Sept 11 2018 Seventeen years ago a significant event occurred. A decade ago a significant event happened for me. I was asked a set of questions ten years ago that affected my actions. It took me nearly 4years to process them, or at least the intent of them, and then 6years to have the world realised as I was able to see it when I answered those questions fully for the first time. My intention is not to recount the past 6years. I want to allude to the next decade. I want to ask myself questions about my satisfaction as to where True Story is, this vessel having become the consolidation of much of my intentionality, and more importantly, how I shall right the course for the epilogue. I feel somehow that I am to play a different role in True Story so what I am writing is not really the last chapter for True Story, but the last chapter where I am to play a consciously guiding role. My hope from here is that I am surprised by True Story; surprised by it's direct impact and by the space that it becomes for the transmuting of individuals contained within and the will of those that are within it's field of influence - which I feel has become considerable. Questions as a significant event is perhaps an odd concept but one that feels valid in light of what True Story has become. A space for questions and the quests they spawn. When I recognised there was something missing in the world I was 18. When I felt I could do something about the gap and decided to call the thing that would go in this gap True Story, I was 24. Another 6years passed before I felt I could adequately define this gap shaped thing, and another 6 has passed to realise. As with all quests though my first step did not really occur until I communicated it and began to enrol others in 'exactly' the journey I was undertaking. Many were travelling in the same direction and I noted their presence, they noted mine, but until I articulated where I was going and echoed the resonating elements of their own initiatives, did our mutual quest begin and I could truly consider them partners on this quest. With some of my troupe I have parted ways. Some were only engaged for part of the journey and it was known to both of us that a decoupling would occur, and many more have become part of the momentum. This momentum, this continuing quest is what I speak of for when I decouple and sit by the wayside, I hope another vessel will recognise a place for me that either carries me in the wake of this question that launched the vessel, or perhaps affords me comfort and satisfaction for the next phase of my life.
I am 36 - It is the year of the dog, my star sign. The loyalty to the quest and True Story as a venture has at times confounded reason. True Story Insight, the little train that could, has been a far more reasonable bet, and under its new leadership I wish it more than well for I always recognised it had a place in this world, in this moment. I played into that space 6years ago and that bet payed off. True Story was the moss on the ground. I will warn you that I am prone to mixing metaphors. You will note here that there is now moss out at sea, perhaps I should have gone with seaweed - I shall switch to account for my own wisdom and counter my stupidity. True Story was to be the seaweed. It was to sprawl and creep into being and so long as it was hardy enough to survive, it was a satisfactory legacy. True Story Insight was the blue marlin to that. Fast, deliberate and executing on definite intent. I have been criticised for a lack of clarity over the years but the last 5years, since I began communicating the quest in a more open and enrolling fashion, has not vaporised the criticism, for that has potentially increased, but at least it is criticising my ambition rather than my intangible inaction. Now we are here former critiques have taken up invites to wave the standard. They may be riding the wake, but at least they are not ignorant of the horizon. Some may not be entirely conscious of what has been achieved by True Story or True Story Insight. For the sake of those of you that have not please come play at truestory.org.uk or take a look at truestoryinsight.com / tsinsight.co We welcome you there - though by means of orientation I'll say that True Story is more suited for those seeking an experience. Consider it a place to explore, whereas True Story Insight is an explanation of how those seeking social impact can be supported by us and our partners. If this is your first encounter with True Story then I'd suggest that you revisit some experiences you may have had recently. True Story is not a single website, nor is it purely online - it is more a way of being and a form of interface with the world. I will use technical analogies at times (such as interface) as it can help distinguish the phases we can unconsciously transition through within our organic experience of everyday life. It is not because I am a robot - though such accusations have been levelled at me. True Story began as means to support individuals or social impact organisations such as charities to express themselves. Loose mission. It, or rather I - as at that time I was very much a one man band, began to explore what were the barriers to expression and what were the enablers. To employ my MBA, what were the inhibitors and what were
