Becoming a dispenser

Tokyo, Tokyodome Baseball If you have been to a festival, rugby match, football game, or in some cases even the odd school fete, you will have no doubt come across a strange looking fellow or lass with a large barrel beer or pint of "The Black Stuff" strapped to their back, holding a spout, ready to fill your cup with their hoppy beverage. These things are not a bad idea at all. The beer comes to you and it often turns up again when the glass is empty. Someone one day thought about using the technology of portable cooling, filtration and storage, saw the problem of people cramming up to heavily packed bars in stadiums, and fixed one of the truly annoying parts of live events - just simply getting a drink.

I think this little innovation paints a brilliant picture of what is going on around us now. We can all be dispensers. We all have the potential to use a little bit of technology and share what we have with the world, in a way that is truly useful. So how do you go about being a dispenser?

What's in your barrel?

Working out what kind of brand you have in your barrel is often more difficult that getting out there and sharing it (after all, twitter and Facebook aren't all that difficult really...  I mean if 500 Million people can do it...). Each of us has been packed with a truly UNIQUE set of giftings, skills and a past that makes us full of great stuff. We had the potential to be a dispenser of that uniqueness - and the first step to dispensing it, is know what you have. So take stock of it? What do you have that you can give away?

  • What knowledge? What Experience?
  • What connections? What Network?
  • What assetts? What information?
  • Work out what is in your barrel...

Learn to pour it out

Learning to dispense what you have I think is a two part deal, one if a attitudinal, one is a technical.

First - the technical.

This bit is easy. Just get on with it. Can you write a blog about your experience? Can you create a great presentation and share it on Scribd? Can you create a great set of infographics and get them up on Flickr?

Or can you just meet up with someone to share an experience over a latte? (Above all the twittering and blogging I do - this remains my single favorite way of sharing with people).

Second - The attitudinal

Being a dispenser however requires openess. Openess to be opposed, rejected, applauded, revered, belittled and in many cases ignored. This is a matter of the heart as much as it is of the head. If you are ready to share what you have, then be ready to face up to what people may have to say about it - and if you are really ready to be a dispenser, then be ready to share and encourage that constructive critisism. This is something I have learned and love about some of the best dispensers I know.

Tear up the bar tab

What I have found the most rewarding about being a dispenser, is the one thing that the beer dispensers at a Rugby ground cannot do - a dispenser creates new dispensers. You see - when we begin to pour out what we have into others, we see it well up in them, and sooner or later like when a beer glass overflows people become so full of what we and pour into them, they cannot help but dispense it themselves. now that's exciting...

Your 2pence worth...

  • How do you choose to give away what you have?
  • What are the barriers that get in the way of you living the life of a dispenser?

*I felt compelled to share this thought after a talk at our church @stmaryslondon, by our senior pastor Barry Kissell. Barry spoke on how we can share the Holy Spirit because we each have him in us, and therefore we can be dispensers of the spirit to others. I think this is a reality for many Christians, but something that applies to all people, no matter what your faith (or absence of it).*

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[youtube=[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwD2F8DNhDQ]

This video was filmed as part of the wider work we are doing at Ogilvy for IBM's Future Focus programme, looking at how businesses can work smarter by utilizing advances in technology and communications.

Smart technology is a funny one, some of the simple things that we as the "young digerati" take for granted are the very systems and practices that will become the future of business communications. Talking with a friend who is far more clued up on the subject (@gemmapercy for more info), it dawned on me that so much of the tech that forms the discourse around "cloud" computing and "viruslisation" is not tales of future technology, but present technology. Facilities such as Google Docs, delicious and Amazon's S3 storage are already changing the way we work.

Far more of our everyday data is being stored in "the cloud" rather than on our hard disks, from our databases, contacts and bookmarks to our personal data such as photos and increasingly video. As Russel M Davies points out in his article on Amazon S3 in this June's issue of Wired UK - I too would rather trust Google with my contacts than my own ability to sit on my assortment of handheld media centres (the less fortunate of which glare at me every time I open my desk drawer). It is more or less a weekly occurrence that I get invited to a facebook group of one of my clumsier chums who has sat on / dropped / digested in drunken stupor their phone and now require me to send them my number. Which proves a number of things a) my friends are stupid, b) there are many people that I am very glad now have no ability to call me (not that they ever had reason to before hand) and c) that we may all be better of outsourcing our personal lives to the likes of Google or Amazon.

Russel M Jarvis in Wired UK - June Issue

I now await the cries of sacrilege from every Orwellian within ear shot, the words "big brother" and "nanny state" reverberating off the bloggosphere ring in our ears when we think of handing over the precious little scraps of data that we can truly can call our own anymore. But these solutions may well be the technologies that bring us back together rather than drive us apart. The decentralization that has taken place has sought to crowd us into buildings but talk less to one another. Maybe the future of sharing resources can truly foster the global village which has so long been heralded. The future of businesses that embrace these practices look healthier, wealthier and all together a more pleasant working experience. May be the "cloud" holds a silver lining yet...