Friday, 15 March 2019


"Naked Drag Queens Pink and White" by Natasha Gavin

This morning's (Fri 15th March '19) #LDinsight chat on Twitter was a Doozey!

The facilitator (much kudos to them) disrupted the usual text chat format with an invitation for us to respond to the question "What do you think about the use of video for learning solutions?" USING VIDEO to reply.

I confess to being completely thrown by the challenge. I'd only been up for 15 minutes. I was still in my dressing gown. I had major bed hair. I had only had one cup of tea FFS! Suddenly, there was no hiding place. 

I had choices to make: Run away; Do/say nothing, just lurk and learn; Respond in the customary tweet format; or Person up, pause, prepare and do some kind of video response. I had no idea what to do.  

As I was considering my options, people began posting videos. How could they do that so quickly? How could they seem so considered, calm , well-dressed and made up already? I got very flustered. I drank some more tea.

Having used #Periscope earlier in the week at a Sussex CIPD Branch Meeting (, I decided to do a quick Periscope video, using a print by my daughter (see above) as the visual interest and just voice-overing my initial thoughts. I faffed about with my mini-tripod, set up the title - and immediately started broadcasting the rustle and sleeves of my dressing gown! 

(Lesson 1: Ensure your kit is already set up and steady ready for you to commence recording/broadcasting your video).

Stopped, deleted video and settled myself. (Text from @MandyRG: "I've just seen a video of your dressing gown! Did you mean that to go out live?")

Started again. Phone cam steady, all quiet. Hit the broadcast button. Voice like sandpaper (see 'Tea' above). Half-formed thoughts, clearly unscripted (but I can do 20 minutes when the fridge door light comes on, so not too much of a problem). Doing OK. Cat decides she's hungry and being ignored; joins in, loudly. Throws me a bit. Press on. Cat persistent. Apologise for cat. Press on. Manage to finish my piece, reasonably coherently (

(Lesson 2: There's a difference between Live and recorded! As I tweeted, "...spontaneity's OK in some cases (reflection etc) but planning and rehearsal essential if aiming for some kind of information/knowledge sharing impact". I would have had a much tighter script and been much better rehearsed with sufficient notice and preparation. In a recorded video, you can build in time and space for editing and refining content.)

Back to the #LDinsight tweetchat. So many videos and so much great comment and insight from the #PLN. Hope I haven't let myself down with my own contribution and that it's had some relevance to the discussion. Some nice feedback, likes and a couple of retweets. That'll do me.

(Lesson 3: Video is just another tool in our kitbag, both as producer/facilitator and as consumer of learning. We need to have a reasonable familiarity with its potential and some competence in its production and consumption.)

Some final thoughts: Context is really important here. Is video the right tool for the job in hand? Is it adding any value to the message/impact you are trying to share or achieve? Have you made it accessible and inclusive for everyone (captioning etc)? 

And a final question (Personal Bias Alert), do we really need to see more full-screen, self-satisfied, beaming faces about to launch into their 'shtick', in our timelines?

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Fictional Intelligence

At the Learning Technologies Conference last week, there was a lot of discussion both in conference sessions and in the general social chat, about AI, Artificial Intelligence, in HR, L&D and OD. It's a maturing 'science', with an increasingly well-understood potential and some well-demonstrated examples. However, this post is not about that.

Image: Patricia Hebert
This post is about how science fiction (SF) is ahead of this particular game, and has been for far longer than we've been angsting about it. 

And the good news is that, contrary to traditional expectations of various dystopian futures (well, not entirely), the premise is that humanity has a huge part still to play - not necessarily in its/our classical form perhaps, but in working with and, in some cases, as part of the collaborative whole. OK, in many cases, we may not have been altogether willing participants initially (and that's more about some humans' inhumanity to some other humans, than anything else), but it's our basic humanity which acts as the conscience and the ultimate arbiter of how 'the machines'/AI work/will work.

In his keynote talk on Day 2 of the conference, Daniel Susskind (@danielsusskind) shared John Searle's Opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal from February 2011, after IBM's Watson computer beat two human competitors in the TV game show 'Jeopardy' - "Watson Doesn't Know It Won on 'Jeopardy!'" ( His premise is that Watson doesn't think, it computes. By extension therefore, we could say that Watson doesn't care that it won Jeopardy.

But we care. And because we care, we can moderate, influence and thereby work with 'the machines'. We just have to learn to appreciate the value and insight they can bring to our work, so that we can learn to humanise the outcomes and realise the benefits.

To finish, just to say our reading doesn't always have to be entirely business or professionally focused for us to be able to draw out some analogous insights. Sometimes, it can just be for our own entertainment. If you'd like to escape into some recent great SF I've read which kinda supports my earlier points, whilst also being rattling good reads (Warning: Some war/violence, some human/animal hybrids, some human/machine over-familiarity), I can recommend the following (all available on Amazon): 

"Autonomous" - Annalee Newitz
"Dogs of War" - Adrian Tchaikovsky
"Ghosts of Tomorrow" - Michael R. Fletcher

Any other Fictional Intelligence recommendations please?

Friday, 15 February 2019


Some quick thoughts from this week's Learning Technologies Conference at ExCel London.

Photo by Iswanto Arif on Unsplash
I heard several people say that they felt there wasn't much new, that there seemed to be a lot of 'the same sort of thing' as last year (and the year before that etc).

