The Lady is Not Returning: Margaret Thatcher (1925 – 2013)

April 8, 2013 in Activism, Afterhours, London Living, Personal, Pictures, Politics, Sexism, Slideshow

Margaret-Thatcher-Conserv-007

On April the 8th 2013, Margaret Thatcher’s spokesman Lord Bell announced that the former prime minister had died following a stroke. Reactions in both the public and private spheres ranged from the caterwauling lamentation of the death of ‘the greatest British peacetime prime minister‘ to shouts of joy and calls for a public holiday to celebrate, vowing never to sanitise her ‘corrosive legacy’.

With an anti-Thatcher rally marking my first venture into the world of politics (admittedly, I was in-utero at the time!) I’ve long had a fascination for the heated reactions our first, and so far only, female Prime Minister provoked – and continues to provoke to this day. In particular, the way in which Margaret Thatcher came to power as leader of the Conservative party at the height of the women’s movement, yet remained completely apart from feminist campaigns, passions and identity.

I should also probably admit that a small part of me died when I learned that, in 1997, Geri Halliwell (of girl-power band The Spice Girls fame) referred to Maggie as “the first Spice Girl, the pioneer of our ideology.”

So why exactly does ‘Iron Spice’ get such a hard press from the feminist movement?

True, in Margaret Thatcher we saw a woman who achieved something that no British woman had done before or since, and that no woman in the United States has ever achieved. Yet the truth is that being the first woman British Prime Minister does not automatically make you a feminist icon.

Indeed, Maggie herself was quick to distance herself from the sisterhood, remarking that:

 “I owe nothing to women’s lib. The feminists hate me, don’t they? And I don’t blame them. For I hate feminism. It is poison.”

For me, the mark of a ‘feminist icon’ is one who is equality-positive. She or he openly fights machismo and misogyny. Comparatively, on rape, domestic violence, childcare, benefits for single mothers, discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual inequality, Thatcher did nothing. On top of this, Maggie allowed a grand total of ONE woman to her cabinet, Baroness Young.

That said, I feel Margaret Thatcher is perhaps over-reviled in today’s Leftist press – she was no worse than many of the men before her, or since, or now. It disturbs me that she is singled out and ruined with special hatred, base insults and grotesque mockery while male public figures far more loathsome are treated more respectfully. It seems a major part of her political legacy has been used as an excuse to justify the misogynist backlash against female leadership.

In summary, today I lament the loss of someone who could have been an incredible advocate for the women’s movement, and the equality of women everywhere. Instead of reminiscing about a true heroine of our time, I am mourning the waste of a remarkable opportunity, and am left chewing over the bitter taste of a staunchly reactionary matriarch who cared little for equality of any sort and who had a contemptuous indifference to those who she should otherwise have been helping.

IOAI.com In Print – P-oint Magazine

March 28, 2013 in Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, London Living, Networking, Personal, Pictures, Uncategorized

IOAI.com in P-oint Magazine

IOAI.com in P-oint Magazine

 

Insightofanintern.com has officially made it into ‘the real world’, having had an article printed in P-oint Magazine.

International Day of Happiness

March 20, 2013 in Afterhours, International Day of Happiness, London Living, Personal, Pictures, Politics

Happiness-Hands1

I hope you’re smiling, because March the 20th is (the first) International Day of Happiness.

As far as ‘International Days’ go, today is a mere dribbling baby; established by the United Nations General Assembly on 28 June 2012, Assembly Resolution A/RES/66/281, which states:

The General Assembly, […] Conscious that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal, […] Recognizing also the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples, Decides to proclaim 20 March the International Day of Happiness, Invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe the International Day of Happiness in an appropriate manner, including through education and public awareness-raising activities […]

In keeping with the spirit of today, here’s a list of 25 things which ought to make you smile – or at least soften that grimace:

