in absentia

By robynjay On January 5th, 2012

I’ve been pondering Harriet’s post If you’re not present, you’re absent over at her Technology Twitter blog.

In the post she describes a period of creative reinvention – a ‘rich and a valuable time, productive and exciting, if challenging and complex’ ; one in which she shut off from her networks for personal reflection.
She says:

The creative process is wonderful – at the end.  In the middle I found it complex and contradictory.  My  online networks felt too public a place to expose such fragile thinking.  Do online spaces in their ephemeral nature provide pressure to present finished thought?  Is it really ok to be fragmented and indecisive?’

Perhaps with the exception of Twitter (which still can be archived and curated), I don’t think online spaces ARE ephemeral. That’s the problem. These are not fleeting remarks; they are there for good. They can expose mistakes, foolishness, naivety and raw emotions.

The public transparent nature of contributing online, which ever media it might be, scares most people. There’s a big difference between scribbling in a journal and posting to a blog. There’s a big difference in confiding semi-formulated ideas with a person you trust, or with yourself, and sharing them with the world or even an extended network. Gauging what to share online, when and with who is in itself a digital literacy skill I think. It will vary from person to person according to the issue, thickness of skin, and personal space needs but I’d certainly respect anyone’s right to withdraw at a time when intense personal reflection and introspection is needed.

Perhaps what we can share is metacognitive. Not the details as such, but an understanding of the strategies and processes. We DO need to encourage wacky creative thoughts, lateral thinking, risk-taking, and change. The final product often fails to illustrate the rich, turbulent and harried nature of the creative process but it is often after the process is complete and a result is evident that the significant moments along the way become evident. We do not, for example, see the working sketches of great artists before the final work is published.

From a personal perspective, whether I’m formulating creative projects or pondering life directions, I do most of it in private. When the change or project is substantial it will become all consuming. Shutting down to enable focused attention is a coping strategy and one to be acknowledged.

Best wishes with your new directions Harriet. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of your deliberations when and if you are ready to share them 🙂

[CC FlickR image by Invisible Lens]

the art of giving

By robynjay On December 26th, 2011

In a culture overrun with commercialism and gift one-upmanship, its tempting to react by simply not engaging. But was does this mean for kids?

I grew up in a home where creative pursuits were both encouraged and valued. As the last child at home and living out of town I was never bored. When I wasn’t roaming rocks and gullies or inhabiting the secret nooks of our shed, I was creating. Paper craft, painting, sewing, clay, puppets, drawing, sculpture projects were resourced and guided. The best times were when I worked alongside my mother.

My products, however humble, were admired and valued. There was never a suggestion that gift cards would be purchased. ‘Works of art’ were the most valued gifts, given pride of place.

The act of gift giving is a precious thing; an opportunity to thank and an opportunity to share something of ourselves. For children its about reflection and humility; taking time to consider another and give time to create something that is lovingly wrapped and delivered. Its about connection and relationship.

As adults we can encourage this by valuing hand crafted produce above factory produced, by appreciating the efforts of kids as they develop the self-confidence to create that many adults lack, and by providing the time, resources and guidance for kids to stop consuming and take time to put themselves in the shoes of others.

staying on top in 2010

By robynjay On January 12th, 2010

Slideshare has posted their 5 secrets to staying on top of it all in 2010 ;they are all about trust, connections, communication, creativity, relationships and agility. What really struck me when I read the post was the total juxtaposition with the processes and position of most large organisations.

Here they are with my thoughts in italics:

1. Pay Attention to the Metrics
….. When starting up new project agree on what the metrics should be and what goals are appropriate.

Metrics are about customer satisfaction and efficiency, not unconnected tasks. Why aren’t we connecting with our customers and listening to their responses constantly? Fear?  Complacency?  It’d all be easy if it wasn’t for the customers eh….

2. Scale Good Habits
All in all your structure should encourage good habits. Your entire team should be motivated to respond quickly, post consistently and talk like a human.

Responses should be intelligent but agile. They are based on up-to-date knowledge  of options and opinion.

3. Have Rules, But Trust People
As your social media strategy matures, you’ll add in more rules and guidelines. However, you can’t have a rule for every situation. You need to trust your team. Lead by example, don’t manage with rulebook.


4. Creativity & Personality Trump Big Budget
Social media is definitely one of those areas in life where more money doesn’t always win. Two of the most powerful ingredients in social media are creativity and personality. … You can’t be afraid to try something new or go against the grain.

Why does quality product still equate to big bucks? Some of the best solutions today are free and lightweight. They are flexible and adaptable and encourage creative use. Trust does not equate to glossy product; it does not even equate to the ability to use academese. It’s about relationships, listening to needs, responsiveness, and flexibility. The creativity and the solutions to issues lie out there in the community. Gone are the days of the expert centred anything.

5. Listen Listen Listen
Don’t focus so much on you and your message. Focus first on your customers. Hear what they are saying, see what they’re up to. Once you’ve been able to connect, and figure them out, then see how you can help.
The number one goal should be to meet the needs of the community yet it’s amazing how often that simply drops off the radar.

To do that you actually have to be in contact;  to meet them in their own context whether that be online or face to face. The more removed you make yourself the more your customers will see their attempts to communicate as a waste of time and energy.

[CC FlickR image:]