Bill Gates, the ELF and me

August 30, 2009

“…But soft, what light through yonder window shines…?”  ‘ Not Microsoft, that’s for sure!’

In January 2008 I arrived at Millbrook Resort golf course at the same time as Bill Gates.  Bill arrived by car, driven from his private jet parked at Queenstown airport; I arrived by cycle, complete with panier bags, from the opposite direction, having  just biked at somewhat less than the speed of thought over the Crown Range from Wanaka en route to Te Anau and back.

Unlike Bill I wasn’t staying at the resort; I’d merely stopped to replenish my water bottle in the stream that runs through the golf course.  I only picked up on the propinquity when reading next day’s paper. But had I known that we  had a brewing intellectual property issue with Microsoft, which is still not resolved, I would have got pumped up, got  off  my bike and knocked on his chalet door.

Three months before we had just run our first Education Leaders Forum (ELF 07) at Terrace Downs. This was an across-the-education-spectrum event to look at what is happening upstream and downstream of a particular sector and to explore possibilities for knowledge sharing at the boundaries.

We weren’t going to call the annual event “Education Leaders Forum”; that was initially only a working title.  We were aware that the New Zealand Business Roundtable’s education group is called the Education Forum, so there was the potential for confusion, and the acronym ELF was a little unfortunate-until we thought about it and realised that, in the wake of the LOR series, it is very apposite.  

The average Elf, as we now know, has a slim and nimble body and the special ability, compared to other races, to hold their breath longer as well as being better able to jump from high places. This was all very appropriate for an unofficial whole learning system initiative.   (We won’t get into Elf Camps; without putting the boot in they are not flavour du jour.)

We were a little surprised to find out a few months later, when we were in the throes of organising ELF 08, that a Microsoft- organised event in Paris, under the UNESCO banner, was promoted as “Education Leaders Forum 2008” and “ELF 08”, especially as I had tried to enlist the Microsoft New Zealand office in our inaugural event the year before and shown them promotional materials.

 My attempts to have some light shone on the matter show that, despite Bill Gates excellent book “Business at the Speed of Thought”, there are  some black holes in Microsoft’s corporate communication process which are difficult to illumine at any speed. 

Here are excerpts from the e-mail correspondence initiated by me to try to ascertain whether we had coincidentally used a term and an abbreviation already in currency or whether Microsoft had done the same, either unwittingly or in pursuit of the principle that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

 We have waited expectantly over the 8 months since our first enquiry for a simple answer to a simple question. This is almost the span of time from conception to birth for humankind. (Elves have a somewhat speeded up reproductive cycle).  

Despite this gestation period, little of substance has been volunteered by Microsoft.  What we have learned has had to be extracted in micro amounts, softly softly, at something less than the speed of thought. 

 Just for the Record:

From: lyall@lukey.co.nz [mailto:lyall@lukey.co.nz]  

Sent: 22 January 2009 04:15 

To: Greg Butler (UK)                                                                                             

Subject: (Education Leaders’ Forum 2008) ELF 08

 <When did ELF start? ie was 2008 the first event?> 

This message was generated from a contact form at: ttp://blogs.msdn.com/elf08/default.aspx

 —–Original Message—–
From: Dolores Puxbaumer (Intl Vendor) [mailto:v-dolpu@microsoft.com]
Sent: Friday, 20 February 2009 5:41 a.m.
To: lyall@lukey.co.nz
Subject: FW: (Education Leaders’ Forum 2008):ELF 08 

<Dear Mr. Lyall,

 <Thank you for your question. The Education Leaders Forum 2008 is part of the Education Leaders Briefing series. 

Whilst the Education Leaders Briefing (coinciding with the BETT exhibition http://www.bettshow.co.uk and the UK Government’s Learning and Technology World Forum, every year in January) focuses on primary and secondary education, the Education Leaders Forum discusses tertiary education. 

Held jointly with the UNESCO from 7-8 July 2008 it was the first event targeting tertiary education. Following up to the success of last year’s event UNESCO and Microsoft will continue to deliver this working conference in 2009. 

Exact dates are still to be confirmed but it will most likely take place in early July again. Once dates are confirmed we will share it with the community via the blog. Please watch out for updates. 

In case of questions don’t hesitate to contact us or post a question via the blog.> 

Yours sincerely,

Dolores Puxbaumer 

From: Lyall Lukey [mailto:lyall@smartnet.co.nz]  

Sent: Friday, 20 February 2009 11:30 a.m.
To: ‘v-dolpu@microsoft.com’
Subject: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08 and New Zealand ELF 08

 <Thanks you Dolores 

This is a Tale of Two ELFs! As you will see, we started the Education Leaders Forum in New Zealand in 2007 and have since used the abbreviation ELF 07, ELF 08 and ELF 09. Here is last year’s logo… 

Here are details of our first two annual events:

http://www.smartnet.co.nz/events/ELF/2007.htm   

http://www.smartnet.co.nz/events/ELF/2008.htm  

 …We approached Microsoft NZ in March 2007 for some sponsorship and sent a concept document regarding our inaugural Education Leaders Forum… While there was some interest in ELF 07, our discussions did not proceed to a formal proposal at the time, but we were asked to stay in touch. 

