The C Word

twin towers

Walking into work the other day I was delighted to be confronted by a proper demo. Not just a common or garden demo but a demo by a full-on, fully paid up Cult. The Moonies were outraged by Channel 4’s indelicate portrayal of their romantic mass wedding in My Big Fat Moonie Wedding. I stopped for a minute to talk to a boy who said he was 16 but looked less and asked him why he wasn’t in school – apparently he was on study leave. Yeah, chin Jimmy Hill chin – some people will believe anything …and others won’t. So I trotted up stairs and my colleagues in the immediate vicinity of the pile of papers formerly known as my desk were talking about the demo. Michael Palmer, business affairs man and fellow wearer of Adidas Chile 62s (fast becoming the unofficial uniform of the department), came up with a fabulous definition of religion: Religions are just cults that got lucky.

A couple of days earlier I’d gotten back from New York where I was speaking at the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers, presenting the Big Art Project to an international audience of telly-makers. I didn’t get down to Ground Zero (which I’ve never seen, haven’t been in NYC since before 9/11) but I was thinking about it and the absence on the skyline.

Just before I left for Noo Yoik, my very old friend Judyth Greenburgh was back in her native London for a few days sorting out her old pad in Camden Town. She now lives on a houseboat in Sausalito, California where we enjoyed a fabulous holiday stop-over the year before last on our way down Route 101. When Judyth worked at Saatchi & Saatchi, long, long ago before she headed West, her boss was a certain Paul Arden.

Yesterday morning I was at an engaging, lively facilitated discussion session on Blogging. It was chaired by James Cherkoff who I first encountered a couple of years ago at a New Media Knowledge conference at the Royal Society of Arts. Here is his Twitter picked up within moments of the finish by the organisation who’d employed him:

“I’ve just moderated a 4 hour session where I said four things and had to fight to get those in.”

Imagine there’s a salutory blogging lesson there somewhere.

So I’m walking out of said sesh at the Old Laundry in Marylebone and wander past the very cosy Daunt Books, can’t resist a quick pop-in and come across Paul Arden’s latest by-the-counter tome (the bookshop equivalent of supermarket check-out chocs). Since leaving Saatchi’s he’s been writing rather minimalist bookettes on Creative Thinking such as Whatever You Think Think the Opposite and It’s Not How Good You Are It’s How Good You Want to Be. When I was approached by some bizarre nascent outfit at ITV called Imagine about 18 months ago I read a couple of these to get me back into that zone (creative thinking theory) with which I hadn’t actively engaged that much since writing MindGym (with Tim Wright and Ben Miller). Arden’s latest is all about the Creator rather than creativity – God Explained in a Taxi Ride – and I was quite taken with the first page I opened it at – he suggested the best thing to put on Ground Zero was a big mosque. And I’m inclined to agree. And it really makes you think how thin on the ground Creativity is in political circles. I’ve no idea what Arden’s politics are and whether he’s of the ‘Labour isn’t Working’ era at Saatchi but you can’t help wondering how the world could be with a bit more left-field (whether left wing or not) thinking applied to the pressing problems (and opportunities) of our age…

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3 comments so far

  1. James Cherkoff on

    Hi Adam, my tweet was a tongue-in-cheek summary of the morning’s events which, whilst not quite what we was expected, was very useful. Hope you enjoyed it too.

  2. ArkAngel on

    I totally enjoyed it thanks as I think did everyone involved. As your tweet indicates, there was no lack of engagement or energy in the room! The slides you prepared to prompt the conversation certainly did the job and what came out the other end under your facilitation I have no doubt was very valuable. So even if the journey was not what you expected (and on my part I didn’t have particular expectations about the route) you got us to the destination.

    The point I was making above about the potential perils of blogging is two-fold:

    * blogging – especially micro-blogging due to its brevity – in common with email, can be poor at conveying tone (e.g. that it’s tongue in cheek, hence the development of emoticons – a rather crude way of trying to address this limitation)

    * you always have to assume that the worst possible person (who has access to the site – so if it’s on the open internet, the worst possible person) will read what you wrote. In this case it was picked up firstly by someone not actually at the session but who broadly understood the context – so perfectly placed to misinterpret your tweet. Of course his colleagues were able to complete the picture subsequently but this will not always be the case.

    Just for the record, it was an excellent session very well chaired, good fun, good results.

  3. James Cherkoff on

    Thanks Adam. Indeed, the web is a wonderful thing but misunderstandings are just as commonplace as the real world! Glad you found it a useful session.


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