(insert thing here) will transform… 

No, it won’t. “Transforming” isn’t.

The only things that transform are loads of comic book characters like poor benighted Doctor Bruce Banner. When he gets Ang Lee*, he turns into a big green monster dubbed The Hulk. There’s another big monster in the Fantastic Four, only he’s orange and called The Thing.


“A new artistic approach to virtual reality: as artists blur the boundaries between real and virtual, the way we create and consume art will be transformed.”


Oooh, sounds really innovative. No it doesn’t, and no, it won’t.**

In the art world, it means some uninteresting combination of old hat and new hat, desperate to be noticed.

Thing is, virtual reality has been The Next Big Thing for the last 25 years. That’s a whole bloody human generation. Maybe that’s how long it actually takes, a point which both anticipates one major implication of my punchline below, and won’t be explored here, though it should be. From memory, I think I have mentioned Permaculture before. And Beth Chatto. Google both and then imagine what I would’ve said in the blog you aren’t reading.

In government, transforming always means making cuts (disagree, I dare you).

NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans, I rest my case.

I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to come up with more examples from other fields of human endeavour.

That S-word. The everyday meaning of ‘sustainable’ is something like ‘reliably keeping going’. Is this sustainable? Can we keep it up (Ooer, modern matron), can we keep it going? Another word for it, in the context of systems labeled ‘human’ (as opposed to systems labeled ‘biological’) would be maintainable, as in ‘maintenance’.

A small number of pundits, including myself, some blokes on the internet and Ben Taylor of RedQuadrant, a bijoux public sector consultancy here in the UK***, have become disenchanted with the whole notion of innovation. We’re more interested in keeping things going and not chucking them out or smashing them up. Maintenance. Bo-ring.

Innovation is sexy and cool, we are told. But would you want to marry one? Here’s hoping innovation stops being cool in 2017. The signs are good. Google iPhone 7 launch parody. Ooh, it’s slightly faster.

Ted Gioia has a book called The Birth (and Death) of the Cool. I’ve ordered it. When it arrives I’ll quite probably blog about it. Let’s kill cool! Does that sound cool? Drat, it does. Boring is the new cool. What.Ev.Er.

Let’s make 2017 The Year Of Maintenance. 

I’ve ordered my brown coat and flat cap. 

* “You wouldn’t like me if I’m Ang Lee”. Lee, Stuart that is, made Lee (Ang), the director of the first Hulk movie, the butt of one of his unfunny jokes that are supposed to be funny if he goes on about it long enough. I thought it was, in this case.

**Well, it is panto season. Oh no it isn’t, oh yes it is… Enough.

***Disclosure: they employ me to do a bit of maintenance now and then.


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