The evolution of the two ELF 08 events is quite likely just coincidental, but given the sequence of events and our precedence, we think it would be only fair if you amended your long title and the abbreviated version to avoid any confusion, for example in web searches and repositories of resources following the two different events. Perhaps you should add the word Tertiary to your forum event ie Tertiary Education Leaders Forum. That would be more descriptive. (Our on-going series draws people across all education and training sectors, including the workplace)…. 

…We hope we can work with Microsoft in good faith to remove a repeat of the ELF08 duplication and perhaps explore partnership possibilities … in New Zealand-a smaller canvas than UNESCO but a great test bed for innovative new ways of learning and working!>

Best regards

Lyall Lukey
Steering Team Convenor
Education Leaders Forum

 _______________________________________
SmartNet
Mancan House, 236 Manchester Street
P O Box 13-577, Christchurch 8141,
New Zealand
Phone: (+64 3) 366-7874; Fax: (+64 3) 366-7807
http://www.smartnet.co.nz
From: Dolores Puxbaumer (Intl Vendor) [mailto:v-dolpu@microsoft.com]
Sent: Friday, 12 June 2009 4:13 p.m.
To: lyall@lukey.co.nz
Subject: FW: (Education Leaders’ Forum 2008) : ELF 08

 <Dear Mr. Lyall,

 Microsoft has been using the Education Leaders Briefing (ELF) for many years. The 2008 ELF posted a press release here: http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=27349&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html.  The specific reference to earlier use of Education Leaders Forum was this: “He also expressed his gratitude to Microsoft for organizing the Forum under the global UNESCO/Microsoft agreement that he had signed with Bill Gates in 2004.”>

 Yours sincerely,

Dolores Puxbaumer

From: Lyall Lukey [mailto:lyall@smartnet.co.nz]
Sent: Saturday, 13 June 2009 11:49 a.m.
To: ‘Dolores Puxbaumer (Intl Vendor)’
Subject: RE: (Education Leaders’ Forum 2008):ELF 08

 <Thank you Dolores 

The term “Education Leaders Briefing” is not the same as “Education Leaders Forum”.  It is the later which lends itself to the acronym ELF or ELF 08. We have used both versions since 2007 for a New Zealand cross education sector annual event. (see below).

 I referred to this in the e-mail* I sent you (and copied Chris Liddell, Microsoft) after your response on 20/2/ 2009 to my initial enquiry.

I have had no further response to this (apart from your virtual repeat of your earlier response received today). 

We do not wish to look as if we are copying your use of both the full and shortened versions of ”Education Leaders Forum” when we may have used one or the other or both before you ( if, indeed, you used the term Education Leaders Briefing up to 2008 and only used ”Education Leaders Forum” and ELF 08 etc from that point, which is what I’m tried to clarify). 

Please refer to my response of 20/2/ 2009 below-which includes outlines our approach to Microsoft New  Zealand in 2007 about our ELF07.  

For details of this year’s Education Leaders Forum in New Zealand  visit http://www.smartnet.co.nz/events/ELF/2009.htm >

 Best regards

Lyall Lukey
Steering Team Convenor
Education Leaders Forum

From: Liz Butowicz [mailto:lizbu@microsoft.com]
Sent: Tuesday, 23 June 2009 7:04 a.m.
To: lyall@smartnet.co.nz
Subject: FW: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08/09 and New Zealand ELF 07, 08,09

 <Dear Mr. Lyall – 

I am following up to your email correspondence with Dolores Puxbaumer. There was an unfortunate typo in the reply that I sent to Dolores to use in response to your request that she sent to you on 12 June: 

Microsoft has been using the Education Leaders Briefing (ELF) for many years. The 2008 ELF posted a press release here: http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=27349&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html.  The specific reference to earlier use of Education Leaders Forum was this: “He also expressed his gratitude to Microsoft for organizing the Forum under the global UNESCO/Microsoft agreement that he had signed with Bill Gates in 2004.” 

It should have read Education Leaders Forum (ELF) rather than Briefing – as you can see from the link specified, Microsoft has been using the term Education Leaders Forum since 2004.> 

Sincerely,

Liz Butowicz 

Sr. Education Marketing Manager, Microsoft Corporation

From: Lyall Lukey [mailto:lyall@smartnet.co.nz]
Sent: Tuesday, 23 June 2009 11:06 a.m.
To: ‘Liz Butowicz’
Cc: ‘v-dolpu@microsoft.com’
Subject: RE: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08/09 and New Zealand ELF 07, 08,09

 <Thank you Liz 

That (almost) answers my question. However, the 2008 source does not quite cover off the question of when the term “Educational Leaders Forum” was first used in the UNESCO/Microsoft context-ie before 2008: “He also expressed his gratitude to Microsoft for organizing the Forum under the global UNESCO/Microsoft agreement that he had signed with Bill Gates in 2004.”  

Can you give me other on-line sources for the use of “Educational Leaders Forum” before 2008?  

