Sunday, April 22, 2012

From Fill the Gap - to Pixelcorp

Why "Fill the Gap" won't reach Number 10.

What's the point of this "debate" ?
I think this year will see the end of a number of events because they have "jumped the shark", i.e. lost their way and become a waste of time and money. As far as Amsterdam based events go, events like the Postcode Green Challenge and Picnic need to draw their own conclusions, pack up and pop off. 

Picnic Fiasco in 2011. Will it ever recover? May be it shouldn't

But the same applies to some NGO events. I'm afraid Fill the Gap now falls into that category. Organized jointly by HIVOS and IICD, this past Friday's annual "debate", Number 9, didn't make much sense from start to finish. I hope I have seen the last "Fill the Gap" which looked as though it was struggling to find something worthwhile to say, wallowing at the bottom of the hype cycle. Some people in the audience thought they were climbing out of it. I don't think we've even reached the bottom of the trough of disillusionment.

Pity, because there were some very interesting people on stage and in the audience. So the networking "borrell" afterwards was really all that was needed. Those conversations confirmed my conclusion that many NGO's are so focused on their own survival during this Great Dutch Depression 2.0 that their campaigns with m-Health and ICT are all about pleasing the donors (i.e. Western Governments) and little about analysing real problems in developing countries. 
What are we listening to?

I'm afraid Friday confirmed that there are too many Dutch NGO's that fall into that category. Broken pencil stuff. Can't proceed because there's really no point. But like leaving the lights on a parked car, the problem will eventually solve itself.

Best part of Fill the Gap 9

So what IS interesting?

I'm far more impressed with Alex Lindsay's Pixelcorp. Because what he has found in creative production in the US, I believe is happening in other sectors, like news coverage. Just as IPTV is replacing a lot of traditional broadcast, so guilds and knowledge networks are the way forward in barren times. This extract from the Pixelcorp website rings true to my heart.

500 Years ago, craftsmen rarely worked for a “company.” They were contracted for a period of time and then moved on to the next contract. To remain competitive in such an atmosphere, many formed “guilds,” or organizations designed to provide networking, ongoing training, standards, certification, and even some social services among their members. Kings did not post jobs in the “classifieds” to find craftsmen, they contacted guilds who did not compel the employers to hire their members, but simply were the only ones who could produce the work that required a large number of workers that could self-organize.
As the industrial age emerged, many of these guilds faded as machines replaced much of their work. For 100 years, workers “contracted” for much longer periods of time (we called this employment), often their entire career, to one employer who took care of things like development, health care, etc.
Today, the current job market, especially in the film and TV arenas, has returned to “contract” labor and we are much more akin to “craftsmen” than to employees. Many of us work as subcontractors ... we work on a game, a film or a TV show for 6 months and then move on. Our ability to continue this cycle depends on our ability to network with others in our field and to continually learn in a rapidly-evolving industry that seems to transform itself every 6 months. Skills valuable today may be worthless next year. 

Alex Lindsay (below), together with Leo Laporte did an excellent job covering the NAB Convention this past week. They understand that people want a briefing from craftsmen, not jibberish from a PR agency. 

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