March 13, 2009

Time to get connected for the freelance future

Posted in Ireland · 106 comments ·

The crucial thing to appreciate is that the recovery in Ireland will be freelance driven and not employee driven

In the past few weeks my email account has been deluged with messages from people asking me to be members of their “linked in” business network. “Linked in”[1] is a kind of Facebook for the perennially ambitious; My Space for over-achievers.

It is a network of contacts that you might have made in college, in different jobs, or more possibly it is a list of names and people you’ve come across as a result of just mooching around, trying to get by, stumbling from job to job as you grope your way to something called a “career”.

The core idea is that it supposedly plugs you into a network that can positively influence your next move. Doubtless there is something in this. If you need something done, or need to get advice from someone, is it better to have a group of people you know (or in my case vaguely know) to fall back on? It’s the Yellow Pages for unemployed accountants.

Casting aside the pathologically lonely and the eejits who scour the net terrorising everyone they have half-met in a previous life, the surge in Linked In tags is telling us that there is something else going on out there in cyberspace. People are clustering because they are scared. They are clustering because they’ve just been let go and they are trying to form their own networks to see whether their old contacts can help them out in this time of need.

Equally, and significantly, the Linked In surge might also tell us something positive about the recovery and might shed light on the nature of work in the future.

Over the years we’ve often heard the refrain, “It’s not what you know but who you know”. It has always been about who you know. And maybe more significantly, far from being a class issue, the contact network is ubiquitous.

Whether you are a working-class kid trying to get a trade or a trial for Everton or you are a middle-class kid trying to get a job at Bank of Ireland, whether you are a plumber or a barrister, your contact book is crucial. This is how the world works.

On the face of it, a network reinforces old rigidities whether they are class, trade or tribe-based. But, if you think about it another way, the links between people underpin the idea of six degrees of separation.

This is the idea that we are all related and that all you have to do is pick up the phone using your existing contacts and you will be able to find someone who knows almost everyone.

Why is all this important?

All the focus in the media at the moment is on macroeconomics but the recovery will come from microeconomics. When we pick up the paper or turn on the telly we are bombarded with macroeconomics. How much will the Government spend? How will the banks fare? Who is in charge? What tax rate should apply? All these questions are crucial but the real dynamism of the recovery will come from individuals and the way each one of us approaches the next few years.

The Linked In surge reflects a democratisation of networks. People are opening up their contact books to each other.

One of the quickest ways that we will get out of this recession is if we can match people together. For example, a few weeks ago this column highlighted an Argentinean initiative which matched old, recently unemployed workers with young emerging companies. This operated through a website and within months it was bringing people together, matching youthful exuberance with middle-aged experience. Something similar will work here.

But the crucial thing to appreciate is that the recovery in Ireland will be freelance driven, and not employee driven.

It is difficult to see a time, any time soon, where huge swathes of people will be employed on the same basis as they were in the past. The outlook is too uncertain. The future lies in small companies setting up where they see opportunities. Recovery will come from people creating their own businesses and working as freelancers do now, without pension benefits and being paid for their skills at a probably reduced rate.

In such an environment, hard as it is to appreciate now when money is tight, capital will not be the main constraint. The biggest impediment to recovery is the right people not finding the right opportunities. This is where sites like Linked In come in.

For Ireland, what is the point of having a well-educated workforce if no-one knows about anyone else? By putting people together, these networking sites will provide a huge resource in the next few years. In fact, this is where the internet will probably come into its own.

For many people under 35 all this is self-evident. They have been working this way for years. They move between jobs easily without too much concern. The older generation has yet to grasp this.

Therefore, the big mindset shift has to come from those over the age of 35. These people, the majority of the workforce, have been in permanent and pensionable jobs and they are the people who will be most affected by rising unemployment. When they lose their jobs they are lost, they don’t know where to turn. They are institutionalised.

Yet they have contacts and they know someone somewhere.

Even though it doesn’t seem so when they are on the streets for the first few weeks, they have years of experience which can be harnessed. They just have to be found and this is where Linked In and similar sites can play a role.

This recession will only be reversed by us. We are the private army of Irish people who get up every morning and go to work as New Age Freelancers. We are the recovery and the more connected we are the better.

[1] LinkedIN:

  1. VincentH

    Any ideas like this are good. But my only worry, that people get involved inside their own old system.

    • Colin_in_exile

      How’s about Guaranteed to get you that cushy number you feel you’re entitled to.

      • VincentH

        Exactly so, Colin.
        While reading the comment below, there seems to be a split 30/70. Many zealots for the idea, some totally against, and most do not think it can do any harm.
        In the past, way to many groups believed that what we good for them was de facto good for the State. Giving little credit to little things like mandates.

  2. I think all of us here have learned a lot on this site and it presents a challenge when we need it most .

  3. Response I received from Brian Cowen :

    Dear John,

    Over the last two weeks, people from all over the country have been submitting their questions for me through the new Fianna Fáil website. I received over a thousand questions on a vast number of topics. Given the overwhelming number you submitted, I’ve only been able to answer a selection of the most popular questions. I’d like to thank each of you for putting these questions to me.

    Most questions concerned the global economic crisis that faces Ireland. I want to share my answers with you so you can best understand how I and my Government intend to lead Ireland out of these difficult times.

    Watch my answers here:

    I answered questions about our banking system and the limits that the Government is going to place on bankers’ pay and bonuses. I listened and responded to your legitimate concerns about the pension levy we’ve been forced to impose for the good of the country’s finances. I hear the call for the country to pull together in difficult times and ask our political opponents to contribute their best ideas for the good of Ireland and its people. We have to work tirelessly – together.

    Take a few minutes to watch my answers to your questions:

    I want to lead Ireland out of this recession into a new type of economy – smarter, flexible and more diverse. I’ve got a plan for the next five years that will create new knowledge-based jobs and industries, intensify research and development and make our country the best possible place to start a new business.

    I’m optimistic about Ireland’s future. I believe in the ability of the Irish people to work hard and to show our inherent ingenuity to bring us out of this economic crisis. Things will not get better straight away, but over the coming months and years, they will. We need to prepare for and work towards recovery.

    I ask you to join me in standing up for Ireland’s future.

    Brian Cowen

    • McGoo

      So no attempt to explain why he, as minister for finance, made long-term spending commitments based on a temporary revenue source (the property boom)?

    • G

      Got that as well – double speak from the ‘Leader’ – this country becomes more Orwellian by the minute – cut backs ‘in our interest’, government ‘working for the people’, ‘tough decisions’ being made, the language is quite appalling………………will these people just GO!!!!!!!!!

  4. ‘No problem can be solved by the same consciousness that created it. We need to see the world anew.’ Albert Einstein

    It is astonishing how mainstream media constantly looks to the great and the good to solve the problems that the very same people created in the first place. We now all know they had no idea of what they were getting into and it is becoming clearer with every passing day they have no idea how to get out of it.
    The major networks and newspapers have built themselves up on the very same centralized thinking that they are reporting on and it is no surprise to see that their own economic status is under threat and has been for a very long time now.

    Without adequate leadership, this means that people, whether they like it or not, are going to be thrown back on to their own resources.

    The two major assets that anyone has are themselves and other people.

    It is a scary transition to make from being a corporate or government drone and all the security that was implied by that to a resourceful individual in a dynamic community facing present and unknown, unpredictable future challenges together.

    It is thanks to the likes of Reid Hoffman (founder of Linkedin) and other developers of social media that the instruments for reaching out and making contact already exist. If they did not, someone would have had to have come up with them in a hurry.

    Freelancing has existed up until now largely because its symbiotic relationship with monolithic endeavours. Freelancers supplied fleetness and flexibility that large organizations were not capable of matching as well as handling overspill of demand.

    In an all freelance market, which seems to be trending more and more, one’s own personal network will be the vital backbone of survival. Not corporate or government largesse.

    The people may be scared now but adaptation is the number one human skill. It is the governments and corporate leaders and their stone-age thinking who really ought to be worried.

    I have been freelance for twenty-seven years.

    • Philip

      Totally agree with the general thrust of your comment. Marvellous comment you have recalled from Albert Einstein. It should be put at the top of this site in flashing lights.

      I only have one concern about freelance – scalability. We cannot all be consultants/ designers/ VCs/Journalists you name it. You need organised labour (irrespective of skillset) to do the big stuff. Believe me, we need big stuff. Good Waterworks (in my opinion the only reason some many have extended life spans), Roads, Schools etc. Having said all that, we need a distribution of freelancers which is properly matched to the needs of this Island. The current distribution is completely wrong.

      I am not going to say we have universities producing the wrong caliber of people. Actually, I think it’s probably about right. You can only produce so many engineers/ doctors/ scientists etc per year. When you get into freelancing, you are selling life experience. Academia teaches you how to learn. Working teaching you how to work with others. Freelancing teaches you how to be free. If you are a qualified doctor (say), I see no reason why you might not be an expert in building sports complexes 10 years later. We need to be wary of the dangers of skillset pipelining that create silos between different parts of our society. LinkedIn has some possibilities in fixing that I feel.

