The online world isn’t the bazaar some hoped for; it’s just another discount supermarket filled with over-packaged, under-performing, flavourless rubbish. Quantity wins out over quality time and time again. And we (as a public) are brainwashed into thinking this is good for us. We’re addicted to digital sugar, tribalistic in our consumption of like-minded views.

When, back in the early 1990s, Eric Raymond mused that it was the bazaar, with its many eyes and different perspectives, that would make software better I felt he had a point. The old world of locked-down, out-of-sight code — what Raymond calls the Cathedral…


I’m driving south. Skirting a border that Offa built a dyke to preserve. When people draw maps, they draw fixed lines. Moving through these spaces the lines soon dissolve. They become less solid. Borders are, of course, not real. Until, like Offa, we make them so. They are made by humans, given power and meaning that far exceeds their tangibility or purpose. Offa’s Dyke. Hadrian’s Wall. The Iron Curtain. Brexit. Us and them.

Local government becomes real through imposed borders. Sometimes historical, other times economic or simply convenient. Local government as a representation of place. Not people. Something to govern…


It is strange to return. I got to know St. Petersburg through words on the page. Particularly Dostoyevsky, but also from many of his contemporaries. A city unwrapped itself in my mind. Visiting, though the names had changed, all was somehow familiar.

The last time I was here was mid-summer. It was my birthday. It was 25-years ago. This was a significant time of year. For Dostoyevsky, enough to warrant it unnecessary to explain where his short story, ‘White nights’ is set. Any reader of the time would have understood. As they might have understood his unnamed narrator, caught up…


We have lost our connection. That promised fluidity the internet offered us has hardened. Twenty years ago, even ten, we saw a space to connect, share and expand our horizons, we saw palpable benefits rendered by the distanciation of time and space. Yet, even as we started to understand how online discourse functioned, we saw that people didn’t expand. Too often they contracted. Too often they clustered around like-minds; ‘people like us’. And over time the media, the new media mongers of hate and certain politicians have exploited this to create a world that, right now, feels more failed, fractured…


I’m a writer. I write for work, often dense, deeply analytical reports and academic texts, brimming with references to obscure philosophers, on whose shoulders I build my argument. Sometimes, articles for magazines or newspapers.

I’m a writer. I write for pleasure, poetry for many years and more recently fiction.

I’m a writer. But I can’t tell you how to write. I don’t know you, your routine, how your mind works and what makes you get up in the morning. Or stops you going to sleep at night.

Lately, I’ve been reading about writing again. The process, method and ritual writers…


Both sides of the EU referendum campaign are guilty of being ‘economical with the truth’, gilding lillies in ways we never thought possible. The amount we pay to the EU? Rubbish. The impact on the economy if we leave? Overblown and based on supposition. Statistics as a weapon of mass distraction.

Negative campaigning isn’t limited to this referendum but its use here has been exceptional. That’s because the less you have to offer the more you have to blame someone else: if you can’t win on facts and policies, incite division and fear and hate. It’s unpleasant but it’s part…


The 7th century-BC Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu said:

Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have.

Perhaps the perfect motto for a growing group in the research and evaluation community who are undertaking research with, rather than on, communities. It suggests that community-based research and engagement can be done better. …


It’s not enough to see Alan Duncan as an ignorant buffoon, we have to recognise him as a symptom of what is wrong with our democratic system.

Democracy, “for the people, by the people”. But this is Britain so we’ll have none of that nonsense here. Imagine the reception Abraham Lincoln would have got from the 1922 committee if he’d showed up with those crazy ideas.

Sir Alan Duncan certainly thinks democracy is a crazy idea and made this clear when he said “we risk seeing a House of Commons which is stuffed full of low achievers, who hate enterprise…


The results of the New Zealand flag referendum are in. And the change is no change. So, that’s the end of it then. We can sit back in the knowledge that there’s overwhelming support for our trusty old colonial relic. Well, no. There was a 56% vote for the current flag, that’s only ‘overwhelming’ if you’re a TVNZ sub-editor who’s too lazy to read the results or understand polling.

It’s settled nothing. Did the flag win because it’s the one we want or because the alternative wasn’t up to the job? I voted for no change but I don’t support…


OK, so about this referendum thing. You know, to Brexit. Or Not.

We’re about to be inundated with a lot of pointless noise. If the pre-whining is anything to go by, most of it will be wrong. I have no intention of engaging with any of it, not least because referendums solve nothing and ill-informed referendums driven by hidden agendas solve even less.

In my mind, there are three different but related issues. Each of varying importance.

First, we have the re-negotiations that just finished in Brussels. I don’t know what game Cameron was playing with this but nothing in…

Andy Williamson

how do we learn, connect, engage and flourish? How do we develop effective, thoughtful leadership, and live together in collaborative, social spaces?

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