Tim Longhurst's Blog

Cyclone Yasi’s link to climate change

February 2nd, 2011 · 2 Comments

Recent disasters in Queensland – first floods and now Cyclone Yasi – have led me to ask, “Has this got anything to do with climate change?” Well… Network Ten’s Emily Rice provides a pretty good overview in this video:

It’s as good an explanation of the link between climate change and Queensland weather as I’ve seen so far… But perhaps you’ve seen better? Let me know in the comments…

I’ll leave you with a few quotes from the video that convey the story – in case the video doesn’t load:

Emily Rice: “This summer there has been one weather disaster after another… Scientists blame the rain on La Niña… While a natural weather event, this La Niña is being fueled by record ocean temperatures… To the east of [Australia], temperatures have risen well above the average, but it’s even hotter in the north, where the oceans are warming to levels never before recorded. And it’s these ‘super heated waters’ that are generating excessive rain right across Australia. Many scientists suspect climate change is already playing a part in the wild weather, exacerbating La Niña… Climate scientist Kevin Hennessy was not so shocked: he contributed to an Australian climate report that was released almost a decade ago [2002] that made some grim flooding forecasts: that extreme rainfall events would increase across Australia by 2020, pushing flooding deaths and injuries up 240%, with all areas of Queensland at risk…. One certainty is our rough summer weather has put climate change back on the agenda.”

EDIT: The Age has just published a story “Climate change adding to severity” on this very topic.

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  1. Gavin Heaton posted the following on February 14, 2011 at 8:18 am.

    We’ve been seeing this coming for years now. Finally the realisation is starting to hit our consciousness. It takes such a long time for large, complex issues to seep into our minds in a way that makes sense.

    Next up, of course, we need some action.

  2. Gene posted the following on June 20, 2011 at 10:06 am.

    The earth is always going through changes, and for us to expect it to always remain the same is naive. Global warming would probably happen without our help, and while we may be adding to it, I believe the impact we have is small in the big scope of things.

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Interesting South 3 as told through Google Street View

August 20th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Interesting South Banana

Interesting South 3 is fast approaching, and I’ve been thinking about the speakers and the topics that will be explored tonight. I’ve just taken a tour around Sydney (with a detour through Lebanon) using Google Street View. Below, you’ll be introduced to the speakers and topics featured tonight, along with an image captured from my joyride through Sydney…

Remo Giuffre – Anatomy of Cool – What’s cool? Who decides?


This shot was taken outside one of the coolest music venues in Sydney – the Hopetoun in Surry Hills. The sun right in the lens makes the shot even cooler. So I guess it turns out this photo is cool – and I decide! 😀

Alan Jones & Miles Campbell – Placebos – Learn how powerful the placebo effect can be


This is shot is taken outside the RPA hospital Emergency in Camperdown. Hardly a place you’d want to be handed a placebo, but it sticks with the medical theme.

Patrick Hofmann – Away with words – Images and Icons too often fail the needs of their audience.


Even though Patrick won’t be talking about his work at Google, I thought I’d visit the Google Pyrmont office for this shot. Unfortunately this bus is in the way. An example of an image failing the needs of its audience?

Miles Merrill – Perform your own stories – why don’t writers speak or speakers write?


Berkelouw Bookshop is just down the road from the Chauvel in Paddington, where the conference is to be held… So I thought it made sense to visit there for Miles’ talk.

Basil Donovan – Oral s£x is new black


With little more than a close-up of a mouth at its entrance, “short stay hotel”, Stiletto seemed like an obvious place to go for Basil’s talk.

Adam Dennis – Rebuilding our singing society


I’ve only ever been inside the Vanguard for a moment – never for a show. It’s a cool venue… I tried going to a few karaoke bars for Adam’s talk, but they are mostly underground with little signage, so in a way, Street View doesn’t really let you visit karaoke bars. Shame, really.

Amy Frasca & Virginia Mesiti – Bondi to Beirut


I’ve already been to Bondi, so I thought I’d visit Beirut. They don’t appear to have Google Street View in Beirut, so this is the best I could do.

Steve Maxwell – On his soapbox


This is a building Steve Maxwell knows better – at least from the outside – than pretty much anyone in Sydney. When he stands on Speakers’ Corner each Sunday afternoon, this building provides part of the backdrop as he expresses his political views to anyone who’ll listen.

Cale Bain – How improv can save the world


The first time I saw Cale on stage, it was here at the Roxbury Hotel on a Tuesday night. His show, Full Body Contact No Love Tennis is great.