      Specifically, I have a real problem with the enormous number of organisational holes we have in a lot of work I have seen over the years – that people find very difficult to see.

      1) Too few effective communicators – we gab and waffle, but never listen

      2) Absolutely p1$$ poor project management. All of the big projects in this country are designed by committee. A complete disaster. HSE is a committee run loonie asylum and so on. My experience of many projects I have had to dig out of the muck is down simply to poor communication and a lack any clear goals and objectives.

      I am not going to say we do not have enough of this or that skill. I think we have more than enough. Direction is a big problem.

      I would like to see people leaving their baggage at the door prior to coming to a meeting. Stop making assumption about the other because you are a rocket scientist, or a director of finance or whatever.

      To all budding freelancers, if you are a listener and can manage people effectively – get out there. And I do not care if you have a PhD in flower arranging or Nanophysics.

  5. Interesting Article. I agree 100% with Tomie here that the stone age thinking of governments and corporate leaders will leave them at a major dissadvantage as freelance and flexible individuals will be able to push forward and adopt to the new economic environment and will reap the rewards as a result.

    Maybe this whole linked in business will help remove some of the advantage that big corporate businesses have as a result of their contact base. Who knows but one thing is for certain, we are right in the middle of a radical shake both economically and socially and I say bring it on!!

  6. From what I can see, the housing market has imploded the Irish economy. We need to find a solution to this problem and create jobs building infrastructure. This has to start with autobahns up and down the country. A metro and possibly an underground train to the Britain. This would create a mass amount of employment opportunities in Ireland. We need to get the cash from the EU and stop acting like a second class citizen in the EU. Demand these investments. Werther we like it or not Ireland needs to build its population to double of what it is now.

  7. Lorcan

    Good article David.

    Web 2.0 is facilitating lots of new ways to work, and freelance seems to be the way to go.

    But, as people’s careers become transient rather than permanent, what societal effects will this have?

    Will the lack of the anchor that is a full-time job see the rise of a new generation of nomads? People who’s home is the WWW rather than a construction of bricks and mortar, and their community a chat room rather than a place on a map?

    I’m not saying this is a good or a bad thing, just that it is a new thing.

    • McGoo

      >People who’s home is the WWW rather than a construction of bricks and mortar, and their community a chat room rather than a place on a map?

      That’s a pretty good description of most people that I know aged less than 40. The Irish are way behind on this, probably because of broadband being slow/expensive/unavailable for so long, but the under-30′s are there!

      I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing either, but it’s not new.

  8. gadfly55

    Now you’re squawkin’, but we are all running down the reserves accumulated by hook or by crook. When you strip it down to essentials, the symbol analysts can’t do squat in the world of providing essential goods and services. Survivalists, multi-skilled, shrewd, isolated, autonomous, self-reliant, lean and mean, independent, and not owing favours or money to anyone or certainly any institution, like banks or the state, will withdraw from anarchic and depressed urban/suburban sprawls where everything needs money, and more of it, and more and more people operate in the black, dark cash side, out of official systems, scamming and evading responsibilities, taxes, duty, decency. Do not for a milli-second ever forget that cyber gaga doe not merit a breath, makes contribution to the tangible, living breathing corporeal, reproductive animal vitality and instincts that drive human beings every minute of every day. The high end, effete nerds and cybergeeks will extinguish themselves while the surging underclass population actually takes over the streets and the wreckage.

  9. gadfly55

    Cyber geeks inhabit a disembodied world, a phantasm far from the nastiness and the dirt, the entropy and accidents of protoplasm. Occasionally, it all becomes too much repression and they morph into demonic beserkers, unhinged, amok, for an instant exploding into nihilist rage. The urge for destruction in humanity has resurged endlessly, against other families, tribes, nations, races, ideologies, against the self ultimately, and it is not a manifestation of disembodied universal forces of Satan, but simply the condition of the human brain, in extremis. Better that we all go down fighting than simply accept annihilation. This current crisis challenges previous assumptions at the base of life-long pursuits of prosperity, stability and gratification, as well as social recognition and self-respect. The challenges to the personal identity, to its value system, to its comprehension of the good, the fair, the just and the true, are now being played out by millions, billions of people in the previously superiour and arrogant WESTERN system of macroeconomic control of society. As Communism has failed, so too has capitalism. Now can we get to the essential needs of humanity as one species in a planet suffering from its effects, and threatening catastrophe from exhaustion of resources and pollution of its air and water.

    • gquinn

      “As Communism has failed, so too has capitalism”

      capitalism has not failed. What has failed is Socialism with a hint of capitalism. The west today are not full capitalist society.

      The USA in the 19th century was a pure capitalist society where there was no income tax, creativity and inventions were high and middle class families could afford servants.

      Once you start regulating your society and going from capitalism to Socialism which is what has happened in the west then the cost of living and the cost of doing business increases.

      • Colin_in_exile

        100% correct quinn.

        We had a dithering taoiseach for 10 years who considered himself a socialist.

        We saw huge increases in Social Welfare over those years when an unelected priest seemed to be in control of the national finances.

        We’ve seen the one true Irish financial bright light which is ryanair routinely ignored and sidelined as much as possible on issues which directly impinge on it.

        We have ESB employees (other than senior management) in some of our power stations earning six figure salaries which their socialist union have kindly negotiated for them.

        We have the charade of Social Partnership where unelected socialists who claim they represent all workers have enjoyed huge influence over government policy, conveniently forgetting that the source of the wealth generated during the boom years was from non-unionised employees in foreign owned factories up and down the country.

        Its the People’s Banana Republic we’ve been living in.

  10. Malcolm McClure

    I was curious, but skeptical about social networks and joined Linked-in last year. I can see how it could be very valuable for young people seeking to advance in careers where teamwork is essential. I am not so sure that it is well designed for consultants and freelance workers, as it seems to offer the wrong end of the stick to people seeking solutions for specific problems.
    Instead of accessing people you might have known on another continent or in a past life, it would be far more useful if you could find a person living closeby who had specialist knowledge in the very narrow field about which you need help.
    So if you want to reach someone who knows about internet marketing in Brazil who speaks English, living in Ireland, you can find them with a quick search, if they have registered on a specialist site using those keywords.
    i remember a few years ago the BBC was looking to set up a database of people they could interview about specialist topics if the need arose.

    Perhaps an equivalent public site already exists. If not, there is scope for a start-up idea here.

    • Malcolm – LinkedIn is thick with consultants and recruiters and is extensively searchable. The USP is trust – the original intention was that members woudl only connect to others they trusted and related to. Hence it is sometimes possible to assess the values and personal authority of a person by looking at the sort of people they choose to connect with. Note too that LinkedIn has good search facilities to shortlist members with specific skills or experience.
      There are a variety of other networks useful to find particular skills in Ireland or elsewhere e.g. and

      • Malcolm McClure

        Blueangel: Thank you for the links. I found expertiseireland rather slow, ‘klunky’ and over-elaborate for general use. There are lots of non-academic, practical people, retirees and hobbyists who have skills and knowledge to offer in very narrow parts of the employment spectrum. They don’t need a list of degrees or publications to prove what they know, just an email exchange or phone call prior to interview that confirms relevant experience.

        Guru comes closer to a simple keyword search for expertise, but when I did a search for webdesigners in Ireland who knew Flex, PHP and Dreamweaver, I drew a blank. –Astonishing if we’re aiming for a smart economy.

        I’m inclined to agree with those who suspect that linked-in is just a more sophisticated perpetuation of cronyism. Trust that is just based on the old-pals-act is likely to end in tears.

  11. G


    I can’t accept it, will you please just look at what you are involved in, look at the party you are member of, even after all we have been through you are knocking on doors for a party that virtually destroyed the Irish State, and you still cling to the standard FF mantra that they are the best thing since slice pan.

    Graham Greene said ‘American naivity is a form of insanity’, I have to say the same quote equally applies to FF members.

    And this isn’t ‘Tim bashing’ for the sake of it, when you post things like “elect to remain trying to improve the performance of the most successful (most time in power) political part that this “Free State” has ever had.” , then you have to be challenged, this is the thinking that has all but ruined us.

    FF should be barred from office, the party disbanded, and a tribunal setup to see who did what and who did what.

    In the meantime, it would be a step in the right direction if you ceased making excuses and defending the indefensible.

    • gadfly55

      The current condition of the country in every respect is directly attributable to the culture of FF. Flaming FAILURE party is the most apt description of this excuse for a mob led by wide boys and gombeen cute whoors.

    • Tim

      G, my point is that there is so much WRONG with FF, not that it is “the best thing since sliced pan”. Changing it is the only option.

      Who can “barr” the party from office? No group that I am aware of;

      Who can “disband” the party? No group that I am aware of;

      Oh, please, Dear God, no more “Tribunals”!

