Just a dreamer

You know when you have a dream and it is so vivid that it could be mistaken for reality? This is something which I have noticed within myself which gets translated into all the work I do. The problem with dreams is that they are so fragile that any utterance of it would seem to put it into jeopardy. Not all dreams happen at night either, most dreams happen during the day. What I only can describe as the opposite of a day dream. A dream that happens during the day but can only be translated through productivity.

At the start of this year I made my first new year’s resolution. A very simple one; I would have no free time. A promise to myself that was made out of fear that I would have the same destiny as my granddad who passed away a few years ago. A man I only ever met twice and is only described by my close family as being charming but lazy. The true definition of what happens when a man indulges in addictions and finds that he no longer has control over his life. At his cremation my father yelled, “Stand back, he is going to blow!” which gives an indication of the concoction of drugs which would have been within his system.

I can’t exactly say I have had no free time so far this year but what I really meant by that would be a year full of creating content. That anything I do this year will result in a product of some sort. Whether that is degree related material or other activities which by chance will look good on a CV.

Of course I didn’t make the promise with my CV in mind. The promise was made so that I could discover more about myself and the talents I may have acquired. This has led me being involved in website projects, writing prolific amounts, presenting a radio show, public speaking etc. For me to mention my activities seems boastful but I haven’t claimed to have achieved anything through them. What has been clear to me this year is that the more work one does, the more luck one seems to have. So you were right Thomas Jefferson.

My still alive Granddad, a man whom I love and see often, has a fantastic sense of humour. Wicked at times, occasionally ill-timed in social situations but like all jokes there is an element of underlining truth. Frequently he would comment on the dreams of young people.

“You are just a dreamer”

I’m used to hearing that sentence quite a lot. Usually it is said when one of my brothers talks about their plans to own a Ferrari in the future, have shares in the royal family or kindly give me a job as a cleaner in their playboy mansion.

What I have maintained all along is that the pay of a job does not concern me. If I were ever at a position to earn a vast salary but have a rubbish job or earn little money for a job that fulfils my dreams and aspirations. I would choose the latter. As long as I could live comfortably I would be happy. I’m not one of these people who would say money isn’t important. It is. Money does bring happiness because it provides comfort. A point which I have openly argued as others have hurled accusations of my argument being materialistic rubbish. You may have the comfort of spirituality but you still need the comfort of somewhere to live. To say otherwise just seems immature and short sighted.

Dreams are just that important to me. If only it were so easy to say I only have the one dream. Like all children I don’t have a clue what I want to do in the world. Fair point, I study a Public Relations degree but we all know that not everybody goes into the industry that they studied towards. It is just a fact of life, it is chaotic and there is no order as such. It is randomness and chance who are the cruel dictators in life, partly shape who we become but are the fairest judges of all. Some people are born in positions where no real effort is needed academically or personally to reach their goals. Others may have intimidating talents but backgrounds have made it seemingly impossible to achieve productively. I like to believe that everyone has a chance to make something of themselves, to follow their dreams.

Sadness engulfs me when you meet people who claim to have no dreams. Feel secluded from a society that never gave them a chance in the first place. In many cases what those people say is true. I can’t begin to explain the amount of support I have had to reach where I am now. If I didn’t have that support when I was much younger then I wouldn’t be writing on this blog today.

Ultimately I am just a dreamer. Often criticised for thinking too much but I am not alone. Many people have dreams but too many are scared to admit it. You may notice that I still haven’t shared what my dreams are. That is because they are too fragile. Impatiently I wait to see my dreams come true, with stubbornness refusing to ever let them go. Make no mistake, I have no pride to bare, just the dreams hidden within.

Cheltenham Literature Festival

‘Cheltenham Literature Festival’ by Michael White was originally written for and can be found in vol.10, Issue 2, of Space Newspaper.

Cheltenham Literature Festival has been one of the highlights of my year. This year, by accident, the events I attended tackled the effects humans are having on nature. Mark Carwardine and Stephen Fry spoke at Cheltenham Racecourse about their documentary ‘Last Chance to See’ where they travelled the globe searching for endangered animal species. Tim Smit discussed what drove him to start the ‘Eden Project’ and how he stumbled upon the ‘Gardens of Heligan’. There is no doubt that the Cheltenham Literature Festival has changed many of my views concerning the importance of our planet.

