Posts Tagged ‘future’

May 31st, 2011

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TEDxEQChCh: Christchurch- the City of Innovation

It’s been 10 days now since the amazing day that saw 700 people pack into the Aurora center to be inspired around the rebuilding of Christchurch. As one of the organisers it was a relief to see the event run smoothly and generate the kind of excitement and energy we had alway hoped for. This couldn’t have happened without a huge amount of support from a huge army of volunteers and of course a bunch of committed organisers. The photo stream is now up and shortly the videos will be going up. I can’t wait to see them and write about them individually though some have already here, here and here. For me, some strong themes emerged from the day which I think are worth mentioning.

- Cities are about people. That should be our first and foremost consideration.

- Community participation and engagement are key. Listen to the people and you will find out what they want.

- Sustainability. We need a city that is built to last. That means thinking ahead to what the future will bring.

- Innovation. This is a time to embed innovation into the new city. With so much creation ahead, it’s time to really bring this to the fore.

- Branding. It’s time to look beyond the Garden City. Let’s be known for something different, something new. Anything.

I’m going to start with Christchurch: the City of Innovation. That’s what we do. We are a city of ideas, inspiration and invention. We attract the best and smartest to live in our amazing city. We are a talent utopia.

What’s your branding for the new Christchurch?

March 17th, 2011

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New Zealand 2025: Envisaging the Future

Before the earthquake of February 22nd I had been working on an outline for where I saw NZ today and where I believed it could be in 2025. It’s very much a hi level view but it’s a starting point. Though things have changed since the big shake my vision hasn’t. If anything it has simply reinforced my thoughts. Over time I will flesh out the different ideas and hopefully make it more accessible to all. In the meantime feel free to think about where you believe we can be in 2025.

As Yogi Berra said, “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will lead you there”.

January 29th, 2011

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Feel The Zeitgeist: Moving Forward

Thank you to Jason for alerting me to the new Zeitgeist movie: Moving Forward  (ZMF) which was showing in odd spots around the world recently. It’s now available online and is highly recommended (if not compulsory viewing). I would advise you to see Zeitgeist Addendum (ZA) first (I have posted that up in a previous blog) as that is more focused on the monetary aspects of our societal dysfunction. So here’s the promised review of the film.

The film follows the theme of the previous two movies, namely the issue of debt slavery and the monetary system that underpins it as well as the Venus Project (TVP) which envisions a different societal structure. What is different to ZA is the structure of the film: it splits into four parts: human nature, the market, inequality and the resource based economy. This gives the film, and ultimately the proposition, more depth and more connection for viewers. I know some people still grapple with the explanation of the money system (though my 16 year old son saw the logical answer as quite obvious: why doesn’t the government create the money. doh!) so a look at our innate and determined nature helps to provide some context to the discussion.

Why do we behave the way we do? Does poverty, racism, inequality drive our behaviours? Is our society sick from its institutions and structures? Why does the monetary-market structure treat the well-being of society as irrelevant. Going back to Locke and Smith we see that racism and inequality within the market system was well anticipated. The drive to individual success at all cost (especially social and environmental) was paramount as a system based on cyclical consumption and demand for product was created.

The film posits, quite correctly, that we are stuck on a spin cycle of consuming to be happy even though we must work like slaves to be in this position, that slavery defined by the debt we must accrue in order to enjoy the products paraded before us. That the production process is almost anti-economy, building in obsolescence and focusing on the short term simply puts my pressure on both resources and available money. In essence product sustainability is inverse to economic growth. Yet politicians keep saying they will speed up economic growth. They never say we will build a more healthy society. Perhaps that is because they have swallowed too many blue pills.

So if efficiency, sustainability and preservation are enemies of the current economic system the we have a problem. Crime, war, terror are positives for the economy. Does any of this make sense? Certainly it feels like the US has been gutted by the corporatocracy and inequality is at an all time high. ZMF draws a picture showing how our monetary-market system and socio-economic structure has raised inequality to never before seen levels. The rise of the super-elite is complete.

So far so good. I don’t disagree with anything in this film. In fact I’ve been aware of it for many years now….so whilst I appreciate the diligent work that Peter Joseph has done on these films, what do we do about it? The answer, as alluded to in ZA, is The Venus Project. TVP lays out a move to a resource based economy with no institutions, laws, money and a world based on abundance for all based around the very smartest of technology. Think of it as a techno-utopia. It’s certainly visionary and I leave it to the individual viewer to imagine it and see for themselves. It’s certainly not unachievable.

My main question would be “how do we get there?” This isn’t dealt with in the film but the general suggestion is to somehow opt out of the current system and to move to a more localized and transition based economy. This is all good stuff but the most important message of the film for me is still that we must take back control of our money supply and issue it interest free.

That is the first and most important step on the road to a people centered world.

May 29th, 2009

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How to Invest

People are always asking me where to put their money so I thought I would do a simple post about it. I should add this is simply my own opinion and you should really check with a financial advisor…………tongue firmly in cheek!

