Friday, March 06, 2009

Ideas Campaign - grassroots or astroturf

I must have missed the original Prime Time appearance of Aileen O'Toole, so the launch last night on Prime Time caught me by surprise. I listened to the piece with some degree of scepticism (well I am a Kerryman reared, even if my Sarf London optimistic nature occasionally bounds in, ahwight!)

I don't have a problem with a genuinely open forum for the debate of and the testing of ideas and all ideas, let's have the crazies in too. Sure who know who is crazy now. Yet there are considerable questions hanging over this initiative.

One is that those behind it seem to have strong links to semi-state organisations and hence to government. And also the seeking after rights to commercialise ideas that people are going to volunteer seems completely unnecessary to me. It seems to me to be primarily if not exclusively PR people who the key movers here. PR people are not my biggest inspiration and I'd have to wonder what role PR needs to play in this.

History is replete with inventors and original thinkers who have never received the reward for their ideas. Far more often business people have become rich off the ideas of others than have the originators. So I have profound difficulty with the terms and conditions of participation in this effort.

"By submitting the idea you are thereby granting The Ideas Campaign the perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive right to use, reproduce, copy, modify, edit, translate, publish, display, post, transmit, distribute or part company with your submitted idea without any compensation to you, anonymously or in the aggregate, for internal or external purposes, alone or as part of other works in any form, media or technology."

See people with ideas start with questions about where we are now, and then they go looking for solutions for well delineated problems. They are awkward to answer by definition but awkward isn't whinging though it might look it to some of the outside. Fact is I don't think there should be any parsing of the ideas (except for profanity or crudity). The ideas should be made available for all to see so that the public can then rate them, not be funnelled through a small number of people who may not necessarily have the expertise to assess their feasibility.

I also have to say that I would question the nature of the categories. For example the retail sector for which I submitted an idea reads more like the ideas should be about helping business in that area make money while I thought a real grassroots effort would be as interested or even more interested perhaps in ideas that would promote competition in the sector and give a better deal for consumer and the average Joe Citizen rather than boosting the profits of retailers. If those managers in Dunnes or Tesco can't come up with ideas to boost their businesses then someone else should be given their jobs, not looking to crowd source solutions to bail them out.

To be as clear as I can I think the basic premise is a good one and is worth doing but the execution for the moment is poor, looking for ideas from others that you could sell on and reap the benefit of it is exploitation. And the motives of those involved are opaque given their linkages to the semi-state and big Irish sector (the banks, Eircom, Aer Lingus, yeah they are really the go-getters that we should be emulating).

Update: this is covered rather well over at Value Ireland. And they note that the reference to selling on of the ideas has been removed. Curious that it has been removed without noting its removal on a blog post or press release while they did find the time to issue a press release about some minor overlap in keywords in Google Adwords.


killian forde said...

The Marie Hoctor clip - wow!

Dan Sullivan said...

Yep, it's pretty astounding right enough. I went with the longer full warts and all version rather than editing it down in case anyone thought it was edited to make it look bad. It really was just pure awful.

Steve Rawson said...

While this has to be ranked in the top ten of incompetent performances, you might also like to take a look at Billy Kelleher's performance on Prime Time with Miriam O'Callaghan and Leo Varadkar.

Billy is what Des Peelo might describe as a hard working decent man who deserves our respect.

Watch Billy regurgitate the media handlers briefing notes as he constantly looks down at his notes repeating key phrases like 'we are not immune to new ideas, we've no money etc.....