Despite this whenever the phrase ‘Global Warming’ is mentioned I have to confess that my eye does twitch. Perhaps this is caused by my fascination of Jeremy Clarkson’s writing a couple of years ago. Although it could be mostly attributed to the words Nigel Lawson has brought to the climate change debate. His book “An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming” shook the very foundations of the debate. Nigel Lawson didn’t disprove with the effects climate change is having on our planet but instead motioned human activities cannot be entirely to blame. He also attacked the view that the effects of climate change would be cataclysmic but instead would be far more moderate. In a very rare moment the journalist and prolific author Christopher Hitchens commented that whether or not climate change is caused by our endeavour we have to conclude it is happening. We have no real understanding of what the effects will be but we have the ability to slow down the process of climate change. Although the more cynical may comment that it is now too late to stop the process.

It was when a young eager girl addressed Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine with the question, “Perhaps we should just let nature run its course?” that my views changed. The only reason that we can ask such questions about nature is because we have the power to stop animal species from becoming endangered. Without realising it we can play God over the animal Kingdom. How do we decide which animals should become extinct or live on? Mark Carwardine described the ecosystem of our planet as a game of Pick Up Sticks. The aim of the game is to remove a stick at a time without moving the other sticks. Let’s imagine that each stick represents an animal species. It might be possible to remove one stick without disturbing the others but in all likelihood the other sticks will shift very slightly. Eventually we will get to a point where the removal of a stick will cause the above ones to fall down completely. This is the game we, humans, are having on the planet.

An insect such as the Mosquito could simply be viewed as an HIV spreading tool which the world would be better without. Even the willy latching candirú fish could be viewed by men as an abomination. Perhaps the evolutionary pathetic Kakapo or Panda deserve to go from the world? Examples of when natural selection has produced an animal inadequate to survive in this world. The removal or lack of protection of an endangered animal species may affect the ecosystem in ways which we are currently unable to comprehend.

Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine tackled the endangered animal species whilst Tim Smit discussed endangered plant species as part of his talk on the Eden Project. In August I was fortunate enough to attend the Eden Project and witness the list of endangered plant species for myself. Plants are often forgotten about when discussing the disheartening concept of extinction. There is no doubt that plants have a direct consequence on our lives. Plants produce our tea and coffee, fill our cigarettes with tobacco, make chocolate possible, provide us with clothes, provide our pharmaceutical drugs, season our food, give us food and even make recyclable packaging possible. It is with a sense of irony that rain forests are being knocked down to make way for a single species of plant to make companies seem more environmentally friendly. Whilst there is free space for companies to plant in the Amazon Rainforest many companies knock down more trees so that they can make money from the timber. When this happens species of plant and animal are reduced once again and it is only a matter of time before a species of plant or animal is removed completely.

The Cheltenham Literature Festival is a place to discover new knowledge, understand up to date issues and meet your favourite celebrities. If you were not able to attend this year then I highly recommend you attend the festival next year.

Google Wave: Hands On

A couple of weeks ago I was delighted to receive my invite to use Google Wave. In this article I will examine the basic features of Wave. If you would like further information on how to use/features of Google Wave then I recommend you read ‘The Complete Guide to Google Wave’.

Google Wave logo

Overview

Google Wave is an application that allows users to communicate with each other through a series of Waves. A single Wave is a window which may contain content and conversation. It is best to compare Google Wave against email. Each Wave hosts a page where two or more users may indulge in conversation. Whereas email gets sent to multiple recipients, a single window in Google Wave is viewed by all recipients. This window can be conversed upon and holds a central point for individuals to communicate with each other. This is unlike email which sends multiple copies of the same message out and relies upon separate replies.

It is possible for individuals to create their work using Google Wave. Working as a team online has never been easier as each user can contribute to a document in real time. As a message is typed it is possible to see each key stroke. Clicking off a message will result in the added details to a document to be highlighted next time you select.

Along with this feature is the ability to media into the body of the Wave. Gone is the day of attachments, it is now possible to just view images, video, maps, graphs and diagrams in the body of a message.

When documents get very large it is difficult to understand how the conversation or document unfolded. To tackle this problem Google Wave features a playback option. It is then possible to playback the conversation or document creation.