Tim Baynes – The permanence of temporary things – Some of the things we perceive as temporary are the most enduring


Harry’s Cafe de Wheels – a pie cart – has been one of the most enduring structures in Sydney. Evidence of Tim’s point?

Ash Donaldson – Why do we believe silly things


This is the Scient0l0gy building around the corner from my place. One time I went inside and did a personality test… Needless to say I failed miserably, have no personality, and need the services of this organisation. No thanks – not today!

So there you have it. My little tour of Interesting South 3, entirely from my laptop. It’s going to be a great night – looking forward to seeing you there!

And don’t forget, if you can’t join us, it’s ok – ABC Fora are coming to film it and stick it on TV ABC2 and the web!

Headline image credit: Derived from a photo by Gregg Girling

Category: Communication and connection

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Dancin’ honey bee using dance to communicate

August 14th, 2009 · 1 Comment

blog-beesDid you know that honey bees are able to communicate with each other using dance? I’d never seen a bee dance, but I’ve found a cool video clip showing a dancin’ bee in action.

If you can embrace the ‘education video’ aesthetic of this video below, you are in for a real treat.

In just three minutes, you will see footage demonstrating a bee dance, along with an explanation of what the dance means.

If a forager bee starts dancing, he’s found some flowers the other bees ought to know about. The direction he dances indicates the direction of the flowers, the length of the dance indicates the distance to the flowers.

Here’s the video on YouTube… Attribution is not presented with the clip, so the origin of the video is unknown.

Humans, on the other hand, tend to use dance to communicate how much they’ve had to drink…

Me, I find the bee dancing interesting, but the human dancing way more fun.

Title image credit: An edited image of David Nikonvscanon’s photo of bees.

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Category: Our living planet

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  1. aaaorganichoney posted the following on May 12, 2014 at 10:25 pm.

    They have proper uniform to cover their face and other body parts, it makes sense to take their help in any bee related activity.

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Rules for Effective Meetings

March 31st, 2009 · 7 Comments


The more you like to get things done at work, the less you like meetings. At least, that’s the conclusion of researchers from the University of North Carolina:

“For those driven employees who are focused on completing tasks and achieving goals, meetings are an annoying interruption to their work and productivity; job satisfaction decreases as the number of meetings they attend increases.”

Almost all the work I do relies on effective meetings. So when fellow bald man, Seth Godin posted his suggestions for meeting innovation, I felt inspired to collate a few ideas from him, Robert Gerrish and Amanda Gore and build my own set of Rules for Awesome Meetings.

This is a draft, so if you’ve seen something work well, or have some feedback, post a comment! Here’s what I’ve got so far…


  • Have a meeting with yourself first. Do you really need a meeting on this? Can an email suffice? (Robert Gerrish)
  • Know the meeting’s intended outcomes, pitch your meeting to a co-worker and see if they’ve got an alternative route to the outcomes you desire. (Robert)
  • Require participants to prepare: always read/do something before attending meeting. Not done? Can’t come. (Seth Godin)


  • Latecomers pay a fine. (Seth – who proposes $10 in the coffee jar if you are more than two minutes later than the second-last person)
  • Meetings to be booked in increments of five minutes. No more than 4 increments, unless there’s a great reason. (Seth)
  • Bring an egg timer to the meeting. Out of sand? Out of time. (Seth)
  • Remove all the chairs from the conference room. Things will be faster if it’s more comfortable back in your cubicle. (Seth)
  • Calculate and publish cost of your meeting to the business.


  • If people are going to be ‘whining donkeys’ in meetings, that’s fine, but they should be obliged to wear special ‘whining donkey ears’. Anyone with something negative to say has to don the ears. (Amanda, who insists even nudging the ears across a boardroom table will influence the quality of the meeting).


  • Don’t leave with anything unsaid. (Robert)
  • Not adding value to a meeting? leave. You can always read the summary later. (Seth)


  • Discuss follow-ups and next actions. (Robert)
  • Short email summary, with action items, to every attendee within ten minutes of the end of the meeting. (Seth)


  • Rate meetings & organisers on a scale of 1 to 5 in terms of usefulness. (Seth)

So, I’m happy to advocate a combination of these for the meetings I attend, but what do you reckon? What’s missing from my list?

Title image credit: edited image of a photo by Clagnut.

Category: Communication and connection

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  1. Gihan Perera posted the following on March 31, 2009 at 11:05 am.

    This looks good, Tim – well done.

    The “whining donkey” idea is silly and demeaning, though – it runs the risk of stifling legitimate criticism. Saying negative things in a meeting isn’t bad – in fact, it’s often crucial.

