MacGuffin in a paragraph


I presented a paper on non-linear empowerment at Berkley based on radical educational theory in 1999, which fuses scientific and folk world views, and applied that to my own work challenges, most recently resulting in 2013 in a fusion of corporate social analytics with online consumer behaviour I call #thinslicing. It was this #thinslicing tool which led to the creation of the movie review app concept, MacGuffin.

Do British Gas employees all sing from the same hymn book?


I used the British Gas contact form to email to ask for my electricity direct debit to be retained at £38 on Friday.

I received a reply saying why British Gas was recommended that I increase to £76, but noted that the retention at £38 debit was an option.

I replied asking to retain the £38 debit.

The reply from the same customer service rep then rejected my request and stated that the new level was to be implemented at £76.

I then called customer service from a pub round the corner from Old Bond Street on Saturday afternoon, round the corner from where Margaret Thatcher was staying at the Ritz, and spoke to a new rep and asked for the £38 rate, and this was agreed.

I then received an email from confirming the £38 debit on my request. I followed a link asking for my experience of customer service, and included this account and noted that there appeared to be an issue, that the system for fixing direct debits is inconsistently understood by British Gas customer service representatives.just before midnight on Sunday a new email popped into my Inbox.

This one said that now British Gas was fixing the rate at £65. I emailed back a complaint this time and asked for compensation, explained all the previous again, and went to sleep. I awoke to a new email confirming the complaint had been received.

Then Tuesday morning, a new email from customer services to say while they really preferred the £65 direct debit that they would fix my monthly rate at £38, and credited my account with £10! I checked my account page and this was confirmed, though it also included a handy graphic in bright red which showed how much I would be in debit if I consumed at the rate of the previous bill.

Yes, I thought, but I immediately paid the previous debit balance on presentation of the bill. This fact obviously does not register, as it’s not part of the ‘system’, even though you can in theory fix your direct debit at whatever rate you like, this is not taken into account.

Because at the end of the day, ladies and gentlemen, this is not a customer-centric system, it’s a direct debit system, and it’s set up for British Gas’s benefit, not yours.

PS: A few days later someone from British Gas rang me asking for ‘Roy’. I asked what number, and they gave my mobile number. I said there was no ‘Roy’ on this number. Hey, so I can take a hint. So time to switch back to E.ON who had the good grace to send me a small cheque a couple of months ago.

Check out my Shorty interview


The Shorty Interview with Stuart G. Hall

What’s your best tweet?

My Jim Carrey reply after the film ‘No’ maybe, but I’ll let you know:-)

What are six things you could never do without?

My sixth sense, and the other 5.

How do you use Twitter in your professional life?

To connect with likeminded professionals and to discover new information that can benefit me.

What’s your favorite Twitter app?


Twitter or Facebook?

Twitter, it’s simpler!

What was the funniest trend you’ve seen?

King Richard III discovered in my home town of Leicester.

What feature should Twitter add?

A 140-character busting feature for use once in a while!

Who do you wish had a Twitter feed but doesn’t?

The head of MI6?

What are some words or phrases you refuse to shorten for brevity?

Sensitive dependence on initial conditions:-)

Is there someone you want to follow you who doesn’t already? If so, who?

Richard Branson, so I can tweet the inside stories of the VIPs with Galactic tickets:-)

Have you ever unfollowed someone? Who and why?

No one specific, just to free up follower space!

Why should we vote for you?

Because it’s time..

Terms you wish would start trending on Twitter right now?


What’s the most interesting connection you’ve made through Twitter?


Hashtag you created that you wish everyone used?

#thinslicing (I even added it to my blog title)

How do you make your tweets unique?

Base them on connections in my past, present and future.

What inspires you to tweet?

The right time, place and inspiration all rolled up together.

Ever get called out for tweeting too much?

Not really, I am quite a conservative Tweeter.

140 characters of advice for a new user?

Start off slowly, read other tweets, re-tweet, and join in when you feel you have something to share.

How long can you go without a tweet?

A day or so, but no more!

What question are we not asking here that we should?

Good question!

How do you imagine Twitter changing?

More fun features;-)

Who do you admire most for his or her use of Twitter?

@John_Rice for the eccentric marketing style;-)

Who is the funniest person on Twitter that you follow?

Jim Carrey!

What is one of the biggest misconceptions of Twitter?

It’s a complete waste of time, when it’s really not that bad:-)

Why should people follow you?

To get unusual inspiration.

Can you name some one-of-a-kind Twitter accounts that you follow?

@sunnysingh_nw3 for an insider’s perspective of Indian culture, from the safety of west London:-)

How do you decide what to tweet?

I wait for inspiration, and a live issue, to come together.

How do you use social media to motivate yourself or others to live a healthier life?

I’ve worked in public health so I guess I’d have to have a serious answer for that but I don’t!

How has social media helped bring your family closer together and #keepgoodgoing?


Why’d you start tweeting?