      Since the “solutions” you posit are unrealistic, the party must be changed from within.

      By the way, does anyone, seriously, believe that the opposition personnel are not up to their necks in the cronyism/D4 stuff too? Sure, FG and Labour will put on a public show for you on tv, but as soon as the cameras and mics are turned off, the lads are all slapping eachother’s backs at the Dail Bar and in Buswell’s Hotel. I’ve seen it, and I bet you have too, G.

      The justifiable complaints that people have against FF concern problems that are now endemic in Irish politics and many other countries too. Even if you could disband FF (and you cannot), you would not have solved the problems of our rank political culture.

      • G

        @ Tim – “Even if you could disband FF (and you cannot), you would not have solved the problems of our rank political culture.”

        If the above could be achieved (and it can), it would go a long way to solving many things, not least our political culture.

        There are alternatives, including economic and political, staying in (and applauding speeches at the Ard Fheis) is hardly the radical change one expects.

        A party is built on its membership, and if you and others withdraw that and give up the fantasy notion of somehow ‘changing’ the party from within then things will change but FF has this denial aspect and a kind of blind adherence to some notion of Dev, Lemass and the Republican Party – sheer myth – it is dead and gone with O’Leary in the grave.

        Your efforts so far such as pleading with ministers to develop tertiary education seem to have fallen on deaf ears – 40,000 children in prefabricated buildings testify to that – and why have such pleas not been listened to, because these self-serving politicans who are not getting a €3000 INCREASE (according to the Irish Independent) know that no matter what people like you will stay in the party, make excuses for ‘economic treason’ and ‘talk’ about changing things.

        If you and others withdrew your support today it wouldn’t be necessary to disband FF as it would simply fall apart!

        To point across the political aisles (I am aware of the Dail pub sessions), and say ‘well, it is going on there too’, is not the point, put your house in order by leaving FF, which is something you can actually do and with like minded people go about creating a real alternative to the nepotism and cronyism of the so called ‘boom years’.

      • G

        @ Tim

        For just one proposed alternative to market or state capitalism see

        Pareconomics may not be perfect, but what system is? In terms of the environmental catastrophe that will befall us, we have an urgent duty to develop an alternative economic system that meets human needs but also works in harmony with the global ecological system. The change in one system will lead to changes in others i.e. political, social etc

        To be honest, you have a duty to inform yourself about the alternatives, but I don’t mind pointing you in one direction since you cried out.

        • Tim

          G, thanks for the link – I am still reading it. It tugs me in its direction, much of the time, but I tend to be wary of anarchists. I will, because of your recommendation, continue and read as much as I can.

      • Philip

        Ah come off it! We need a change. FG, Labour or whoever could not make a bigger mess of it if they tried. The only reason this country started to improve post CJH was courtesy of the rainbow coalition and as the ignorati in Ireland started to get fat and stupider, they opted for the spend and go for a bender party.

  12. In the past the internet for successful people was different and included ‘ clubs , sports, religion,academic unions ,telegramm machines and working order electric telephones etc .
    From their inception we as a nation have produced a fair crop of business leaders and now some of these are retiring ,dying,emigrating to warmer clime,slowing down ,and on the run.
    We need to fill these gaps because I do not believe we are replacing the voids left by these ‘shakers’ never mind increasing our share of what was originally there .It is in this context that this blog title is most welcome to enable ‘the lucky ones’ in the future to make a success and to bring our country forward to the next age .
    The success of the past was also based on the close Irish Community we had and the Trust we showed between us then .Sadly , now long lost .For the Internet to be successful the speed must be up to standard and the technology must match the best in the world.That is the Real Challenge .
    I remember Albert Reynolds in the Dail saying when he became Minister for Telecommunications that a new telephone would be in every home in the country and he held his word.Can someone in Gov do that again?

  13. wills

    @Tim and my old adversary malcolm, please check my replies to your postings when able,.. on page 3 on last article there by daivi.

  14. wills

    Hi David.
    Love the article, he says all lovey dovey like., apologies.
    I do agree too microeconomics been left in the shade by the older bigger brother macroeconomics and here is the clue. The macroeconomists control all using macroe to water down microe,. of course i’m discussing this in terms of te money/debt/slave ponzi system we are all submerged in, and been a realist this scammers system and its removal must be faced whether the more artistic of us like it or not.

  15. wills

    can i also add on the freelance future theme this…
    freelancing in a techno informational economic paradigm to flourish will require a system of exchange to which all benefit. Anyone left behind in anyway by any steps forward in economic evolution is doomed to failure in the long term. The only viable freelance future is one where all are participating in it on terms satisfying to all in equal measure. This can be achieved through wresting the control of credit out of private hands and back to functionality use available to all people on equal terms.

  16. Johnny Dunne

    “The crucial thing to appreciate is that the recovery in Ireland will be freelance driven and not employee driven”

    Here is an Irish owned start up developing a ‘linkedin’ for flexitimers available to work on a contract basis. It’s getting great traction in the current market with the amount of self employed / unemployed !

    Anyone with the skills and funds to develop the site into a fully fledged ‘social network’, I’m sure the founder Dervla Cunningham would like to hear from them –

    The Irish governemnt spent €1 billion on state backed R&D last year, we’ll spend €20 billion on social welfare this year. a few hundred grand would develop this site into a platform for job creation ?

    • Johnny I would love to know how this €1 billion was spent , and the €20 billion a lot of that will be given to The Germans !! ( Mr Lidl and Mr Aldi )

      • Tim

        BrendanW, I agree. The drain-off to foreign retailers of so much taxpayers’ money is a very real problem. This is why I think we should be supporting the ideas of Deco, colin_in_exile, et al, who keep reminding us that we must try to reduce retail prices in Irish-owned companies by FIRST tackling the cartels on price-fixing.

  17. Philip

    Sorry, I have to go back on what I said above. Frelancing is a real bad basis for future development.

    There’s a smell of Charles Handy in all of this – Empty Raincoat etc. We all shall start to maintain our portfolios on LinkedIn and engage in self actualising activity for the betterment of society (after we have first pocketed our fee of course) and live in everlasting smugness of our professional success – guaranteed by an never end stream of ongoing certification – to hide your actual incompetence. – I wonder who’ll clean the house, cook the meals, do the school run, police the streets etc. Did someone mention robots??? Sorry, not really up to speed yet, so we must not kill off those bothersome unskilled types just yet…

    Wake up everyone. We are not going to change society that easily. Freelancing is but for 1 or 2 % of us. Anyone seen the admin paperwork behind being a sole trader, never mind a small company!!

    There is a reason for admin. It’s called law and order, taxes and nationhood.

    LinkedIn is a nice idea. Cute really. But it’s for semi-professional freelancers. You can get squeezed out and sidelined in this medium as anywhere else. It really changes nothing.

    I say again…focus on your immediate community and help out where you can.

  18. Rebuilding Ireland Inc group on Linkedin

    We have set up a group on LinkedIn
    If you are interested then I’d appreciate it if you’d join the group, (LinkedIn is free to join ) promote it and make great suggestions!

    To date we have over 200 business leaders signed up and we are holding our first meeting in the City West Hotel in Dublin on Tuesday 24th March at 10.30pm. All are welcome.

    • @ amcdonne , welcome to David’s at times quite active post on this world wide web .
      Linkedin ,twitter,facebook, messenger, skype are all networking tools of this Knowledge economy Ireland Inc would so like to be on right now. Reality is some what different what you have with these sites and their developing blog groups is just a modern version of parish councils , we have been forming groups since our creation on this planet .What happens when you get people like Tim involved is professional committee people who in actuality neither develop or create only administer paper trails.
      In order to develop we need physical inter action while leaving the political correctness out side the room and we have to learn to say what we are thinking and not what we think others want to hear.
      The Old school grey hair net work is what we have to break away from , just look what happened with the medical cards. While today Tims buddy Biffo caps the Bankers salary to half a million why ?, because he can then justify his own over valued pay packet while Paddy the Pig here takes home and survives on thirty grand on the same Island , this is what has us where we are right now.
      Though I wish you well at City West and please tell Rosemary I said hello.

      • Tim

        BrendanW, nicely done: in you blatant attempts to insult ME, you have managed to insult amcdonne:
        Alex McDonnell has visited us and posted here before – he is not new.

        Don’t you have any other drum to bang? Perhaps I should buy you another?

        Ooops, sorry, I can’t because my paycheque got hit for €151 on Thursday to bail out the banks with levies on workers.


      • Hi Brendan,
        I take it you haven’t read Gary Hamels book.
        Its good that you are using such a widely read medium to display your ignorance, mission accomplished.

        I’d be happy to put my record in getting things done and delivering results up against yours any day.
        Why don’t you post your schievements on Linkedin for us all to view?

        • Tim

          Alex, hello again. BrendanW exudes bile sometimes – don’t take the bait. He is not all bad, actually, and has a good heart. I have a sneaky suspicion that he enjoys “rising” people for the entertainment value when he is bored at home and not in Malaga, “livin’ it up”.

