Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Everyone Knows Sweet FA

The day of the Facebook IPO I was asked to go on BBC Breakfast TV and comment. I declined  - I thought what do I really know about it that people would want to hear . I tweeted this fact. A friend replied to me that I was being hard on myself. 

Am I? 

I know I quite like putting myself down and parodying myself however what do I really know. (in fact I have definitive proof of me being a fraud which is coming soon in another blog)

But the bigger question is whether anyone actually knows anything - about anything.

I am constantly reading articles and blogs about my pet subjects - the economy, the stock market, the tech scene, the angel and VC scene, and football. And the conclusion I have come to is that everyone knows nothing.

What really pisses me off even more is when reading peoples bios they describe themselves as "Visionaries" or even "Evangelists" - WTF! What have these people actually done. I've twice been called a legend recently but please - I got lucky with some website over a decade ago and done nothing since. Surely they meant a Leg End (or knob end as I usually am called)

The world seems to be full of people touting themselves as experts in all kinds of fields. I just wish someone on radio or TV when asked a question some time would just answer "What the fuck do I know"

So back to my pet subjects in the news - 

Global recession - economists everywhere are predicting this that and the other - its basically all bollocks as the governments don't even know what to do. Economies are fucked - live with it.

Stock Markets - bouncing all over the place. The standard blurb I get out of my portfolio managers is just full of the same old same old. Basically they can't predict a thing.

The tech scene - are we in a bubble or the start of something great. If the Facebook hype and then slag off is anything to go by then no one knows again. People really seem to have forgotten the boom and bust of 1999/2000 in the tech world.

And the tech start up scene. I suppose I am sort of part of it having done something ages ago and now as an investor. However, I usually start of all the pitch meetings with the fact that I don't know anything and won't bring value. But there are just too many cooks at the moment who are not technical or ever done a startup and are driving up valuations. I have many stories (blog coming on that one soon too)

And finally football. Lets not even begin to think that the good old FA know what they are doing......

(spankyhurst - visionary, coming to your TV soon)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Anti-Social Networking

I apologise now - this is a sad blog. And a bit all over the place when I re read it.

Its something thats been on my mind for sometime, and I have read a number of articles recently about how social networking is actually a paradox for the word "Social". 

Without doubt social networking has obviously enabled the world to keep in touch with each other easier and more often. But the question for me, does this actually make us more social or make life easier and better.

I watched a film recently that had quite a profound effect on me. It was called Dreams Of A Life by a great director called Carol Morley. It is a documentary about Joyce Vincent, the lady who at the young age of 38, was found dead in a flat above a shop in Wood Green in 2006. She had been there undiscovered for 3 years. The TV was still on, and some wrapped christmas presents were by her side. The cause of death was unknown. She had a network of friends and family in London but had sort of "disappeared" of their scene.

During my late teens and early 20's I hung around that area of North London and that sort of made it closer to home. I am still in touch with most of those friends but it made me realise and think where the others were.

2006 was a bit too early for Facebook, but social networking had sort of started back in 2000 so even though this pre dates the current trends, I still think it has something to say about us and our society.

I thought long and hard how we used to keep in touch with mates. The period of teen/college/clubbing for me was the 80's. For a few years I had a large circle of friends, and we used to go out 4-5 times a week at different pubs, clubs and weekend parties all around North London. Nearly everyone was still living with parents so arrangements were just made through a chain of land line phone calls. If no-one heard from someone in the group for a few weeks, phone calls were made to them first, then messages left with parents and eventually just popping round their houses. And even other groups of friends - Sunday nights were regularly making a catch phone call with an old college or work mate who you hadn't spoken to for 6 months or so.

The point is you had to make an effort, and you generally did as a result.

Fast forward to today. The advent of email and so many social networks, the majority of which I love and use constantly, makes this old communication almost redundant. But at what cost.

If you expect to see someone regularly updating their Facebook status or tweeting, do you notice if they stop. And then if they have, do you make an effort to get in contact to see if they are ok. Probably not. We have become used to people announcing what they are doing rather than making the effort to communicate with them.