I am still interested in exploring synergies between Microsoft in New Zealand and our national Forum (see below) if you can point me in the right direction.> 

Best regards

Lyall Lukey
Steering Team Convenor
Education Leaders Forum 
 

From: Lyall Lukey [mailto:lyall@smartnet.co.nz]
Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2009 9:54 PM
To: Liz Butowicz; Dolores Puxbaumer (Intl Vendor)
Subject: FW: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08/09 and New Zealand ELF 07, 08,09

 <Hi Liz and Dolores 

Apart from Dolores’ automated out of office response neither of you have replied to my e-mail below. I would appreciate a prompt response. I am tracking the electronic paper trail and it’s getting rather cold.> 

Regards

Lyall Lukey 

From: Liz Butowicz [mailto:lizbu@microsoft.com]
Sent: Monday, 27 July 2009 2:34 a.m.
To: Lyall Lukey; Dolores Puxbaumer (Intl Vendor)
Subject: RE: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08/09 and New Zealand ELF 07, 08,09

 <Dear Mr. Lukey – 

I apologize for the delay in responding to your email – I am doing research to provide answers to your questions below. Thank you for your patience.> 

Liz

From: Lyall Lukey [mailto:lyall@smartnet.co.nz]
Sent: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 8:16 PM
To: Liz Butowicz; Dolores Puxbaumer (Intl Vendor)
Subject: RE: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08/09 and New Zealand ELF 07, 08,09

 <Hi Liz 

I expected a reply by now.>

Best regards

Lyall Lukey

From: Liz Butowicz [mailto:lizbu@microsoft.com]
Sent: Tuesday, 18 August 2009 8:07 a.m.
To: Lyall Lukey
Cc: Dolores Puxbaumer (Intl Vendor)
Subject: RE: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08/09 and New Zealand ELF 07, 08,09

 <Dear Mr. Lukey, 

Thank you for your follow up email from July 23rd. We apologize for the delay in responding, but we wanted to be sure we were clear on your question.  As we understand it, you are looking to find out the date that Microsoft started using the “Education Leadership Forum (ELF)” terminology.  We confirm that Microsoft has been offering educational leadership events with various titles for a number of years.  The 2008 conference title was indeed called Education Leadership Forum (ELF) and was offered in conjunction with UNESCO in Paris, France.  Given that naming rights are territorially limited, we presume that you are not claiming any likelihood of confusion between our offering in Paris, France with your event in New Zealand.  

Please let us know if you have any further questions.>

 Thank you,

Liz

From: Lyall Lukey [mailto:lyall@smartnet.co.nz]
Sent: Thursday, 20 August 2009 5:27 p.m.
To: ‘lizbu@microsoft.com’
Cc: ‘v-dolpu@microsoft.com’
Subject: RE: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08/09 and New Zealand ELF 07, 08,09

 <Dear Ms Butowicz 

You say:  “Thank you for your follow up email from July 23rd. We apologize for the delay in responding, but we wanted to be sure we were clear on your question.”

 I say:  The delay in responding is to an e-mail dated 23rd of June-and much earlier correspondence. The e-mail of July 23 was simply one of several prompts I sent when I had not received a reply to my very clear question.

 You say: “As we understand it, you are looking to find out the date that Microsoft started using the “Education Leadership Forum (ELF)” terminology.” (sic)  

I say: Yes-all my communications make very clear that the question is: when did Microsoft start using the  specific “Education Leaders Forum” and “ELF” terminology?  (Not, as you’ve referred to it earlier the “Education Leaders Briefing (ELF)” or, now, the “Education LeadershipForum (ELF)”. Back in February Dolores did refer, correctly, to your “Education Leaders Forum 2008”.)

You now say: We confirm that Microsoft has been offering educational leadership events with various titles for a number of years.  The 2008 conference title was indeed called Education Leadership Forum (ELF) and was offered in conjunction with UNESCO in Paris, France.” 

I say: My question had nothing to do with other prior educational leadership events with various titles for a number of years.”  The subject line makes it clear that we were talking about your ELF 08 and 09 and our ELF 07, 08 and 09.  The content in this long drawn out correspondence clearer, which started in January 2009, makes it even clearer. Your previous substantive response in June was clearly (or rather unclearly) obfuscation. In it you said:

 “Microsoft has been using the Education Leaders Briefing (ELF) for many years. The 2008 ELF posted a press release here: http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=27349&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html.  The specific reference to earlier use of Education Leaders Forum was this: “He also expressed his gratitude to Microsoft for organizing the Forum under the global UNESCO/Microsoft agreement that he had signed with Bill Gates in 2004.”   

I say: This is clearly not a “specific reference to earlier use of Education Leaders Forum”. As I have already pointed out, in this paragraph you refer to “Education Leaders Briefing (ELF)”. For that the acronym would surely be ELB.

It turns out that-as I thought from the start-that you had only been using “Education Leaders Forum” and  “ELF” etc since 2008, a year after we started using “Education Leaders Forum” and “ELF 07” etc. and-more to the point- after we talked to your New Zealand regional office about being involved in the inaugural 2007 Education Leaders Forumand showed them promotional collateral.

You say: “Given that naming rights are territorially limited, we presume that you are not claiming any likelihood of confusion between our offering in Paris, France with your event in New Zealand.” 

