Misleading myths

This was originally published on Stop HS2 on 13th October 2011.  Chris responded in the comments there, in a most surprising way.

In the early hours of this morning, Chris Howe, who runs the Yes to HS2 blogspot announced on Twitter, the publication of a document which he calls “Stop HS2 myths”.

I’ve glanced through it, and it is entirely typical of some of the other things he posts, where when Stop HS2 reference material published by HS2 Ltd, Chris calls them “myths”.

Take for instance, HS2 Ltd’s claim that 22% of passengers on HS2 will only travel because HS2 is built. This comes form the 2011 documentation from HS2 Ltd, which also says that only 6% of passengers will have shifted from air, and 7% from road.

Chris’s reaction to us quoting this is
“The whole idea behind HS2 is to persuade people to switch from carbon intensive forms of transport such planes and cars to less carbon intensive forms of transport which includes High-Speed trains.”

So 13% from other forms of transport, and 22% of entirely new journeys, leaving 67% of HS2 passengers transferring from conventional railways. But because Stop HS2 reference something HS2 Ltd themselves say, suddenly according to Chris it’s a myth.

Similarly he complains about our use last year of the term “vegetation free zone”: like he says this came from HS2 Ltd documentation, and it was only through the efforts of Stop HS2 and others, that HS2 Ltd now say there may be something other then bare earth.

Stop HS2 efforts are vital in holding to account not just Philip Hammond, but also HS2 Ltd themselves.

Pro Hs2 campaigners know we will be at the House of Commons for the HS2 debate: expect lots of their propoaganda to appear today.


Ugh URLs

Once upon a time, before the world wide web was woven, to find a file on the internet, you had to know in which directory it was to be found, and you had to log into the computer to be able to access it. This made life hard and complex, and the internet was a thing that geeks did. But that was twenty years ago (or there abouts), and then Tim Berners Lee posted and all sorts of things happened, leading inevitably to this blog.

(Some of that paragraph contains poetic license.)

The exact URL – or “uniform resource locator” – no longer matters in the way it once did: you no longer need to worry about how to create a link when writing forum posts. Applications like Twitter automatically sort out the href syntax to a url you’ve cut and pasted from somewhere else.

Which is not to say URL’s are completely irrelevant.

A recent tweet I saw contained the following address:


I nearly didn’t bother following the link: any URL ending in misdirect.page must surely lead to an error page, telling you of a broken link.

Except in this case, the link was not duff: the title of the article was “HS2 case is a misdirected priority, County leader tells protesters”, and it was well worth a read.  Especially as I’d been at the event mentioned in the article.

I suppose the point of this post is that if you have any kind of control over the URLs when writing a post, it’s worth just running the link through a mental filter to see whether it gives the wrong message.  But maybe I’m the only person who notices such things.

Stop HS2 at Downing Street

This was originally published on Stop HS2 on 12th October.

Stop HS2 campaigners delivered over 108,000 signatures to 10 Downing Street yesterday, before HS2 debate on Thursday.

Stop Hs2 campaigners outside 10 Downing Street

Campaigners Penny Gaines, Seb Berry, Rae Sloan, Keri Brennan, Lottie Jones and Joe Rukin

Joe gives box of petition sheets to Downing Street official

Joe Rukin handing over one box of petition signatures

MPs outside 10 Downing Street

MPs Andrea Leadson, Chris White, Dan Byles at Downing Street to hand over Stop HS2 petition

Why digital technologies are transformational

An article about

Form and function

When the form changes, so does the underlying business model, which of course changes the function as well.

Mail —> email

Books —> ebooks

DVD —> YouTube/Netflix

1040 —> Online taxes

Visa —> Paypal

Open outcry —> Electronic trading

Voice call centers —> forums and online chat

Direct mail —> permission marketing

In each case, the original players in the legacy industry decided that the new form could be bolted onto their existing business model. And in each case they were wrong. Speed and marginal cost and ubiquity and a dozen other elements of digitalness changed the interaction itself, and so the function changes too.

The question that gets asked about technology, the one that is almost always precisely the wrong question is, “How does this advance help our business?”

The correct question is, “how does this advance undermine our business model and require us/enable us to build a new one?”

There are projects that are possible with ebooks or Kickstarter or email that could never have worked in an analog universe. Most of the money made in the stock market today is via trading approaches that didn’t even exist thirty years ago.

When a change in form comes to your industry, the first thing to discover is how it will change the function.