Tim Longhurst's Blog

The TED Commandments – rules every speaker needs to know

May 16th, 2008 · 88 Comments

TED CommandmentsTED Talks are some of the best speeches I watch. The speakers are innovators and leaders, dreamers and doers. The talks are recorded at the annual TED Conference and many of them are available to download free from ted.com.

Recently, I discovered one of the reasons the speeches are so good… TED’s organisers send upcoming speakers a stone tablet, engraved with the ‘TED Commandments”. Amy Tan in her TED Talk described the arrival of the TED Commandments as “something that creates a near-death experience; but near-death is good for creativity…”.

So I went in search of the TED Commandments. Thankfully Sue Pelletier points out that Rives was good enough to post a photo of the TED Commandments on his blog, shopliftwindchimes (scroll to 20 Feb). But you don’t need to settle for a photo, because I’ve typed them below:

  1. Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick
  2. Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, Or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before
  3. Thou Shalt Reveal thy Curiosity and Thy Passion
  4. Thou Shalt Tell a Story
  5. Thou Shalt Freely Comment on the Utterances of Other Speakers for the Skae of Blessed Connection and Exquisite Controversy
  6. Thou Shalt Not Flaunt thine Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of thy Failure as well as thy Success.
  7. Thou Shalt Not Sell from the Stage: Neither thy Company, thy Goods, thy Writings, nor thy Desparate need for Funding; Lest Thou be Cast Aside into Outer Darkness.
  8. Thou Shalt Remember all the while: Laughter is Good.
  9. Thou Shalt Not Read thy Speech.
  10. Thou Shalt Not Steal the Time of Them that Follow Thee

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Category: Communication and connection

Avaaz.org – dinners around the world to gauge the sentiments of members

December 13th, 2007 · 2 Comments

How does an organisation with 1.9 million members in over 240 countries stay connected with its grass roots? It’s a challenge for Avaaz.org, the one year old organisation that is modeled on online activist groups like moveon.org and getup.org.au.

One way Avaaz attempts to stay relevent and connected was revealed in an email from Ben Brandzel, which was addressed to the group’s Sydney members:

“G’day! My name is Ben Brandzel, a new senior member of the Avaaz staff. I’m just wrapping up an all-too-brief stay in your beautiful city.

Before I go, I’d love to have dinner with you, to talk about your experience with Avaaz, your thoughts about what we should work on next, and anything else that comes up.

Can you make it?

…Avaaz members are the heart and soul of our organization. But because there are so few of us staff and Avaaz members are all over the world, we rarely get to meet face to face.

So let’s use this opportunity to get to know each other, talk about how Avaaz can be the best it can be, and have fun while saving the world!”

The offer was limited to the first 8 people that replied – of which I was one. The dinner was a great opportunity to see just how diverse Avaaz’s member base is. Although 8 is a small sample, and focus groups have their limitations in terms of research, Ben did an excellent job facilitating a wide-ranging conversation that got to the heart of the concerns, passions and imaginations of those in attendance.

It’s a great model and if other organisations are doing it, I’ve never been invited! It’s definately more appealing than an invite to a focus group – more enjoyable and almost certainly yields better results given the relaxed and informal nature of the gathering.

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Category: Communication and connection

My first sixteen hours in Second Life

December 6th, 2007 · 2 Comments

Beads of sweat had begun to appear on Business Futurist Craig Rispin’s forehead. It was a combination of factors – stage lights; a heavy purple jacket; and enthusiasm. It was late 2006 and Rispin was holding court at the Last Thursday Club marketing event. A keynote slide on Second Life (SL) appeared on the screen behind him. Were these marketers even aware that SL existed? He feigned surprise when he was greeted by a sea of shaking heads. Of course they didn’t know. Here was yet another opportunity for connection and innovation and it was passing marketers by. Rispin hit his remote. A movie lifted from the internet began playing on the screen.

A woman’s voice introduced the crowd to Second Life, a world where anything is possible. A world that is built by its community; complete with its own real-world tradable currency, the Linden. 3D images of human-looking characters communicating in giant cities danced across the screen. It looked like a typical street scene in a busy city, until on of the characters leapt into the air and began to fly. Internet based; real money changing hands, human-like characters that can fly. “People spend real money in this thing?”, quizzed an audience member.” The speaker nodded his head. “There is a lot of money is in this thing, and major brands are moving in.” Behind Rispin, the video’s poster frame made the pitch: Second Life – Your World, Your Imagination.