I say: In a connected virtual world, with search engines like Google, I am, indeed, claiming not just the possibility but the likelihood of confusion in cyberspace. This confusion cuts both ways. In the real world New Zealanders attend UNESCO meetings and a Microsoft-supported event under the ELF terminology could cause confusion-or, at the very least, questions about originality and derivation. 

But more to the point, I wanted to clarify the fact of first use by us, as we’ve finally and painfully established, versus second use by you, whether your use is a case of coincidence or copycatting.  I represent a small organization in a small country. You represent a big organisation, in a large country, with a global mandate (and with a New Zealander in a key leadership role). Embedded in our correspondence below there are issues of public relations, good corporate citizenship aspects and credibility, not to mention openness and timeliness.

 At the very inception I offered a positive way through… This is still our position. This matter should be seen as a public relations issue, not a legal one. Now that the situation is clear regarding who first used
“Education Leaders Forum” and “ELF 08” in those specific forms first, namely us, we think that our persevering and constructive approach deserves positive engagement and action in the two areas suggested, not any further delays.

 I therefore look forward to your early response.>

 Yours sincerely

Lyall Lukey
Steering Team Convenor
Education Leaders Forum

From: Liz Butowicz [mailto:lizbu@microsoft.com]
Sent: Wednesday, 2 September 2009 6:24 a.m.
To: Lyall Lukey
Subject: RE: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08/09 and New Zealand ELF 07, 08,09

 Dear Mr. Lukey,

I have received your response and email does not seem to be the appropriate avenue for communication regarding this topic.  I have forwarded the correspondence below to Microsoft’s Legal Department and the appropriate business team for a response and they will respond to your inquiry shortly. 

Thank you,

Liz

 From: Lyall Lukey [mailto:lyall@smartnet.co.nz]
Sent: Wednesday, 2 September 2009 9:49 a.m.
To: ‘Liz Butowicz’
Subject: RE: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08/09 and New Zealand ELF 07, 08,09

 Dear Ms Butowicz 

Email has certainly not been a very effective means of communication, at least at your end. The replies have scarcely been at the Speed of Thought and the content less than clear and transparent. 

We will forward the correspondence to our Public Relations Department. Some recent large corporate public relations disasters-I’m thinking of United Airlines, in particular-have come about because of the power of new social media to redress the imbalance between individuals or small organisations on the one hand and large corporates on the other. 

Yours sincerely

Lyall Lukey
Steering Team Convenor
Education Leaders Forum

Footnote  

It’s always the way. Our Public  Relations Department had popped out for lunch and anyway was too busy promoting  our ELF09 event (with some success: it’s sold out). She suggested that I press WordPress into action and await further developments.

 We were on the verge of enlisting the Conchord’s New York manager Murray to sort this out face to face with Bill Gates,  until some spoilsport told us that, unlike Elves and Elvis, he (Murray, not Bill) doesn’t really exist.  Oh well, there’s always Helen Clark and she definitely does exist,  in her new reincarnation at the UN  in New York.

That should scare them.

Postscript to Footnote 13 May 2011

Microsoft’s Legal Department have obviously been a bit busy since 2009-and will be busier still with the current Skype buyout. We haven’t received any more (non) communications from anyone in the organisation of the legal or any other persuasion. Meanwhile our ELF11 is almost all hot to trot:
http://www.smartnet.co.nz/events/ELF/2011.htm

BLINKS

Light Reading – Video – CES Slideshow: Bill Gates Keynote … 7 Jan 2008  Business At The Speed Of Thought

Bret McKenzie (ELF) (0:29)

http://www.smartnet.co.nz/events/ELF/2009.htm  Education Leaders Forum, Rotorua 14/15 October 2009

 Lyall Lukey 30 August 2009   http://www.lukey.co.nz/

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A hedge for the 2011 Rugby World Cup?

August 23, 2009

 “ Sport often brings out the worst in us and it’s something that we can ill afford to have on the sidelines or on the field at school sport.”   Garry Carnachan, Director, New Zealand Secondary Schools Sports Council

 Unlike last weekend’s unseemly schoolboys’ rugby brawl, which involved a hundred players and spectators from Kelston Boys High and Auckland Grammar School, when I played against Kelston, as a 14 year old member of a Papakura High School junior rugby team, there were no spectators and no trouble. 

Weeks before, after hitchhiking to Hamilton, I had watched the first game of the 1956 Springbok tour against Waikato in Hamilton from on top of a free perch on a handy hedge. Deadly Don Clarke put the boot in and kicked the winning points.

 For the final and deciding test of the series against the All Blacks I was determined to make it into the ground at Eden Park. With hundreds of others, I queued all night, to the sounds of  guitars strumming and sausages sizzling,  and then, when the gates finally opened, joined the 100 yards dash to the huge slab of concrete which provided a legitimate Scotsman’s grandstand on the embankment.

Once you were in the packed park you could not get out: the Relief of Mafeking had nothing on Eden Park. The ground had a trickle-down micro economy which functioned courtesy of the sloping embankment.  Old hands came equipped with Mr Goodyear’s inflationary cycling invention, the dextrous and decorous use of which would today make a great YouTube post on the benefits of recycling.