          His posts, though often somewhat “caustic”, can be spot-on at times.

          I value the “dissident voice” in any room – it is always the one that does one of two things:
          1) Causes me to re-think my position, and change it for the better, or:

          2) Causes me to re-think my position and re-affirm it.

          Either way, the dissident voice has been useful.

        • amcdonne , no I have not read any of Gary Hamels books , he has more than one out while I also have not read James Joyce but this does not mean I’m ignorant of the social economic structure of Irelands society today.
          I have not asked to see your record on getting a few things done as we have all at some time delivered a result I do not need to post my achievements onto Linkedin when I was asked to comment on it some five years ago , so why I should do it for your ego toady , maybe I am ignorant.
          @ Tim , why do you insists on speaking on behalf of others here , they have free will and can make their own judgments, I don’t ‘live it up’ in Malaga my Spanish Girlfriend teaches philosophy there and I don’t drink haven’t for two years now , while you may with plagiarism write about my bile, you would not function without the same.
          Everything has to be Questioned now and Answers must be given

          • Tim

            BrendanW, only with you; because you invite me.

            Either you leave me alone, meet and have the fisticuffs thing or the get-your-dick-out-and-measure-thing; or we continue on this stupid rubbish, whereby you denigrate every post I make that you see (which is not alot, really – just annoying that you seem to “pop-up” every now and then).

            What I am UNWILLING to do, is to remain here, waiting for you to “pounce” on me, or on anyone else, with your bile.

            You have made worthwhile posts in the past, BrendanW. Why not be that contributor, if you can choose who to be?

            Would you like to be mature about this, or immature? I think I have stated that I am willing to take you on at either level ………


  19. wills – i don’t understand your ideas at all

  20. paddythepig

    Maybe others have found LinkedIn to be useful.

    But LinkedIn, in my experience, is a place where desperate people falsely market themselves, and often offer ‘references’ for each other. In some cases, it’s quite laughable. The equivalent of Biffo heaping praise on the great Bertie, and vice versa.

    It’s the ultimate expression of ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’.

    Cronyism and gombeenism are alive and well and thriving on LinkedIn.


    • Hi Pig,
      Hurler and ditch come to mind, Why don’t you post your “credentials” on Linkedin so we can see what your contributions to society have been?

      • paddythepig

        Hi Amcdonne,

        The idea that people need to post up their “credentials” on an online website is just silly. But if it floats your boat, go for it.

        Many excellent people just get on with their lives, and don’t feel the need to consistently – and in many cases rather sadly – market themselves – which is the predominant behaviour I’ve observed with LinkedIn. Such people too busy working hard, quietly helping their families and friends.

        The best people I know avoid the likes of LinkedIn like the plague. In my experience, it’s more “garbage economy” than “smart economy”.


  21. sirganya

    I started a site

    to address the need for a dedicated Irish site to foster connections. It’s only been going a few days but is already attracting users. Hopefully it can self-organise into a valuable resource to connect the millions of people of Irish descent with the homeland. Please sign up. Perhaps somebody would like to start a David McWilliams group? Offer any suggestions you think would make it a more valuable resource and we’ll implement it.

    • Well Done Greg you have planted the seed , now with time your tree should grow.
      Next time I’m over in Astoria NY , I’ll bring a few more Paddies to meet you for a coffee we can do business I’m sure.

    • Tim

      sirganya, I know that justinf is very interested in this. I hope he sees your post.

  22. David McWilliams,

    Thank you very much for another good piece of thinking. It’s simplicity belies its complexity.

    I think you’ve raised a difficult issue. Most Irish working people are employees. They’ve been brought up to think in terms of getting a job from an employer and staying at work for that employer for as long as possible. (I exaggerate of course.)

    I notice that so far hardly anyone (with the one significant exception) has engaged with your line of thinking. A quick dismissal of your main point, or even a quick agreeing with it, seems to satisfy most people on here so far. Given the notion that people on here are at the cutting edge of Irish public thinking, I think David your latest article will have the effect of encouraging the few who are already doing it.

    My next door neighbour has no job now. Where is he to find work? How is he to earn his living? He’s entitled to about 204euros per week from the state. He better find employment or his mental health will become screwed up.

    Frankly, I don’t think there is any prospect of him getting a conventional job in the next few years. He may do all the right things: update the CV, register with all relevant agencies, network like mad… He’ll still find no ‘job’, in my opinion.

    Almost everyone who loses their job will be out of a job for years to come. I really believe we ain’t seen anything yet.

    It might seem as if he might as well emigrate to where ever he can find a job. But he can’t. That’s not an option (for reasons I’m not at liberty to go into and may not fully understand. He’s linked in to Ireland.)

    I feel like stopping and saying that, unless we agree about all this, there is no point in my going on with what I’m convinced can be done.

    So that’s what I’ll do. I’ll continue my argument on another comment, and, if others choose to follow me there, so be it.

    • Tim

      Paul, I am not familiar with “linkedin” – sure, I know what it is, but I have never experienced it at work – I know you are familiar and you are using it.

      Please, post confidently, especially if you believe that DMcW’s idea is not receiving the attention/support that it deserves. This is why you are needed here – to offer the expertise that you have in such areas where others among us do not; where you are positive about such things, while others are negative. We need to learn your view. If you believe that this idea is a good one, you MUST, for all our sakes, teach us WHY.

      Philip, whose posts I have learned to trust, “flip-flopped” on this one and that confused me.

      If you desert, what can I learn about DMcW’s idea?

  23. Let’s call the person out of work, Paul. He’s an archetype. Characteristic of all the thousands, from Waterford Crystal, Dell et al.

    Is there any hope for Paul?

    In the last few days, I’ve offered him several suggestions of businesses he might set up. it turns out he has at least 2 big ideas, that are so big he’s scared to tell anyone about them. He’s afraid people will steal his idea.

    Paul known nothing about non-disclosure agreements. He was taken aback when I took one out and signed it for him, so that I could hear one of his business ideas. He’s an innocent abroad when it comes to doing business on his own behalf. He’s never been a sole trader, or a limited company. He’s been loyal, hard-working and mainly employed by one company for years in Ireland. In the last year he’s had three jobs and they have all folded. He’s picked himself up and carried on looking for a new job. He hasn’t got depressed.

    This morning I saw him give a 30 second presentation to a BNI (business networking international) meeting. He’s good. Very good for someone’s who’s never presented to a BNI group of about 45. He represented someone else’s business. You’d be lucky to have him working for you. But, right now, you can’t afford to employ him as a permanent overhead. Employ too many people and you kill your business.

    Paul could set up several businesses. provided he does it intelligently. If he goes with businesses that have low entry costs, almost no overheads, he doesn’t need a lot of turnover to get going. Of course, he’ll get no support from banks. Would you back an unproven entrepreneur?

    I’ve tried to explain to him that I do almost all my work for free. I charge for very little of my time. The little I charge for gives me a good enough living, and I’m on the verge of making a lot of money. Paul will need to do lots of work for free. He has skills people could make use of, but they are strapped for cash, so he should work without expecting any pay.

    He’ll get paid. He’ll set up a world made up of people who owe him favours. He’s good so people will want more of him. Eventually businesses will get cash flow and will want to pay him. He can always walk away for clients with whom he does not enjoy working.

    The key thing is for Paul to build up a reputation for having wonderful skills that others value. Above all, Paul needs to be very good at conversation. People buy conversation. They do business with people whom they enjoy talking with. Of course, they need the carpenter to be skilled and able to do carpentry. But they want a person they can introduce to their family, let loose in their home, someone they can trust to be interesting.

    How much do I have to write to persuade you all that the art of conversation is the most important business skill. We take technical skills foregranted. If they are poor, you won’t be asked back to hammer in another nail.

    Paul’s future is bright. He’s got the advantage that so many people are talking and behaving their own businesses down. The more people sound down, the lower they are, and the easier it is for others to get on with interesting conversation and making a bit of money.

    I bet some of you lurkers could make this case better than me. I’ll bet my life savings that there are loads of businesses out there surviving because they can do interesting talk with customers. Why will I not go back to two hotels in which I did business yesterday? Because no one spoke to me properly. Great facilities. Lousy chat. Forget it, Paul can buy his drinks elsewhere.

    Of course I’d love to know whether I make sense to you. But you won’t tell me. You’re Irish. You hoard your impressions. For reasons I won’t bother to try to understand, many of you value your identity so much you won’t all share it, even on here.

    You all believe in traceability of the food you eat, but only a few of the writers on here believe in the full traceability of your ideas. I am watching and compiling a list of people whom I could find in the telephone book, and invite for a pint. If you advance a view on line here, please make it possible for others to check whether you are for real. We live in a world where it is possible to find each other. There is little point of remaining an isolated voice and hoping to change the world, I suggest.

