I’ll get me coat

By now my picture may have disappeared from the sidebar of this blog. It’s because, for the past eight months, I’ve been burning too many candles at too many ends. Something had to give and, while my relationship with the IWR folk is still good, I just can’t keep up with the weekly blog. I’m so sorry (although I’ll understand perfectly if you’re not!) You’ll still be getting a column from me once a month.

What’s taken over a large chunk of my life is working with Freeform Dynamics, a boutique research and analysis firm which publishes a lot of its stuff freely. My particular responsibilities centre around environmental and social computing; although a lot of business people shrink from the ’social’ word, so I tend to use ’collaboration’ with them.

My first IWR blog post was just over two years ago (we started the blog in May 2006, despite what it says in the sidebar.) I used the Wayback Machine to find it. Just provide a website URL and it will list all the web pages back to the start – a great way to check up on how people change their tune over the years. Or simply to do a bit of research, like I did.

Then, as now, I’d recently been in California. And my first post related to the first law of VC investment: find something that appeals to one of the seven deadly sins. Of course, unless you’re a churchgoer, these don’t come readily to mind. So they are: greed, envy, sloth, pride, wrath, gluttony and lust. The virtues by contrast are: faith, hope, charity, fortitude, justice, temperance and prudence. The last being much beloved of our current (is he still?) Prime Minister.

It’s interesting to see how social computing and environmental concerns have tempered many people’s outright pursuit of sins with more than a pinch of virtue. Yet, underneath you can’t help suspecting that not much has changed. Although, perhaps because of the new circles I move in, I do see a lot more charity these days. People seem more ready to give in the online social world with little expectation of a return. The weird thing about this is that the returns come rapidly as word spreads. I had lunch with four people the other day and every one of us has benefitted financially and spiritually from our online activities, even when that’s not what we set out to do. In fact, all five of us only knew each other as a result of social computing related activities.

If you’re curious about who we are, one of our number, Euan Semple, posted a picture of the occasion to Flickr. Except it wasn’t an occasion. We just all felt like turning online to offline for a change.

When it comes to the green side of my life, it seems that we are, once again, driven by sin on the one hand and virtue on the other. All businesses want to make money (sin or survival – take your pick). And we all want to make sure that our children and grandchildren inherit a world worth living in, which I think lies in virtues, although it could be partially driven by pride. Bosses of organisations might make environmental choices for pragmatic reasons – money, PR or regulation – but they may secure staff commitment for additional, more spiritual, reasons. If the end result works, are we bothered?

So back to the first column. My conclusion was that "information professionals may be helping users address their baser urges". Now I’m not so sure. I actually think you’re better than that. I owe you an apology.

See you on the column. Or Google me if you feel so moved.

It’s been fun. Thanks for reading the blog posts.

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