 Peter Jones scored his decisive try for the All Blacks to complete the first ever series win against the Springboks and the sky was dark with a shower of programes and  newspapers. (In the after match comments relayed by the ground’s sound system the Jones boy dropped “buggered” into the conversation in a way which first opened the door to Toyota’s later “bugger” commercials).

In those days of full houses were taken for granted and crowd behaviour, while robust and vocal, seldom degenerated into hooliganism.

For those who couldn’t make the games in person the alternative medium was radio -a quantum step up on the dotty pre-wireless system involving Morse Code  messages being elaborated with poetic licence before being displayed, rugby phase by phase, on a large board to the assembled crowd in places like Cathedral Square, which beat having to wait for the first edition of The Press to know the result of big games.

 In 1960 as a new university student I tuned in to the radio at 1:30 a.m. to catch the live broadcast of the All Blacks v. the Springboks games in South Africa, with the exciting cadences of Winston McCarthy  ” ….. it’s a Goal!  (This was not then a normal time for youth socialising-the pubs still closed at 6pm).  The Don was at it again, but we lost the series. We could have done with players like Pat Walsh, who, like other Maori players, was left at home so as not to offend the susceptibilities of the Afrikaans dominated rugby hierarchy.

I heard the radio broadcast of the crucial last test at the Canterbury University Ski Club at Temple Basin, looking out at a moonlit  Mt. Rolleston. Alas, the ABs failed to scale the peak of a series win in South Africa.

We also got to see some belated film footage as shorts at the movies. New Zealand only got TV in 1960 -one black and white channel, plus appropriately dated productions like the Black and White Minstrel Show,  and was not geared for sports broadcasts. It was some years before rugby tests were rebroadcast in their entirety, let alone broadcast live.

Fast forward to 1974 and the Commonwealth Games and colour TV was introduced in time for us to see Dick Tayler clean up the 10,000 metres. Then it was satellite, replays, and slomo. 

Free to air live broadcast rugby via television and radio was regarded by Rob Muldoon as the modern equivalent of bread and circuses-maybe not opium for the masses but at least anaesthesia.  But in the last decade we have left the democratic days of free to air live broadcast rugby and reached for the Sky.

Today, so long as we are on the right side of the digital divide, we get the digital dividend: MySky, On Demand programming and live streaming on mobile devices, possibly sponsored by the Opticians Society.  Sky is no longer the limit.

In the age of professional rugby television rights are the major source of revenue to the New Zealand Rugby union.  With the multitude of multi media channels the NZRFU has got the message.  Live gates are less of a factor financially though is crucial to have a full house of paying extras to create the right atmosphere on TV. 

In the days since the unseemly Kelston Boys and Auckland Grammar rugby stoush there has since been a call to ban unruly spectators at school games. The school fracas has triggered an obvious thought. Why not go the whole way and ban all spectators at all rugby games, whether unruly or otherwise?  

After all, the NZRU has often seemed to be moving in the direction of a policy of spectator deterence by its heavy handed stadium policing. 

You may think a spectator free big game is virtually impossible, but, in fact, it’s virtually possible. The modern game is focused on the TV audience, which is why games are scheduled at strange times after dark. Of course, you still have to have the right crowd atmosphere and in the absence of paying spectators it would be costly to hire extras.

The answer is animation from Weta Studios. They have just supplied the digital goods for James Cameron’s new 3-D film Avatar.  Filling the Cake Tin in Wellington with sober but animated spectator avatars who don’t streak and otherwise make a spectacle of themselves would be a piece of cake.

The only problem for the NZRU with the looming 2011 Rugby World Cup is that at this event the international body takes all the revenue except for the gates, so I guess the Union will have to insist on persisting with real spectators in the meantime.

I saw the All Blacks win the first Rugby World Cup at Eden Park in 1987-a task so thoroughly expected then it has come back to haunt their self-belief in every World Cup tournament since, despite- or perhaps because of -the positive prior commercials in which they featured. 

With the  three figure ticket prices on offer for the finals, to  be there live, while they attempt to finally repeat the victory, I might just have to find another hedge. 

BLINKS

 Greatest Rugby Duel: Springboks v All Blacks – Part 1

 Rugby World Cup 2007 Commercial

 Toyota Commercial “bugger”

 http://folksong.org.nz/big_don/index.html   NZ Folk song “Big Bad Don”  

                       Lyall Lukey 23 August 2009   http://www.lukey.co.nz/


Woodstock 40th-Taking Stock

August 15, 2009

Keys that jingle in your pocket
Words that jangle in your head
Why did summer go so quickly?
Was it something that I said?
                              

Noel Harrison, Windmills of your mind.

It’s 40 years ago today that Woodstock began.

When you stood in school assembly with freshly scrubbed pimples and sang “40 Years On”  it did, indeed, in the words of the song, seem afar and asunder. But when you look back and forgetfully wonder it does seem only a short chronological hop, skip and a jump back to 1969.