the facilitators. I looked at ICT4D for technical solutions. It was at a time when cloud computing was coming into its own and open source was not yet established as par of the course and thus was being promoted. This promotion meant even a techno-dumdum like me couldn't ignore the obvious advantages to these platforms and tools. As AqIT I began to curate these tools and consult with organisations as to which to use. Then FAQuests (Frequently Articulated Quests) became the proprietary system (web app/platform) by which I was to encapsulate the properties of the best tools and deliver them to organisations and more nebulous collectives like communities. This is where something interesting happened and it was brought about by the consolidation of intent that was forced by my forming of True Story Insight. I'm providing a potted history as the rest is a matter of record on my blog qualifiedself.tumblr.com lTrue Story Insight was my attempt to generate regular income whilst I furthered the True Story vision. There were things which True Story Insight had to be, which True Story was not cut out for. The gap for True Story was partly in existence now, but mostly in the future - always in the impending moment. This evasive manyana meant True Story and it's intent was in flux. It was a solution to a problem not fully recognised. I became adept at apprehending trends and then proposing a solution, but by the time the solution was defined, the problem seemed less urgent and a weak point of gravity for my skills and resources. For both career, livelihood and overall reputation this was not great. True Story Insight was the antidote. It was to pick a card - any card. It wasn't that I was coming up with bad solutions as I would oft recognise similar solutions in the market doing rather well for themselves, and by nature of my curiosity and my unabashed and informal nature whilst conducting research, I would consider these inventors and innovators my more successful peers. A bitter pill to swallow when I felt John Bunyan had placed me on a significantly more arduous hill. However it was a hill of my own construct and were I simply to declare the problem and a solution - any solution, I would have progressed, as has been proven by True Story Insight. For those of you unaware of True Story Insight, as a consumer you are unlikely to know about it's primary application by any name I would know, but you will no doubt recognise the interface and the experience it fosters if there has been a development of any scale in your area - and the corresponding consultation process. I developed with a team of rather smart people, FAQuests. This is an ICT solution that we white
labelled to support stakeholder consultation processes. We explicitly defined it's modus operandi as community development projects of a specific scale - mid-size. That being smaller supermarkets, smaller hotels, parking lots, housing estates, highstreets - and aside from that scale of bricks and mortar intervention, the more soft intervention in the shape of social programmes such as capacity building like into-work schemes or healthy living campaigns (communication) or anything that required longtitudinal civic engagement. That was the area of expertise but the white labelling of the platform was as we felt that the underlying application of stakeholder engagement that supported social design processes, could be translated into community engagement in more commercial online or consumer groups and general marketing insight. It was targeted at design projects that would be best informed by qualitative insight rather than quantative, not to say it was not augmented by such insight when projects went live, but that was not to be the responsibility or deliverable of our system. We were experts in deployment and analysis - we were the scope - track - evaluate guys. We were hotshot consultants in this stuff. Gathering community intelligence in the form of stories and then providing it to those who needed to test the waters for something they were about to do, or check out how something they were doing was being received, or to figure out the damage/benefit they'd inflicted once the thing was done. However I was not an academic researcher, I was not a field worker, I was not a social reporter or journalist - neither data, nor citizen - at least not to any standard when I placed myself amongst my peers. I was tinkering. Looking at what support I, Joe slightly above average in all of the above, could engage with the consultation process in a more convenient way. Partly because I wanted to, and mostly because I was too lazy to in it's current state. I wanted a product to sell, some work that intellectually stimulated me, to hang around with smart people that would eventually be so smart that they could take over and improve upon the system and just bring me in when I could tinker in a helpful fashion, essentially I wanted a playground - a place I could go, feel valuable and most importantly be valued with current currency - to make money. It makes me happy to know I achieved that, and particularly happy that we were able to author toolkits and other widgets that converted people and the ubiquitous technological devices that joe average carries around, into conduits for meaningful interaction in the authoring of society. Consultation is all well and good but direction of resources (at least when they are yours to direct and when you have sufficient insight to recognise the consequences), that is sublime.