Let’s start with the obvious. There is no such thing as a risk free investment. Even sovereign bonds (those issued by governments) can turn into wallpaper….look at the US Treasury market now, the world’s safest place to park your cash. Ultimately it’s just an IOU, generally backed by commodities or in the case of the US by a fairly large military and lots of nuclear rockets.

Having got that out of the way the first question you need to ask yourself is why am I investing? Is it for regular income or the hope of generating a huge pile of cash for future income generation (retirement for example).

Let’s start with the income piece by looking at what is available:

- Cash deposits.

- Term deposits.

- Government bonds.

- Corporate bonds.

- Shares that pay dividends.

- Property.

Generally, as in all things, you pay for what you get. The main issue any investor should consider before making an investment is liquidity:

How quickly can I get my cash and what will I have to pay to get it?

As many investors found to their cost in recent years, liquidity is the single most important issue.

Which draws the question: is there a market for my investment?

In the case of cash that is not a problem (actually that’s not true but for the sake of this exercise we will pretend that cash is always available – see Northern Rock for further details).

Stocks can generally be sold on the spot and cash received quickly (of course stocks can be suspended at anytime which means you can’t trade it, well not on the exchange).

Bonds have a market you can trade on but liquidity can be an issue sometimes.

Property you can forget. That’s a highly illiquid asset.

Managed funds as we see all to often can be very hard to get out of and the fees can be severe. If the fund holds any kind of assets other than plain stocks then redemptions may force suspension of the fund (we’ve seen that).

Baring all that in mind cash seems like the best place to have your money if access is an issue and you are risk averse. Second up would be quoted shares with high liquidity (shares on the major index e.g. Telecom in NZ which pays a good dividend). Bonds would be next and then managed funds and property bringing up the rear.

Anything that offers these with a twist is to be avoided unless you’re a professional. Like guaranteed capital return plus 100% of the 5 year blah blah return on some index. Avoid. There are huge fees and margins built into what is a simple option structure.

I’m sorry but there’s no free lunch in the investment world. But it’s very easy to lose money or receive poor returns whilst paying out large fees and charges.

My advice is start with cash and spend some time learning about basic stocks and bonds. Believe me it is not difficult.

Armed with a little knowledge most people could construct a portfolio of cash, stocks and bonds in a few hours.

Also don’t be lulled into the idea that you are a long term investor and won’t be pulling down the cash for 20-30 years. Look at how fast the world is changing…….planning that far ahead may not actually make much sense.

As with most things in life, keeping it simple can pay off. Also spending a little time learning about investment can save you a lot of money as well as enabling yourself to take charge of your own financial destiny.

November 5th, 2008

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Yes we can

Listening to Barack Obama tonight brought tears to the eyes.

Politics has long been missing the simplicity of both hope and intention. Sure it’s easy to sell change but I was left with the impression that he realises that the job is just starting and that everyone must pull together.

John McCain too made a speech full of integrity and dignity. What a lesson they both provided for our politicians in New Zealand who noticeably changed their demeanours in tonights final debate.

Could this be the remaking of the US? That’s hard to say but the reaction around the globe will be ecstatic, knowing we can move on from 8 ridiculous years. Watching Obama take Florida so easily just reinforces the injustice of Gore’s loss.

The Lord, however, moves in mysterious ways. Gore may not have been that great a President. Obama may have never been elected. In a way Bush laid the path for Obama. So destitute of ideas and principles the country, nay the world, was holding out for a hero.

Tonight Obama looked like a man who knows he is in for the long haul.

Let’s hope he can take the US in a new direction and build bridges to the world instead of blowing them up.

And with that in mind here’s something to mellow out with on a very special evening.

September 12th, 2007

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The Future of Search: Dream Here

For those who haven’t read it yet here is link to the complete report on the future of search. It’s an eye opening read and hopefully will give rise to new ideas, new research and even new businesses.

For me it is the democratic nature of the web that excites me. For now i’ve just focused on the delivery of the architecture that will make us form the web around us rather than having to shop through designated ports.

I think that is well on the way to happening.

I’m also thinking about the impact on governance. By this i mean the way we allow ourselves to be governed: our electoral processes, our engagement and involvement in political systems and how we make ourselves heard.

The coming versions of the web will not just make business more efficient, or general life but our political systems, our governments who eat up 30-50% of our GDP depending where you live.

The ultimate political feedback and citizen engagement system is going to rise up from the web. The powers that be are not likely to embrace this as many of them will be out of a job.

E-government is a web 1.0 framework. Imagine what it could look like in future versions. Maybe we can set up a  dream team for that?

About

"I’m a Londoner who moved to Christchurch, New Zealand in 2002. After studying economics and finance at Manchester University and a couple of years of backpacking, I ended up working in the financial markets in London. I traded the global financial markets on behalf of investment banks for 11 years. Since moving to NZ, I have been an angel investor, budget advisor, director, trustee, mentor and business consultant. I'm currently a Councillor at Christchurch City Council and a Trustee of the Volunteer Army Foundation and the Christchurch Arts Festival Trust. I write about the intersection of economic, social and environmental issues."

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