Friday, October 8, 2010

the Murray Darling thing

The Murray Darling Basin Plan draft will be released later today. News reports this morning are focusing on the possible negative effect this will have on agriculture in the largest water catchment system in Australia. This is in contrast to reports a few months ago which focused on the possibility of water buy-backs and the devastating effect not acting would have on the river system and the communities that live along it.

But will this apparently more cohesive plan actually have an effect on the way water is managed across all the eastern states and into South Australia? Allocation reductions will definitely have a drastic impact on the way business and agriculture is run in western NSW. There is potential for the plan to look like a Robin Hood operation, reducing the amount of water stations in south west of NSW and Cubbie Station on the QLD border can extract from the rivers.

the murray darling junction

To place another stress factor on already struggling rural communities seems unfair in the extreme, but if the environmental reports are to be believed, this is part of a last-ditch effort to save the entire system from extinction and keeping some of the largest grossing agricultural regions alive for future generations.
Where is the middle-ground where the two needs can meet in a compromise? Does a middle-ground even exist for this issue still, or have we already passed that point, and acting with drastic measures is the only way to go now?

The other thing that will be interesting to watch is the amount of airtime and inches paid to the report in the media, given the Murray Darling is a region largely removed from the average new consumer (and voter). Here’s hoping it’s recognised by all stakeholders as a report worth discussing and one that has the potential to change the direction of agriculture in Australia, an industry that historically has been and still remains one of the largest contributors to the GDP and exports for our economy.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I love social media

image via

There, I said it.

I might be super dorky admitting this, but I actually really dig social media. For everyone hating on facebook, twitter, geo-location apps, cloud computing etc, there’s some good reasons to love social media. I understand why some people think it may be an invasion of privacy, an infringement on their civil liberties or just one big conspiracy theory for ‘the system’ to track the minutae of your existence (well I don’t really understand that one, but hey, if we’re caught on film more than once a day it’s only a matter of time before we all have tracking devices touted as accessories...)

Social media has been great in bringing people together who previous hadn’t made valuable connections. It’s been a tool to build communities around interest and commonalities and helped foster creativity.

Definitely social media needs to be used in the right way, otherwise you’re likely to break yourself.

So I’ve pulled together a list of reasons why I dig social media and why it’s reputation should be more positive than it currently is:

1. Social media (re)connects

2. Social media allows for better user-generated content creation

3. Social media encourages transparent communication (and this has been proven to be good for business, brands and issues)

4. Social media is flexible enough for the conversation to take direction on its own, and not be dictated by the tool’s limitations

5. Social media is a shell-like tool – it’s worth is in the content it can contain and the meta-data (echoes?) that come out of it

6. Social media is the fruition of ideas

I think George Siemens put it best when he said social media (or Web2.0 generally) was about communication and connection. He goes on to talk about Web3.0 and Web X, but that’s an entirely different post.

So sure, I'm on a bandwagon, but it that really something to be concerned about? Is there a real basis for the panicked concerns of all the social media haters? Discuss (or not, as you wish).

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pretty things and diversions

image via

So all the fashion weeks have just happened and there has been a BUNCH of stuff come out that is truly inspirational. Below are links to some of the posts I've read about some of my favourite shows and collections from the S/S '11 season...

(yes, I realise re-posting Sartorialist is a cop-out, but just enjoy the pretty pictures. That's the point, right?)


Jonathan Saunders via the Sartorialist

Atelje via Style Bubble (this woman, her blog and her life deserve all the attention that she gets - and more. If you're not already a subscriber - get amongst it!)

New York:

Victoria Beckahm via Garance


Dolce and Gabbana via the Sartorialist

Needless to say I'm looking forward to the SS11 season (and Paris hasn't even finished yet!)

Are managers mentors?

A few months ago I had lunch with someone writing their Masters on the merits of business managers taking on mentoring roles. After we met they sent me an article (naturally now that I want it, I can't find it anywhere) reporting on the benefits managers receive from being a mentor for others. It made for interesting reading, especially because I'd never considered that the mentor would actually gain anything from the process.

The research basically said that senior managers often felt less stressed and more able to face complicated decisions after having a meeting with the person they were mentoring as a result of having spent time investing in someone else's life and development.

It also made me start thinking about what criteria make up a successful mentor. Definitely the criteria will change at least a bit across purposes, people and contexts, but surely there are some commonalities too. There is a bunch of academic research and pop-literature on the topic of mentors especially in relation to professional development, but I have some ideas of my own too.

  • A mentor should be able to act like an editor - constructively question and criticise elements of the mentee's development, behaviour and attitudes.
  • A mentor should be able to cast vision and act as a 'thought-planter'.
  • A mentor should be able to set pace, but also adapt their agenda and style to meet the feedback from the mentee.

So even though a mentor-mentee relationship is usually one on one, now that I've written that list out, remind me again how mentors are different from leaders?


Call me behind the times, but I'm looking forward to losing myself over the summer in the following titles. I've been meaning to read Elie Wiesel and Paul Auster for about three years and am kind of ashamed that I haven't yet. I read Timbuktu two years ago and raved about it to anyone who would listen. I think the sign of a really good read is losing your copies because you've given them away to people who haven't read them yet. Timbuktu was that good.

(kudos if you noticed that half these titles are past reads of Oprah's book club)