Promoted as an Aquarian Exposition of music and art, Woodstock attracted half a million young and not so young of the hirsute and hippy persuasion, as well as many clean cut college kids, to its 32 acts, which included Ravi Shankar Arlo Guthrie Joan Baez  Santana  Grateful Dead Creedence Clearwater Revival  Janis Joplin  Sly & the Family Stone  The Who Jefferson Airplane  Joe Cocker Blood Sweat & Tears  Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Neil Young and Jimi Hendrix  

Many are still performing, living on the premium Woodstock added to their musical stocks. Others are gratefully or otherwise deceased. A sad few are musical zombies.

In August 1969 the modern pilgrims set off for dairying rather than strawberry fields outside of Bethel, N.Y. They came bearing pot and potpourri not frankincense and myrrh. They also brought the gifts of peace and love, though three quarters of a year later there was more tangible evidence of the latter than the former.

The festival itself was remarkably peaceful. Despite the bad weather, food shortages, and poor sanitation there was a sense of social harmony. After the concert  dairy farmer Max Yasgur , who owned the site of the event and had faced down opposition to it, (“Buy No Milk. Stop Max’s Hippy Music Festival”),  saw it as a victory of peace and love, with half a million people filled with the potential for disaster, riots and looting  until the cows came home, instead spending  the three days musically and peacefully: “..if we join them, we can turn those adversities that are the problems of America today into a hope for a brighter and more peaceful future…”.

In the United States Camelot was long dead and buried together with the assassinated John Kennedy but idealism persisted, even in the face of gritty domestic and foreign realities.

 Richard Nixon was now President after Lyndon Johnson opened the door to the Republicans by deciding the year before not to stand for a second term. (Just before he announced his decision the Press headline was “Johnson stops bombing”. In fact it was the Vietnam bombing and the reaction to it that stopped Johnson).

The idealism of Woodstock soon evaporated in the cynical 70s. The musical Hair stopped playing, Gillette and Remington sales shot up, so did the sales of business suits and military uniforms as America got the corporate/military machine back on the rocky road.  But the tunnel vision of the North Vietnamese proved clearer sighted than the helicopter vision of the Americans. The last American chopper was to leave Saigon in 1975 dangling instant refugees. 

In New Zealand in 1969  Keith Holyoake was still Prime Minister and Robert Muldoon had taken over as a young and aggressive Minister of Finance after Harry Lake’s demise.  The conservative cocoon was starting to split. Decimal currency had been introduced the year before, together with the liberalization of drinking hours to permit 10 p.m. closing.  But the first oil shock and Britain’s jilting of the old Commonwealth in favour of the Common Market were three years in the future. New Zealand still went where Britain went-except for Vietnam.

New Zealand had a token military presence in Vietnam and suffered casualties. The ruling rate of exchange for supporting the U.S. was roughly a thousand sides of hamburger prime beef allowed into the country for every Kiwi soldier in Vietnam.  The country also supplied the main ingredient for Agent Orange, the nasty defoliant used in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Anti-Vietnam protests were de rigueur.  New Zealand’s association with American military overkill  provided a fresh cause sandwiched between the rugby imbroglios of the early 60s and 80s.   Senior leaders of the Labour-led Government 1999-2008 earned their political spurs on the anti-Vietnam barricades.  Outside party politics Tim Shadbolt,  the old gray mayor 40 years on, was just a young stirrer of bullshit and jellybeans.

Back in the USA, if you were a young American civilian male (especially if you were black or a non college student), there was a very real prospect of being shipped off to Vietnam and shot up. Woodstock was an attractive, albeit temporary, oasis that was a definite step up from annual kids camps in the freedom department.

But the festival was not just a happening- Woodstock was designed as a profit-making venture by four young men who add advertised thus in the Wall Street Journal: “Young men with unlimited capital looking for interesting, legitimate investment opportunities and business propositions.” Rather than being counter cultural the organisers were inviting money from the bastion of capitalism itself.

As an early and unplanned example of free content, it became a “free concert” only after it became obvious that the event was drawing hundreds of thousands more people than the organizers had prepared for. In partial compensation the entrepreneurs  offered Warner Brothers a $100,000 deal to make a film about Woodstock on the basis that “it could have either sold millions or, if there were riots, be one of the best documentaries ever made,” according to organiser Artie Kornfield. The thousands who turned out in dank cow pastures, not dry cornfields, became unwitting extras (see excerpts below).

If many bands built their brands on Woodstock, others rued missed opportunities. Tommy James and the Shondells declined an invitation. Lead singer Tommy James stated later: “We could have just kicked ourselves. We were in Hawaii, and my secretary called and said, ‘Yeah, listen, there’s this pig farmer in upstate New York that wants you to play in his field.’ That’s how it was put to me. So we passed, and we realized what we’d missed a couple of days later.”

Joni Mitchell was in the original line-up but cancelled to avoid missing a scheduled appearance on TV. (She made up for it by singing Woodstock at the 1969 Big Sur Festival and many times since. Popular but unreliable memory would probably aver that she was there in person.)

It is hard to imagine Woodstock without electric guitars. Les Paul, who died this week, was literally instrumental in developing the amplified solid guitar played stunningly by southpaw Jimmi Hendrix to wrap up the three days.