I feel privileged to have been involved in the opening of communication channels, and providing the translation mechanism for academic (social sciences) methodology, scientific rigour, commercial (insight marketing - behavioural/consumer insight) tools and methods and embed them in organic experiences and touchpoints for joe public. This guy Joe seems to be responsible for an awful lot - but it is from my slightly-out-ofmy-armchair poise that I come at activity. I am ready at any point to either stand up and be counted! - or sit down and have a cuppa. I am not the guy camped out at the power stations, or hurling myself at riot police, I am the guy that watches an argument and is conflicted about whether to intervene, even if the weaker party is clearly beyond reasonable personal assertion. I'm the guy that will intervene if totally necessary but hopes he won't have to - but provide a decisive invitation - ask for help, provide clear definition of potential consequences and I will act. I watched the 'Joe' in myself carefully as he was capable of having a nice warm cup of inertia on a cold day, even a slightly drizzly day in summer sometimes, and I observed it in others. What caused the Joe in me to lock his knees in an upright position and baton down for the consequences was when everything became Joe's responsibility and he wasn't even asked. No consultation, the buck just got passed. It was the day after the Olympic torch came through the borough where I was living at the time when I felt the difference at scale. That was 6years ago and it was the day nothing happened. True Story became something other than an ill defined point on the horizon that day. I realised that everyone had an ill defined point on the horizon - and Joe was no different. True Story now is easier to explain. It has become for many one of the key ways people author the world around them. Thankfully many other means have arisen to manage this authorship process. The funny thing is that 6years ago I was a lone.. Well - I was alone.. at least I felt alone. The way of being that I was ascribing to was at a tipping point. Tipping points were common place then, partly due to the term being popularised by a bestseller a few years before - but what people were recognising was a scale. They had a sense of the scale of potential. This was largely the fault of the internet, and minimal evidence. Well, the evidence was becoming deafening in 2012. The Arab Spring and the Occupy movement and a few other self-directed collectives had harnessed the internet and some of it's lenses to some effect. It was not certain that the entire effect was due to the internet, nor which platforms or online or offline
activity were the responsible agency. It was clear however that at least constituent parts of the mass action were being harnessed - thus, a harness could be crafted. This harness was the holy grail and it was being sought largely by technologists. The Promethean endeavour was to create the harness to wrap around the powerless and then let the powerless have the reigns so they could be free. I'm being slightly facetious but there was this sense that freedom lay in empowering the powerless. That the oppressed could counter the oppressor through being provided with the means to harness their power. There was certainly need to address imbalance and inequality, and there still is, but it takes a mighty discipline to not direct towards oppression. Once handed the reigns on a harness to a massive latent, and vengeful, potential, that can be very tempting, especially when you may have risen from the ranks of the oppressed yourself. Mandela, Dallai Llama, Ghandi all conducted themselves with inhuman discipline throughout their lives to achieve this. Really, only Mandela had true temptation laid before him. He really did have a tipping point. The ripple effects of his decisions are still being played out. I had spent 6years running a fairly London-centric initiative. I had been overseas and moved up to Birmingham and out to Kent, but London was an anchor. Around that anchor swam the ghostly spirit-fish of the Olympics. For the full 6years they were the cause and provocation for initiatives in London, Europe and they had influence on international activity of UK based or founded organisations. It felt and was important. It came at a time of global economic uncertainty. It marked a relentless campaign of civic engagement and played directly into the then Conservative Government's agenda of the Big Society. It boasted national pride, a narrative of involvement and dynamic action. A cultural focal point - ironically amidst a somewhat ethereal political vision. A lot of people wanted what Big Society promised and I think they still do, but this is where Joe and the Olympic torch come in. The great and the good were nominated to carry the torch across London. It was to traverse the various boroughs and tip its flaming hat to all the citizens of our fair capital. Hilligndon was no different. There were some civic heroes elected to run the torch through the town and I wasn't one of them. That is totally irrelevant but I wanted it for the record that I did not carry the Olympic torch, nor compete in the games. In fact I watched very little of it on TV. The passing of the torch from hero to hero throughout Hillingdon was probably very inspiring. Feats of athleticism combined with stories of lives well lived, and moments that augment or define them through physical or intellectual decision and the instinct embedded in them, are inspiring. They demonstrate and create character. They help us recognise our potential.. but I sat on my sofa and had a cuppa.
