Life Thru a Lens


Just say no?
August 29, 2007, 8:39 am
Filed under: Random stuff

In the whole increasingly desperate and front-page-exclusively dull Amy Winehouse debate, a lot has been said – and now by her parents and in-laws.

I’m no big fan, but I think my linkbunnies feed this morning says it best. So I will now plagiarise it shamelessly.

What good music was ever written on drugs anyway? Hmm…

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Do they know something I don’t?
August 23, 2007, 10:58 am
Filed under: Random stuff, Uncategorized

It’s that day of the year where TV stations wheel out precocious little sixteen year-olds who think they know it all to gloat about their achievements and predict their obviously stellar career path over the next decade.

Yup, it’s GCSE results day in the UK. And as I cringe watching the interviews, I can only hope I wasn’t as irritatingly opinionated, overwhelmingly positive and just plain naive as they are.

Ah, the ‘optimism’ of youth.

The thing which strikes me about these results – apart from the overwhelming urge to throw my phone at the screen when a teenager starts lecturing me about the real world – is the dramatic fall in students taking modern languages.

If these young tykes were as worldly-aware as they’d like to think, surely they’d realise that globalisation is the overwhelming economic trend of our time and they’d be well advised to prepare themselves by studying Spanish or Chinese for example. But fewer of them are, despite the wider range of options open to them in this area.

The quote that really leapt out at me was this: “Fewer students are doing modern foreign languages. There is definitely a need for something which reflects the level of interest and enjoyment to be had in the subject.” And one whipper snapper just told BBC News 24 that he didn’t need languages as he didn’t want to work for the European Parlaiment! Like that’s the only place you’ll need them…

Surely the more important reason is not just fun, or a job in Brussels, but cultural awareness and preparation for the career they’ll be following in a few years time? I think it’s high time schools got more vocational in how they choose and even market subjects to students in the context of what’s going on in the world.

Or am I actually the naive one in thinking that, with business and the Internet overwhelmingly dominated by English, the need for understanding of other countries and the ability to communicate in other languages is not redundant?

Or am I just a patronising, bitter ex-modern languages student who is now being told he has a niche and less valuable degree than he thought?



A slice of London life #1
August 22, 2007, 4:53 pm
Filed under: London

…number one in an occasional series.

You’re standing on the platform of Earl’s Court station, waiting for the crappy Olympia train that never comes, and you look up the stairs where a dumpy middle-aged lady is struggling with her case. A few steps up, a tall blonde stunner is looking at a tube map a little perplexed. Who does the checked-shirted foppish Fulhamite between them go to help?

Hardly a tough one. But it put me in mind of something I read earlier in the day. If you can’t be arsed to click, I’ll summarise. Newsnight’s Jeremy Vine is on a tube and sees somebody get taken apart by a big hard agressive type. He does nothing, but vows to the next time. The end.

As a response, it seems pretty lame, but we’ve all been there. I’ve had a couple of occasions on trains where I’ve sat back and let something happen because I’d rather get home/to my mate’s wedding than take a trip to hospital for corrective facial surgery. It’s not something I’m proud of but it’s also natural self-preservation when a fairly large group of upper-teenage kids (both times in my case) are involved and there’s one of you. Especially in a world where stab-proof uniforms are deemed necessary. (Ugh! I linked to the Daily Mail. I feel dirty.)

The first of these times I actually spoke up. Nobody backed me, I got full on death-glares and some substantial lip, and so I got back in my box, closed my eyes and tried to think myself to my happy place. And I didn’t make that mistake the second time.

Not sure where I’m going on this. Suffice to say that anonymity is the default setting for most of us in confrontational situations, especially where violence is a probable consequence. Mr Vine’s argument is that if one stands up others will. Well not really in my experience. It’s much easier to speak up after the event, talk about how you would have had ‘im if only you’d finished the paragraph in your book before he got off, and vow to be a better citizen next time.

I wish i could lay out ten rampaging hoodies with my silky ninja moves. But I can’t. And I hope I have the courage to step in next time I see an injustice, but I don’t guarantee it. It’s partly how i’m made, and partly how I’ve been shaped by experience.



Criminal connections
August 22, 2007, 3:47 pm
Filed under: Random stuff

So you start a blog and then you get the busiest week you could have, your football club goes into meltdown, and you just forget about it. Which kind of defeats the object really.

Oh well. Hardly back with a bang, but I thought this was quite amusing.

Kind of begs the question really, which activity is more criminal? Nicking a wireless connection or leaving it open in the first place? Slaps on the wrists all round say I.

And who hasn’t tried to steal a bit of banwidth when they desparately needed it/wanted to check Facebook? Granted, not as blatant as sitting on the front path with a laptop (respect), but there’s not much difference really.

We did some client research recently, and about 10% of Europeans from memory steal wireless access from their neigbours. The Poles are apparently the most prolific at this. So if you live next door to one (which is entirely likely where I’m from, and especially as Mrs L is from that neck of the woods) then put a lock on it pronto.



Fantasy football 2.0 style
August 7, 2007, 12:56 pm
Filed under: Social media

Now I’m probably late to this too, but it’s not often my line of work and the beautiful game get it on in such a public manner, so I’m going to write about it anyway.

You can now buy into a consortium of thousands which is looking to take over and run a football club. The theory is simple – you pay your 35 quid and when enough people are signed up the founders start talking to the top prospects – selected by members of course. And (one of the reasons I suspect I’m very late) over 50,000 appear to have done so already, thanks to word of mouth and a light dusting of national coverage.

Talks are apparently underway now critical mass has been reached, so we’ll see what develops.

It’s an interesting experiment to test the boundaries of the user-driven, collaborative, wiki-wiki-world we’re so often told about. But the proof will be in the pudding. If a club (Leeds are currently top not surprisingly) did react favourably to the proposition, could it really be the democratic dream that it appears to be? Somebody has to pose the questions, look after the finances, make small decisions etc. And is general consensus always the best option? Is the repeated referendum model actually workable in practice?

Obviously we could have a debate here about the viability/impossibility of true democracies, but I’ll leave that to someone with a PhD.

Clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona like to think they’re owned by the fans – but everybody knows it’s the Nuñez and Laportas of the world who have historically made all the major decisions. So we’ll see if harnessing technology, a social phenomenon and plenty of enthusiasm can take this a stage further.

I’m going to sign up anyway so I can watch something that, at the very least, is an interesting social/business experiment from the inside (albeit probably a few thousand virtual rows back from the pitch).

Maybe I can convince them to buy Arsenal and run it into the ground?



Not another one…
August 7, 2007, 11:35 am
Filed under: Random stuff

Well here I am, two years late, with a blog built around nothing but a very weak pun (yes, Lens is what people call me at work) while the whole PR industry has been chattering away merrily for some time.

Probably not the best way to guarantee a spectacular entrance. But I figure I have a personal and professional interest about this stuff (stuff being a deliberate way not to use any of the W*b 2.* / s8cial m*dia descriptors) so thought I’d give it a lash and try to get involved.

Of course, the hard lads who got on before me and nabbed the back seats will probably start throwing sweets, calling me names and flicking my ears while they sniff marker pens, but I’m big enough to take it. Nothing I didn’t go through at school already.

So that’s it really. Motivations justified, a self-depreciating gag to pacify the hardened bloggers, and I’m away. See you around. Possibly.