The Joyce Vincent story is not really an effect of this but a symptom of what could be happening. It is and will always be one of the saddest stories I've ever heard.

And just to make this post even sadder, whilst I was writing this it made me think of another Facebook story that I have had very recently which is sort of relevant.

Back in November, when Facebook were changing over a lot of their data to the new timeline, I appeared to lose loads of data in a closed group I had created. I was angry - tweeted like mad and announced on Facebook I'd had enough and was leaving.

I did not log into Facebook for 4 months. 

In February I finally registered on LinkedIn for the first time. That evening I was contacted by an old school friend who at the end of the email asked me if I knew about another school of ours called Sean. Unbelievably Sean had died suddenly in the new year.

Sean was a fantastic guy. He had really looked after me at school. However I hadn't seen him  since school days. However we regularly chatted on Facebook - we both supported Spurs and as we still lived 4 miles apart still, we always talked about getting together to watch a game. We never did. 

His death was a shock to everyone - he had been on Facebook the night before and his account was full of condolences. However, because I hadn't logged in I had missed his sad death and his funeral. In fact I phoned 2 other friends who knew him and were not on Facebook and both did not know either.

Since then I have gone back to using Facebook regularly - not just for this reason but it made me realise how it had become part of our lives in more ways than I had ever imagined.

Rest in Peace Sean - COYS.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

What Have You Done To Our FA Cup?

[Warning - Football related not tech]

Growing up as a kid, FA Cup final day was without doubt the second best day of the year (christmas day being the first)

The whole week before build up - profiling the players, managers, fans and communities with special programs, quizzes and news items all over the TV. It felt like the whole country got into it.

The day itself. Blanket coverage on both channels from an early start. The teams at breakfast, Its a Knock Out special, profiles, interviews, following the fans, following the players coach to Wembley, the walk on the pitch, the game itself - classics never to be forgotten.


Even moving into adulthood - a bunch of us used to traditionally get together in the pub and then back at mine - a game of football, beers, presentation of the Milky Milky Fantasy football trophy, watch the game with loads of silly bets and then more beers.

It was the last game of the season - a time to reflect on past season and look forward as a football fan. And to dream of being at Wembley next year.

It was tradition.

It was part of footballs heritage.

It was envied globally as the best club competition in the world.

So what the fuck happened.

I could probably write a book on what happened but in summary, the FA, The Premiership, money, Sky, foreign players, foreign managers, more money, too much money, overpriced tickets, Stadium, seats, overpaid paid players etc etc.

In the last 10 years its been getting worse and worse - in terms of converage and importance. Man United not bothering to enter. Moving to Cardiff temporarily. Semi finals at Wembley. It just doesn't seem to mean much to the top flight players. I remember seeing Patrick Viera being interviewed after scoring the winning penalty against Man Utd a few years back. It was 15 minutes after the win and in the background were 2 foreign Arsenal players doing warm down stretches - they should have been in front of the fans downing bottles of champagne celebrating for what should have been one of their greatest achievements.

But the final nail in the coffin to me is having the final before the end of the season at 5:15pm today. Last year I found out they did this and I had already booked a trip away. I ended up missing my first ever final waiting at Barcelona airport by myself. Sounds like I had more fun. I heard it was a one off. Oh not so. I didn't even know the final was on today until a few days ago - with still 2 games left in the season and a full afternoon of other league games. The FA have finally killed our greatest tournament.

I've just been out to town - there was a group of kids from my daughters school hanging around. I asked them if they were watching the FA Cup final later - they stared at me like I was mad. And then I asked my nephew if he was watching it and again a blank stare back and asking what that was.

We couldn't even remember who played last year against Man City for ages and yet I can reel off most of the 70's and 80's winners with goalscorers without too much trouble.

So I missed my first final last year - as for today, I will probably go out for a meal with the family and if I get back in time I may see what the score is just out of interest. Because that I am afraid is what the FA has done to our cup - just a passing bit of interest.