  1. The chances of you (as opposed to someone else) being born is about 1 in 40 million.
  2. On the day of his assassination, Martin Luther King Jr. had a pillow-fight in his motel room.
  3. If you say “my cocaine” you sound like Michael Caine saying his own name.
  4. Smiles really are contagious. Scientists in Sweden concluded that people had difficulty frowning when the looked at other subjects who were smiling.
  5. Every year, millions of trees grow thanks to squirrels forgetting where they buried their nuts.
  6. A pig’s orgasm lasts 30 minutes.
  7. Penguins only have one mate their entire life and “propose” by giving their mate a pebble.
  8. Otters hold hands when sleeping so they don’t drift away from each other.
  9. Wayne Allwine (the voice of Mickey Mouse) and Russi Taylor (the voice of Minnie Mouse) were married in real life.
  10.  For someone, somewhere in the world, today is the most amazing day of their life.
  11.  Sea horses mate for life, are completely faithful and travel together by holding on to each others tails.
  12. The kingdom of Bhutan use ‘gross national happiness’ as a key national indicator.
  13. A group of porcupines is called a prickle.
  14. Elephants are the only animals that cannot jump.
  15. We’ve all been here forever. Every bit of matter we see has been here since the beginning of time and it always will be.
  16. Further to number 12, watch THIS VIDEO
  17. Costa Rica is statistically the happiest nation on Earth.
  18. Worms communicate by snuggling.
  19.  2013 is the first year since 1987 that consists for four different digits.
  20. Stressed is ‘desserts’ spelled backwards.
  21. Charlie Chaplin once entered a competition and won third prize. The competition was a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.
  22. A duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and nobody knows why.
  23. A mere 20 minutes of exercise, three days each week will increase your happiness by 10 to 20 percent after six months.
  24.  Money does not buy happiness. After having your basic material needs met, additional money does not have any impact on your chemical levels of happiness.
  25. The most powerful way to increase your short-term feelings of happiness is to perform random acts of kindness to others, or to send a letter of gratitude to someone you care about. Five such acts in a week will increase your happiness for up to three months.

Know of any other interesting facts to make us smile? Please share them in the comments or drop me a message.

A Job of Many Hats – Interning for a Startup

February 13, 2013 in 10gen, Afterhours, Community Internship, Community Marketing, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, Introduction, London Living, MongoDB, Networking, Slideshow, Social Media, Technology

take-a-risk_1x

Deciding to pursue a position within a start-up can be a nerve-wracking choice. Before you accept an offer, examine the positives and negatives of startup employment. With these issues in mind, you can make a sound decision – oh, and be ready to spend a lot of your time explaining to relatives/friends/strangers just who exactly your company is, and what you do. Repeatedly.

No Job Description

Fond of having a structured role with set tasks and responsibilities? Then working for a start up probably isn’t for you.

If, like me, you are walking into an entirely new role, then chances are you will have the opportunity to carve your own position and influence the direction of your internship – you really do receive a great deal of autonomy. Great for those who flourish in a more haphazard environment, but not so good for those who look to organisation and structure to guide their working day.

Learn By Doing

Unlike larger companies, where  you may have to endure hours of official training, in the start-up world it’s ‘sink or swim’. I absolutely love that from the moment you walk in through the doors, you’re treated like an integral member of the team and are expected to roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty.

In a start-up, everyone must pull their weight for the company to succeed, and as an intern you will be no exception to this rule.

low-pay-packetLow or No Salary

Young companies are generally unable to offer the same kind of financial package that a large company can, and you’ll tend to work harder and get paid less while at a startup compared to your comparable role within a larger company. Of course, this isn’t always the case – many start ups offer a competitive internship wage, and many larger companies neglect to pay their interns at all.

Many Hats

It seems the ominous phrase “other duties as required” becomes the norm, and you may find yourself performing duties that are not even close to your expected responsibilities  – for example, I have just taken over the role of Office Manager after coming onboard as a Community & Marketing intern. It’s all hands on deck, and thus startups offer fantastic opportunities to wear multiple hats and really get to know what it’s like to run an organization.

