It’s quarter past five in the afternoon, a rainy Sunday. For the first time in weeks the harsh biting climate that we have grown accustomed to is replaced with a disorientating humidity, an uncommon warmth that has the city-folk caught off guard. They brandish shorts and summery tees, oblivious to the impending downpour that is to come some moments later. I can smell it – it’s wonderful…
I’ve been searching for some inspiration for months now, confounded upon inert plains of vicious lethargy. Time is becoming more of an enigma in this place, I’m losing my ability to utilise it, let alone track it.
This Easter break has been a tough one, I have remained in Coventry, set to devote all of my time and attention to my fledgling social enterprise, Cyclone. I am currently in the process of putting together a timeline, and create a blog dedicated to my professional experience. It’s been a heck of a ride already, a strenuous, time-consuming ride with a tendency to erupt in stressful setbacks and human failure. I’ll be the first to put my hand up and admit my own failures as a leader so far, but I’m hoping this is where I turn it around. Time will tell for my project, I certainly couldn’t say where its fate lies, only that I and a few others will be there together when it becomes apparent. Shortly in the future I plan to reveal to you my project in more detail, including an insight into the things we’ve done. It’s been a busy Easter with Cyclone.
But I should have balanced my time better, I let my concentration slip for too long, I would even go as far as call it the worst period of laziness since before my time at university. Things just keep happening, but I have done nothing in the way of documenting them. From the masses of ‘should haves’ with university life, to the ongoing world around me. I’ve been apathetic to it all, which is terrible. From Thatcher’s death to the latest conflict flare-up on Korean soil… Where has my time gone?
I think I need some inspiration, some nugget of enlightenment to push me back up to full steam. There is so much to gain, but also so much to lose. My enthusiasm is more crucial than ever, but I can’t help myself: It’s too easy to sit back and let the passivity of television re-runs and internet phenomenon wash over you. So if this is the case, let it be something enticing and stimulating that takes your time away from you. At least I will walk out of it feeling more engaged, hopefully.
Tea will help too.
I think I’ll start with The Human Project. I’ve put off reading their book for a while now, but no more. If you’re a ponderer, a star-gazer, or take an interest in the science of ‘us’, then start reading it with me. It’s freely available.
How about this? Eh? How about it? 201MC, that little bane of our lives is suddenly become a new leash of life, a hobby, a love-child. I’m not exaggerating when I say that, this is the chance I need for all my side projects and ideas (that have built up over the years) to see the open world, I’m excited, because I know (for the first time) that my dreams are becoming possible.
No doubt that there is still much work to be done, free time is still a precious recourse, but progress is slowly being made. I can’t (don’t want to) say too much about ‘project 201’ because, to be quite frank, it’s complicated, and I’d like to think it’s relatively innovative. But I will keep a photographic/video/text journal of the process.
Oh, and whatever you think this is (especially at this stage) I can guarantee you’re wrong. But that’s okay, you’ll know soon enough.
Back with a vengeance,
2013, Once more unto the breach.
Allow me to interject amongst the silence. My goodness, the dust sure has collected since November. I’m afraid I must confess my late departure from cyberspace; indeed it was untimely, unwarranted and above all, lazy. The opportunities, the food for thought… So many events and inspirations that I missed. I have denied whatever you wish to call the magical array of wiring and chemicals (that resides within my cranium) a banquet. I have starved it of any real interaction with the world, not to mention the regular stimuli it so ravenously devours, it has been condemned to fester, observing the world through my eyes, but at a loss for words.
Perhaps the damage is already done, perhaps this was a sign that the blog is a redundant notion, and I will never truly regain the sharp edge that my mind once had. It can happen, you know: I was once in a state of invigoration, analysing and translating the issues of the world with relative ease, now I stumble over myself as I try to find the words that convey my emotions. To imagine myself never recovering from this sluggishness is nothing short of terrifying.
However, I know the thing that resides behind my eyelids is a remarkable creature, I can feel it growing bolder with attentiveness as I type these words. The dots are connecting again, I’m stretching my legs. I kicked the door back open and I’m blinking in the light, it’s so refreshing. I like to think that my mind ‘rebels at stagnation’, and whilst I’m not Sherlock Holmes (I sometimes find the ‘dull routine of existence’ to be rather charming), I do ‘crave for mental exaltation’.
Was that pretentious? Oh, no matter.