    I’ve decided to write for the lurkers, the readers who take stuff in and go talk to others about what they’ve read. Introverts matter. every person who reads but doesn’t comment has just as many votes as I have.

    I’ve bottled all this up, and it’ll be good to get it all out:

    (1) I’ve said that I read every comment. Until now, that’s been my rule. In future, I’ll read nothing unless it has paragraphs in it, and is written for a reader. You may have great ideas, but please respect your readers. No matter how much I disagree with your point, I’ll consider it carefully, provided you take the care of communicating.

    (2) What’s on in Tullamore on 15 March? Why wasn’t I invite? Joking apart, don’t we need a master record of up-coming events?
    Please Webmaster.

    (3) Would those of you who haven’t got Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc to work for you, admit it. Rather than adopt postures, and assert positions, just say you don’t get it. Because, even if you don’t know it, there are millions using these tools to their private advantage and collective purpose.

    There are many who still stick to fountain pens (I use one) and don’t waste their breath criticising stuff they’d be embarrassed to read in a few years. Any old fool can express criticism of a tool they have no skill for. It’s much more interesting to learn, experiment and make the tool serve your purpose.

    (4) The only reason I’m not shutting the Facebook Group down is that I wasn’t ever serious about closing it. I wanted to see if anyone cared. Two people said they wanted it to carry on.

    But, what’s a Facebook Group: it’s not an alternative forum to here. It’s like a badge, something you can put on easily. A simply statement of association. But if you wanted to be a member you’d have to present an identity. If you go look at the members, they are all real people, with a vote each – though there’s one living in Antigua, where I intend to visit him.

    A freelance world in which people build up credentials by doing work for which they don’t charge. Come in from the shadows and say what you think of this. Even if you disagree with me, I’ll cally on living this way. I’ve made it work, and my main business this evening has been giving you a glimpse of the kind of thinking that works in this world.

    Final point:

    Some of you persist in arguing Tim should leave FF. If you attended more to how to live your own life, I suggest you’d be a more satisfied and satisfying person.

    This forum still lacks anyone from FG. Maybe it’s the forum that could change to make it worthwhile for such a person to come out with their views. FG are, after all, the best hope we have of an alternative government. Unless we go for the revolutionary alternative.

    • Philip

      Paul, Your “need” for identity over the idea mystifies me completely. I have no idea who you are even with your full name. Your references reveal nothing of significance. I’ll judge you (if I am ever lucky enough to have your acquaintance) by your actions. The objective here for me is to keep listening and watching. Stop forming impressions prematurely.

      Also, I believe ideas are best aired in an environment of near anonymity so as not to be influenced by so called “Halo effects”/ “Bandwagoning”. I like the cut and thrust on this site. You can take the opposite view for the hell of it. You can take multiple identities for & against – just to flesh things out.

      As for LinkedIn – it’s merely a self updating contact card system. Let’s not make it out to be anything more than that. I have many such address contact systems collected over the years. A bit of this and and bit of that. So what. Some are more useful than others.

      Do I geddit? All this freelance stuff and LinkedIn etc. Probably not to be honest. I have yet to see an example of anything arising uniquely out of LinkedIn/Freelancing combination that is not really a part of everyday life for the last umpteen decades. Maybe someone could elucidate.

    • Malcolm McClure

      Paul said “How much do I have to write to persuade you all that the art of conversation is the most important business skill.” This is very true. Samuel Johnson said “The happiest conversation is that of which nothing is distinctly remembered, but a general effect of pleasing impression.” but “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

      On a more mundane level, I have often observed the truth in the saying: “B*lls**t baffles brains.”

  24. Tim,

    Greetings on a wet night in Glanmire. David McWilliams was using LinkedIn to make a point about how people connect these days.

    He stuck with the LinkedIn example all through, rather than generalise about Facebook, Twitter and all the other social networking tools.

    I know people who are using Twitter to make business happen. And there are those for whom the format of Twitter is a turn off.

    Everyone of these tools has a format, much as video and DVD had formats, and you can take take good photos on mobile phones, compacts and digital SLR.

    The great this is that there is a tool for many types. They are all so easy to use, when you’ve had it explained to you, the software gets more and more user friendly. At 3.5 years, I think my daughter is a bit young to have her own Facebook page, but children now grow up in a connected world.

    I used to write political propaganda, used to sort-of broadcast it, without bothering much about getting into dialogue with those who were not already converted.

    This forum still seems stuck to me. Hard to nudge. Not yet at a tipping point. But it is moving in the right direction. I don’t believe all those anonymous people are potential whistle-blowers. Few seem to have any inside information on what’s going on in the corridors of power.

    It’s not true that you will suffer if you come out with your ideas in public. You might. You might not. If you have suffered in the past, it does not mean you will in future.

    There are only 4 outed so far, right? Six to go, and everyone colluding with that cover-up (forgive me, of course, I exaggerate).

    If someone has a case to make, that their identity needs to be disguised for a particular reason, let’s hear that reason, please.

    Of course, identity is not my main point, but I don’t want to live in a country where people are afraid to speak their mind.

    Short of listing all the ways people could explore the value of social media, thereby dis-empowering people from researching this for themselves,
    convening a familiarisation event for which I don’t want to be trainer

    I see no alternative to people getting a clued up person to help them out. An excellent opportunity for a young person to develop coaching skills, and an adult to learn due humility and learningfulness.

    • Tim

      Paul, thanks. I wonder why “authentic identity verification” is so important to you?

      Perhaps, it is because honesty and “authenticity” constitute an important “modus operandi” in your own life, ergo, you would like to see it reciprocated?

      Otherwise, why should it matter WHO these wonderful people are who contribute so many worthy ideas to the discussion on this site?

      Perhaps they are thinking individuals who want to help everyone, in true altruistic fashion, but do not wish to expose themselves to “real-world” ire – the like, of which I have experienced?
      I am accustomed to a certain amount of ad-hominem attacks – not everyone is.

      Most people try to, just, “live their lives” and avoid attack from external sources. That would be nice; but, as I have said before, anyone who sticks their head above the parapet in Ireland, gets shot down. There is something in the Irish psychy, I think, that desires to crush confidence. Perhaps, it is part of the “post-colonial-popular-consciousness” to “keep the head down”, as it were, and you only learn to the differ when you have lived abroad for some time. This is a strange and wonderful place, this “Ireland”.

  25. Nice summary Paul.
    More and more mid-career people who are better than average are going freelance or becoming independent consultants. The field will become more competitive as Ireland catches up with UK/US in this area. Operating without the support of a corporation and having to be capable enough to win business with adequate frequency concentrates the mind on customer service wonderfully well.
    A few people are dismissive of networks or of doing unbillable work. I find many such people either introverted or narcissistic. LinkedIn has its place in an armoury of marketing and resource identification tools. A broad and deep understanding of the prevailing issues which affect different businesses is more importatn

  26. [...] So that’s what I’ll do. I’ll continue my argument on another comment, and, if others choose to follow me there, so be it. Reply to this comment [...]

  27. jim

    Paul Krugman I feel may have had his recent observations on saving’s taken out of context…It was generally reported that he said the reason for some of the present economic mess was due to a glut of savings and because of the fractional reserve ratio of credit to savings,it meant that roughly for every (lets say dollar)1$ that was saved, 9$ was availeable for investment. Krugman reckoned that there was’nt enough viable or worthwhile investment projects availeable so it was ineviteable that some less than worthy investments would be made,fair point I would have thought if totally true….The truth is Krugman’s remarks were pointed more towards the Chinese. Why?? Im glad you asked (talking to myself again,old age)…..Well its generally accepted that the Chinese put a huge manufacturing army to work (low pay) and as a result of their trading ,they built up a huge war chest ,financially speaking.They squandered some of it with dodgy equity purchases,but on the whole managed to accumulate US bonds ,currency etc……..The US is now going cap in hand to them, the Chinese delegations have arrived in Australia buying up shares in mining Co’s etc.other delegations are travelling around the globe money in hand and so it goes…..So back to Krugman,and I think what he was saying was that the Chinese themselves had not invested enough of their earnings in China itself, or to be more accurate ,the large manufacturing army did not share the benifits of their labour,to the extent that they should have.Fair point again. Some of Krugman’s detractors have suggested that he was motivated by the trade imbalance viz a vee US/China , self promotion etc, but that, I think does an injustice to his underlying arguments…From the reports I have read it appears that the Chinese war chest is being targeted away from China and most of the now dispanding manufacturing army are returning to a level of poverty back in the countryside from whence they came with little if anything to show for their efforts,Patriotic work slaves ,misguided fools,sheep, are terms that are being bandied about, I think they were just manipulated through fear,hope,promises,etc.. when they were called for patriotic duty by the Party. There are some but not all parallells to be drawn between what happened in China and what happened in Ireland.The truth as I see it was,that Ireland had generated a good momentum in manufacturing and export growth through the 90′s and National wealth had found its way into the Banks ,who were making record profits etc.Workers in contrast to China were experiencing an improved standard of living,,,,,but and its a big but,our own Party and lets call it D4 for want of a better description decided to accumulate its own war chest,which it did very successfully,and like China it too made some dodgy investments,D4′s losses are being cushioned somewhat by misguided taxpayers ,but again I think youll find that a good chunk of the war chest remains intact , showing a nice net gain to the Party.The taxpayers can whistle in the wind if it thinks it can access the war chest in any meaningful way ,and as for the workers they can return from whence they came with little if anything (excepy bills) to show for their recent efforts,Sorry its one step forward ,,two steps back. for the majority.Chalk it down to experience, better luck next time….If its any consolation ,its hard to beat the D4′s at their own game especially when they make up the rules, and all the officials are pulling for them. :-((((((

  28. Tim

    Folks, apologies to the rest of you here for my metaphor, aginst brendanW, but I just could not resist.