    I much prefer the Edward de Bono Six Hats idea, where people are given *permission* to “wear the Black Hat” and make negative comments, or “wear the Red Hat” and express their feelings. It’s a respectful and productive approach – far better than calling them a donkey!


  2. Grant posted the following on March 31, 2009 at 1:06 pm.

    Great post Tim.

    The idea of “no chairs” is essentially a “standup” meeting, common in Scrum agile methodology and incredibly useful.

    Re: preparation – you hint at it, but clear goals/objectives included in the meeting request. The number of times I’ve been asked to a meeting and had to ask “what’s the outcome?”… then not actually got a response is incredible.

    Make sure OT discussion is parked and kept out of the meeting – if it’s not moving towards the outcomes, it’s OT.

    I agree with Gihan re: the whining donkey – though I know the kind of “stop energy” that you’re referring too. Much better to facilitate out of such a place than use something that stifles legitimate concerns.

    I’ve been in environments where any criticism, even when constructive, is considered out of bounds. Sometimes it’s important to just say “no”…

  3. Matthew Bywater posted the following on March 31, 2009 at 4:34 pm.

    Great Post, fines are good idea, I turned up 9 minutes late to a recent meeting – it cost me $90.
    No phones, no interruptions, in ;arge groups if an idea is between 2 people – they meet separately. Agree on an action plan at the end – and DONT forget the Mentos.

  4. Diane Robertson posted the following on April 1, 2009 at 11:07 pm.

    Some great suggestions to stimulate people to think of unusual ways to make meetings useful, as long as these ideas do not work against the goal of getting things done. Setting down rigid rules can do that if people do not focus on the right goals. This leads on to the idea that everything will be OK if everyone is positive all the time. However, constructive criticism (not destructive criticism) can be incredibly helpful. Teams that have a person that plays the role of ‘central negative’ can come to better decisions than teams that suffer from ‘Group Think’–something some people have attributed to the team that sent the Challenger crew to their death when the space shuttle exploded. Nobody wanted to put up negative opinions to challenge the decision to go ahead with the launch.

  5. Gavin Heaton posted the following on August 5, 2009 at 11:22 am.

    I usually don’t post in Blogs but your blog forced me to, amazing work.. beautiful …

    There. One wish fulfilled 😉

  6. Tim Longhurst posted the following on August 27, 2009 at 6:26 pm.

    Gavin’s kind words first appeared on this blog by a spammer who was hoping the sweet words (and his link to a viagra-selling website) would stay on my site. When Gavin heard about my disappointment that such kind sentiments were from a spammer, he decided to drop by and leave the comment himself. That’s because Gavin has a great sense of humour and is awesome. Thanks Gav!

  7. Dave Baskind posted the following on October 2, 2009 at 5:18 pm.

    Thanks for a great post Tim – just stumbled across this. I think it’s an excellent summary/articulation of some of the issues we struggle with regularly in reining in meetings. Yuck.

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How many fans does it take to quit your day job?

March 19th, 2009 · 7 Comments

1000-true-fansWhere does your money come from? If there’s one area where people have consistently innovated throughout history, the way we resource ourselves would have to be it.

When it comes to the creative types, the concept of quitting your day job and just pursuing your art is a great temptation. But if you’re not going to be a Billboard-topping musician or an Academy award-winning filmmaker, how many fans is it going to take for you to lead a comfortable life?

This is a question asked by many, and attempts to answer the question are available via a series of creative types who have been running the numbers… According to Kevin Kelly, it all comes down to the concept of a ‘true fan’. If you have 1000 people who will just about buy any book you write or any album you launch, you probably only need 1000 of these ‘true fans’, because in concentric circles away from your die-hard followers, there will be still others who will buy your work on occasion-

Kelly has concluded that if you’re a creator (artist/designer/author/videomaker etc), as long as you have 1000 people who love you enough to buy what you do, you’ll be well on your way to linking your income to your passion.

Of course, central to this thesis are the questions of ‘how much is enough?’, and ‘what does life with 1000 fans really entail?’.

Bringing some sharp focus on the downside of living a life reliant on this model, musician, Robert Rich offers this take on life as an artist with about 1000 fans:

“The sort of artist who survives at the long tail is the sort who would be happy doing nothing else, who willingly sacrifices security and comfort for the chance to communicate something meaningful, hoping to catch the attention of those few in the world who seek what they also find meaningful. It’s a somewhat solitary existence, a bit like a lighthouse keeper throwing a beam out into the darkness, in faith that this action might help someone unseen.”.

