Free dom

In the prologue of his book “Free” Chris Anderson (author of The Long Tail, editor of Wired magazine and holder of a B.Sc Physics – George Washington University) states that the central question of this book starts with a loose en in The Long Tail. “My first book was about the new shape of consumer demand, when everything is available and we can choose from the infinite aisle rather than just the best-seller bin… there is only one way you can have unlimited shelf space: if that shelf space costs nothing.”

A tweet on http://twiter.com/WTFmediaconf compares Chris Anderson’s principle of free with Robert Murdoch’s principle of payment.  Broadly Anderson defines the term FREE in three ways  – free as defined by liberty or unconfined; free as defined by the cannons of freedom of expression and free as defined as having no cost or being a gift.  He also distinguishes between the 20th century free with the 21st century free.  Free in 20th century terms involves hidden costs (In other words, not free, just marketing or advertising ploy free).  21st century free is an expectation.  Who is right?

Robert Murdoch on the other hand believes strongly in pay for content.  It would appear that his convictions are based on traditional media concepts that news is a scarce resource, difficult to gather and therefore has a commercial value; hence cover price or subscription free.  Once a newspaper built up a readership, access to the readership was leveraged to secure advertising which was sold at a rate.  Circulation figures added value and the higher the circulation the higher the premium.  Logical.  But . . .  and it is a big but, the digital world turned this idea of making money on its head.  Flipped it around and twirled it for good measure.  Grassroots journalists, citizen journalists popped up all over the place, twitter announces the Chinese 2009 earth quake and the Iran revolution, CNN took a lot longer to announce or to get there.  So who owns the news?

On June 14th Seth Godin posted his “Textbook rant“.  He states that “assigning a textbook to your college class is academic malpractice.”  He goes onto suggest that Professors should spend their time “devising pages or chapterettes or entire chapters on topics that matter to them, then publishing them for free online.  (its part of their job, remember?)”  He concludes “This industry deserves to die  It has extracted too much time and too much money and wasted too much potential.  We can do better.  A lot better.”

So far online has changed the publishing industry (include traditional media with other publishing: newspaper, textbook, magazine, books (ipad)) in terms of production as well as consumption, it has changed the academic industry.  Everyone knows that Google holds the knowledge which is abundant instead of scarce when academics painstakingly gathered and held the knowledge.  Students have changed as well, their expectations are different and as suggested by Tolken they are now co-creators not simply consumers.

Presentations are trending around the world

Yes, believe it or not presentations are trendy.  According to the wonderful book on presentations that I now own (possession being 9/10 th of the law) called Presentation Zen (Author:  Garr Reynolds) presentation evenings are held in 80 cities around the world.  “From Amsterdam and Auckland to Venice and Vienna.”

And in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.  (Although in Cape Town the trend appears to have passed, but it is still going strong in the other two centres.)

Called Pecha-Kucha (pe-chak-cha) the Japanese word for chit-chat, this presentation style if very simple.  You must use 20 slides, each must appear for 20 seconds, and you must tell your story – in tune with the slides in 6 minutes and 40 seconds.  The slides advance automatically.  So when you are finished you are done.  According to Reynolds, “the objective of these simple but tight restraints is to keep the presentations brief and focused and to give more people a chance to present in a single night.”

Pecha-Kucha is to presentations what an elevator speech is to persuasion.  It is all about preparation, understanding exactly what your core message is (simply and completely stripped down to the basics) and why it matters.  You need to tell your message in such a way that you are telling people why they should care.  So the bottom line is that if you cannot tell your story or your company’s story in 7 minutes…

In trying to share the essence of this book, I asked the students  to create a link between words and visuals.  This was the challenge:  “Choose three words that you believe describe you best.  Then create three visuals with no more than six words per visual that explain these characteristics to others.”   As my own presentations are far from perfect, this is my effort.

My three words:  Curious, Independent, Free Spirit

Curious: Photo by Payolover

Curious:  “When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.” (Walt Disney)

“Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.” (Marie Curie).

“Children are curious and are risk takers. They have lots of courage. They venture out into a world that is immense and dangerous. A child initially trusts life and the processes of life.” (John Bradshaw).

Since childhood I have always want to know the why and what and how of things.  Why are you doing that?  What comes next?  How does that work?

How does this picture relate to curiosity?  There are infinite possibilities as to what one will find at the end of the pier and beyond; and how and why are there as well.

Independent:  “I like being a strong, independent woman, and to be honest, I was never afraid to be on my own.” (Dido Armstrong).

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. Christopher Robin to Pooh”  (A.A. Milne).

Independent: Photo by jaz1111)

True independence and freedom can only exist in doing what’s right.”  (Brigham Young).

Being independent means being able to think for myself, to make choices for myself and to order the world in a way that allows me to make good choices that will work for me.  It is not about being right or wrong, it is not about people agreeing or disagreeing,  it is not about judgement, but about living.

Why a lighthouse as a symbol of independence.  The lighthouse is a symbol of safety, of offering light as a warning of danger to those who are at sea.   A lighthouse stands alone, highly functional and doing service while maintaining a sense of independence and dependability.

Free spirit:  “A free spirit takes liberties even with liberty itself.” (Francis Picabia.)

“Something about her eyes or voice has always suggested the hint of a free spirit, trapped in a Peck & Peck cage, dreaming of making rude noises at public gatherings of Republicans.”  (Jeff Greenfield.)

Free spirit Photo by J Bournay

“To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.”  (Helen Keller)

I have always battled with containment and confinement; with rules and regulations and with blind obedience.  Being a free spirit does not mean being without boundaries but about being able to move freely within the boundaries.

similar to the movement of the waves, predictable but unpredictable; knowing and unknowing…

You have enemies?

I just love this Winston Churchill quotation:

“You have enemies?  Good.  That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

So how many enemies do you have?  What did you stand up for?  What have you done?