Friday, July 24, 2009

Internetix Mark Gevisser #internetix

Mark Gevisser's keynote speech at Internetix 2009 in Cape Town, in tandem with a chat I had with him at breakfast, leads me to a significant reframing of the Zuma PRESIDENCY. I've been a pessimist about South Africa's hopes under Zuma. Given the bloke's shady past.

But the presidency is not the man. The man may be flawed. But his presidency has much more at stake than he has.

These are the key points I took away from Mark's insights:

o Zuma's 'dishonest' past almost forces an honest presidency. He has to be seen to be spick and span.

o He comes from a security background. He's a spook. He has several cellphones on him at all times. Each hooked up to a different 'cell' of his intelligence network. Subsequently, he has a very attuned ear. Knows what's happening.

o He's taking aggressive action against corruption. He's being SEEN to be walking the talk. Gevisser reckons he's potshotting at soft targets for the moment. Easing off on loyalists. But that'll probably change.

o The ANC 'formation myth' crystalises around the inviolability of the South African constitution. Messing with the constitution messes with the formation myth. And messing with the formation myth leads to party instability. Gevisser reckons that the formation myth is our biggest insurance policy against constitution meddling.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Roy Blumenthal -- Edmonton Stories #yeg #iclei

This story appears on the site. Please click through so you can see the video of me making a complete picture from start to finish.

The story comes from an interview conducted by Elize Smit, a once-upon-a-time South African, now a fully-fledged Edmontonian.

She condensed it down from my verbose ramblings over an hour or two.

She also operated the video camera to capture the footage of me making a pic of one of the ICLEI delegates from start to finish. You'll need to click through to see the video.

Chris thought my visual facilitation might be a fit for the city of Edmonton. He's the IT branch manager and chief information officer of the city of Edmonton. So the deal was if I could make my way from South Africa to Canada, they'd put me up and have me do visual facilitation here in Edmonton.

Of course I wanted to know how Chris knew about me. First time I got to that was in the car from the airport. He told me, "Well, you did a SlideShare presentation on the web about a session hosted by the Disney Institute, and a friend of mine sent me that SlideShare. I ended up printing out every slide and surreptitiously, every now and again, putting up a copy of one of the pages, just to jolt the office around a little bit and generate some interest." As soon as he saw the SlideShare he started thinking about how he could use my skills. He couldn't bring me out just for a City of Edmonton event – he has to be responsible with spending taxpayer money and all – so he waited for an opportunity where there could be a synergy. ICLEI came up. He started negotiating with them, and I’m here!

One of the things happening in the City's IT department is that they're moving towards each individual designing their future. So it’s not about reacting to stuff anymore. It's about taking charge and saying, "This is what I want out of my daily life. These are my interests. This is what I want to do." And the IT Department's making it real. It's not lip service. It's real stuff. To demonstrate that, Chris got me into a Q & A session where the audience got to ask the department directors questions. There were 300 people, all of them working in the department. And Chris and his directors were being really open and honest about who they are, what their plans are, what’s going on in the department, and what the forward planning is. Open and transparent.

I said to Chris, before the session started, that I'm sure this is probably going to be quite a confidential session so if he'd like, I wouldn't put any of the pictures up on Flickr. And he said, "No, we're about transparency and openness. Whatever you create in this session, you can put on Flickr. And we're going to share it with all the staff. We want to be held accountable for what goes on in our department." So the entire session’s on Flickr. People were blown away, because everyone was being totally open and honest, and because it was so interactive. I was drawing on screen, the directors were doing their thing, the audience was asking questions. It was great.

The video below was shot during the ICLEI World Congress 2009 at the Shaw Conference Centre. Watch Roy draw one of the ICLEI delegates visiting Edmonton.

Story Created: Jul. 10, 2009
Written by staff