Here's the second part of my story "A New Beginning", first published in the Folkestone 2014 Anthology. If you've missed the first part, read it here.
A NEW BEGINNING
A few weeks ago, “TEDx Folkestone: Pushing The Boundaries” was held for the first time. I was lucky enough to see the first four talks (out of 13), and was looking forward to watching the others on YouTube. When I found out that the talks had been split into three groups, and that each group of talks would be screened in town, I made a point of going to all three events. Last night I went to the first one.
The following is the gist of every talk.
The ad blocker (or ad filter) is a type of software that can remove or alter advertising content from a webpage, website, or a mobile app. Already 25% of Internet users use ad blockers especially because they hate interruptions.
What if everybody used it?
At first, you'd think that we, the customers, would be happier, as we could spend more time on the website looking at things we're interested in, instead of waiting for the ads to upload and run. However, ad blockers could be a problem in the future, because 90% of the revenues of the biggest players in the market, Facebook and Google, comes from online advertising. This 90% is invested in medical researches, in new technologies (like driverless cars, AI, virtual reality, and so on) and it covers the costs of running the services and platforms that we use for free.
So far, online ad blockers have been pushing advertisers to invest in more engaging content. Eventually, though, we may have to choose between enjoying free content with ads or ad-free content on a subscription basis.
CATHERINE DURIN: PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES OF HOME
A boundary is, according to the dictionary, “A line which marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.” Therefore boundaries divide and separate people.
So what defines the boundaries of the place we call home? Is that music, history, tradition, language?
As a Belgian, Catherine was struck by a plaque she saw in Folkestone. It commemorates the arrival of 100,000 Belgian refugees in 1914. And she was moved by the painting 'Arrival of the Belgian Refugees' by Italian/Belgian artist 'Fredo' Franzoni, in which Belgian refugees are welcomed by the town mayor.
Nowadays, media label refugees as scroungers or as a danger to our society, forgetting that they are talking about human beings with unique life experiences.
Catherine had the chance to make friends with one of the refugees who from Syria had managed to reach Germany. Abdullah Ourfali, a 23-year-old man from Aleppo, had seen her posts on the page of the charity she worked with and contacted her. Despite her decision never to befriend strangers online, she felt he was genuine and a true friendship started to blossom.
She met him in Germany for the first time and then in Belgium. With his permission, she shared with us details about his life, his hopes and fears, his dreams for the future. Catherine urged us to go beyond labels and numbers and to get to know the refugees who live near us, because sharing our stories will allow us to connect as persons.
She concluded her talk by saying that, to her, where your heart is, that’s home.
For those who live in Folkestone and want to accept Catherine’s invitation, they could attend the Kent Refugee Action Network’s Open Morning on 29th of June.
DR REBECCA POPE: HOW CAN AI HELP OUR NHS AND SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED?
What is AI? AI is a tool that allows computers to learn by trials and errors like our brain does and it could be used in apps that help patients to monitor his or her health conditions.
Not only every patient would be connected with a clinic team via the app on their device and receive customised care, but they could also be more proactive and follow the advice provided by the app on how to improve their specific condition: which food to eat, what type of exercise to practice, how often to do it and so on.
Another advantage is that doctors could access patients’ data through those apps and decide to see a patient that has requested an appointment not on a first-come-first basis but on the "more urgent case" basis.
NHS resources could be used more efficiently because it will focus more on prevention than cure.
Doctors and nurses would always be at the centre of the NHS, because only humans can show empathy and offer comfort.
As the confidence of patients on these apps is crucial for the new system to work, there are crucial ethical aspects that must be addressed before the system can be implemented:
- The protection of patients data from cyber-attacks;
- And the prohibition to sell patients’ data to companies that would use them for marketing purposes.
ADAM HENDERSON: RETHINKING WORK IN THE MODERN WORLD
In this talk, Adam looks at how the working conditions in marketing companies have changed with the arrival of the millennials. Before then, those companies didn’t care much about their workers’ happiness, because the working conditions were the same throughout the industry.
Millennials were different from previous employees. They had seen friends and family members lose their jobs after having been loyal to the same companies for many years. Also, the Internet allowed them access to know-how and places previously unreachable.
