Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

AFL, NRL, Western Sydney – War?? What is it good for?

In Mish-Mash of Wisdoms, Uncategorized on June 30, 2011 at 10:20 am

Last night on the news I saw Graham Annesley (ex NRL COO, current NSW Minister for Sport) handballing a Sherrin to Andrew Demetriou – part of the AFL’s announcement that one of its premium events – the Draft – will be held in Western Sydney, backyard of their newest franchise, The GWS Giants.

An image full of irony.

Demetriou & Annesley - Partners in an Ironic Dance

There has been much talk for some time about the war (or imminent war) between AFL & NRL over Western Sydney. Phil Gould, Penrith Panthers RL GM is reported to be trying to spark the NRL into military action against the southern insurgents. I even saw on one forum some Panthers fans up in arms about the fact their local newspaper devoted their front page to a story about the Penrith Rams Aussie Rules team.

The battle, I guess is a distraction and the subject is a fairly emotive point of discussion … at least for NRL supporters. The AFL nor its fans and supporters seem to be talking about “war”, they seem to be focussing on how they can make things work better for them.

I think the AFL would be happy the NRL, its clubs, and NRL strategists, feel they are in a war. While they strategise about what they should do to combat the AFL,  the AFL strategises about how they can do things better.

The question is where will this “war” take us (us=RL) – my guess is that, if “war” really is the driver of either the clubs or the leagues, then it will use up a lot of resources for very little benefit to anyone. War implies a focus and attention on your opponent. That sort of focus in business can be disastrous.

The most recent war for Rugby League was the civil war. It started in 1995 and, 16 years leter, the scars have not healed.

Imagine what a great position the game would be in if the (in excess of) $1b spent during that war had have been spent on improving the game, its administration, its grass roots, its strategic position, its standing and profile. Imagine the state of our game now if Packer, Arthurson,, Murdoch, Ribot, and all the other players had sat down and said lets work out where we all want to be in 10 years time (or 20 or 50) and then design a pathway to that goal.

But, they each focused on the other!!! When they should have focussed on the game!

The moment your focus becomes your opponent, and your intent becomes destructive, that is the very moment you should be doing a bit of self-examination and looking at what you can do to improve yourself (irrespective of there being any opposition.)

Interestingly enough, it seems to me that it is the NRL who see themselves at war (or that war is imminent). They see themseleves as being invaded and think its is time to defend their turf. Well boys, guess what???

You are too late!

The invasion has happened and the only way you can win the so-called war is to improve yourself. Not one solitary cent should be spent with the intention of disarming or destroying the other side.

The AFL seem happy to co-exist, to acknowledge the value and position of Rugby League. They even had some of their players pay homage to the Blues in State of Origin – some may see this as somehow devious but the fact is that it did, and does, pay respect to the premium NRL event. I doubt the NRL would ever allow their players to make such a complimentary gesture.

My god, even the choice of colour and jersey design for GWS was a huge compliment to Wests Tigers. It paid great homage to Wests Tigers – it makes an inference that those colours, those brand elements, that belong to Wests Tigers best represent Western Sydney. What an opportunity for Wests Tigers to leverage. What could come from a strategic relationship between Wests Tigers &  GWS? A partnership aimed at strengthening the Western Sydney sporting, cultural, and economic juggernaut. And, simultaneously building and deepening their own influence in the region.

Working together with GWS those Wests Tigers colours would be identifiably Western Sydney in less than a generation. And it would be difficult for that to happen without GWS, perhaps impossible.

So, in typical NRL fashion, The Wests Tigers blew up and threatened legal action. Just as Packer, Arthurson, Piggins etc blew up when Murdoch entered the equation in 1995 – opportunity lost.

My first thought at Penrith was to approach GWS and work out ways we could work together to make Western Sydney a stronger region, but there were some internal barriers. Parramatta could also work them in constructive ways. But the opportunity for Wests Tigers was (and is) much bigger.

Nah! I am afraid the NRL boys haven’t learnt a great deal and are looking to throw more money in a war. And worse, they have identified the wrong enemy … who is the real enemy? Well, I might broach that question another time.

Opera Australia, Western Sydney, & Football

In General Mish-Mash on June 27, 2011 at 10:41 pm

The artistic director of Opera Australia, Lyndon Terracini, is looking to expand Opera Australia’s audience base … and he believes Western Sydney holds the key to that ambition.