Passionate People

There is a certain energy and determination present in the start-up environment unlike anywhere else I’ve worked. Startups are almost invariably made up of passionate, excited people who are working there because they truly want to be working there, and it’s something special to be a part of that.

Flexible Schedule

Regular office hours? What’re they? “Nine to five” is a fiction at most startups. This is really a ‘glass half full/empty’ situation, because although you may find yourself still sat in the office at 10pm, you are equally as likely to enjoy the prospect of a lie-in on days when you just need that bit extra. Holiday also works on a far less formal, more flexible basis.

Working for a start up also means you’ll probably have the opportunity to attend a plethora of events – there’s not many people to go around, so even as an intern you will be counted as a crucial part of the team.

Out Of Business Riskclosed-out-of-business

Time for a reality check; an overwhelming number of start-ups will not survive past the first year. Obviously this is a substantial risk, but one which can pay off far beyond what you might expect, but can also leave you updating your CV and trawling the internet for vacancies within a breathtakingly short time.

Wealth Of Experience but Less Specialisation

Though you may not be pulling in the big bucks yet, working at a start up is valuable in another way; your hands-on, multi-functional experience will be a real asset for your long-term professional growth.

However, one thing I’ve certainly found is that you may experience some frustration when it comes to honing specific skills – when you’re doing a billion and one different things, it’s difficult to become the marketing/sales/engineering/consulting/etc guru you expected.

Friends, not Colleagues

The nature of a startup means you will continually be meeting new people and building relationships – and you’ll grow to see many of your colleagues as friends.

Feeling Valued

It can be frustrating being a little fish in a big pond, and start up culture, generally, removes many of the hierarchical barriers experienced in larger companies. For example, when the CEO of 10gen came over from California, he ensured that he and I had an in-depth one-to-one; probably a very unlikely situation in larger companies.

I also have the chance to travel a lot more than I might otherwise – during my internship so far I have been lucky enough to take business trips to places such as Aarhus and even Miami. Being  part of a smaller team means playing a bigger role.

Little Perks 

The dedication seen at startups comes hand in hand with the need to curate an enjoyable environment, and an attempt to cultivate a healthy company culture (read more about that here). It’s the little things that make life worthwhile, and in 10gen those include jeans, popcorn, beer, and office juggling competitions.

Personal Pride

The exhilaration of being part of a successful startup produces pride and a sense of accomplishment that is extraordinary. You will never regret the long hours, hard work and smaller paycheque.

6th, 7th & 8th IOAI.com Articles Published by the Huffington Post

January 2, 2013 in 10gen, Activism, Huffington Post, London Living, Meetup.com

huffpost

Though a slightly delayed announcement, I’m happy to say that  IOAI.com’s ‘Top 5 London Apps‘, ‘Preparing for a Job Interview‘ and ‘Clicktivism: A Model for 21st Century Activism?’ articles have been published by the Huffington Post.

Clicktivism: A Model For 21st Century Activism?

November 28, 2012 in Activism, London Living, Personal, Politics, Slideshow, Social Media Marketing, Technology

A war is being fought. Its battlefields are the pages of social networking sites across the globe, and its soldiers are armed with placards and computer cursors. This is the battle of traditional activism versus clicktivism.

As a politics student who recently co-coordinated the launch of Peace Of Paper, an online community peace project, and who works within the field of online community management, this topic is one which continues to perturb me, often leading to my changing opinion throughout any discussion about its intrinsics.

Despite what you may think, the conflict between traditional activists opposing the online marketisation of social change and digital activists (often referred to derogatively as ‘slacktivists’) is not a particularly new one. Back in 1987, a husband and wife team sold their California-based software company for $13.8m, allowing the politically left-leaning founders to start an online political organisation called ‘MoveOn’. This site combined the principles of modern marketing with the technical skills of computer programming, and has been referred to as ‘the model for 21st century activism’.