It seemed bizarre to me. Was this really a vision of the future that excited people? Sitting at our computers connecting in a high-tech, low touch environment? In a nation with fast growing rates of obesity and depression, was remaining virtually motionless and physically isolated for long periods of time really what we needed?

Rispin impressed me and his speech on future trends was engaging, but I couldn’t match his enthusiasm when it came to virtual worlds. “I’ve got enough in my first life, thanks” summed it up nicely, and a quick search of the expression “First Life” on Google indicated these sentiments were shared by others. Check out getafirstlife.com for a one page parody.
My first life carried on without a 3D virtual world interruption for almost a year.

A few weeks ago, entrepreneur and event convenor, Vicki Prout began enthusing about the potential of  SL and virtual worlds via email. She was promoting an upcoming workshop she was convening on that very topic. Vicki doesn’t do things by halves, so she had decided to import Californian Second Life guru Dell Wolfensparger to run the program.

Since Craig has spoken back in 2006, millions more people had registered and tried out SL. Not everyone stayed, but some had, and there were thousands of active users doing business and having fun in this virtual world. As a communication futurist, it was time I went and explored.

Dell Wilberg and Teami Zeami stood in Venice having a conversation. They weren’t real in an analogue sense, but in a digital sense they existed. They were conversing. Dell Wilberg wore a cowboy hat and talked about the architecture around them. Teami Zeami, bald and handsome, listened intently.

Dell Wolfensparger and Tim Longhurst sat in a corporate training room on George St, Sydney. They were real in an analogue sense, but at this moment, they existed more digitally than in any other way. Dell wore a cowboy hat and tapped at a keyboard. Tim was bald, handsome and reading, preparing to tap back.

The training room was filled with a mix of communication and education professionals. In SL, we were each represented by avatars. I adjusted my settings to have my avatar look as much like me as possible, but most of the others didn’t bother modifying their avatars at this early stage. Our avatars were exploring Venizia, a ‘sim’ based on the real world Venice that was designed by Wolfensparger.

Prior to entering the training room, it is fair to say that I was apprehensive about a game that appeared to have relatively poor graphics (I’m from the Xbox Generation) and that I guessed was designed to suck the money out of thousands of sedentary fools.

NOTE: This post is to be continued. It’s in draft form, but I have to go and do real world work… I thought I’d post it incomplete because I’d rather get this out there and finish it soon… In the next installment – how I spent my 16 hours in Second Life…

Footnote regarding Craig Rispin: Soon after seeing him speak at Last Thursday Club, I met Craig at Australia’s futurist convention, Ausforesight, in November 2006. Our conversation quickly moved to the topic of how he was now able to take his ideas all over the world through speaking. He’s been a great friend and collegue this year and he has been a great adviser to me regarding my consulting business. Even though I’d describe him as a turbo capitalist and he’d probably describe me as a serial activist, we get along like a house on fire.

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Category: Communication and connection

Audio Moblogging – from my phone to this blog at the touch of a button

October 2nd, 2007 · No Comments

I promised that I’d blog more than ever this October and so far I seem set to break all personal blog post records – thanks in part to my use of Moblogging.

Using a service from Hipcast, I call a US-based phone number and anything I then say is posted to timlonghurst.com.

My first few audio recordings are fairly basic – talking about where I am and what I’m doing. They’re totally spontaneous – I think for about 30 seconds about what I’m going to say, and then I dial the number and speak. I post my first take and then I get on with my life (there is an option to listen and re-record, but I am yet to use it).

The first problem I’ve found with moblogging is that the post is automatically published using the uninspiring title Audio Moblog.

The second problem with moblogging is that the content of what I’m saying is not indexable by search engines (at least, not yet) and that means that the topics I discuss on the phone are only available to the people that press ‘play’ and listen to them.

The first problem can be solved by logging in to my blog and renaming my audio posts, but that’s a little time consuming.

Similarly, the second problem can be solved by logging into my blog – but this time, typing a transcript of anything I say. Now, I’m not likely to do that anytime soon, but I suppose I would be prepared to pay someone else to do that if the quality of my moblog posts reached a point that I wanted my posts read by a wider audience.

As I become more sophisticated with moblogging I’ll post again with the lessons I’ve learned.

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Category: Communication and connection

Postsecret – taking the inside out

September 28th, 2007 · No Comments

Postsecret has been around for ages. Every now and then, someone will send me a link to it. It’s a site that speaks to people. Two friends emailed me the link in the past week, so I thought it was about time I mentioned it here. Check it out.

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Category: Understanding people