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  • Welcome to my personal website. My passion is making valuable connections between people and ideas. I’m retained by several organizations to do exactly that and enjoy taking on special projects.

    I’m based in the UK at the moment and hope you will be in touch if you think that I can help you in some way or if you think that we could work together. Please have a read about the sort of things I’m up to.

    Stopping for Milk and Red Lights

    Monday 21st July 2008, 6:58am

    Before I forget, let me tell you about Remember The Milk.  It’s an online to-do list which I’ve been meaning to try out.  Remind me to let you know how useful I find it. 

    There’s no use crying over the fact that I’ve not had time to find a decent virtual assistant this month.  One which comes highly recommended is the cryptically-named Online Personal Assistant, founded by Ed Dowding, who also comes highly praised.  If you beat me to sampling its wares, please do let me know how you get on, and I’ll do the same.  Perhaps someone should set up a temping service which specialises in finding PAs for people too busy to find PAs. (“If no-one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire, PA Team”)

    I’ve just remembered where I heard about Remember The Milk.  It was on marvellous Whitehall WebbyJeremy Gould’s Twitter, and on Charlie Hoult’s excellent blog.   Twitter and blogs are good for things like that.  It’s like overhearing something which you can either choose to ignore, or let your curiosity get the better of you, and explore.  If you follow smart people, it’s a bit like meandering down a river bank peering into people’s nets, after a long day’s fishing.  Or talking to an interesting, metal-detecting wanderer on a beach, just as the sun’s going down.  Now where was I?

    Talking about following people, I’ve been noticing how different people cross the road.  Some concentrate on waiting for the cars to slow down.  Some wait for the green man to tell them they can go.  Some wait for their fellow pedestrians to start moving.  There’s a final lot who interest me. You see, a select number turn a blind eye to the green man flashing.  Instead, they look for the red traffic light, which tells the cars to stop, then glance left before crossing.  This is what a trend-spotter would do.  The time saved may be seconds, but they’re over the other side faster than everyone else.



    4 Responses to “Stopping for Milk and Red Lights”

    1. My grandfather was an actuary, so a professional mathematician in the insurance industry predicting probability of life expectancy. In a cruel irony, he died by looking the wrong way on Tottenham Court Road, which forecasters will know is a one-way street. He confirmed that nothing was coming in the direction he checked and stepped into the road. Only to have a truck confirm that he had looked the wrong way and flatten him.

      Was this what forecasters might call a ‘Black Swan Moment’? I prefer to imagine that, coming in from Suffolk for the day, he’d been aghast at London crowds that summer day.

      Forecasters need to stick with the streets they know.

    2. [...] On forecasts Published July 21, 2008 Uncategorized Tags: Add new tag, Lateral thinking Inspired by a blog of Oli Barrett. [...]

    3. Oli – Your traffic light insight reminded me of some half-remembered research into the different ways rural and urban children cross the road.

      Rural kids tended to think the safest place to cross was exactly half way between the car just passed and the next one coming – whilst street-smart urban kids know the best bet is to nip across immediately behind a moving car.

      Local knowledge and understanding the context – as always – make for better decisions… particularly when getting to the other side in one piece is so vital.

    4. Jeremy Gould says:

      Glad you like it! Of course, you can update RTM via Twitter too which is great for when you’re out and about.

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