Woodstock is widely regarded as one of the greatest moments in popular music history and was listed on Rolling Stone‘s 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll. It also indelibly coloured the lives of millions, whether they were there in person or saw the movie and listened to the songs.

But rolling about stoned gathers no moss and Woodstock memories, real or ersatz, are elusive. As Paul Kantner famously said: “If you can remember anything about the sixties, you weren’t really there”.

Either way, from this distance we can still watch the images unwind-and even have an occasional tilt at windmills.

Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever-spinning reel
As the images unwind
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind.

Blinks

From the documentary Woodstock 1970 part 16/23

Bare facts  Woodstock 1970 part 17/23

Hendrix closes  Woodstock 1970 part 21/23 

Joni Mitchell – Woodstock (Big Sur, CA 1969)

A great Second Life cover, stunning visuals Machinima – WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND

Lyrics-Windmills of your mind  http://www.flickr.com/photos/ktlindsay/878061073/

Lyall Lukey 15 August 2009   http://www.lukey.co.nz/


Stopping Tourism Going to the Dogs

August 8, 2009

 “Tourism is a major economic driver and has the potential to help get the country through the recession in good shape….Kiwis can play a part in getting people to visit New Zealand…”   John Key, Minister of Tourism

 As Prime Minister Rob Muldoon kept Finance, David Lange chose Education and Helen Clark Arts and Culture. It’s an indication of the importance of tourism to New Zealand and his own priorities that the present Prime Minister is also the Minister of Tourism.

Last month’s Trenz2009 meeting of New Zealand’s tourist industry used hindsight and foresight to spot  tourist trends. 

Delegates were told that in 1950 25 million people took an international holiday (somewhat up on the millions who had had an economy backpackers’ fare a few years before, often one way, courtesy of the Armed Forces).

In 2008 900 million took an international holiday. That is forecast to grow to 1.9 billion people by 2030. New Zealand needs to attract more than its share and the 100% Pure NZ campaign, now into its second decade, has been given a new lease of life-not without controversy.                            

 I had a childhood experience of New Zealand’s early 1950s tourist industry. 

In the early 1950s, only a few tourists ventured to these Shaky Isles. That magnet for intrepid Victorian adventurers, the Pink and White Terraces at Tarawera, had been destroyed by a volcanic explosion in 1896. At the end of 1953, during the Royal Tour, the thermally-induced Tangiwai disaster was a reminder that New Zealand was, indeed a young country, with frequent fiery adolescent skin eruptions to prove it.

I witnessed an explosion of a marital kind involving two touring American honeymooners at Punakaiki.  They were what is known today as free and independent travellers, exploring the South Island in a red sports car. They had stopped at Manderson’s tea rooms, where my mother worked, at the top of the hill, near the track which wound its way down to the Blow Holes and the Pancake Rocks.  

In bad weather this was a dramatic and frightening place. Just a few weeks before we arrived the Manderson’s daughter had fallen into the main blowhole and it took several days to recover the body.

 This day the weather was fine but the American husband stormy. The couple were travelling with two young tan Daschunds called Gin and Tonic who had left recent evidence that they were, indeed, sausage dogs in the sports car. They were thrust into the arms of my bemused mother as a “gift” before the couple sped away.

 Queen Victoria may have been particularly enamoured of the  breed,  perhaps because its German origins matched her own, but mainly because the breed was used for badger baiting and fox and rabbit hunting. Our two new pets proved to be less adept when chasing a Kiwi Possum which unsportingly shinned up a tree.

Daschunds are of only average intelligence but they are brave and will tackle much larger animals. In fact, a 2008 survey rated Dachshunds the most aggressive small dog. However, the breed also has spinal problems, due in part to an extremely long  spinal column and short rib cage.

 Having John Key as Minister of Tourism is a key part of the strategy to stiffen up the spine of the industry and stop it going to the dogs.

 In a more uncertain world some groups hitherto well represented in New Zealand’s visitor numbers are apparently staying closer to home. For example, young Japanese people seem more interested these days in playing Playstations in the comfort of home.

We have to attract the quality visitors who spend the most and impact the least on the country and give them a delightful Kiwi experience.

The new Tourism New Zealand campaign, the Great Kiwi Invite, was launched last Friday at the National party’s annual conference. It invites Kiwi to go to www.thegreatkiwiinvite.co.nz  and flick on a personal animated invitation to friends and relations offshore inviting them come down here for a holiday.  This has drawing power: when the invitation is accepted, the person will go into a draw to win one of 15 trips for two.

The New Zealand campaign, launched on the 10th anniversary of the 100% Pure Campaign targets not just the one million Kiwis who have joined the great Kiwi Diaspora, but their friends and relations. It is rather more inviting than Australia’s less than subtle “Where the bloody hell are you” campaign.

While the website will seed the campaign, social networking sites will help to multiply the message. Rather than the exhausting and exhaustive Kodak Carousel sideshows of yesteryear, travellers can now flick their images onto Flickr. 

We don’t want to bite the hand that feeds us but we do need to lift our game in terms of tourist service. We might even need to, in rugby parlance, inject a bit of mongrel into the tourist campaign, which, like many useful breeds of dogs, does not have to be 100% pure to be effective.