When they started to work, millennials didn’t accept the status quo and questioned the ways companies were operating. As a consequence, they either set up their own business or joined new types of organisations that were more aligned to their values, even though they didn’t enjoy pension schemes and were on lower salaries.
Adam found six new things these new types of organisations had in common:
- A real sense of purpose;
- A huge focus on personal development. A budget was given to each employee to spend as they saw fit.
- Allocracy instead of hierarchy. Each project was led by the more skilled person in the team and therefore everybody had the chance to be in charge;
- Change in the way they communicated to allow people to do their job at work and not at home. For example, a fixed, short amount of time was allocated to meetings, or meetings were substituted with updates accessible online even from home;
- Ethical choices. It was important to be part of a business that was good to people and to the planet and did not operate just for profit;
- Flexibility. Working at home depends on trust not on technology. Flexibility has favoured the blossoming of freelancing and new businesses that use the Internet to find their online marketplace and content.
More and more traditionally run businesses are adopting these new ways of operating and according to Adam only those ones that will adapt to the new ways of working will be successful.
As I am very interested in technology, I asked him what he thinks the millennials would do about the rise of the robots, rise that is threatening to take all the jobs away from us. He believes that millennials will manage to integrate robots in the work process so that everybody will benefit.
For those of you that are interest in this topic, here’s the link to another Ted talk, sent to me this morning by a lovely lady I met last night at the screening: The Digital Industrial Revolution from TED Radio Hour in Podcasts
At the screening of the uplifting and inspiring film/documentary Tomorrow (Demain) by Mélanie Laurent and Cyril Dion here in Folkestone two weeks ago, I met a few members of the group Folkestone Cantiaci Volunteers, which is part of the Transition Town movement. They invited me to join themon Sunday morning to work on their allotments in Newigton, a ten-minute drive from where I live. So last Sunday I spent the morning with Nick, Rebecca, Frank, Doug and Kath. They showed me around the patches and their enthusiasm was contagious.
So, apart from walking around and taking pics, did you do any work? you wonder. Yes, I did. I helped plough a patch in which we will grow rosemary. It’s been hard work in a hot, summery weather, but very satisfying.
On the top right-hand side of the photos you can see the pond that Rebecca is creating. It will attract animals, like hedgehogs, that will eat slugs and other pests. No need for pesticides in our allotments! The pond will host frogs too. I must confess that I'm not keen on being in close proximity to them, but they will eat up the mosquitoes that will hover around the pond so it will be a good trade-off.
Now you know what I'll be doing every Sunday morning from now on :-). And you, have you ever thought of growing you own food?
I didn’t expect to write a series. However, in the months following the landing of the contract for Across Spacetime in July 2015, the plot for the sequel formed in my mind. After outlining its 30 chapters, in January 2016 I started to write my new book.
Like I did for Across Spacetime, I reached out for feedback. This time, though, for one reason or another, my first-readers have been unable to help me throughout the whole process, so as soon as I'm satisfied with my manuscript I will have to send it to a professional editor. Hopefully, he or she will be happy with most of it (fingers crossed). Once the editor returns it to me with his or her comments, I’ll address them and then send the manuscript to my publisher. After that? Holidays!
As the weather has been nice this week, yesterday I went to the Leas Promenade to enjoy the sun and tweak the plot of the last three chapters. Erm, no, it’s the other way round. I promise. I did work!
A week ago I appeared as a guest on the programme #Waffling on a Wednesday with lovely Kay McLoughlin.
It was my first time in a radio station and didn't know what to expect. Kay turned out to be very professional and very friendly, as you can tell from the clip in this blog post.
I had the chance to talk to her and her audience about my book signing at the Folkestone Film, TV and Comic Con the next Sunday, what inspired me to write Across Spacetime and share my love for beautiful Folkestone.
Enjoy the interview!
105.9 Academy FM Folkestone
A New Beginning
Facebok Book Release Party
Flokestone Cantiaci Volunteers
Folkestone Film TV & Comic Con 2017
The George Wilder Jr Show
The London Book Fair 2017
The Richie Allen Show
The Worm Hole
What's Hot London