With these features it is clear to see that Google Wave is an extremely useful tool for when planning in business.

Google Waving it

In the last few days I have managed to have a proper fiddle with Google Wave. When you log onto Google Wave you get taken to your inbox.

frontpage

As you can see we have a three column design. On the left features a small navigation menu and my even smaller contact list. In the centre of the screen is my inbox and to the right is space for a Wave window.

When you open or create a Wave the window fills the right part of the screen which was previously unfilled. In my case I have opened up a conversation which I was having with my friend Emma this morning.

emmaopen

The conversation imitates the layout of a forum but with the bonus of replying separately to an individual post. As of yet I have not managed to have a conversation on Google Wave with more than one other person. So my conversations have so far just been simply trailing downwards.

mullyimage

Adding media to a Wave has never been easier. The picture seen in this show was moved across by simply dragging and dropping from my Windows XP ‘My Pictures’ file. Picture was taken at Mevagissey Harbour in Cornwall. What do you think??

A feature of Google Wave which in practice is usually missed is the possibilities of plugins, more accurately described as apps. In this preview of Google Wave there are only a handful of apps to choose from. A couple of apps I have installed include a feature to hyperlink Twitter usernames and a wikipedia bot.

Not the most overly exciting apps considering Google promised multiplayer games but we can expect that in the future. It is worth adding that the majority of the apps created will likely be constructed by the clever developer public. Although even the developers haven’t had that long to play around with Wave.

Social networking uses?

There seems to be a speculation that Google Wave will be the next social networking giant. In its current stage, the preview stage, Google Wave does have its problems. There is a lack of applications, the system is far from stable and the most that can be done is conversation and possibly document creation. However, it is very likely that in the future Google Wave has the potential to be a different sort of social networking website.

It could be a website that allows users to connect with each other on a very human scale. The possibility to arrange meetings, parties, play games, send serious messages or just the occasional naughty talk without getting social boundaries overlapped. This is the problem with current social networking websites. They do not recognise that people act differently depending on their social environments. Google Wave could very well fix this problem, a problem which I know exists for the older members of sites such as Facebook. Considering that the average age on Facebook now is over 40 I reckon Google Wave has got a bright future ahead of it. It is not really possible yet to say how Google Wave would fit into a social media campaign. We need to wait a few more weeks for Wave to develop before we can do that.

Twitter Lists

listbeta

A new feature on Twitter has taken the network by storm and has redefined what it means to be followed or to be re-tweeted. Twitter announced their list feature a couple of days ago and yesterday I got to use the feature for myself. At first I was confused to what a Twitter list meant. How would lists affect the way Twitter is used?

twitstats

A Twitter list in essence is another simple but powerful concept to spread your username around. A few months ago I noticed that once you follow over 400 people it is difficult to keep track of particular individuals. Now I am following over 1,480 people and it is just impossible to keep track.

A Twitter list allows you to organise certain tweeple into particular groups. This might be a list to categorise the subjects they tweet about. Perhaps a list to collate all of your real life friends. Even a list to just focus on the individuals who you find especially interesting to follow. A Twitter list is essentially a method to keep track of users, to filter them through your follower timeline.

Twitter lists can be kept private or be shared publicly. If a list is left public this gives other users the chance to follow your list. To follow the individuals included in the list or to just follow your list as a whole. This provides an effective way to follow many users without actually having to follow them individually.

Ultimately Twitter lists create unique groups of people who would have been lost without the existence of the feature. Since it has been installed I have managed to easily follow certain individual’s updates, find information I want faster and engage more often in conversation.

myfriendslist

In the past it was necessary to just worry about getting the followers. The more followers you have, the further your tweets will be broadcasted. However, the Twitter list feature has changed this. It is all fine and dandy having thousands of followers but being added to a Twitter list has become the gold star. Once you have been added to someone’s Twitter list it shows you have been singled out. Categorised into a list of expertise, friendship or interest.

mylisted

As Twitter lists are still hot from the press I am still unsure about how this will effect my own exposure. Could it be that my blog posts get far more coverage as those interested in my content can easily single me out? Perhaps I will get more re-tweets as a result of Twitter lists? Will the frequency of people who follow me change? Not sure quite yet. Time will tell.