Not everyone shares this optimistic view, however. In 2010, Micah White wrote “we’ve come to rely far too heavily on a particular form of internet organizing…we have become so dependent on digital gimmicks that our revolutionary potential is now constrained”.

In many ways this rings true; we have become obsessed with the digital marketing measurements of click-throughs, retweets and likes, assigning value only to that which we can quantitatively record. By doing this, we neglect a vital human element; that spark behind activist movements and revolution which ignites and inspires each individual to stand up, raise their voice and be heard.

Micah White goes on to argue that ‘clicktivism reinforces the fear of standing out from the crowd and taking a strong position. It discourages calling for drastic action. And as such, clicktivism will never breed social revolution. To think that it will is a fallacy. One that is dawning on us’.

Could this be right? In 2012, are we completely turning our backs on the trend of online petitions and ‘click causes’? If not, should we be?

Contrary to what I’ve written in the past, I would argue not. I’d like to speak out in defence of clicktivism; a bit of online activism for online activism, if you will.

Whilst it is certainly true that clicktivism often lacks the traditional gusto and media-friendly frenzy witnessed in ‘real life’ activism, such as protests and marches, it shouldn’t be consigned to the scrapheap of irrelevancy quite yet. In fact, in many ways it is doing a service for traditional activism by piquing the interest of those who might not otherwise have noticed a cause – clicktivism places the issues of today slap bang in your face(book) and makes them hard to ignore.

Critics of digital activism are often quick to loudly dismiss it as ineffective and inefficient, but often they are referencing only the ‘passive clicktivism’ tactics such as online petitions and Facebook status campaigns. They fall into the trap of overlooking the more proactive (though not necessarily positive or indeed completely successful) digital projects and organisations, a handful of which are outlined below.

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NaBloPoMo 5: In Defence of the Red Fox

November 6, 2012 in Afterhours, London Living, NaBloPoMo, Personal, Pictures, Slideshow

You have seven hundred words to justify the existence of your favourite person, place, or thing.
Failure to convince will result in it vanishing without a trace. Go!

Sly. Wiley. Trickery. Deceit. The European red fox could rightly launch a defamation claim against the human race for how it has been portrayed in the folklore and mythology of numerous human cultures.

Even today the word ‘vermin’ is bandied around when referring to the red fox, when in fact it is not, and never has been, categorised as ‘vermin’ by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA); the only body empowered to impose the term on a wild species. A widely misunderstood animal, I’d like to use my NaBloPoMo post today to speak up in defence of my favourite animal, and hopefully change a few minds.

Foxes are often reviled for exhibiting traits which we humans supposedly find unattractive; scavenging, aggressiveness, cunning, ruthlessness and loner tendencies. This has always confused me, and in my mind shows a stubborn determination to see only the bad – if we were to flip these assumptions on their axes and look to positively anthropomorphise vulpine characterisctics, we may see an entirely different creature…

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NaBloPoMo Entry 2: If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

November 2, 2012 in Afterhours, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, Introduction, London Living, NaBloPoMo, Networking, Personal, Slideshow

 

“What day is it?”
It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
A.A. Milne

 

A lot of my spare time today was spent thinking about what to choose as the answer to November 2nd’s NaBloPoMo blog promt; If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

During the last few years I have had the good fortune to travel to many new and exciting locations; from moving out of my safe little hometown of Aberystwyth to study at the University of Bath, landing a placement year in the Big Smoke of London and jetting off to the far corners of Europe for pleasure and for work. In the years before, I have explored parts of China, Australia, Russia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and even the old US of A.

Each had its very own magic – an unidentifiable yet wholly tangible undercurrent which was entirely different from one country to the next, even if they were geographical neighbours.

Yet, whilst every single place I have been to has ignited my curiosity in its own way, I realise I am one of those people who will be a perpetual traveller. There is too much to see out there to be sat in one place for very long, too much to learn to tie yourself down to one spot. Don’t get me wrong – I look forward to the day when I one day have a home of my own, but I know I will always have ‘itchy feet’ and will be hankering for the next adventure.