That's inaccurate. I had a glass of water and a can of coconut water as it was very hot that day. A glorious sunny day in the Olympic summer that I may not witness again during my lifetime, and I passed on it as it was too hot. I knew there were crowds, nay hordes, of people flocking in from surrounding areas and they would descend upon the streets barely a quarter mile from where I sat. I wasn't willing to go the extra quarter mile, let alone the extra mile. I was the Joe who's poise brought a gentle slump back into the seat rather than a majestic stand and a sprint alongside a flame. The torch passed me by and from hero to hero and thank god I wasn't scheduled to receive it. Joe would've had to get up and slovenly work himself into a lather to inspire the fans and heroically do his part. Phew.. much to hot for that. That wasn't the defining moment for True Story. The defining moment came the next day. The evening of the Olympic torch day I had registered for an event outlining and discussing the intent and challenges facing a collective called the Alliance for Useful Evidence. It was an important bunch of people relative to the intent of True Story Insight. They were concerned with the practice of evidence based social policy. Essentially this meant that you test or justify policy before you consolidate it, rather than after. That not only seemed smart to me at the time, still does, but it seemed essential. I was fairly upset by Big Society and the supposedly supporting policy being justified after the fact with evidence and case studies that suited the terminology of the agenda more than the outcomes themselves. By this I mean that we were living in a reality which politically was aspiring towards a vision that was a tapestry of concepts based in a reality that did not have the same context as the one proposed in the vision. The real successful ventures were not grounded in the supporting infrastructure of the vision. So evidence based policy seemed to be an agenda, both in the UK and the States, that was worth supporting. I had missed the launch event of the alliance and all the surrounding events. I had not been part of the consultation as to what the alliance should be or stand for. That was my lack of awareness. It was not statutory nor organisational duty to include everyone and I was out of the loop. Now in the loop on this event the least I could do was turn up. However, have you been on the tube at rush hour when it's hot? No no, Joe sat down. That evening I watched a film which has not entered the annals of great cinematic statue - Real Steel with Hugh Jackman. To clarify; after watching Noam Chomsky online, convincingly espouse the social responsibility of the intellectual, on a sunny day after weeks of rain, and a potentially once in a lifetime torch running, and the season's industry keynote event for my
company that could involve considerable commercial gain through my involvement (it didn't but it seemed like it - and thus that was the frame through which I was viewing my decisions), all this schedule I could taper with an outdoor swim in the cool cool lido available 15minutes gentle cycle away.. I chose to slump on a sofa and.. consume a little more media about the social responsibility of the intellectual which spoke of persons with slightly enhanced socio economic and intellectual privilege, and the need for them to engage with or become the agency of social change. Interesting though the video was, consuming this media and my coconut water was not a personal growth experience, a point of nostalgia, nor a move towards engagement with an agency of social change, let alone being one. Joe sat down - and the next day, True Story changed. I was in a cafe, having a cafe, watching the world go by and suddenly.. nothing happened. The day before I had been entirely irresponsible on all levels. Hugh Jackman and giant fighting robots (the subject of Real Steel, which I'm shocked you didn't see) did not impart any pearls of wisdom. It was fun, and I have since had a slightly enhanced faith in the underdog/robot, but the experience was a nothing. I decided, because I had to, to engage with nothing, rather than all of the options laid out in the previous paragraph. The consequences? None. As I sat in the cafe I realised that nothing had happened the morning after. No one was chastising me for missing the torch. No one missed me at the event. No one noticed that I did not engage. This pseudo-intellectual took his bag of privilege and spent it on a boxing robot and coconut water. This was Joe. The Citizenship police did not come for Joe, they were busy dealing with immigrants and defining the national narrative. This invisible authority was too busy ensuring the torch got passed between the heroes. Joe could have carried the torch, he was poised and ready. He had his invite to the event, he was interested in swimming the distance, in fact the morning after in self enforced purgatory I swam nearly 3km. The capacity was there. Even the Chomsky brought Joe to the