are now available to help you, but please do let us know what you’re up to beforehand so we can help ‘~)

PS. I will also note that January’s ‘Aim #5 – Plan a 15,000ft LIVE-stream sky-dive for charity’ is now added to my Tuttle101 Project list but due to finance and time constraints, and a few technical checks awaiting completion, it is now at the very bottom of my priority list.

Aim #3Inspire an Open-Source Platform

When I set out this aim in January 2010 I thought it likely to be realised through http://deathbook.info (Facebook Privacy and Digital Legacy Issues) or other matters relating The Digital Economy Bill but today I simply point you in the direction of the #EmptyShops Flickr Gallery, the Public GeoTag data (longitude and latitude data) of 136 Shops across Medway, the National Empty Shops Network – and I suggest there is now a foundation upon which to build such a platform, so please do ‘~)

#EmptyShops locational-data and shop-front photos were collected during the 21st & 22nd of May 2010 between Strood, Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham (Medway, Kent). Full details can be found here:

#EmptyShops #Medway – a Tuttle101 Project

Aim #4Update FellowCreative.com and define ‘What I Do’

Suffice to say that this is currently my #1 priority and I will be back with more details very soon! In the meantime I’d like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone who replied with an answer to my open question ‘What Do I Do?’ – as promised, below is a collection of your tweets, thank you for providing me such food for thought! ‘~)

What Do I Do?

“Sometimes you need someone else or something else to cultivate the great creative thinking. For a crucial piece of creative thinking we asked Carl to help facilitate us, and use his creative methodologies, his knowledge of our market but crucially his distance from our consultancy to improve our chances of making the mental jumps we needed. It worked! Carl was patient, thoughtful and used fun, theory and careful interventions to help us find ourselves some little gems of thought. A good man and one I’m happy to recommend”
Will McInnes, MD of NixonMcInnes

As I’ve said before, I believe we’re defined by What We Do, not by our Job Title’s. I still love my title ‘Creative Midwife & Joiner-of-Dots’ but ever since Will McInnes gave me his testimonial I’ve been pondering: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

BarCamp Brighton 4 (#bcb4) & Tuttle
(Social-Media Cafe) in Royal Tunbridge Wells (#tuttle.rtw)

Following two planned days in Brighton last week I had the pleasure of staying on for an extra day to attend Brighton BarCamp 4 (Saturday 5th September). The first thing I must note about the BarCamp experience was the truly awesome venue!

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Walkaround BarcampBrighton 4 (2009)
Original footage filmed and uploaded by Chris Keene


The rest of my thoughts form the remainder of this post – plus a brief mention of my trip to Tuttle in Royal Tunbridge Wells on Wednesday 9th (thank you all whom make me welcome!).


It was my 4th BarCamp of recent years, I’ve now attended three in Brighton and one in London. I’ve run sessions at three out of four, but ‘participated’ at all, as are The Rules of BarCamp =)

For those who may not be familiar with the BarCamp experience I offer a quote from ‘Man on the Moon’, the 1999 film based on the life of Andy Kaufman:

“The audience expects me to shock them all the time, and besides faking my own death I don’t know what to do.”

Replacing the word ‘shock’ with ‘encourage discussion and thought’ lacks the comedic genius of Kaufman but it does loosely describe both a) my consciousness every-time I sit down to write a blog post; and b) the BarCamp attendees role (focused mainly on shared participation and experience).

The beautiful part about a BarCamp (and to a large extent a Tuttle gathering) is that there’s no need for anyone to be nervous or fake their own death – all attendees are accepting, friendly, supportive and most importantly willing to share – you definitely get out what you put in! The key things to remember are that product presentations and sales pitches are not allowed, the ‘two ears one mouth‘ approach is a considered rule of thumb; and if you find that you’re not interested in a session or conversation you can simply use the two foot rule and walk onto the next without disruption or feeling as if you’ve offended anyone.