A bit of fun also helps leave dingos in the dust, as these video clips illustrate. But, as the All Blacks know, never underestimate the power of  a dingo to retaliate.

 BLINKS:

 The Great Kiwi Invite 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TeJSfRDwQ4A&feature=related  100% Pure NZ Full 

Where The Bloody Hell Are You? Spoof

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IY_XR6QnjYs&NR=1&feature=fvwp  Facelift: Where the bloody hell are you?

 Where the bloody hell are you?

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxgQ27RDDWk&NR=1   Where the bloody hell are you – New Zealand

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RenRILqwhJs&NR=1&feature=fvwp  Australia-invade New Zealand

 Lyall Lukey 7 August 2009   http://www.lukey.co.nz/


New Zealand 100% Pure or Purblind?

August 1, 2009

“100% Pure forms a big part of our brand marketing for New Zealand Inc…”  John Key, Minister of Tourism.

 A decade ago, about the time the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign first saw the light of day, I attended the opening ceremony of an APEC meeting in the Christchurch Town Hall.

To enter the cleverly transformed auditorium guests had to make their way through a womb-like artificial cave, to emerge blinking in a recreation of prehistoric nocturnal New Zealand bush. There was not much to be seen except the glimpse of some stars and some dusky foliage, but there were lots of wonderful bird sound effects.

 It was an eerie and highly creative experience, but I wonder what sort of message about New Zealand it gave to the assembled and rather bemused Pacific and Asian delegates.

 It no doubt reinforced the Kiwi stereotype of a seldom seen flightless and nocturnal bird with a rather distasteful diet and strange breeding habits. (The clever, highly social, colourful and often airborne Kea was nowhere in evidence because of a lack of  4 wheel drive vehicles.)

 The APEC opening theme, then, was ornithological but not very logical. At least there were no sheep nor sheepish jokes.

Had the agenda of the meeting been solely about tourism perhaps the imagery would have worked fine. But because it was about new knowledge, new technology and new ways of doing business with new people, it fell flat on its multimedia face. The  landscape  decor was devoid of people, innovative or otherwise.

 Now, exactly 10 years after the campaign was first launched, with some wonderful film footage and effects from Ian Taylor’s Dunedin production company Taylormade, the Prime Minister, who also holds the Tourism portfolio, is reported to be in talks about expanding the 100% Pure New Zealand tourism campaign to become a “master brand” for the whole country.

“We think it’s a foundation brand to carry on into the future. We can use that to leverage not just our tourism activities but also our trade promotion and general promotion of New Zealand.” John Key he said in an interview Key seeks expansion of 100% Pure | Stuff.co.nz

In response the University of Waikato Management School’s Juliet Roper said using 100% Pure New Zealand as a wider national brand was risky unless the Government was serious about protecting the environment. “We’ve got to show the substance behind it…..The scenery is knock-out gorgeous, but we don’t want people coming here and saying, `But the water wasn’t clean’….”

Mr Key agrees there had to be integrity behind the 100% Pure New Zealand image. “We have to make sure that we, through our actions or our goods and services, don’t undermine the brand. “But, broadly speaking, I think it reflects reality, that New Zealand’s a largely unpopulated, unspoilt landscape….We are trying to balance our economic growth with our environmental credentials.”

But brilliant and heart swelling though it is, the 100% Pure campaign sweeps under the promotional carpet the dirty truth that, as a highly developed farming nation, we have transformed much of our land and waterways with a chemical cocktail of additives.  Giardia warning signs on the banks of New Zealand rivers are at odds with our 100% Pure brand.

Quite separately the image of a pristine and largely deserted landscape does not help our push in other markets to be perceived as a technologically savvy, innovative people. Nokia didn’t get to where it is today by staying fixated with forests and endlessly replaying the Finlandia Suite.

This is no doubt why some time ago NZTE launched its  New Zealand-New Thinking campaign.   This endeavored to make the point that if we are geographically on the edge, it is a creative cutting edge.  This is no Hickesville hinterland, and we have a lot of creative, scientific and technological talent to prove it.

Intensive factory scale dairying and tourism are opposite ends of a tricky balancing act. Old and new pollution muddy the  waters.  It may be that current primary product prices and land values are taking the heat out of dairy conversions, but it is difficult to ring electric fence the discharge of nitrates and cover up other depradations. Taking agriculture out of our emissions scheme, for example, is simply sleight of hand, though it is fair to acknowledge that many farmers are already using systems which reduce pollution.

As a country we have to be wary of falsely representing our environmental credentials with a proudly patriotic but purblind campaign. If we get it demonstrably wrong we will have no credibility and the campaign will be seen to be at least 50% pure bullshit.

As the Kingston Trio used to sing in a more innocent time “Do not muddy the water around us, we may have to drink it.”

BLINKS 

100% Pure New Zealand 

Early milking on a New Zealand dairy farm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWPnO88Vme8  

Jean Sibelius: Finlandia 

Muddy Waters – Blow Wind Blow   

The Kingston Trio – Early Morning Rain

Speight’s ad “Don’t mess with nature” feauterin… 

Best Beer Commercial ever

#Lyall Lukey 1 August 2009   http://www.lukey.co.nz/