I was setting up communities for accountants and it seemed like a cool way to relax at the time.

Has Twitter changed your life? If yes, how?

Still waiting for Twitter to do it’s magic. Though I really liked my answer to a Jim Carrey joke after watching the film ‘No’.

What do you wish people would do more of on Twitter?

Make me smile:-)

How will the world change in the next year?

That’s a secret:-)

What are some big Twitter faux pas?

er, tweeting like no one is watching.

What will the world be like 10 years from now?

The same, but smaller.

Take the Shorty Interview at Shorty Awards, the awards honoring the best of social media.

Lights, camera, action


“Video footage caught by a commuter’s dashboard camera, a precaution used by many drivers against corrupt traffic police, showed a bright light and vapour trail blazing across the sky”. Saw the commuter’s video, and then laughed at the comment on The Independent’s website as the conspiracy theorists turned out en mass to imagine today’s meteor shower in Russia, was really a missile attack:

“It will come as a complete surprise to a slackwitted idiot like yourself, but meteorites and missiles have entirely different trajectories, velocities, and various other scientific quantities involving long words and difficult concepts which are probably beyond the capabilities of your watery excuse for a brain so I won’t bother.”

Thinslicing joke, otherwise lost to the world


Phew, just found my  joke I contributed to the xs4all Science Jokes site wayback in March 2001. Now it looks like a joke about #thinslicing, in part because it includes concepts borrowed from my travels – heterogeneous organisation of data – comes from talking to a group of computer scientists at a First Tuesday meeting in 2000:

Q: How do you find a needle in a haystack?

Scientist says: One draws up a research and development proposal for a new
and improved device, costing $100m in budget and just under $200m on final
completion. The device can harvest for needles in any given haystack in any
terrain at any time, and operated by remote or even hands-on control.

Chaotician says: Faced with such a heterogeneous organisation of data you
assemble a bunch of friends (say ten or less, or maybe more if there is free
alcohol) and hold a party on the haystack. Someone will be bound to find the
needle by stepping or sitting on it. Or if they don’t something much more
strange + interesting will appear, so that the needle is classified as a
variant hay-straw. And the new discovery classified as the strange attractor.


The difference between how customers and industry think and speak


Customer lingo:

“’Cause you see. doesn’ nobody really know that it’s a God, y’know, ‘cause I mean I have seen black gods, pink gods, white gods. all color gods, and don’t nobody know it really a God. An’ when they be sayin’ if you good, you goin’ t’heaven, tha’s bullshit, ‘cause you ain’t goin’ to no heaven, ‘cause it ain’t no heaven for you to go to.

Industry-type language:

1. Everyone has a different idea of what God is like.

2. Therefore nobody really knows God exists.

3. If there is a heaven, it was made by God.

4. If God doesn’t exist he/she couldn’t have made heaven.

5. Therefore heaven doesn’t exist.

6. You can’t go to somewhere that doesn’t exist.

There’s a nice recent example of this in my post ‘Witty comment on customer expectations’ which expresses this from a product selection angle. I suggest one bridge between how customers and industry think and speak is the effective use of social media. Helps if you use a tool like Radian6 to understand what a customer sees in a product, not just the product engineers. For example does that new camera hit the sweet spot because of the technical superiority of the sensor on its own – or because it’s the sensor + coupled with the wifi functionality + coupled with sharing with mates?

I am reading Eric’s book while getting my head shaved and all you can do is laugh?


Witty comment on customer expectations


Saw this witty comment on people’s expectations around products on an Engadget piece regarding the new Google TV launch:

Man people go off-topic fast… can’t we just comment on the actual product instead of making useless comparisons?

“Get an Xbox instead because of X & Y”
“Instead of an Xbox get a PS3, because it offers Z & X”
“Yea but why a PS3 when you can just get XBMC, you can do Y & Z”
“Forget XBMC, just get Plex because it does W & T”
“Or just get an iPad w/ HDMI so you can do Z & W”
“Ew don’t get an iPad, get a Transformer Prime because W & Z”
“Or get a computer, since it does X, Y, Z, O, M, G, S, T, F, U”
“A computer can’t move, get a car because it seats at least 4 people”

Micro mistakes in an e-book


09:09 Just for fun today I am counting how many micro
organisational mistakes today to help improve my focus – up
to 9 (+/-1).

Or just download the e-book created with the help of, with my last 3,200 tweets since 31 March 2010 to date, and keyword search for other micro-humour within the Adobe pdf.

Dr Michael Fish is in the building

Dr Michael Fish is in the building

Contrary business


Five contrary business ideas:

1. Date site marketing – comedy blog on ways to meet the opposite sex.
2. A Facebook app that keeps reminding your friends its your birthday until they post a greeting!
3. A Facebook app which allows you to praise your favourite McDonald’s employee and reward them. (just tweeted this idea today)
4. A pub app which shows where to go if you want a quiet place to sit and sip your pint.
5. A job finder community site where you can upload your CV for members to comment on and help improve it.