very very edge of his seat. Perhaps if the AC was better on the underground (which it thankfully is) then True Story would be Captained by a hero! The truth is, that standing up in that heat, was just inconvenient, and without the momentum of heroism or a hand to raise Joe and raise his standard, True Story nearly became too small to succeed rather than too big to fail. The shift was when I realised, no one is coming. Not in the usual use of the phrase but in the sense that, no one was policing Joe. I was the guy between each passing of the torch. I was never intended to carry it. I was never intended to be the hero by any other. The decision, the choice to tip myself up, to stand up would have to be mine. Then came the tipping point for William Wardlaw Rogers. I wasn't Joe. I had
momentum. I had 8years of messing up a charity, or specialist social entrepreneurship training of an MBA where I focused on social sciences and fusion with commerce. I would stand up, not that day, but most days. However, in the days before True Story, all those at that tipping point had no rails that would encourage them to stand, but not enforce it. It would be their decision, but at the same time, they could sink towards the seat through the suspension afforded by an infrastructure of participation embedded in a platform that knew the real them. That recognised the hero that could run the torch. It wouldn't police them but it would call them to account once they had engaged with even the slightest momentum towards heroism. True Story was there to support you when you could sit down or could stand up. It was there to help you decide and make it convenient to stand. Why was and is that important? Remember every single act where there was an exercising and expression of informed consent that was strongly opposed by powerful agency. That is an occasion when Joe didn't sit down. I like to think True Story became the stabilisers for such movements. Facilitating momentum and inhibiting vengence. Why was this important then, when the Big Society drummer was calling to the nation and messing up the music of the Olympic opening ceremony? Because Big Society was passing the torch to Joe. Now the concept of opening up the process of public service delivery to the civic sector, supported by private enterprise - and the hybrid of that in social enterprise, also, the empowering of citizens to more directly sculpt the shape of the public ecosystem, and to loosen the grip of state by devolving power to local authorities, and generally stepping back to encourage greater innovation and potentially a nation better evolved towards the fully expressed needs of it's citizens.. as I said before, ace. If you step back when passing the torch, you'd better judge the step and make sure the other guy understands what you're up to. This is providing you are entirely authentic about your aims and the associated longer term agenda - evidencing this is part of the 'getting the other guy to understand what you're up to' bit. Thing is, as I mentioned before, Joe mostly wants to take the torch. He wants to be the hero! But that gap created by stepping back, it's very similar to the decision to intervene in an argument. The tension between state and citizen is taut with the menagerie of private and third sector, not to mention the citizen that rises above the ranks of 'average' engagement, the one that raises the standard and forms a community group to represent and express a community need. The tension of the gap is what inspires people during athletics. Everyone knows the potential of the recipient, and everyone can see how the guy handing over has run the race, but the
responsibility for the overall affair does not lie purely upon the shoulders of the recipient. When I am stood at the edge of an argument, let us say outside a pub, and the situation is not one I am associated with directly. I am a peaceloving human being yes, but these people are strangers and if they go drown each other, were I not to have witnessed the initiation of the drowning, in the form of a verbal exchange, then I'd be none the wiser until the news the next day. There would be no obvious consequences were I to walk away. Why would I intervene? They're not knocking on my door? I am a man with a modicum of comfort and privilege. Why risk it - I might spill my coconut water. The factors of intervention and the decision to be made are points of evaluation. If you are directly involved the decision is adopted by instinct and you will either defend your associate or scarper like Kermit from a Pig. When you have time, when things don't seem time sensitive - deciding is inconvenient. You are not being paid to scope the possible outcomes, track the situation and it's variables as it unfolds, and evaluate the last point of data capture (when someone last said something) in order to decide upon your next action. You are not incentivised. This is a stranger. Unless you save him, or he suffers from random altruism, he will not buy you a pint sometime in the