Cultural markers in the East of England

Month: December 2014

The Gift of Knowledge?

How it used to be done!

How it used to be done!

At this time of year everyone reflects a little on their progress in the previous twelve months, and more often than not, looks forward to the next twelve, with joy or trepidation depending on personal circumstance.

One factor of life that will not change is the ubiquity of the web and the range of services available for the owners of the right ‘machinery’, or for those who have access to it.

This journal is the product of Fellowship imaginations, but others are looking at the world and re-imagining news, reflection and analysis too. Below are some great ways that you can commit to developing knowledge and understanding, all at no cost…beyond that all important access to machinery!


Wonker – a complex news analysis engine:

wonkerLogoThis is a brave attempt to develop and share knowledge and understanding about the critical social, economic and community development conflicts across the globe.

Just getting started, but with a vast task in front of them, Casey and Nick the creators of Wonker, risk burn-out or perhaps even take-over by mainstream news outlets if the concept becomes a raging success. The site currently offers analysis of the ISIS crisis and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict for example.

That said, even if you are a ‘policy wonk‘ already, the site offers a great way to get contextual analysis from outside your own professional field of endeavour. Alternatively, you can use your professional knowledge to contribute to the Q & A style presentation of Wonker.

As with all user contributed content, there are potential questions of political bias, Americo-centrism in this case or even propogandism as the site develops. It is however, we think, a brave attempt to make clear the complicated to either the disengaged or the distracted, one conflict at a time.

See more of Wonker here…

Highbrow – expand your knowledge universe, one email at a time…

Not a new concept on the literate web, but this service is nicely presented for those who have just five minutes a day over ten days to become acquainted with a new field of study, one email at a time.

highbrowLogoIt’s not particularly clear  on their web site, but you are constrained to one ten day course subscription at a time. Presumably to prevent burn-out or ‘knowledge fatigue’?

You can choose your starting date, in order to manage the light work-flow from the beginning. Courses you can choose from cover such topics as art, history, philosophy and psychology, amongst others.

It will be interesting to see the content as it develops over time, as the delivery is heavily dependent upon TED talks at the moment. Worth checking out, either as a refresher in a busy email day, or as context to develop a new interest.

See more of Highbrow here…

Don’t forget The RSA…

If video access to fresh thinking is your mode of learning, then the RSA has a long history of offfering its audience the most topical material from thought leaders of the day.

The RSA can offer you a whole range of video talks and presentations from some great thinkers. The example below is one such. The need for a revolution in education, breaking the political and social bounds of the mind to create new worlds. (Makes me breathless just reading this…Ed.)

Debra Kidd argues for the creation of ‘architects of hope’ for young people. A powerful ambition and an idea well worth spreading. One interesting observation Debra makes is that individuals need to know what they are voting for and how the solutions offered by the political machinery are tinkered with by the self interest of the elected representative.

See the movie on YouTube

See this original video on YouTube here.

Knowledge, context and critical thinking are key. With a tsunami of information crashing over us, the tools and resources above can help with process, we would argue.

See a catalogue of RSA videos here…

Happy New Year.


Headline photo credit: Bill on Capitol Hill via photopin cc

Seasonal Greetings
to everyone…

Christmas card 2014 image

We hope that all our readers, subscribers and site visitors enjoy a warm and happy seasonal break, wherever you may be?

Thank you for your support and interest in the East of England regional activity in 2014. Below is our conversationsEast road-map for 2015. A short list, but with much energy and enthusiasm behind it.

  • Launch of our sister site in the first quarter 2015 (…putting the arts back into the RSA regional profile?)
  • Beginning our ‘guerilla gatherings’ programme, with some test ‘get togethers’, initially focussed on spreading news and information about the Fellowship Council. (A sort of Fellowship Councillor surgery programme in the East really).
  • Finally publishing our web and project support offer in a formalised and structured way to help regional projects build a web presence or develop a project plan.
  • Making our news feed a simple subscription based print edition, so that the lack of technology is not a bar to receiving our news.