I view BarCamp and conversation as non-linear (they are threaded and dispersed, two-way or multi-channel, just like Web 2.0 social media and online community).


theory

If you ‘the reader of this post’ have actually met me in person it is probable that you will already know of my respect for Dr Edward de Bono and his concept of PO and Six Thinking Hats methodology. You may also be aware of my fascination with the two hemispheres of the brain and how the left-brain is extremely process driven where as the right-brain is more dispersed and energy driven. I recommend watching Jill Bolte Taylor’s amazing TED talk for a better insight:

Brain Hemispheres vs Capitalism & Social Dynamic

You may not be aware that I present much of my thinking relative to the mathematical theory of ‘Dispersed cross-sensitivity (in a self-organizing system)’ – which roughly speaking means:

“Water flowing down a river does less for the land than rain falling widely over the same area – this is why the Grand Canyon runs through a desert.” Edward de Bono

It is under this same principle, and with the same high regard for ‘creativity and innovation without boundaries’ that I scatter my thinking, my time and my energy, in a perhaps bold attempt to develop inspiration, understanding, thoughts and abilities (both within myself and others) – I continue this approach when I attend events like BarCamp and Tuttle.


A quick summary of BarCamp 4

I met and was introduced to at least eight new and truly interesting people – this was worth the journey alone! I also attended a host of sessions including a few geeky presentations such as ‘an introduction to the internet browsers new CSS3 standard‘ and ‘Andriod Mobile development made simple’, through to graduate employment discussions like ‘Is a qualification, or just plain enthusiasm, the most suitable requirement for getting a job in a creative/digital agency? by Sam Murray-Sutton‘ and even broader workshops such as ‘How to trace your family tree online by Rachel Clarke‘ – I trust this underlines my dispersed ‘rain falling’ analogy.

The diagram below is a quick attempt to demonstrate some of my developing thoughts relating to the ‘current’ social, technological and capitalist evolution (from an Industrial Age, towards a Digital Age), and an apparent acceptance/emergence of a dispersed approach – from linear (top-down) processes and policies, to dispersed (bottom-up) business models, communities and social networks.

Open vs Closed

Now, at this point, I must state very clearly that this post offers no answers, and on the day I attended BarCamp I did not intend to deliver answers, nor did I intend to present a linear series of questions, I simply set out to scatter some random thoughts amongst some open-minded participants in an attempt to discover if any of my concepts/mindset rang true.

The closest thought connection I made that day was during a session delivered by Tom Hume entitled ‘Aikido & Software Development’.

Firstly his presentation title reminded me of a blog post I’d seen entitled ‘How to be a Samurai designer’, but Tom’s considered similarities between the martial art of Aikido and the complex art of software development went much deeper than a short blog post, covering key individuals such as Mary Poppendieck, to highlight some common cultural/philosophical values such as ‘keeping balanced in your approach’, ‘keeping a clean sword cut’ (code cleanliness and re-factoring), ‘keeping up regular practice and re-examination of technique’ – plus the importance of mastering the basics.

The presentation, and resulting participant feedback (from both Tom’s well delivered presentation and my own un-structured un-focused session), plus a recent trip to Royal Tunbridge Wells Tuttle (where I met yet more interesting and friendly folk) has provoked my thinking upon ‘the principles and learning of development systems’; which have since forced me to further consider our likely evolution from Industrial to Digital (or at least our acceptance/emergence of Digital Age values/practices).

From a perspective of martial arts, I find myself pondering the potential value in ‘protecting yourself whilst protecting your opponent’ and most interestingly:

During our move from Industrial Age to the Digital Age, we must be extremely mindful when transferring the weight from one foot to the other or else we risk falling over or being caught unaware by unforeseen opponents (circumstances).

Spreading our weight across both feet and being agile in both movement and thinking may allow us to defeat the toughest opponent.

Finally I digress once again, towards another TED talk on social dynamics and motivational drivers, to underline how some of our ‘Industrial Age’ beliefs are now proven to be fallacies – and thus there may be better ways to ‘learn, exercise and develop’ long-term value. See: Daniel Pink on the surprising science of motivation.


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I do hope this post hasn’t been too unfocused/unstructured. I do hope you’ve got some goodness out of it and I look forward to any thoughts and constructive criticisms you may have on my latest babble =)