future. It would be far more convenient for Joe to sit down. If you stand up, what if the oppressor turns on you? The task is too much to undertake, the whole affair spirals out of control. You are at risk. What if you underestimate yourself and you overpower the oppressor and you become the oppressor and can't stop. What if they wouldn't like you when you're angry and what if Hulk smash!? What if your insight is poor and the little guy is actually the big guy and you end up being part of the bully boy gang that ends up in the news the next day. No no, it's just inconvenient. Faced with the sudden and relatively unexpected or misunderstood step back of a torch holder, Joe would probably retract his hands for fear of being burnt. Actually, Joe probably would leave such heroic situations to the Chads and Xaviers of the world. No one would judge them. No Citizenship police would come get them. There is a karma police that puts credit on their account if they do intervene but no Good Samaritan police to come take it away again. No no, the Good Samaritan police would leave Joe alone in the cafe. No consequences, no chastising, just an indepth knowledge of how to be victorious in the robot boxing championship.
Big Society provided no immediate consequence for lack of participation and expression of social responsibility or civic duty and the minimal resources available for the civic sector and community representatives meant that Joe would be running on Karma alone if they chose to intervene. An inconvenient fuel. As I looked out of the window of the cafe I realised that True Story Insight would enable those who had greater momentum than Joe to engage with and become social agency. It would facilitate their building momentum by bridging the gap between those obsessed and immersed in observation of social change, and those keen on affecting it. It would equip them with methodology and framework to guide and put on rails their efforts and inject the catalyst of commercial tools, tried and tested in the field and fire of the bottom line. That felt pretty good. On the days when I stood up I felt that if I succeeded in that then I could stand before the Alliance for useful evidence, in front of the Big Society tribunal (should it appear), the social entrepreneurs (who might recognise the subsiding that could take and the implicit campaign towards CSR through consumer application of the white label platform) and as a consultant, I could claim academic status by proxy and maybe even work my way towards a PhD (final straight of that right now) contributing towards communications with the ABCD (Ask - Be - Communicate - Do) framework. I know now that this can be done but I'm glad I took the time to consider whether that would be enough. I'm glad I was sat in that cafe watching the world go by. I'm glad for the Joe that sometimes sits down. Noam Chomsky's recognition that the responsibility of the intellectual is to exercise their currency in social agency came at a useful moment. True Story Insight did provide me with an outworking of my insight to that date. It was techy enough to exploit the moment, it spoke to a current need for social design without over reliance on Big Data, whilst ironically playing on the properties of the tools that enabled it and skillset wise it afforded me the ability to translate between occasionally disparate academic, commercial and social impact communities. However that day it became very clear that it did not speak to Joe. Real Steel played to its audience. A little bit blockbuster, a little feel good and a father and son tale with underdogs where their emotional layers dented. Playing to your audience is fine. Advertising to your audience is relatively pointless. They're generally already coming to consume what you've got. Now I don't think they should be ignored as this is the equivalent of ignoring repeat clients or disregarding staff retention. Engaged is about sustaining that engagement also. However at the same time, if
advertising never expands the market by playing to the edges, it is an equal folly. True Story Insight empowered those seeking empowerment. True Story was for those at the edges, those at the tipping point - for Joe, just in case he sat down before he was fully informed of the consequences, especially the longer term consequences of disengaging. I watched people passing the cafe wondering how many had made the once in a lifetime event. It was dustbin out day. I wondered how many had taken the dustbin out on that once in a week opportunity. I wondered how many had recycled. Did they know that the bin man wouldn't be round for another week and like me they would have to suffer with a pile of papers in the corner that served no purpose and had there been a moment of consciousness before running out to swim in purgatory then the field would be clear. Had they ever seen children living on a landfill? True Story is for Joe. As with True Story Insight I wanted it as lightweight an experience as possible. There is a variant of the ABCD