Your secret super power

Can robots be creative? And if they were would it count?

I don’t think so. As Seinfeld once explained: “People wanna see someone sweat”.

Here’s my mid-Summer column for British Airways’ Business Life magazine.

BA Business Life JulyAugust2015






Waking up the morning crew at Live Tech

Sometimes you have to take your own medicine. As various sages have observed: wisdom is being able to take your own advice.
(If your advice is not so good then I guess that doesn’t apply)
In any event, in the survival manual for the age of automation - The End of Nice – the key instruction is that a change of attitude and behaviour is necessary. Without shifting your mindset to Anti-Nice you’ll struggle during the aacceleration to our emerging post-capitalist, roboworld.
So it was only appropriate that, having preached a change in behaviour, I had to do it myself . Specifically I had to break my lifelong commitment to late rising  in order to do a crack-of-dawn talk at the Barbican where I was opening the Livetech event.
I struggle with early mornings. I’m sure all the best people do.  I complained about the unfairness of it all in one of my BA Business Life columns. But you know what? It didn’t kill me and I think there’s even a secret benefit to public speaking that comes from fancying that all these people in front of you are really just a figment of your dreamworld.





Another smash!

So finally I got to be a sports reporter. Well, kind of. That’s to say I got to write an article in a newspaper that mentioned trick shots, Wimbledon and Roger Federer. A check mark on the bucket list. Here’s the intro to the piece that was mainly concerned with the under-the-surface transformation of Wimbledon into a social media powerhouse.

Front of house at Wimbledon is all about tradition — strawberries and cream, tennis whites and celebrities in the Royal Box. But behind the scenes, there is nothing traditional about social targeting, “cord-cutting” and finding new ways to exploit the global appetite for two weeks of grass court tennis.

Last year Wimbledon began sharing real time video clips of on-court action for the first time. It recorded 3.5m views in two weeks. This year a single, audacious shot by Roger Federer accumulated 4m views in 24 hours.

Read the full article here on the FT.


Cities to launch a tech startup

Suppose you could set up a startup just about anywhere in the world. Where would you go?

Cork City at the foot of Ireland’s rebel county ? Or maybe Austin, Texas the home home of SXSW, live music and BBQs? Or Copenhagen, the happy capital City of Denmark and  hygge (cosiness) ? Or perhaps Cardiff – the fast transforming capital of Wales.

I looked at the pros and cons of each City in the FT. Cork and Austin are two cities that I have been closely involved with in setting up tech companies but I think I achieved as much objectivity as possible and so I did not mention the companies I’ve been involved in.





The transient hegemony of coders and my sense of inadequacy

My June column for British Airways Business Life.

Come on coders – hurry up and make your self redundant!
BA Business LifeJune15

On Sea Squirts, White Horses and Excellent Sheep

This is the second part of my interview with Bob Morris in which we discuss creatures that don’t use their brains, creatures that eat their brains and horses which aren’t really horses at all.

Wave Rider Sketch2




Here’s someone riding a white horse (…seen through a telescope).

And here’s where the interview resumes:

Morris: I agree with your suggestion in The Little Book of Big Thinking. that valuable lessons can sometimes be learned from, the most unlikely sources if (HUGE “if”) if we are retain an open mind and are receptive. For example, what can be learned from a sea squirt?

Newton: The life cycle of the sea squirt struck me as an excellent motif for the book. I came across it by complete serendipity, as I usually do when writing, just as I was trying to find a vivid way to illustrate the difference between using your mind to direct your life and using it to drift. I’d been thinking about a phrase a non-executive director at one of my companies often used about “busy fools”. That I think is the life of many of us. But it wasn’t striking.

And then I happened to open a biology book – which isn’t something I often do! – and came across the story of a sea squirt which was a perfect metaphor.

And a sea squirt, for those readers who like me were unaware, is a small tadpole-like creature that swims around the ocean finding things to eat. And one day it attaches itself to a rock or an old piece of coral and it never moves again. And because it will never again move it has no need for a brain. So it consumes it. It eats its own brain. And so, “use it or eat it” became the motif for the introductory chapter of the book.

The rest of the interview can be found here

and part 1 can be found here

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