See SMH June 21, 2011 – Opera looks to footy to make its mark.

There would be many who’d say he was dreamin’!

Undoubtedly many look at the “golden” west as the host of rich fields of customers ready for harvesting. The SMH article seems to suggest Terracini has this belief.

His belief may well be spot on … and there exists plenty of evidence to support that view.

Nevertheless, before attempting to harvest it is sensible – in fact may be essential – to enrich & fertilise the fields first, seed appropriately,  and ensure sustainability.

To move out of the metaphor, Opera Australia needs to give to the region before it can expect to be supported by the region.

Now, according the SMH article, Terracini sees his way into Sydney’s West as being paved by football – the AFL variety. He identifies Andrew Demetriou (the AFL supremo) as being his trailblazer because he has a solid grip on Australian culture. Better than most people engaged in either the arts sector or the political world. Again there is plenty to support this view. However, the jury can’t yet have returned a verdict on the evidence cited, namely the AFL’s move into Western Sydney (with GWS Giants). They have yet to kick a ball in anger.

Nevertheless there are precedents for the arts sector and the sports sector to form an alliance … and there are strong precedents in Western Sydney.

In fact, the partnerships built with Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, The Penrith Regional Gallery, and The Australian Balletdelivered an array of benefits to the Penrith Panthers, the City of Penrith, and Western Sydney.

Both the MCA and Australian Ballet were fantastic partners.

The Australian Ballet delivered a free concert at Penrith Stadium in November 2010. They approached Panthers about this because they learned about the very innovative work we had done with the MCA and Penrith Regional Gallery. After the first meeting they were convinced they were in the right place and Penrith Stadium replaced Parramatta Stadium as the venue for the free concert.

Footy & Ballet @ Penrith Stadium

The C3 West project wasthe focus for the partnership between Panthers and the MCA. The project aimed at creating synergy by operating in the space where the worlds of commerce, creativity, & community intersect. The outcomes have been extraordinary and the project is the subject of a soon to be published book.

Back to opera and footy – in 2006 we also experimented with operatic drama opening Panthers footy game. A song made famous by one of the world’s great singers, Paul Robeson, was belted out pre-game by Sydney singer David Aston. The song was The Killing Song, wonderfully aggressive and powerful, eminently suited to football. Alas! The fans didn’t like it! It was a bit too bold for them … and the team lost.



Maybe Opera Australia would be well served to have a chat with the teams at the Panthers, the MCA and the Australian Ballet to guide them in their Western Sydney expedition.

Failure counts … So do mistakes!!

In General Mish-Mash, Mish-Mash of Wisdoms, Quick Mish-Mash on June 26, 2011 at 8:20 pm

I came across this Manifesto a couple of years ago – it was constructed by Bre Pettis & writer Kio Stark. Amazingly they got in done in only 20 minutes – I guess adhering to the manifesto!!

The Green Movement, Washing Machines, & Education

In General Mish-Mash on June 24, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Naturally there is some heat in the debate about warming. Is it happening at all? If it is, is it part of a shift from Earth’s natural cycles or is it simply part of them. Is it driven by the intervention of man or was it determined the moment the big bang caused the big conception?

It doesn’t really matter what side of the debate we occupy, the one thing that cannot be denied is that there are many individuals advocating more sustainable behaviours from individuals, business, communities, and countries.

Some are sensible and their advocacy is steeped in integrity.

Others are not so sensible. And some are tarnished by hypocrisy.

Hans Rosling, a Swedish professor, uses the washing machine as an interesting centrepiece for an engaging presentation on energy use and the important role washing machines play in education..

Click the image for Hans Rosling's presentation.

It’s an entertaining perspective and one that illuminates inequity … but it also highlights ambiguity and paradox embedded within the whole environmental issue. We condemn industrialisation, chemical processing, steel mills, power stations etc – yet there are many reasons for gratitude for these very things.

Who’s in control of my online world? Me?

In Semi-Paranoic Mish-mash on June 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Only the other day I expressed some suspicions/misgivings about the reputed benefits of the web and social networking.

Is there really a shift in power structure, particularly with respect to the distribution and consumption fo information?

Well, it seems that I am not alone in havuing misgivings  – not that I ever really thought I was. Eli Pariser has had them for some time now and he gives a great talk on TED about this very issue. Elis has also published a book about the subject – if you click on the bubble graphic below, it will take you to his page at Penguin books.