As with all our conversationsEAST sponsored support – publications, events, coffee and buns are always free at the point of delivery.

Updated: 26th December 2014: Provided you don’t have Google code blocked in your browser, you can now translate all our content on individual article pages into many languages…including Latvian and Igbo, for example. Click the headline, and use the Google Translate drop-down box on the top right of every web page. Making the RSA more accessible…

Some of our most read articles in 2014, in case you missed them…

Licensed to create – a new model for teaching? Read more here.

Getting behind British Science – new funds for 2015. Read more here.

Chelmsford Remembers – Essex at War. Read more here.

Women in the Tech Industry. Read more here.

Happy New Year.

The conversationsEAST team.


Everyday Employers
A new RSA Report

Just published, this report offers fresh insights into the conditionality of being an employer, factored through the lens of rising self-employment, business fears about employment and how central government could deploy a mind-shift in its approach to entrepreneurship and the creation of new jobs.

Authored by Benedict Dellot, the report looks across the business landscape and considers three key areas of analysis that cause the self-employed to falter at the recruitment doorway – pragmatic issues, the mindset and the cognitive biases.

A new RSA Report - see more here...

A new RSA Report

Everyday Employers looks at the practical steps that could be energised in order to overcome barriers to employment.

Pooling risk – where recognition exists that not all risk can be avoided, but could be mitigated by establishing collective approaches to insurance, HR or administrative functions.

From hiring to the concept of accessing a workforce – where employees can be shared across a number of organisations.

Boosting supply, rather than stimulating demand – using existing networks, institutions and and networks to create awareness of new jobs and to generate fresh points of contact with work seekers.

From support expansion to support consolidation – taking a fresh look at a large, hyper-active business support nexus. Assessing fitness for purpose and a leaner operational requirement.

… a divergence in opinion is mirrored in people’s attitudes towards crossing the VAT threshold – one potential consequence of employing staff . While 47 percent of business owners not registered for VAT say it would be difficult to operate their firm if they went past the threshold, this compares to just 13 percent of VAT registered business owners looking back in hindsight…

The question of the VAT threshold for small business is used to illustrate the mindset,   perceived assumptions , that can restrain business owners from taking on additional staff. The report underscores this philosophical error by highlighting research into how little the small business actually understands about government policy,  a gap in knowledge which is compounded by the complexity of the existing business support mechanisms previously mentioned.

In the final section of Everyday Employers, the issue of cognitive bias is analysed. This falls into four distinct categories, the whole of which is, it can be argued, a neat proxy for the ‘landscape of fear’ that can wrack the entrepreneur.

Inertia – simply put, the gain from expansion is outweighed by the potential loss that might be created by the process of growth itself.

Control – a business builder increasingly feels they need to control their creation, nearly always over-estimating their own ability to be productive, for example. This conditioning leads the potential employer to inherently distrust the potential capabilities of new recruits to their business.

Short- termism – a lack of planning and an over-focus on the near term. That and the inability of some business owners to step back from the intensity of the day to day running of their business to appropriately plan.

Social proof – we mimic the behaviours and model our organisations alongside those we interact with. If there is no context for the individual and his or her peers that looks at and responds to growth and recruitment, then they won’t do it either.

Benedict’s report, Everyday Employers, also contains interesting data on self-employment, growth and recruitment. Changing or tempering the landscape reviewed above could have a seismic effect the report argues…

  • “The number of self-employed people has increased by 30 percent
    since 2000.
  • Only three percent of sole traders hired someone (and kept them) over the
    5-year period from 2007–2012.
  • Doubling this recruitment rate to six percent would result in an extra 100,000
    more jobs being created (and sustained) over a 5-year period”.

This is a detailed and convincing report, which comes with practical recommendations for business sector change. It also revisits some previous research and uses the data and analysis to support the operational arguments presented in the report.

For the reflective small business person, the practical politician or the profoundly caring policy analyst, this should be the ‘go to’ manual for the next five years.

pdfIcon4Get your copy of Everyday Employers here.






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