  29. JJ Tatten


    With all due respect, I think this particular idea is – at best – a weak one and, at worst, a re-hashing of the crippling cute-hoorism that has brought Ireland Inc to its knees. Your article appears to be utterly dismissive of the need for mass organised labour. And as for your Argentinian example – check out the link below for an example of the lengths the average unemployed Argentinian will go to to improve his lot.

    Emigration is no longer an option for Ireland and civil unrest is a very real danger. Lame-duck Linked-in ideas are as much use as a one-legged man in an arse-kicking contest – and the penny is going to drop with Joe Public pretty soon. Besides the internet is feck-all use if you can’t pay the lecky bill. Come down off that US hob-knobbing cloud and get back to the substance of previous articles

  30. Original-Ed

    I think that JJ Tatten has a point – looking through the Linkedin site, it’s all about people already employed in structured companies. I did some searches and there wasn’t anything particularly impressive about the profiles that came up – simply vanity in most cases. The idea of freelance working is okay in the soft (as in none hardware ) sector of the economy , but is of little use where the production of real products is necessary. I tried the idea way back during the last recession and the wastage far outweighed the savings in overheads. I ran into somebody back then who was doing a masters on the very subject and I could only agree that such a structure had so many attendant problems for society that it was a none runner. In the software area, the freelance lifestyle it’s attractive and works, but it’s only for a few – I searched the site for programmers in a specific area and all are fulltime employed – no use for freelance work. As someone above mentioned – only consultants can be freelance and they’re relatively few in numbers.

    • Original-Ed you need to look closer at LinkedIn – you are missing the point.
      On networks and the product-based part of the economy you are equally mistaken. Forget about factories and distribution. The core of any product or service business is design and marketing. All else is mostly commodified activity best bought based on price. Networks like allow product designs to be confidentially offered to capable contract manufacturers all over the world who will quote for, tool for, make, then package and dropship goods to point to sale. does the same for professional services. LinkedIn does the same for high-calibre people. This has been the case for five years.
      Open your eyes, adopt a positive perspective.

      As for consultants and freelancers you are wrong again. This part of the labour force is fastest-growing (ignoring the recently redundant) as capable people increasingly reject the notion of being treated as disposible assets by organisations and decide to manage their brands themselves.

      • Original-Ed

        blueangle, It all looks so easy , but not everybody can be a designer or marketing guru. The bulk of our people will still need jobs if there’s to be an economy of any size and nothing can replace production for really large scale employment. I operate a small company that fits your model – design and marketing in-house with outsourced manufacturing . It works, as it permit’s a small company to become a world class player very fast, but it has a lot of downsides for a country when it comes to overall employment and if it were to become the norm, the resultant islands of prosperity would present a major problem for society.

  31. JJ Tatten I think the essential points behind David’s article are that:
    1. there is no economic salvation – macro or micro – coming from Government, MNC’s, organised labour, the professional institutions, enterprise agencies, the Universities, indigenous companies or any other institution.
    2. innovation usually originates from communication between people or orgs who do not normally converse. If LinkedIn helps diverse people understand each other and see one another’s relevance to themselves then it helps.
    3. the surest way to survive in a world where nobody’s employment is safe anymore is to take charge of ones own destiny. Find people with bankable business ideas and provide backing. Or vice versa. Work out who is likely to be interested in your skills – if you have any and target them using LinkedIn

    You are quick to denigrate personal networking and personal initiative. I don’t see your civil unrest options as being effective ways to generate new wealth. Do you in fact have any constructive ideas of your own?

    • Malcolm McClure

      Blueangel said: ” innovation usually originates from communication between people or orgs who do not normally converse.” Very true.
      Interdisciplinary collaboration is initially very difficult but can be very productive and rewarding. The key to success is mutual tolerance of interloper ideas coming from the other side.

    • Philip

      Actually, I disagree that ” innovation usually originates from communication between people or orgs who do not normally converse.” It originates from the need and single minded ambition to solve a problem. If you want to get a flavour of what innovation is really all about and the disruptive qualities of the achievments, have a look at or

      Collaborative networks are the equivalent of design by committee. very very difficult to manage with an extraordinarily high requirement to understand teams and the types of individuals to make a collaboration work. For your education in this matter, have a look at

      Innovation is HARD work. Intellectually demanding. Requires one to be at the top of ones area of speciality. Single minded in its aims.

      Freelancing only suits some modes of operation it is not the whole picture.

      Security of tenure in work guarantees a stable society in the long run – I have yet to see that disproven. You must get people (the average joe blogs) working and feeling secure about their future. My feeling is that people should never suffer the disruptive nature of being out of work. far better to ensure businesses are never allowed to employ people in large traunches without demonstrating how it can flex hours/ work days up and down with loosing skillsets and keep communities stable. (as they do in Germany).

      LinkedIn one of the many salesman’s prospect management tools. Salesmen are nomadic by nature – and judging by the guff I detect from the over the top supporters of such tools, you are salesmen by nature – a feature of freelancing. But many of us do not possess those talents.

      • Malcolm McClure

        Philip: I had a look at your links and was intrigued enough by the MYT engine to try to figure out how it might work from the patent listting. Like the Dragon almost said, ‘I wish he’d consulted a good engineer 10 years ago and he’d have saved his investors a lot of anguish.’ Written up in the anti-gravity magazine, it reminded me of the perpetual motion machine that some bloke was touting last year.
        I have the highest respect for innovators in mechanical engineering but advances are not made these days by back-yard beardies but by well-qualified teams of people that include those who understand thermodynamics, materials, dynamic equations, computer graphics, etc well enough to simulate the behaviour of such a device without going to the expense of actually building one.
        I fully agree with your comment about security of tenure, as keeping exceptional teams together is the key to market dominance when the economy picks up again.

      • Its probably Ok to share a few more views about innovation and networks given that we agree I assume that both are critical to where Ireland goes from here – onward towards a sort of Cambridge Network model of economics or back to the FDI-reliant early 1990′s.

        In my book Philip innovation in practice is all about teamwork – and while Belbin has its uses in raising awareness about issues of balance, people in practice work with others with relevant experience motivation and availability.

        Contract R&D providers including the Aussie one you linked to all practice team-based semi-codified ways of innovating as the lowest risk way of getting results. There are also plenty of low-performing innovation providers led by large or narcissistic egos or snake-oil salesmen (like your engine link) – generally identifiable by poor quality, productivity and staff churn.

        The basic point is that innovation is a team sport. It is not just for a special breed – everyone can and does contribute where the climate is right. More generally, there is no reason whatsoever not to educate our people to be effective and confident innovators. There is a whole body of knowledge around how this is done (TRIZ, Systematic Innovation etc) and it is not rocket science. To the mishmash of art-science subjects and tepid life skills material experienced by secondary school students, a transition year experience of case-based teaching of systematic innovation would in many cases have transforming effects.

        You are absolutely correct in stating that innovation originates from determination to solve a clear and relevant problem. However powerful original solutions (i.e, IP) themselves often originate far from the problem space – this is one reason why exploring the boundaries between knowledge disciplines, cultures, markets and so on is often productive.

        As for LinkedIn and selling – lots of people including myself use it to help sell. But that is to ignore its many other uses. And whats wrong with selling? After all, successful selling of the fruits of the development of a concept is what separates innovation from mere invention.

        As I see it to move the state of the discussion of innovation in Ireland beyond the platitudes of ‘knowledge economy’, ‘smart economy’, ‘UCD/TCD collaborative research’, ‘R&D’ etc we need to disseminate knowledge about how to actually do it – i.e. systematic innovation knowledge. We don’t need more degree-qualified engineering fodder to do upmarket screwdriver assembly for FDI companies. That era is waning and those job experiences did not result in enhanced innovation capability in Ireland – even allowing for the distracting effects of the housing bubble.

        It is important to rebuild an SME-led product/service manufacturing capacity in Ireland as this is itself a fertile source of innovation know-how – just look at Germanic and Francophone Europe. But this will be a consequence of not a precursor of teaching everyone how to innovate effectively.

    • JJ Tatten


      Happy St Patrick’s Day.

      You appear to have mis-read my comment.