His focus is on filters and how choices are being made on our behalf.

These choices are being determined by algorithms and processes applied against what is known about us and our activities.

They take into account not just the preference we show through our usage but even the type of computer we may be using, the settings we have, our geographical location, and anything else that might be available and metered.

If I set a Google search on a specific topic, it is likely I will get a profoundly different output to someone else who has different attributes, location, usage etc.

Someone, or something, is making decisions about how information is filtered for me. Decision are being made about what I see and, importantly, what I don’t see.

So, rather than my online world being one of (perhaps) infinite connectivity and potential, it is really one that is bounded by the filtering algorithms applied by the Googles, Facebooks, Yahoos etc .

Pariser’s assertion is that my online world is a bubble, a bubble created and bounded by the filtering algorithms applied by the online powerhouses & information gatekeepers.

My online world is bounded by ...

So, what has changed? Have we just exchanged Murdoch for Zuckerman and landed with a very similar aggregation of power and information?

I dunno. But I do know that like Pariser, I would not be without the web.

Eli Pariser’s talk on TED is at the end of this link. His talk runs for about 9 minutes  – Filter Bubbles

Pariser’s book is called The Filter Bubble and is ominously subtitled “What the internet is hiding from you.”  I have not read it yet but looking forward to getting hold of a copy.

Live v Online.

In General Mish-Mash on June 19, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Yesterday in The Sydney Morning Herald’s supplement, Spectrum, there was an article on the online consumption of cultural events. Five critics took a look at how viewing events online compares with live attendance.

The critics looked at Art, Opera, Theatre, Ballet, & Pop.

In their opinion, live consumption is better – although they point at some compelling benefits in being an online attendee.

The possibilities for consumption of events online are clearly quite profound.

A superb example is the Google Art Project. It provides access to some of the world’s most renowned galleries and a very close look at a large number of works of art and antiquities.

Take a look at the texture in van Gogh’s The Starry Night, located in the MoMA, New York.

Or this piece from London’s Tate GalleryNo Woman, No Cry by Chris Ofili.

No Woman No Cry - Chris Ofili

This site could keep you occupied for a very long time.

But despite the detail – both visual and commentary detail – there are some quite telling drawbacks. The works are not in context, you don’t get any sense of dimension, and so the viewer remains distant from the work despite being able to magnify the view in a way not possible in the gallery context.

This image gives you a sense of the dimension of No Woman No Cry.

No Woman No Cry at Tate Gallery, London (The Guardian)

How do you balance this situation of being virtually inside a work of art, yet distant from it? The relationship becomes clinical & academic – similar to observing a drop of your blood under a microscope. Nevertheless, the value of an online gallery – or, in the case of the Google Art Project, a gallery of galleries – is not diminished. (Nor, by the way, is value of your blood diminished by the clinical high magnification.)

I have not experienced online live events of Opera, Theatre, Ballet or Contemporary Music. The Spectrum article certainly alludes to similar benefits of detail and drawbacks of distance & intervention.

Rest assured, such events will become more popular, more available, and more prevalent.

What about comedy?

Well, this Friday you could experience live comedy streamed live. Rooty Hill RSL has comedy icon Jerry Lewis appearing in a sold out show. For $5 you can watch the performance streamed live.

Your $5 goes to the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation and is tax deductible. Sounds like a good deal – get live comedy from a living legend while helping a good cause and having the ATO reimburse you.

Here’s the link if you are interested – Jerry Lewis & Muscular Dystrophy.

By the way, I didn’t mean to drop into marketing mode and I have no relationship at all with Rooty Hill RSL, Jerry Lewis, or the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation – I just thought it was relevant and innovative for a NSW Club.

The O.

In General Mish-Mash on June 18, 2011 at 3:14 pm

One of the oddities/innovations of the Museum of Old & New Art (MONA) is The O.

(CK – if you are reading this you should have a close look at The O in relation to your Shuffle project)

“The O” is a name given to an iPod that carries the information about all the artwork in the Museum. In fact, The O is the only place you can find any information about any of the art in MONA. There are absolutely no labels for any of the works. If you want details of any of the works you need to refer to The O.

The O tracks your location in the Museum, calls up the works in that area and you can select the work you want to find out about.

The details available are those you would see on conventional gallery labels – the name of the work, artist, media, materials, date, etc.

