Thinking Out Loud No. 7
On geospatial data, a trip to Korea and my serendipity vehicle
It’s been a while! As it turns out, getting sick and having a load of work to do is a great way to disrupt good habits.
With that said, lest you think I’ve forgotten about you, here’s a quick update before I head to the airport…
I’m going to Korea
Here’s a crazy story for you.
About a month ago a colleague put me in touch with the fine folks at The Ordnance Survey to write an article for their blog. For those not from the UK, this is our national mapping agency. Most people know them for their very detailed paper maps, often used for long hiking trips. The name comes from their military history, as Wikipedia says:
The agency's name indicates its original military purpose..., which was to map Scotland in the wake of the Jacobite rising of 1745. There was also a more general and nationwide need in light of the potential threat of invasion during the Napoleonic Wars.
Times change, of course, and they’re now interested in how geospatial data can be used to support the UK’s energy system transformation. Energy innovation is my field, so of course I said yes.
Here’s the article for anyone interested in energy. It’s pretty interesting, if I do say so myself.
Of course, like any good shameless self-promoter, I posted the article on LinkedIn. This is where things get crazy. Someone on LinkedIn reached out:
Hi Michael, Long time no speak, I saw you moved on from [my former employer] a few months ago. I just saw your linkedin post and thought to drop you a line to see if you would be interested in speaking at an [organiser] event in South Korea, November 7th. [organiser] pay for business class airfare and accommodation, so shouldn't cost KPMG [my current employer] anything. I have just had someone cancel so looking for a replacement and your OS article was/is just the content I'm after for the slot.
This is someone who I only met once about 7 years ago. We never worked together (he left my former employer before I joined), but we met when he was an advisor to a project I worked on about four jobs ago.
It’s been two weeks since he invited me. Of course, I said yes. It was a mad rush to create a 15 minute conference presentation from nothing in my free time, but I’m all set.
My serendipity vehicle
You may know that I created my website and this newsletter as part of an online course called Write of Passage. One of the modules was on the concept of the Serendipity Vehicle.
In a nutshell, the world is full of opportunities, but it’s very difficult to go out and find them. I could regularly message all my LinkedIn contacts and ask for things, but we all know how far that would get me.
What I need is a way for those opportunities to find me, and that’s what writing on the Internet is about. I put stuff out there in the world and it spreads around in ways I can’t predict. Sometimes a new connection is made. This trip to Korea is the first major demonstration that my serendipity vehicle is working.
I don’t write for serendipity though. I write because I love writing. In fact, I suspect if I tried to write for serendipity, it wouldn’t work. It’s a wonderful added bonus though, and a great positive feedback loop.
This concept was paradigm shifting for me. I’d love to hear from you if it resonates with you or if you have a serendipity vehicle of your own. What unlikely stories of serendipity do you have?
Media of the month
A few weekends ago I went to Prague to see my favourite band, Above & Beyond, in concert. They run a weekly online ‘radio’ show (Above & Beyond Group Therapy) and every 50th episode they put on a MASSIVE live show. This was ABGT350. People fly in from around the world for these events, and I’m very glad I was one of them. The music and visual show were insane.
I’ll be spending next weekend in Seoul for a little tourism, so brace yourself for photos of kimchi and, hopefully, some thoughts and observations. Maybe some K-pop too.
P.S. If you enjoyed this newsletter and think someone else might too then please feel encouraged to forward it on. And if you were sent this email by someone else, then welcome! You can subscribe here or check out my latest blog posts.