Tag: Parramatta

Porn, weed and fireworks

Last weekend I was privileged to contribute to the Human Brochure – a world first initiative by Australian Capital Tourism to promote the nation’s capital city, Canberra.

When I told my friends that I was going down to Canberra for the weekend, they invariably asked: “Why..?”

You see, Canberra has a reputation among Australians as being boring. As the home of yawners such as Parliament and the High Court, Canberra is associated with porky politicians and pompous legal types.

Paradoxically, Canberra is also notorious well-known for its sale of X-rated erotica, its decriminalisation of cannabis, and its availability of pyrotechnics. Yep, our very own Amsterdam.

But like most places where people haven’t actually been, its reputation is about 20 years out of date.

And the Human Brochure set out to prove it.

Screenshot from The Human Brochure - Canberra

The idea of the Human Brochure was to invite 250 social media-savvy people to Canberra; feed them; shelter them; and cart them around to several major tourist attractions. In return, we were asked to “spread the word online” about “all the great things” we got up to.

I joined the Arts & Culture stream. We were treated to national treasures such as the Australian War Memorial, the National Museum of Australia, the National Film and Sound Archive, the Australian National Botanic Gardens and Canberra Glassworks – not to mention lunch at Two Before Ten, dinner at Mezzalira and z’s at the Diamant Hotel.

That may sound excessive (and yes, we were spoiled out of our minds) but it all boils down to how much you value word-of-mouth marketing. The point of the exercise was for us to share our thoughts, opinions and experiences with our followers on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

Sure, Australian Capital Tourism could have pumped the money into yet another traditional advertising campaign, but we all know how they’ve been tracking. Instead, they tapped into the power of personal influence.

Here are a few of my tweets…

I was mindful not to sound like an over zealous salesman. I endeavoured to present only genuine thoughts and share only real experiences. Luckily that was easy to do because I thoroughly enjoyed just about everything!

I did provide some constructive feedback to the National Museum (it conspicuously omits Parramatta, one of Australia’s most important historical places), and I suggested the NFSA play more of its precious footage to visitors (they have since pointed me to their excellent YouTube channel).

But miniscule gripes aside, I expect the Human Brochure will prove to be a roaring success. Not only was the glory of Canberra amplified throughout the social media metasphere, but the initiative itself was the subject of interstate media attention.

Time will tell whether ROI is achieved. My prediction is that other tourism boards will copy the Human Brochure concept, and that will be the ultimate endorsement.

Regardless, I can say hand on heart, I had a wonderful time in Canberra.

Even without the porn, weed and fireworks.

Facts are a bitch

This morning I posted the following question to Twitter:

What do you think of Parrashoot as the name of a local photography competition in Parramatta?

The word play is genius, no?

A man using a camera.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, Parramatta is the cosmopolitan sister city of Sydney, approximately 23 kilometres (14 miles) west of the Harbour Bridge.

Due to its geographical location and its colourful history, it is often put down by yuppies and wanna-be’s, and is typically lumped into the broad, vague and lazy category “Sydney’s West” which features prominently on the nightly news.

While this view of my local area is about 25 years out of date (and perhaps a little racist?) it doesn’t seem to affect its prevalence.

Anyway, among the replies I received to my tweet was one that linked the fragment “shoot” to homicide. It’s clear the guy was joking, but it got me thinking…

Being the geek I am, I looked up the state’s crime statistics and graphed the homicides recorded by the police from 1995 through to 2009:

Graph of homicides recorded by NSW Police from 1995 through to 2009.

The results are intriguing – not only because the figures are incredibly low for a major metropolis.

Notice how Inner Sydney (the CBD and surrounds) tops the list with 156 reports, followed by Fairfield-Liverpool (southwestern suburbs), then the Hunter (northern wine & coal region), Canterbury-Bankstown (inner southwestern suburbs), Illawarra (south coast) and the Mid North Coast.

Eventually Central West Sydney (which includes Parramatta) makes an appearance with 66 reports, while – hang on! – the well-heeled Eastern Suburbs rounds out the Top 10 with 52 reports.

Oh, my. That’s enough to make oneself gag on one’s latte.

So what’s this got to do with learning?

In the workplace, how often do we L&D professionals make assumptions that simply aren’t true?

I’ll hazard a guess: too often.

My point is, we should endeavour to back up our assumptions with evidence.

  • What are the learning priorities of the business?
  • What is the most effective mode of delivery?
  • Is Gen-Y collaborative?
  • Are baby boomers technophobic?
  • Does that expensive leadership course improve performance?
  • Are our people incapable of self-directed learning?

These are just some of the many questions that we really should answer with data.

Otherwise we may find ourselves about 25 years out of date.

London, New York, Parramatta

Connie Malamed recently drew my attention to the How Do I Become President? challenge at Kids.gov.

How Do I Become President?A humorous take on the How Do I Become President? challenge.

It’s a competition for kids to create an infographic or poster that explains the process of becoming the President of the United States.

Not only will the winner receive a cash prize, but their poster will be distributed to schools and libraries across the country.

What a wonderful example of Government 2.0!

It’s not just about engaging the public and empowering them to participate; it’s also about educating our children.

<insert warm fuzzy feeling here>

Down under

This got me thinking about Government 2.0 efforts closer to home.

Australian Government logoI have discovered that the Australian Government has released a wonderfully poetic Declaration of Open Government upon the recommendation of a Government 2.0 Taskforce.

Indeed, four federal offices have launched a Government 2.0 initiative in the past couple of years.

Curiously, however, all were launched prior to the declaration and none since!

Uncurrent state

The State Government appears to be in “thinking about it” mode.

NSW Government logoApart from the ever adventurous Powerhouse Museum and a Government 2.0 in NSW event last year, ten or so minutes of googling on my part couldn’t find any other Government 2.0 initiatives sponsored by New South Wales.

OK, I didn’t try very hard, but it shouldn’t be that difficult… right?

That would defeat the whole purpose!

Think global, act local

PCC logoCruising further down the food chain, I sought inspiration from my local government, Parramatta City Council…


I was pleasantly surprised to find ParraConnecta new “connected city and community” framework designed to link existing programs as well as foster the development of new digital initiatives in the local public sphere.

Hmm… sounds interesting.

ParraConnect homepage

Plenty of progressive ideas are touted on the website, such as:

  • Wireless CBD precinct

  • Digital economy portal linking local companies, skills, needs, training and opportunities

  • Hot desk hubs and hyperlocal smartwork centres

  • ICT training for small businesses

  • E-Learning for seniors

  • A smartphone app that finds parking (a big problem in Parramatta!)

  • Apps4Parra competitions and hackfests.

But who’s to say this isn’t just another case of all talk, no action?

Well I’m heartened by the release of an impressive iPhone app called DigiMacq which scaffolds a self-guided multimedia tour of Parramatta’s historical sites.

The DigiMacq app on the iPhoneYes, it’s available now.

These guys are serious.

Smart city

As both a rate payer and an e-learning & social media professional, I have my own ideas about how the council can act locally to lead the nation (and dare I say the world?) in Government 2.0.

With the right people heeding the right advice deploying the right technologies, I’m sure we can convert the dream of a digitally connected city into a reality.

London and New York, stand aside. Parramatta is coming through!

Connected city