All entries for February 2009

February 26, 2009

A new mode of thought

Writing about web page http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/439

Some people who know me well might find this next bit a little… uncharacteristic.

I’m going to write some more about the Singapore sessions later but first I want to pick up on some themes that arose in some reading and TED film viewing on the plane.

One statement cropped up in a film of Jamais Cascio which has made me think quite hard about a lot of stuff:

“Pessimism is a luxury of good times … In difficult times, pessimism is a self-fulfilling, self-inflicted death sentence.”

You can view the video at http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/439

The quotation is from Evelin Gerda Lindner.

Now not sure about the rest of the film but that line struck me as I have been struggling with a sort of mental inertia about lot of stuff and have fallen into a pattern of negative thinking and responses – problems, problems, problems.

The trip to Singapore started a train of thought that was thrown into sharp focus when on the flight back I watched that quote flick across the screen of my iPhone.

Bloody hell.

Inertia vanished.

These are difficult times – pessimism is a luxury we simply cannot afford. The mantra needs to be hope, change and progress – very Obama, but perhaps that is the point. The mental attitude embodied in ‘Yes We Can’ is critical to meeting the global challenges of financial crisis and the local challenges of taking Warwick on path it needs to go down to be the globally important institution it seeks to be in a time of financial tightening and systemic sectoral barriers.

This needs to be a time to celebrate the breadth and quality of our community and find within it the brilliant ideas, students and staff and give them the space and confidence to flourish in an environment desperate for both new thinking and practical solutions to some pretty big issues.

I am going to try and hold on to this attitude and not slip back into easy, comfortable cynicism. Sure, to compare the immediate local situation with global problems may seem a bit cheap but bugger it. We are not going to find a way through either by navel gazing or dwelling on barriers.

We can be critical without being negative, destructive as long as it there is a constructive alternative.

Time to move the conversation on.


February 24, 2009

Thoughts on Singapore

What a great place Singapore is – really interesting city and buzzing with potential.

I’ve been here for a conference and whilst that was interesting (more later) just wandering around Singapore has been fascinating.

1. It is an incredibly connected and mobile city. Everyone is using their phone and interacting using mobile.

2. THere is something of an energy about the people here that is refreshing after doom and gloom at home. Sure, there’s a lot of doom and gloom here to, but things are still positive and you get the feeling that there is a mood of waiting for the up-turn – ready…steady….go – they will be out of the blocks far more quickly than we will

3. The appetite for education is massive – it’s a society hungry for knowledge and ideas

4. The cultural mix is amazing

5. Stuff just works – it’s clean and to time and nothing feels crowded though we are on a densely populated little island.

6. Panglish is the way to go.

I have also learned a few important lessons.

1. Business cards are crucial here – I didn’t bring any. Oops. There is an etiquette to handing out cards and muggins here bolloxed all that right. As if to drive home the point the conference organiser gave me a business card holder as a thankyou for chairing. Right, so I am a muppet – I get it!

2. I don’t think we send enough administrators out here. We should organise a little world tour for key people to get a sense of how these places operate and what excites our potential students, staff and partners here and in other areas. Don’t think you can substitute in territory experience for insights into how we think about international strategy. This should not be the reserve of the International Office. Considering how globalised future students will be we need to understand this much much more.

I shall leave Singapore with lots of positive thoughts. Hope the news at home doesn’t drag us down too quickly!

Plus – loads of good networking and a conviction we need to arm students with video cameras – it’s the way forward.


February 2009

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