We talk a lot about the big idea. I think 2011 might just be about the small stuff, and here are some of the small things that will make a big difference this year.
I copped some flak, reasonably enough, for not having articulated the importance of microfinance as a key trend for 2011.
This is a small way of making it up to you…
microvolunteering This may sound a little like the way that you never meet a fisherman who’s only caught small fish, and gaols are full of the innocent, but I had an idea a couple of years ago to create an online portal to connect marketing and advertising professionals with charity projects in need of their expertise.
Luckily I never got around to doing anything to develop it, because The Extraordinaries have taken my big idea and made it…smaller, leaner and much cleverer.
Sparked combines two of the big motivators for marketing, techie and creative types: showing off, and showing off on our iPhones. Whenever you have a spare moment, contribute your brain power, offer advice, strategy, and micro-consultancy, as well as commenting on other people’s work – all this from the palm of your hand. The morning commute might just leave you feeling good for once. At present the database is largely US not-for-profits, but I am sure the net will widen as word spreads across the world.
micropayment for creators I heard about Flattr about six months ago, and I think I’m right in saying that the reason I’d entirely forgotten about it until Beaney reminded me today is because, like various other ventures with the utopian dream of paying people for the things they create and we enjoy, it hasn’t really taken off yet.
Perhaps we need to embrace the idea of the blogger as online busker. While Murdoch’s Times paywall may not have solved the issue of how we pay for online content, there are other avenues in need of exploration.
Shakespeare got to get paid, son. *shakes tin*
A stranger smiles at you without agenda; you pay for the coffee of the person behind you in the queue; a teenager offers his seat on the bus to a shopper laden with bags; a kid takes an old man’s arm as he stumbles: these acts weave together to form community.
Cynics may argue that these are acts of self-interest, a long game of investments in the bank of society to be drawn against in the future, but I’d rather live pseudo-altruistically than the elbow-in-the-face, everyone for himself alternative.
The “social surprise” campaign by KLM is a neat demonstration of the return on investment from random acts of (marketing) kindness. The campaign reached a million impressions – it’s clear that small gestures can get big results.
(Thanks to the Digital Buzz chaps).
Regular readers will know that I abhor the hackneyed, so please don’t attribute my conversion to the practice of meditation to my recent backpacking trip to a Buddhist country. That’d be a terrible cliché.
But if you consider that three minutes of inner peace might just be the biggest gift you could give yourself (and those poor sods who must endure your company), you might be able to get past it. Find a quiet space, close your eyes and focus on the ebb and flow of your breath for a few minutes. Thoughts will clamour for your attention like a greedy toddler with ADHD, but try to simply acknowledge their presence and let them be. Even three minutes of tranquillity can help.
Health warning: I’ve heard a tale of a Buddhist marketing person being counselled for substance abuse after her boss became suspicious of her disappearing to a toilet cubicle at times of intense stress and reappearing moments later radiating zen-like calm.
microfinance for not for profits
Depressingly enough, the dream of microfinancing seems to have lost some of its shine. Muhammad Yunus, one of the originators of the microfinance movement suggested that running these schemes to benefit the investers, rather than as a charity, would inevitably “turn do-gooders into loan-sharks”. Kiva and other NFP funds continue to do good work, but there’s an emerging school of thought that using technology in small ways could help more effectively – Gates’ Foundation is working on making access to banking systems affordable for all; other projects are recycling technical equipment for use in developing businesses, in an attempt to solve both the issue of landfill and deprivation.
It’s what happens at the micro level that shapes the macro, and these are the changes that are easiest to make. Which is lucky if you’re shiny-eyed and idealistic but pretty bloody busy, actually, and somewhat inclined to laziness on your days off…
It’s a small world, after all.