      At no point did I denigrate personal initiative – I’ve run my own media business for the past 13 years – I am no stranger to initiative.

      Neither did I denigrate personal networking – I denigrated the Emperor’s New Clothes concept of impersonal networking, as embodied by Linkedin, as a panacea to our economic ills.

      I certainly did not present civil unrest as ‘an option’! Only a delusional fool would suggest such a thing. I merely highlighted the very real threat that civil unrest presents if we don’t come up with some ideas of substance.

      If you’re interested in my ideas then you might care to look at the ideas section of this website.


    Ireland’s problem is people parachuting into jobs for which they have neither the intelligence or aptitude for.I know lots of cowboys who found work based on their parents’ contacts (especially in financial services) , so it is no surprise to see the mess our economy is in.Irish politics is possibly the most dynastical on the planet and doesn’t it show!.Academia and professional sport have the least amount of nepotism ,because if you aren’t good enough you will be found out very quickly.

  33. wills

    @ Paul;
    Love your post on “the art of conversation”.
    Can i input on it with this viewpoint,.. Words are a system of exchange and in the final analysis the ultimate system of exchange we all try to work with on a day to day basis. It has been my experience with conversation that two types of use of conversation exist. One is clear communication and the other is scrambled communication.

  34. wills

    Hi David.
    An “institutionalized” work force i would agree,. is not a good idea in this new changing world we are all been pollacked into, whether we like it or not.. I would insist on, the idea of, thinking for oneself now is the only viable future available to any serious free thinking individual. One who thinks for oneself is rejecting the ‘institutionalizing’ system of integration and looking to new experience and fuller life. For me it is the struggle between free innovative thinking creative people and automatons/institutionalized living to which is playing itself out in western society today in its final reach for who stays and who goes. I suggest ponzi credit/ debt slave monetary system is the death star instrument of institutionialized regime control and with it’s demise will come true economic freedom and prosperity for all and not for the few and crumbs from the table for the meeker and less fortunate and enslaved through no good reason of their own and it’s this group efforts are always leaning towards.

    • Philip

      Rubbish. The only reason you have lived so long and acquired a great education and become so articulate is because of institutions. You and the rest of us here and able to operate because of institution. The internet you take so much for granted in this medium is a creation of these many institutions (US military to be precise).

      Free thinking is nice if you can afford it and have few responsibilities. We have duties to one another that starts at home and in our communities. That tends to constrain one’s horizons.

      This “so called “changing world you witness suggests a lack of experience with the reality of humdrum. The stuff that needs routine, calendars etc. Who cleans the streets? Who mainstains the clean water you need to survive? Who changes the nappies?

      The ponzi schemes will never leave us. We learn, we move on. But they are not masterminded. They are the result of organisational entropy – a thing which for me as a certain sense of inbuilt justice – it is a one way ticket which both drives the whole system and brings it to an end….as far as we know.

  35. wills

    *with respect, i don’t operate i am humaaannn.
    *please if it is ok with yourself i will determine my responsibilities.
    *my experiences hold equal value to anyone elses at best.
    *I am an auto didactic., (self thought!)
    *I do change nappies. (dont ask me to prove it please)
    and please the water is not clean it is full of flouride and to assert that ponzi schemes drive the system says it all….. there was me thinking its a hard days work,..

  36. wills

    Hi David n bloggers.

    Unfortunately i have come to the conclusion articulated below,

    The two main banks in Ireland are insolvent and are involved in a series of measures with the Irish gov to avert from having to declare bankruptcy, as is the legal obligation when a commercial enterprise can no longer pay its debts.

  37. wills


    This regrettable state of affairs is i suggest an indicator pointing to a simple proposition…..

    the powers at be are prepared to do anything to keep the production of credit in private hands.., to which one is left with but one question,,,


  38. wills


    We are living in a feudal type structure operating along the lines of a master/slave type regime to which credit in private hands maintains from top to bottom.

    All commercial and political and educational services are held under its control and it is in the business of self preservation.

    It is a parasite organism that feeds of the host of the real economies hard graft innovation and productivity.

    It hides amongst us and don’s the mask of a cute cherub like exterior.

    It is sickened by invention and charm.

    It despises initiative and gumption.

    It destroys innocence in its cradle when noone is looking.

    It holds humanity in contempt and blood lusts after those who resist its insistence that we’re all doing it we all do a bit of dishonesty on the side.

  39. Hello again,

    When I first began reading David McWilliams blog about 8 articles ago, there was huge anger being felt and expressed towards bankers and government. Many contributors seemed to be doing their best to show how upset they were with those they felt responsible.

    There was crude, raw, revengeful anger. Lots of attacking words.

    My view was that it was good to have a combination of such language with serious efforts to analyse the situation, and propose solutions. The mixture worked for me, and I still love it when someone posts their ire at the ruling class.

    However I am disappointed to see contributors turn on each other. When I read Philip’s “Rubbish” beginning to his recent comment, I felt I would share my view with you all.

    Please cut that sort of stuff out altogether. If you were sitting round a dinner table with others and you began your contribution to the discussion with “Rubbish”, you’d want to be sitting in the company of tolerant friends to be invited back again. That’s the way it is in my world.

    We are a species that has evolved a capacity for thought and communication. It is there to be used. Whenever it’s abused, I think it sells humanity short.

    David McWilliams piece has provoked thought, but little development of it. So many assertions. So many saying things like “I think LinkedIn is for puffed up egos”. What is someone trying to achieve by such assertions?

    You are perfectly entitled to ignore LinkedIn (I seldom use it, though I have enjoyed writing my profile and using LinkedIn to link with people I used to work with.).

    No one is saying you should use it. What’s the point of saying nasty things about it? Do you really think asserting nasty things is persuasive? You’re not in front of a mob egging them on the storm the Bastille.

    There is a difference between oratory, especially sectarian oratory, and argued thought. By all means carry on shouting off ‘obscenities’ but don’t fool yourself that you are making one jot of difference to anyone except pleasing those who already agree with you and don’t notice that you’ve contributed nothing to the discussion.

    All you do by your abusive language is keep lurkers quiet.

    I use to be a political propagandist, a member of a small left-wing sect in Ireland & Britain. I have no regrets that I spent ages ‘shouting’ my convictions at others. It gave me some practice as using language in a variety of ways. But this is not a forum suited for your habit. Please use the other side of your intelligence and present argument.

    This means showing that you’ve make a serious effort to understand other points of view.

    Simply saying “read Belbin” isn’t enough. You need to draw attention to the part of Belbin that your wish the other person to consider. Cite chapter and verse. I’ve used Belbin’s research on effective management teams for over 20 years. I used to earn my living helping people to work together with respect for differing talents and traits. As someone who’s very familiar with every nuance of Belbin’s argument, and some other research on teamworking, I found myself suspecting that you hadn’t used Belbin except to hit someone over the head with it.

    Simply saying, go do this or that reveals a poverty of philosophy. Let’s try harder to think clearer.

    Why? Simply in order to influence the future. If this forum is simply a rough market place where people trade insults more than support and challenge, it will have only one memorable contributor, David McWilliams himself, the one person who’s big enough to set out his views and leave us to make what we can of them.

  40. If you click on my name, you’ll be taken to my business blog “writing for business from cork”. It’s new and all my time here has distracted me from developing it.

    I have a personal blog too. If you google “omaniblog” you’ll go there. It’s been published since November 2005.

    Facebook me. LinkedIn me. Twitter me @omaniblog.

    I live in Glanmire Cork. I think it was nasty to say that I wasn’t being open with my identity. Fairer to say that you were not able to trace me. Even better to ask how you could get to know me better.

    Tim has argued, I think, that people have been discriminated against for speaking out in public. Another person has argued that ideas are better considered without the distraction of knowing who advanced them.

    I’ve had the good fortune to have been out of Ireland 1975-2005, in UK. That’s a very open society, where it’s been easy to say what you think in public, [except perhaps if you've been up to no good in banking or government].

    I’m just not used to mixing with people who have fear of admitting their proper name. Isn’t it something to be proud of? Or am I missing something?

    Hopefully, I’ve risen to the challenge of communicating with people who have a different conviction. I’m open to persuasion, provided you use the skill of so doing.

    • Tim

      Paul, Two challenging posts.

      On another matter, what if, just “if”, DmcW’s “Linkedin” article is for the purpose of encouraging us all her to “work-together” to find a solution to the problem?

      What if he has read and analysed our posts and has decided that, if we work TOGETHER, we might already have it?

      If so, would he not say so?

  41. Tim

    Paul, I agree; yet, I understand people’s reluctance to step forward. Targetting exists. Most fear it; I do not.

    • Colin_in_exile


      We are all targets, no matter what opinion we hold.

      Work together? I think we are bouncing ideas off each other, which results in greater awareness of the general situation.

      I’m not sure if we can solve the country’s problems here. I don’t know if thats even possible anymore.

