You give and you get. Give and take (or why I spent time playing around with Niall Harbisons Diagram)

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As a background it helps to have read this post first.

Why I spent some time plaing around with Niall Harbisons diagram

There is a real danger of this turning into a mutual backscratching society Niall says nice things about me, I say nice things about Niall and so on ad infinitum. Behind that is something more important.

To understand why I'd spend time redrawing someones diagram I need to tell a few stories. I have been online in one form or another for quite a while (does undergrad years in UCD when I was using Vax terminals to browse Usenet groups and getting help on my final year project on Neural Networks from some of the luminaries in the field date me - yeah thought so). The air now feels similar to the air then, or maybe its how I'm more active now than I've been in quite a while. It doesn't matter something is resonating.

When I started in my first job (ESB or "the board" as its also known) I felt like someone has chopped off one of my senses without Internet access. So I set off to persuade the powers to be to get Internet access (I need it ergo the company should need it). Along my way I discovered a few important things.  I started by getting some time in the office of the head of Planning & Technology section of the IT Dept. This gentleman was tasked with envisioning the future use of technology within  "the board".

I described for him what the Internet was and how it worked. He was incredelous - people online answer questions for each other FOR FREE and don't even expect to be paid for it. He could not comprehend it.  Not so much a gap in understanding but a yawning chasm. He said he'd have a think about it if I costed it and gave a demonstration to him. I set off to do that. It was in the process of costing it that I found out we already had a connection to the internet. It wasn't widely advertised and I found out who looked after it and persuaded them to grant me access. So my missing sense was restored. In the course of a couple of days I learned about generation gaps, culture differences and that clever people will sometimes just go ahead and do things and figure out the consequeces later. I also learned a lot about large organisations and how they work.

Over my few years in the ESB access to the Internet, along with cobbled together CompuServe access and access to some Irish bulletin boards was a great source of advice, programming tips and technical support as we build some cutting edge software. It was great fun.  The unwritten rule was you give and you get. Give and take. Apparantly a lot of this is build into us in the nature of reciprocity around how our species works. The proper way the species works.

So how does this lead to changing Nialls diagram. Well I've been following Niall on Twitter for about a year now. I watched the development of Look & Taste, wondered where the hell he got the time to run with so many different initiatives (be honest Niall its like "The Prestige" there are two of you running around sharing the same name).  In observing I've learned lots. From his blog posts, free content, attending one of the events his business partner Lauren ran for free etc. (Not to mention the flowers for Valentines that I won for posting a comment on Look & Taste. )

So I've gained a lot from Niall. When I saw the diagram I was intrigued. Yet something about it grated like a pebble in a shoe, something I couldn't put my finger on grated. So I talked to Niall and asked if he'd be OK with me having a go improving it. He sent me the link to Google docs. I messed around with it, then printed it out to play around with. I even took the approach of my kids in school and cut out all the pieces and moved them around on the page. It gave me a slightly different perspective on how these tools relate together. To be honest I only thought it a slight improvement on Nialls original document. Rather than waste time on a nice neat diagram I roughed it up with Sharpie and paper before emailing it to Niall. I didn't expect it to end up on the front page of the Simply Zesty blog.

Niall summed it up as "He just wanted to make something better for others to gain knowledge from." which is true. I have a ferocious need and desire to learn I enjoy learning & teaching. It was also about saying thank you and contributing to the pool. I also clearly have too much free time with 1.5 jobs, a PhD underway and 3 small kids. Its still important to contribute, to help others. That was the key lesson of my fathers life.

Over the past year as the country has walked off a financial cliff one shining beacon of hope is the online community in Ireland. I came across the following list that Rowan Manahan blogged about from the first TEDx in Dublin that goes to the heart of this (and I've probably been annoying lots of people with the list). It reads

* Follow your passion
* Find playmates smarter than you
* Solve the important problems
* Share your toys
* Build tools
* Make Magic


This is whats going on withing Twitter and other places in Ireland. Here people, often people who don't have or shouldn't have the time are there to talk to and give advice to and support those who are trying to do things and to build a better country. Over the past few months examples such as Outvesting, BizCamp, and many other shine a very positive light on what we can do when we want to. There are so many smart and helpful people around. It worth reaching out and contributing. You give and you get. Give and take. 

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16 Comments

Generation has been a gap so often concerning vision and communication. But it can be easily overcome by simple sharing and viewpoint. Very good explanation of how some business administration was followed.
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