For many pieces there are additional comments or commentary that come from a range of sources – David Walsh (the owner of the gallery and the collection); the curatorial staff; critics & commentators; gallery visitors. These additional notes come under one of three title – GonzoArtwank, or Ideas.

You can pass judgement on a work by assigning it a plus (+) or a cross (x) – plus meaning you love the work, cross the opposite.

All your activities at the Museum are recorded – what you saw and how you rated the works. At the end of your visit you can choose to have the details of your tour saved and uploaded to the MONA website.

If you hit this link (Max’s MONA Tour) and enter my email address – – you can have a look at my tour recorded in May.

You will find a lot of works classified as stuff that I missed.

That’s because I eventually found The O to be a distraction – I stopped using it.

Now, I have written all that stuff about The O as a precursor to a question I have been wondering about for some time now …

What does a maturing digital age mean for the way we behave, communicate, connect, learn, and educate? Are the changes likely to change what is seen as important for humanity, are they likely to change humanity itself (whatever that may be!)?

I keep hearing about Web 2.0 being a vehicle that leads to a new era of sharing & collaboration – perhaps even a decentralisation of influential power. But is it? Is Web 2.0 empowering, engaging, & connecting most, or is it an opiate that substitutes, mesmerises, distracts, & deceives? I don’t know! To me, it’s like the house of mirrors – I get a different image everywhere I look.

In the case of The O being the interface that connects MONA with its visitors, it is alleged that David Walsh is intending to use the votes of + (love) and x (hate) to influence the curation of the next phase of MONA.

Rumour has it he will remove the works with the highest + (love) scores and retain those with the highest x (hate) scores.

I guess the quote on MONA’s home page is apt:

“Will you walk into my parlour?” Said the spider to the fly.

I guess he does not want his Museum to adopt the vanilla flavour that can come from a “majority rules” type of decision-making.  He (or The O) does have people thinking/believing that somehow they are influencing the parlour they have entered – and I suppose they are!

Interestingly, you cannot give The O itself a + (love) or x (hate) vote!

Note: Earlier this week I took a pen and some paper and wrote a letter to my friends, Sylvie & Francois in St Denis, France. I went to the Post Office, paid the postage and posted it – it will arrive in 3-4 days (I guess). I could have sent an email and have it arrive almost instantaneously. But somehow this seemingly archaic behaviour took on a deeper, almost arcane significance. And it felt really good!!!

Are You Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution? Pfffffft!!!

In Mish-Mash of Wisdoms on June 14, 2011 at 9:40 pm

I heard it again today. A saying that drives me crazy:  “you’re either part of the solution or part of the problem” .

It wasn’t said to me but I seem to have heard it a lot recently, and I wonder what it is all about.

I read recently that it is a motivational statement. Really?

Every time I have heard it used – there is no way that is motivational!! In fact every time I have heard it used it has come from a leader who has has no real idea about how to lead his/her way out of a sticky spot. A leader – or a rather a person in a leadership role – looking for someone to blame.

When used by this type of “leader”, I reckon it is simply a statement to demonstrate power and authority. Not dissimiliar to a demand for loyalty or respect.

And they usually finish it off with “… and if you’re part of the solution your have nothing to worry about” . Motivational!!! Pffft!!!

Every time I hear it I have an ominous sense of foreboding. Whenever I hear it, I wonder about the distinction between leadership and despotism.

Now, if I had been in the USA in 1968 and old enough to understand, I would have heard this concept for the very first time. And it could have been really motivating for one group … maybe pretty threatening for another.

The full quote comes from a speech delivered by Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver in 1968:

“What we’re saying today is that you’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.”

Cleaver’s speech was delivered in a specific social and political context – he was part of an oppressed sector of society battling against a system of entrenched inequality. His positioning of the problem/solution split pointed clearly to the need for conscious action to subvert the system. It also identified that not making a decision to take action against the system would be an action in itself – an action that endorses an unacceptable & dehumanising status quo.

It was a statement about the relationship between oppressor and oppressed in the social system, and the unified consciousness needed to transform that relationship and deliver a more human society.

It was a statement that enabled a dissident group to rise above the problem they encountered but had no institutional power to solve.

That is a whole lot different to holding the institutional power to solve a problem and then casting your eye around for people to blame for the existence of the problem.