I shall have to run a few system checks before I can safely say I have recovered from hibernation. This is a crucial process, you see. To skip past the ritual would be a fool’s errand, causing more harm than good. I have made landfall with this returning post, but before I am back to ‘me’ I need to do the following:
- Grab the feather duster, and do a quick once over with my plans.
- Consider today’s issues. Analysing and reflecting as I go.
- Take in something truly marvellous, and, in a show and tell fashion, share it with you wonderful people.
- In a final exercise of colourful thinking, create something totally new, perhaps a piece of writing, a short story, a video? Who knows.
- Reflect, how did I feel during the process, do I feel better for it? Consider my findings and consolidate the agenda.
Now, it is absolutely vital that I follow this set of mini tasks to the letter. They must be in order, and they must be completed to an acceptable standard. So keep an eye out for me, watch the space.
I hope you are all well rested and ready to face another year. Did you make any plans for change, or ‘resolutions’? Do you know where that practice comes from? Well it’s an ancient tradition, traced back to the Romans and Babylonians. They used to make promises to return or ‘reimburse’ their gods. Janus in particular, the two-headed god who looked to the past and the future. Hence the first month of the year… January.
My New Year’s resolutions? In all honesty I haven’t thought about them too much. I’ll let you know how I feel when I’m out of hibernation (and on top of my work again).
You never learn how to handle that, the gap. I don’t mean the literal physical gap between the train and the station, I mean the gap in time and space that lingers between you and farewell. Either you’re in the carriage or you’re on the outside looking in, but neither party has it easy. There’s that terrible wait, worse than the journey to the station or the airport, worse than packing your bags, worse than closing the door. You can handle those, you know where and when the transition will come; it’s just ‘the gap’ that feels endless.
There’s no way to prepare yourself for it, there’s no way to make that separation easier, other than not thinking about it at all. Sometimes that’s all you can do, you know, just don’t think about it. Hide it away, erase it from your attention, easier said then done though.
The physical separation, that layer of glass, that sucks, but it’s part of it all. Well, judging by this you can probably tell that I have just passed ‘the gap’, fortunately it won’t be long until I’m home again. Christmas looms around the corner and the pressure is on to hit the deadlines. It can be terribly stressful, more so than one anticipates, hence my weekend off.
I needed a break, we all need to take some time to recharge now and again. Now I can deal with the end of term buzz, the hysteria that we all fear. I’m going to embrace it, welcome it in as a sign of closure. It’s ritualistic in its predictability, so all I need to do is remain obligatory to the process, co-operate with myself. I said to my family before I took the train back to Coventry “This isn’t goodbye, this is me sorting out unfinished business.”
There’ll come a time when we all must endure ‘the gap’, you sit there staring at the faces of loved ones, hopelessly trying to predict the moment they finally pass from sight. You’re too uncertain to savour the moment, so the moment simply lingers, waiting to be interrupted by a departure so sudden that it’s cruel. Just remember that you’ll see them again, there’s just a few things that need sorting out in the meantime.
Okay, I admit I wasn’t partying personally. But I (with a coursemate of mine) did film and edit the footage for the One World Society and the Promotion of the Club. Want to know a little secret? There really wasn’t a lot of people in this club. The power of camera angles and jump-cut trickery would suggest other wise, however.
Props to Josh Price, I couldn’t have made this alone.
Well I admit, this is a little different to the regular posts, but what the heck, it’s time I talked a little about my add-vantage course. To be more precise, I thought I’d reflect on a task I was set, and apply it to a business idea of my own. But if any of you out there consider yourselves to be budding entrepreneurs and future tycoons, maybe this could come in handy for you too.
Firstly, I think a lot of people are put off by the whole ‘business’ thing because of the numbers. All those statistics, the ‘data’, the stereotypical coffee-stained spread-sheet salads that the corporate zombies are depicted to munch on for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Make no mistake, number crunching is a staple part of the bigger picture, but there is so much more than that. If you have an idea that you are passionate about then the ‘numbers’ are a necessary evil, besides, once you’ve got that out of the way there is everything else to enjoy. The creative freedom, the ability to see your dream become a reality, that’s worth any fair share of grey-scale chores. My idea is…
…actually I don’t feel comfortable going into the details. Tell you what, you think about YOUR idea and I’ll think about mine, deal?