      What I do know is that most people who are here have an above average level of education, and will not suffer as much as those in society with lower than average education. That’s life!

      I think this forum works well as it is, its not a forum with great expectations on its shoulders, nor should it be. It should encourage free thought, simple as that. We need to speak the truth about what we see, including whats wrong with it.

      Keep up the good work. Stay in Fianna Fail, because we need to have an insider here letting us know what the lie of the land is like.


      • Tim

        Colin, I think that I agree with you about working together here – we are already doing it with ideas.

        We MIGHT solve the country’s problems – I don’t know; What I DO know, is that we can’t solve it without “bouncing ideas off eachother”.

        As for FF and staying in, ……. it is complex; remember Jimmy Durante?

        Thank you, VERY much, for the encouragement. (expect ire-by-association, though!) (which, you knew, I’m sure, before you posted; and that only serves to show, much-more-so, that you have the courage of your convictions – thank you).

  42. goinghome

    Steve Wright, Director of Innovation at the Foundation, and guest blogger on , has contributed an interesting piece about how prioritising money-making is flawed when underlying values are not based on reality and social good, and how the next generation of networks might redress this error:

    – The reason why money can’t buy love is because, ultimately, love is the value that money represents. Money is a proxy for value and value is that which holds us together and makes us relevant, love. This feels cheesy or even embarrassing because we have broken our social contract with value. Specifically, we have inappropriately imbued money with a value of its own, disassociating money from its role as an intermediary, as a temporary representation of value in a chain of transactions. Money has become the object as opposed to the expedient. It is my thesis that value creation must be the frame within which wealth creation fits; that our humanity can no longer be subjugated to our economy due to a false primacy of our intermediary for value, cash. I believe that our economy should serve our humanity….

    …Bernard Madoff intentionally defrauded his clients but the calculus of what he did is no different than what our global financial institutions have done to all of us. Their sole concern was how money could make more money, completely divorced from creating anything real. To be sure, the new money could then been used to build, hire, educate, serve, etc, but, as is my thesis, that is the tail wagging the dog…

    …Our current system with its overly abstracted and evidently exploitable assignation of value constrains the network to have fewer and inflated hubs and any nuance or complexity in the definition of value is lost in the translation through currency. Value creation should be a market design principle. Wealth creation is a market participant motivation. An effective market should ensure value creation while facilitating wealth creation, not the other way around. Additionally, an effective market would leverage our social (human) network defining “valuable” more accurately by harvesting connections to what we value. Again, the reason to have an economy is to serve humanity…

    Full article is here –

    • Tim

      goinghome, great post and an astute summary of the article – Thank you.

      It reminds me of what I say to people about the current cuts to education:

      “They know the cost of everything; and the value of nothing.”

  43. going home – I think what you are saying is basically the laws of supply and demand in a market

    • Tim

      JohnAllen, I just installed solar tubes to heat my water this weekend. I am testing it for 48 hours, but today I have hot water from the sun – I love it! The power of the sun will bathe my family tomorrow, wash our clothes tonight and our dishes tomorrow; and the next day, and the next.

    • goinghome

      As I understand it, the laws of supply and demand are constantly being affected consciously and unconsciously anyway by agent’s beliefs and values. Since this is so, it is possible and desirable to intervene in the market in such a way that would steer sellers and buyers towards more responsible and sustainable financial, social and environmental exchanges. It seems to me that this is already happening in a lot of commercial areas, particularly with eco-health products where it is often difficult to tell whether it’s the manufacturers or consumers – if not some other factors of persuasion – that are leading the change. There’s Tim, for example, delighted with his solar panels! Financial and other institutions may put up more resistance initially to paring back business to practical present relevance. The idea is, like most, vulnerable to spin misuse but in theory it is sound and sane, and undoubtedly has, er, value…

  44. jim

    Linked in, linked up, facebooked, beebooed, networked,all fine concepts for social integration,but excuse my French, but not worth a fiddlers fu.k if you have nothing in your arse pocket….In Ireland as recent history has made all to clear,(not that I ,as a long term observer of these things needed to be told) is that ,the three places you need to be linked into are 1.Banks. 2 Politicians. 3 D4…..Up to this point People like me depended on the likes of coke sniffing,hooker, Dunne to break ranks and expose some of the shenanigans,so that changes could be made for the better.Crooks would be outed,safeguards put in place ,and one step nearer to real democracy was the hopefull outcome……This credit crunch has ripped the VENEER of deciency and respectability off Institutions in this State,and given the people their first real chance of proper reform.The outrage felt by people who feel that they have been conned , lied to ,fobbed off,and generally taken for fools is there for anybody who reads different blogs or just takes a drive around the Country.I can tell ye that the level of comment on this blog is mild compared to what i’ve being reading for the last while. I’ll take any pain in the short-term if it means proper reform for the generations that will follow after Im long gone……The main item on the agenda of this Smart Economy should be a total clear out of all the crooks, no whitewash,no compromise,no soft options,no golden parachutes,no more golden circles.There’s no way I can with good concience stand idly by and watch as these crooks try to put the shit back in the horse at everyone elses expence.I hope I dont come accross as some sort of crusader like that poor bast.rd who turns up at football games with his John 3:15 board, but i have drawn a line in the sand on this one. I can read and explain any of the Economic indicators and other data for ye here but we need Hero Whistleblowers to point Cab,.Garda fraud squad etc. in the right direction.We need people of good concience to point to where the bodies are buried.Just as we recovered huge sums in monetary terms from other scandals so also can we do the same again.All these unlimited co’s with a limited liability owner in the Isle of Man etc need to be outed.We just need to follow the money with unrelenting zeal,to hell with it Ill work with the Authorities for free if it helps.Lets bring the offshore lackies back home onto dry land where we can ask a few questions.Lets invest in term contracts for all unemployed people with financial experience to help track down OUR money.We need it back and we need it now,it will be self financing,trust me it always is.Even the Swiss with all their secrecy are crumbling under the pressure for disclosure.Dont listen to the spinners,there is a large pot of gold out there,now lets just track it down.

    • coldblow

      “Follow the money” yes. I was thinking about Deco’s call for freedom of information and the large fees that have been charged in some cases, presumably under the FOI Act. I would be careful about this however as there are plenty of journalists out there who fancy themselves as Tribunes of the People or just looking for a story and I have seen one or two stories which were built on the information released. To manufacture a generic example: why has the state scandalously failed to purchase site X in view of its close association with major Irish historical figure Y? Reason: the state is unwilling to pay out the hundreds of thousands of euros demanded by the owner of the land on which the historical “gem” is sited. The local newspaper represents this as the state neglecting its duty. There also appears to be no shortage of cranks out there willing to waste hour upon hour of state resources in pursuit of self-serving, trivial or vexatious claims, looking for favoured treatment or just out of sheer paranoia.

      But I digress. My fantasy in terms of following the money would be to broaden the whole concept, ie force full disclosure of everyone’s assets and cash flow (men, women and children) held both here and invested abroad. Now THAT would be interesting.

    • Mother of Three

      Have you visitied this UK organisation has set up a very effective website called theyworkforyou which allows ordinary people closely monitor what the politians are doing. have run very effective campaigns at increasing political and administrative accountability. Unfortunately they have not got the funds to set this up for Ireland. Any suggestions how we could get similar set up here in Ireland.

  45. Tim

    jim, right, …. “follow the money”, I say.

  46. Jim – Congratulations I hope your decision makes life a new experience for your family.Question: what budget cost must a family need to consider ~( say 2000 plus sq feet house ) and choice of product did you purchase?

    • jim

      John a good 2000 sq.ft. house in Perth in most suburb’s costs about 300k in Euros present exchange rates.Family budgets vary depending on circumstances,but cost of living is cheaper than Ireland.Australia also keep an affordability index,i.e. average house price to average income and when mortgage repayments look like rising above 30% of disposable income,interest rates usually go up to dampen down house prices.Australia also have a Foreign Investment Board which helps prevent speculation on houses by foreigners i.e. a Foreigner has to get approval to even buy a house.New builds are usually approved as they support those employed in the construction industry, second hand houses have a stipulation where by the purchaser has to spend an amount equivallent to the purchase price on upgrading the property,also helps those employed in the building industry ( these measures are being relaxed a bit in the present climate) without labouring the point it’s fair to say that housing policy in Perth, is better planned and controlled than in Ireland,most people seem happy enough with it. On a Personal note my Family are constantly bemused by my affiliation to Irelands welfare as my wife lets me know from time to time lol. ;-) Ps. I can say that in the knowledge that She never reads this blog.Remind me to clear my surfing caches every now and then ;;-))

  47. Agree that future is freelance driven, ref HBR ‘dawn of the freelance economy’ circa 1998. That’s why I set up – which is an Irish based freelance and project site which uses ‘match’ technology to connect employers to people with their required skills. All the best, Joy Redmond

  48. [...] a snippet from David McWilliams. For Ireland, what is the point of having a well-educated workforce if no-one knows about anyone [...]

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