So, when I hear this  part of the problem/part of the solution edict I conclude either:

  • There is a broad systemic problem that is being stonewalled by the people who have the power to change it, or
  • The leader issuing the edict is trying to assert power and authority rather than leading..

In both cases the leadership and the organisational structure really needs a close examination.  The organisational structure because it may be a strong determinant of the behaviour of the leader.

Of course, I could be reading too much into the edict but … well that is my thinking on it. Now, why I had to get that off my chest is anyone’s guess but there you go, it was part of today’s mish-mash.

Sssshhhh!!!! Listen!!!!

In General Mish-Mash on June 13, 2011 at 11:56 am

There is so much noise out there in Social Network World  – it’s not all noise. Is it?

More than ever, to make any sense of our world, we I need to listen. There are important messages to beard in all that digitised noise.

But how on earth do you filter this stuff.

On a personal level, I guess I just have to place my trust in those I connect with – my facebook friends, my linkedin contacts, those I follow on twitter (not many – still not up to speed there yet), my favourite blogs and bloggers, my rss feeds, my news items, my …

this, that and the other.

(Dis, Dat or D’udda!! – A little of Dr John‘s voodoo or gris-gris would not hurt at all. There’s always room for some homespun remedies in a high tech world.)

In fact, in reality and on a personal level, it probably is not all that much different to what it has always been – just a whole lot quicker, much broader, maybe in some places not as deep or profound but in others the wellsprings of wisdom seem infinite.

All in all, and back to being a bit homespun and rustic, …

I still have two ears and one mouth – so listening is far more important than talking. (Yeah I know, I know – I have ten fingers to type with, that’s if I could use them all.)

And I know, I am doing all the talking through this blog … but I am pretty much talking (or writing) to myself the way I have done most of my life. What is written here is the sort of crap that occupies my thoughts when I am alone.

But now you can listen in if you want – and you can also tell me stuff if you want. How good is that? Even better, I will listen attentively.

Oh! And if your are reading this you do know, don’t you, that this is simultaneously my blogging experiment and a therapeutic amusement?


But what about the corporate world? How does this new media affect the way businesses engage, connect and sell?

It seems clear there is a profound affect. At the most fundamental level it requires an elevation of the skill of …


Listening, as a corporate activity/behaviour, now comes before everything else. It is the first step in any planning phase and the last step in any implementation phase.

No longer are corporate communications about telling, broadcasting, and announcing – they are now about having a conversation.

Mind you, just like the homespun truth of having two ears, one month, corporate communications have probably always been about having a conversation – it just has not been as clear as it is today. The voice of the consumer has become more obvious, louder, stronger, and more immediate. The opportunities for listening are far more frequent, more measurable, and  more available.

There are, of course noticeable exceptions  – like when Coca-Cola introduced the new Coke in 1985, the reaction was strong, obvious, and immediate. It also showed Coca-Cola had completely misinterpreted the what they had heard and they recovered very quickly because they were listening. They were listening, they knew they were “in conversation” way back then.

Anyway, my last word on this listening caper concerns the approach that some (I hope not me – yikes!!!) adopt …

Learn 3 Things from a Child and 7 from a Thief.

In Mish-Mash of Wisdoms on June 12, 2011 at 10:11 am

I was reading an interview with Bob Dylan (yeah, I know!!) last night and I came across this amazing quote from the interviewer (Jonathan Cott – Rolling Stone 1978). He got it from Rabbi Dov Baer, a Hassidic rabbi.

In the service of God, one can learn three things from a child and seven from a thief.

From a child you can learn:

  • always to be happy,
  • never to sit idle,
  • to cry for everything one wants.

From a thief you should learn:

  • to work at night
  • if one cannot gain what one wants in one night to try again the next night
  • to love one’s co-workers just as thieves love each other
  • to be willing to risk ones life even for a little thing
  • not to attach too much value to things even though one has risked one’s life for them – just as a thief will resell a stolen article for a fraction of its real value
  • to withstand all kinds of beatings and tortures but to remain what you are
  • to believe that your work is worthwhile and not be willing to change it.

I have no idea what it all means but it sure sounds profound.

Here is another, from the same source but, I think, from a different rabbi:

You can learn something from everything. Even from a train, a telephone, and a telegram.

From a train            – learn that in one second one can miss everything.

From a telephone   – learn that what you say over here can be heard over there.

From a telegram    – learn that all words are counted and charged.