Right, now we’re in agreement let’s move on to look at one particular part of business, an essential part of business. Market Research. It’s cut-throat out there, so it is essential that your business stays one step ahead of your would-be competitors. Yes there is a tonne of other stuff to think about, the branding, the consumer interaction, the planning, etc. But if someone else out there that is doing what you’re doing (more or less) or offering alternatives or have any chance of taking your customer base they are a THREAT. What do you do to combat this? Market Research. You really get to know your market, you learn how to make your customers happier, you find out what they want. Find out how to make them come back to you no matter what. It’s business 101, survival. This all links in with a little thing called ‘Porter’s Five Forces’, well it’s not a little thing, it’s huge. No doubt some of you will be familiar with it, the illustrated representation below clearly indicates to us the importance of market research.
It’s pretty simple, you want as many aces up your sleeve as possible. Getting cosy with the customers ensures you hold one of the forces in your favour, which has a knock on effect on the rest.
Convinced? You should be. Now, let’s look at market research even more. With a little bit of a case study to make things easier. ‘Portakabin’, a UK based leader in provisional modular buildings. Not the most interesting thing in the world, but it’s an example.
Portakabin’s ‘market’ consist of organisations that need temporary additional work/teaching spaces for their employees/students whilst they upgrade or modify existing architecture. It’s pretty simple, everyone needs to upgrade now and again, but they don’t want to risk shooting themselves in the foot when they do it. Portakabin’s research allows them to understand what employees and students need in a building to keep them happy and productive, by offering modular spaces that keep the output high they have a market of willing customers. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. The organisation can re-vamp whatever they need ‘re-vamping’ whilst their people remain happy and busy. Portakabin makes money ensuring this operation is smooth, simple and cost-effective. Good idea = profit.
So with that taken into consideration, the rest should be pretty easy to understand. Portakabin need to understand WHAT makes employees happy in the workplace, because a happy worker is more productive (apparently). If they can implement whatever that secret ingredient is into their research and development, they have the next big thing… in portaloos or whatever. Think about what YOUR customer wants, what they look for, implement it into your product or service. That’s what I’m trying to do. It’s well worth the effort if you ask me or anyone else with common sense, not to imply that you don’t have any! I’m rambling again, so on to the next big point.
When it comes down to the nitty-gritty of Market research you’ve got two kinds, ‘quantitative’ and ‘qualitative‘. You can conduct ‘Primary’ or ‘Secondary’ research. Primary involves getting out there and gathering the data yourself, whereas secondary, you guessed it, involves going through existing documentation, reports and information that can help provide a little bit of clarity to your research.
Qualitative is all about the facts, feelings and emotions of the market. If you can extract and analyse this then you can develop ideas that will make money. The customer is always right (even if they are an ass). Talking to the customer and listening to their opinions gives you a more human touch, this should never be ignored. The only downside is it’s a long and tedious process, things like focus groups are quite handy for that. Portakabin for example find out how satisfied their customers are, and what they would like to see change to suit them.
Quantitative is more scientific, it’s down to the number figures, the statistics. Things you obtain from being black and white about everything. Surveys, questionnaires and things of that nature are a perfect way to get your fix of quantitative data. I don’t need to go any further into this, it speaks for itself, Portakabin’s Quantitative research consists of finding out about the statistics of productivity and happiness in the workplace or classroom.
The most important thing is getting a good balance of those four things in good combinations. Do this, and stay on top. How can YOU do that with your business? Statistics can make sense of opinions, opinions get meaning out of statistics. Put one and one together to make it all a little clearer, to get you closer to a eureka moment you can cash in on.
Okay, enough with the Portakabin case study. It wasn’t really a case study anyway, more of an example. But do you see how important research is? There is a hell of a lot to the game of the intrepid entrepreneur, making sense of each little piece of the puzzle should be your first concern before jumping into the belly of the beast head on.
I hope sharing my learnings helped, it sure did for me.
Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. Are you familiar with the sound of Horror? I mean, the quintessential aural experience that makes one tremble in fear and recognition, yelping “Yup, this is some creepy shiz” with a squeaky voice? Probably not, because to be honest, who actually does that? I sooo don’t do that. No really, I don’t.
Okay, I digress somewhat. Back on track.
As an exercise of both theoretical and practical competence we were asked to produce a piece of audio that told the story of the ‘Monkey’s Paw’. However, it had to be convincing. That really is the hard part. Do you know how difficult it is to produce something that is actually convincing? Professionals devote their careers, their lives, trying to perfect the art of believability, or at least the ability to affect the audience with anything beyond unimpressed speculation. As consumers we know what we want, we spend our lives consuming the products that catch our fancy, so we become masters of knowing what we like, what we want. Replicating that from another position is bloody hard, often impossible. Make no mistake, there is a fine line between descent and corny.