It’s because of this personality trait that I came to the conclusion of today’s entry; for me, the place where I would choose to live is in the moment.

It seems to me that living in the moment is the single most important thing you can do with your life. If you are going through each day focused on the past or worrying about the future, how much are you really living your life?

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NaBloPoMo Entry 1: Tell us your favourite quotation and why?

November 1, 2012 in Afterhours, Intern Guide, Introduction, London Living, NaBloPoMo, Networking, Personal, Technology

‘Strong animals know when your hearts are weak’

– Hushpuppy, Beasts Of The Southern Wild (2012)

 

Words have a profound effect upon me; I can be sat on a crowded subway train, catch a fleeting glimpse of a phrase on a station advert, and have goosepimples for the rest of the journey. They can ruin my day, or lift me up in a moment of need.

Thing is, I tend to get them wrong. My interpretations of such verbiage, particularly those which mean the most to me, are often later revealed to be misconstrued and misinterpreted; as was the case with my latest literary scavenge – you may agree with my interpretation, or take from it your own.

Taken from Benh Zeitlin’s beautiful debut feature ‘Beasts of the Souther Wild’, this ambiguous line is spoken by a six-year-old African-American girl named Hushpuppy (a stunningly committed performance from newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis, I might add) during apocalyptic events set at the time of Katrina – though fittingly reminiscent of recent weather crises, as well as the potential catastrophic effects of climate change in the future.

At an incredibly emotional point in the film, this utterance jerked me into a state of clarity; it spoke to me of the true strength of character required to admit vulnerability. That in order to be a ‘strong beast’ (interpreting this as inner strength) you must first learn to open yourself to the world around you.

Something which, I admit, I do not find comes easily to me. The importance of vulnerability is one which I’ve only recently began to discover. In the past, I have been quick to see vulnerability as a weakness; a state of exposure which opens one up to manipulation and hurt, and only for those with too little backbone themselves to remain stoical and secure.

Here’s the caveat: The practice of opening to vulnerability is not for wimps – quite the opposite, in fact. It requires inner strength, discernment and clear boundaries.

In fact, the strongest and happiest people I’ve ever met are those who are comfortable in their vulnerability, who leave themselves open to all emotions and experiences which life throws at them, and do not shrink in fear from them as I so often do.

The state and strength of vulnerability does not mean taking stupid risks; it involves strong boundaries and a take-no-prisoners attitude toward challenging situations. It involves cultivating compassion for others, and opening yourself to empathy. It involves giving help when it’s needed, and asking for it when you’re in need.

At some point, most of us are forced to reclaim our vulnerability; whether we want to or not. It seems to me, if you don’t choose to consciously reconnect with your vulnerability, it will eventually come around from behind and wreak far greater damage than it might have if you faced it head on and took control of your own emotions and the situation. But when you allow yourself to consciously enter the state of vulnerability, you find that at its heart is peace; a self-confidence and self respect that can quietly turn your life on its head.

I still have a long way to go, but I will always keep with me that ‘a strong beast knows when your heart is weak‘.

Taking on the NaBloPoMo Challenge

November 1, 2012 in Afterhours, Introduction, London Living, NaBloPoMo, Personal, Pictures, Slideshow, Technology

NaBloPoMo November 2012

 

IOAI.com will be taking part in NaBloPoMo – National Blog Posting Month, which is upon us today.

The (hopefully) daily posts will be somewhat of a deviation from the norm for IOAI.com, as they will be inspired by NaBloPoMo writing promts, including the likes of:

  • If you could change one thing about your life right now, what would it be?
  • If you had to get locked in some place (book store, amusement park, etc) overnight alone, where would you choose to be locked in?
  • Tell us about the worst trip you ever took.

Intern-oriented posts will continue to be published, and service as usual will resume come December. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the shake up, and come back for the daily updates and insights into a rather more personal side of my life.