framework that support communication to encourage engagement and support self navigation towards action and social agency. It was never initiated to support campaigners or to get buy in from communities for development projects. It is a space. That space is for the insatiably curious to ask, be, communicate and move towards doing or more being (observation) without their trunk being pulled. It is about participation but you don't have to do it. It will just show you how. It is not persuasive technology. It is not to drive behaviour change. It simply organises information and knowledge in a digestible format, one that you can navigate through and recognise potential actions, and if so inclined, populate the space with some options. They will be there for people to engage with also should the information lead them to it. What I recognised was that Joe needed intervention to be made convenient and further, not unnecessarily timesensitive. To have consequences in concious awareness, but not to be guilt driven into inaction. Nor to have any privilege taken away if occasionally they sit down. At the time there was a press towards assessing individuals based on their contribution towards society. It was not expressed in this fashion, it was expressed as individuals being assessed by their drain on society. The judge was the state. The consequence, denying benefits and in some cases, enforced engagement with activity deemed valuable to society by current government. There were wellbeing indexes emerging to run against GDP to balance the bottom line interpretation of 'social benefit'. As to who was publishing these metrics and how independent they were was a separate matter. These metrics could guide the definition of social good
and social value and whether directly or through control of funding of research institutes and the publicising of their materials, there was influence over which metrics were highlighted. If Joe was deciding whether to stand up or sit down, he may have opted to sit down within a welfare state with the supposed safety net of various benefits in play, but now that option was being taken away. Joe must stand up! Whether his capacity was to be deployed in relevant activity or whether that moment saw it realising it's peak, in the case of those developing skills through learning programmes, formal academic or otherwise. No matter where you were in your personal growth curve, and whether you had a plan to intervene at a later stage, or whether you were involved in civic activity already, then you would have to stand up and be assessed and often deployed to the current social good as defined within the Big Society agenda. Sometimes to good effect, sometimes not. My comment here is not about the welfare state, or the need for appropriate independence of assessment criteria of social benefit from government. I am observing Joe. He may have been sat for some time. He may have developed strength to stand and is now running his own assessment and gathering insight as to what and how to engage effectively. To encourage engagement there are ways to accelerate the decision. However there is a difference between accelerating the decision and accelerating the best decision. A potentially false urgency has been placed up the decision to engage. The message by forcing the stand and the engagement is, "Joe, decide now, you have all the insight into the situation you could possibly ever gain and now we know your part in the grand scheme of things we shall deploy you." The urgency of course was not entirely false. At the time we were in serious trouble. I shall now jump away from the issue of benefits but retain the issues of decision making, engagement and participation - taking action with or as social agency. Before you go skiing you are encouraged to do some preparatory exercises. Squatting. It strengthens relevant muscles and ensures agility to conduct the motion required for skiing. Incidentally it is also a great exercise to prepare you to stand up, or sit down. No matter how much skiing Joe may have done, a protracted period of standing as though skiing will wear on the muscles. Squatting for a long time, as the French will tell you, requires strength. In order to retain the tipping point, to be poised to sit or stand, an agility is required. To hold the point of decision until insight is sufficient but not so bloated as to bring about total fatigue and render the standing Joe ineffectual, requires