We had to take that precarious notion head on, and it remains to be seen whether we succeeded or not. I suppose it is always a matter of subjectivity, to an extent.
So, the ‘Monkey’s Paw’, for those of you who don’t know it’s an old horror story about a (you guessed it) Monkey’s Paw. The paw grants people wishes, but at a terrible cost. So when an old couple start wishing with it things go from bad to worse for them. (Read the full story here) They loose their son to a terrible factory incident after wishing for money, and they get their money in compensation for their loss. So what’s the logical next step in a horror? Wish the son alive again, despite him being all mangled up and slightly decomposed, gotta love black magic. That’s the part of the story we had to create with sound, the resurrection and the struggle with ol’ Zombie Herbert. Seriously, this might not make any sense to you, if that’s the case then read the story, or at least look up a more elaborate synopsis than mine.
Anyway, that’s what we had to do. A few of us researched it, some of us did the production, some did the voice acting, and others (moi!) did the post production. I think when you have seen as many horror films as I have you kinda assume the formula of a good horror soundscape. I could be wrong though, why don’t you listen for yourselves.
So tell me dear readers. How was it for you?
Thanks for listening, thanks for reading.
Oh yeah, I know I don’t blog an awful lot these days. I’m pretty busy, no?
My oh my. It is getting awfully cold in Coventry right now. We are rapidly descending into the abyss of British winter, where temperatures are so extreme that no intelligent life can be sustained. That is, not without lots of warm clothing and hot beverages…
For me this isn’t a problem, I see it as a golden opportunity to drink more tea than ever! However it does present another problem, heating. As a student such a luxury is sparingly enjoyed, for one simply cannot afford to run the heaters on full throughout the season. Once again I can cope with that, but something tells me that some of my house-mates will not fare so well.
But I digress, that’s not what I’m here to talk about.
No, today I wish to announce a few things to you, but when I say announce I really mean harass your inbox with updates on my life. Granted you do not wish to read them, but it is good practice for me to document at least some of my second year work. It’s a habit I have fallen out with as of late, because I’d rather be doing something a little more interesting, like writing short stories, making films or, god forbid, actually study (Don’t panic mum, that was a joke). So once again, I will provide you fine people a link to my other blog: NoobyScribe, where Krueger’s adventures continue to unfold before our very eyes in the fourth instalment of ‘Blue Ruin’. It’s also worth noting that I’ll be throwing a few stand-alone pieces up on that space every now and again too, just to keep things interesting.
In addition, my musical space, NoobyMuzo will be seeing a little more activity rather soon. I have been on a hunt for new music, particularly artist’s whose geographic origin exceeds that of our nation’s borders. I think I’m on the right track, because my YouTube advertisements are rarely in English any-more. That’s gotta be a good sign, right?
But perhaps most note-worthy of all is my latest achievement/undertaking. The international society, Viva La Fiesta runs events up and down the UK. Their student ran correspondent society for Coventry, ‘One World Society’ has recently handed their blog over to me (for better or for worse). Their society has been on the decline a little lately and they are looking to reboot their project. So, being the good Samaritan that I am, I offered my assistance with updating the blog, writing for them and keeping an eye on things. I can’t tell you how much of a pain that has been so far though; this society is a professionally ran project, so I was expecting their blog to reflect that. It… was a shambles. No offence, but it looked bad, and it read even worse. The posts were few and far between, and they lacked any interest whatsoever. No wonder no-one read it. I think I can fix it, but it’s going to take a while. I have written the latest post, marking a new chapter in the society’s life, hopefully I can make something of a difference. For an official blog it lacks views! Would you all care to rectify that?
And finally, my course. What can I say? It stills feel like some of us are working harder than others, but I guess that will show in the long run. There is a lot of practical and professional work on the way, I’ll share any of the finished products on here. That’s about it, I’m calling it a day now, I understand the clocks go back tonight, meaning an extra hour. That’s an episode of Dexter.
NoobyTendencies, signing off.
Good morning to you all! For those of you who don’t know already I have recently started writing my very own piece of fiction. As I write it I release pieces of it on a regular basis for readers to follow-up on, sort of like a comic made up entirely of words! So far two parts have been released for the first chapter. The second part was uploaded minutes ago on NoobyScribe. If you haven’t already please have a look! x http://noobyscribe.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/blue-ruin-a-nightmare-part-two/
If you are enjoying the mysterious story so far, then subscribe to NoobyMuzo and you’ll get an email with the latest segment whenever there’s something new!