If it's true that, as a profession, we tend to leap ahead in steps, always jumping forward to the next, new, shiny thing/theory/approach/tool, and that we're not currently able to do that because we can't see anything like that ahead, then I'd suggest that this is a good thing. 

If we have plateaued, then this is surely the time to adopt a more pioneer attitude. Let's colonise that plateau, own it, build on it, create a community out of all the other homesteaders. Let's talk to and learn from each other, borrow from and lend back to them our collective knowledge, skill and tools, and then support all of that with an infrastructure that encourages and allows our shared space to be a better, more collaborative, productive and joyful place to live and work.

[This blog brought to you by the School of Over-wrought Analogies]

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Deep Thought?

I do a lot of thinking.

Image: Pixabay

I do a lot of worrying. I worry that I don't think deeply enough. I think that if I did, I would post more blogs. I worry that, when I do post blogs, they're not deeply thought-through enough. I worry that my peers think I don't think deeply enough. I think about that a lot. 

I worry that I don't spend enough time thinking about improving my practice, but just getting on with it. I worry that I might have lost my edge since I was ill and elected to follow a different professional path. I think that sometimes, I don't give a sh*t about that. Then I worry about how unprofessional others might think that is. 

Sometimes, I think that I over-think things.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Screened Off

I've been on festive break for nearly three weeks. In that time, I have consciously and deliberately stepped back from all my social media channels. I have, in fact, contributed nothing, apart from a very few 'Likes' and retweets. I have dropped in occasionally, just to see who and what's being posted and, frankly, I really haven't missed (it) much.

Recognising that I was being triggered into feelings of 'not belonging', of not having anything interesting or useful to offer and getting seriously irritated by a lot of my social and professional networks' broadcasts and discussions, I felt the need, for my own well-being, to take a break and concentrate on family. So I did just that. No Instagram photos, no Twitter posts, no facebook updates. No 'Happy New Year to all my friends and connections' posts on LinkedIn. No reviews of the year, or predictions for the New Year. Nor did I feel the need - as many appeared to this Xmas - to tell the world that I was disengaging for a while. I just got on with it. And I kinda liked it, in a Scrooge-like way.

And, surprise, surprise, the world kept turning. I very much doubt anyone missed online me. And that's OK.

Now, I'm gearing up for getting back to work and co-incidentally back into the online flow. I'm hoping the exchange is going to be relevant, focussed and useful. I'll try to make my contributions and conversations more like that anyway.

See you out there.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Branded Social

Last Saturday, I facilitated a couple of social media workshops at the Sussex CIPD branch Student Employability Skills Conference at the Jurys Inn Hotel in Brighton.

The focus was on helping the talented, emerging HR practitioners currently studying for their CIPD HR qualifications, as well as the more mature practitioners keen to explore and develop their knowledge and understanding of social media in their practice, on developing their professional and personal 'brand' via social channels.

My own professional life has been transformed and enriched by my interactions with others via Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube etc. and they have become an essential part of my own personal learning network (PLN).

As you would expect, I used these tools themselves in the lead up to, during and after (the 'tail') of the conference. In the two workshops on the day (a morning and an afternoon rerun), we played with them and discussed practicalities, everyone's different experiences, collectively answered and reassured ourselves about some of the perceived negative aspects of 'showing up' in public, and some practical advice about operating safely and within/despite corporate social media policies and guidelines. I was very impressed by the openness and insights of the attendees (the majority of whom have grown up with the availability of these channels as a fact of life), as well as the honest curiosity & enquiry of the more experienced HR practitioners who have not yet fully ventured into the social media spaces.

We are well met and better connected as a result.

If you want to get a flavour of the richness and diversity of the subjects covered at the conference and the open, 'social' conversations that happened in the room and online at the same time - and are still happening - check out the Twitter hashtag #MyFuture18

And please connect with me on any of these social channels (niallgavinuk) to discuss if and when I can help you with how you or your people could benefit from improving your social media use and brand presence, especially in the L&D and HR world.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Not Fatal

Photo by pina messina on Unsplash
I've been on a cocktail of drugs since my heart surgery some 3½ years ago. I've followed a routine of what and when to take them. Recently, when I was picking up my latest prescription at our local pharmacy, the pharmacist invited me into her little cubby-hole for an annual review and, after querying what I took and when, suggested that I alter this routine, to compensate for some potential stomach problems. No suggestion that I was doing anything wrong, just a check-in and some up-to-date advice.

Previously, I took 3 of my drugs with my morning cuppa, as soon as I got up, and 1 as I went to bed. The key changes she suggested were; take all 4 of them at the same time, and take them with food.

No problem, I thought.

But it turns out that in adapting to this new routine, I keep forgetting to take my drugs - in some cases missing a whole day's dose until the following day! It's as if the trigger has been adjusted and I keep missing the shot.

But I'm fine. As long as I take them as soon as I can after remembering, there are no adverse effects. My heart keeps pumping and life goes on.

The challenge has been in adapting to this change in my routine. It didn't happen immediately. I'm still having to remember to take my drugs in one go, with breakfast, and if not then, with food when I do take them. But I'm slowly embracing the change. I've learned a new way and I am adopting new behaviours. Nobody died.

One often hears the adage that everyone likes the idea of change, but nobody wants to change. But it can be done, with a clear rationale, patience and repetitive practice, until it's embedded.

Change. It's inevitable. It's OK. And it won't kill ya!