enormous mental agility. In The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce Wayne is a little older than when he began the Christopher Nolan trilogy. A life exercising his agility as Batman has brought about knee damage and to support him in the suit he dons a form of knee support. It is a cage around the leg, but the cage does not restrict the motion, it enhances its strength. There may be a curtailing of the range but for Batman the ability to retain his decisive agility is an overall improvement to his power. True Story is the guard to mental agility that may limit the freesprawling range of total self reliance, but for an out of practice human potential to garner insight and decide - the overall effect is an improvement and enhancement of power. It does not enforce a mechanical action that an algorithm would bring, but it is symbiotic with the human instinct and intuation, but enhanced. Batman would approve. What I believe True Story has accomplished is provided a support for a lazy engagement muscle. Joe is not lazy. Far from it - he is internally conflicted every time he sees that quarrel outside the pub. He is sure that he could do something about it! He's just never been in that situation before, watching Batman doesn't count. I hope that once Joe sees the options and sees evidence of the outworking of someone else's personal or organisational policy to exercise their potential he will understand what it means to be passed the baton. He can watch the moment, get the insight he needs, he will understand the guy passing him the baton because he has explored the space between them in trial runs in an environment he won't be chastised for running to fast, for burning his hand, for Hulk Smash! Maybe with sufficient evidence he will stand up and be the hero. What do I know I have a achieved? I would be the same as that movement of people around the time of the UK Olympics if I were to assume responsibility for all social action between then and now. I have not created the harness, nor do I hold the reigns. I'm not even going to credit myself with the discipline to say I released the reigns, or that I wouldn't be tempted to run some people over with that horse. What I have done is facilitated a facilitation platform and embedded inhibitors to ensure any harnessed potential that emerges has a steam vent. I want online action to diffuse into the real world. Not because I want anarchy on the streets, but because I believe until people are face to face do they realise the consequences. I have witnessed one or two quarrels outside a pub. One did I sense I had the capacity to intervene with minimal danger to myself and yet act as reasonable buffer to the situation, to become that decision space for others outside the situation to reason their
way to intervene also. That I hope True Story can provide. A wedge, to reduce the urgency of the situation. On that occasion I did not intervene. A guy lost a tooth and a another was choked until he nigh passed out. It wouldn't washed away had I not had to look the guy who had lost the tooth and his partner in the face and in silence justify why I did not intervene. When I was a child, below 5years old, I travelled to a number of places on a Merchant navy tanker. My father was a Captain. On one occasion, I visited Ethiopia. I have worked out since that this was during the famine just prior to Band Aid. We had come off the ship and lined up in orderly fashion were mothers and children, covered in flies. We handed out sweets. The whole situation was unfamiliar and I remember being a little frightened. The men with guns that shooed the crowds that tried to follow us back to the gangplank did not help. Insight often comes first hand. Experience and our perspective on it helps us make a decision. I feel privileged to have that experience to bring insight to my decision and balance it against insight gained since to determine action, and the precursor to that, recognising appropriate action. Physical presence in a situation does not force someone to engage with an issue. Nor does presentation of options enforce participation. Maybe though, exploration and a space of curiosity is better than total ignorance, two dimensional experience and perspective, weak decision making muscles and a empty space when you are seeking options to engage with something you care about. As a child in Ethiopia I expressed confusion as fear. I had not the insight to assess the causes, the bionic-Batlegs to decide what to do, not stabilisers to guide me to an action other than handing out sweeties - which seemed to cheer me up most of the time. I'm no longer a child and expressing my social responsibility is not to remain uninformed and fearful. If True Story fosters a little consent around simply that, and remains a space for asking, being, communicating and doing - then it's a legacy I can live with. As this year of the dog wanes I shall prepare for the next. I shall prepare by expanding the space for a True Story. If True Story Insight was about '...little stories to help you see the Big picture' then True Story is helping author your little story whilst remaining conscious of the Big story. Thank you for letting me occupy the precious space to author the last chapter and the respect you've afforded me with curiosity ahead of action.
I close with the same invitation (and email address) I used 6years ago. I thought it would be fun to reflect upon the story I have authored now I feel part of a Bigger picture. Let me know how you see True Story and it's next Chapter. It's no longer mine, over to you. William Wardlaw Rogers