Scott Andrew doesn’t make a distinction between ‘true fans’ and ‘the rest’. He encourages artists to run the numbers on clearing $20 from each fan (a fairly modest number, really). How many fans would it take to quit your day job? He explores the mathematics of this in a rudimentary way –

Brian Austin Whitney [once] pointed out that an artist who has 5000 hardcore fans to give him or her $20 each year — be if from CDs, ticket sales, merchandise, donations, whatever — stands to make $100K per year, more than enough to quit the day job and still have health insurance and a decent car.

…Here’s an exercise: take your own salary, pre-taxes, and divide it by 20. If you were to quit your job right now and start living as a full-time musician, poet or author, that’s how many fans you’d need, spending $20 each year to support your art. So, if you’re making $30K yearly, you’d need 1500 paying fans each year to replace your salary. And it gets better if you’re willing to take a pay cut. In Washington state, where I live, a person working for minimum wage would only need around 700 paying fans.

Of course, if you’re going to manage your relationships with your fans through the various traditional and new media options, you may well need a team of staff who can support you and your art, keep your fans in the loop, etc. so it’s probably best to do the numbers on how you’re going to pay them, too!

This kind of modelling is a great way of looking at breaking outside the mainstream, because it puts your audience – the people you want to reach – at the centre of your planning. After all, art that keeps the audience in mind is far more likely to touch, move and inspire – and surely that should be the whole point?

Thanks to Suzi Dafnis, who’s tiny tweet inspired this post (and its title).

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Category: Communication and connection

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  1. Julia Thomas posted the following on March 19, 2009 at 7:16 am.

    Doesn’t it also depend on your kind of art? If your business model is working from home creating great viral videos and selling tshirts based on them, you could probably live off 1500 fans buying two shirts a year.

    But if you’re a musician, a fan giving you $20 a year through traditional paths of merchandise, album and ticket sales, you need a lot more fans or a lot more money per fan to cover your expenses. $20 a year in ticket sales and $20 as an online donation is a huge difference. Probably about $17 difference.

    So can a musician survive from 1500 true $20 fans? Yes and no. If Bon Iver wanted to retreat back to his mountain cabin for a year to work on new music, I bet he’d find 1500 fans willing to pay $20 to subscribe to a blog and feed of demos. While he’s in the cabin, could another musician live from touring to 1500 fans scattered around one country if they were paying $20 each? Unlikely. It’s probably closer to at least $100 per fan to make the $20 profit.

    Kevin Kelly’s model makes sense for some artists, but Scott Andrew’s calculations are really only applicable if your art needs no more than a laptop and the internet.

  2. Jye Smith posted the following on March 19, 2009 at 7:50 am.

    Great post, Tim.

  3. Neerav Bhatt posted the following on March 19, 2009 at 9:10 am.

    As a blogger I found the spot where I could do generate enough revenue do it fulltime was appx 80000-100,000 pageviews/month

    A core of those people are “regular readers” (its hard to estimate maybe 10-20%), the rest are people who came, found the information they were looking for and disappeared back into the internet

    I have no idea how many are “true fans” who read all the blogposts because measurements of web traffic and visitor actions are so inaccurate

  4. Eddie posted the following on March 19, 2009 at 9:49 am.

    Nice post Tim.

    Passion attracts loyalty.

    Loyalty attracts community.

    Community attracts Support.

  5. Noel posted the following on March 19, 2009 at 11:46 am.

    Interesting post Tim. I guess if you have 1000 ture fans and the number will continue to grow through word of mouth. That is if your work can be duplicated for resell purposes.

  6. rachel posted the following on March 19, 2009 at 2:12 pm.

    Nice post, Tim. I remember reading the same thing in Seth Godin’s book a few months back. That said, I also remember thinking that 1000 people who would buy anything you do were also a lot harder to come by than it might initially seem. I can’t think of many (non-high profile) people who would have that.

  7. Gavin Heaton posted the following on April 2, 2009 at 10:13 am.

    The idea of finding 1000 people who are casually interested in you is easy. You could probably build this on Twitter relatively quickly. But getting to the next level where people care enough to spend money rather than attention on you is a challenge.

    So, say, you need 1000 people to pay, you probably need a “pipeline” of 10 x that number. That’s where it really does become a fulltime job – keeping up with 10,000 people, providing value to them in their lives etc – with the aim of “converting” them into paying/supportive members of your tribe requires considerable amounts of planning and effort.

    I’m not saying it is impossible. Just wondering whether many of us have the capacity to actually deliver on this.

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