July 6, 2012 9:11 pm

Keeping up appearances

I try to live life vicariously by getting my chosen avatars to attend things in my place
illustration of a bathtub with red bull©James Ferguson

I can only be in one place at a time. There is so much stuff going on that I cannot possibly get to all of it. Luckily, I am a believer in virtual attendance and try to live life vicariously by getting my chosen avatars to attend things in my place. I then pump them for information afterwards. When I was younger, this used to work for boyfriends, too. If I thought someone single was attractive, but I was in a relationship, it was easier to get one of my girlfriends to date him and then tell me all about it.

So it was that at the end of June I sent avatars along to several noteworthy events. One of them was my girlfriend Julia Hobsbawm’s inaugural lecture as visiting professor of networking at Cass Business School. I have just finished a nine-year association with Cass, mainly as a visiting professor. Julia, who is one of life’s “super connectors”, was introduced to the audience at Cass by Cliff Oswick.

My avatars tell me that Professor Oswick likened meeting Julia to taking a warm bath while drinking two cans of Red Bull. I have not tried this particular combination myself, so I cannot say for sure how accurate an analogy it is.

I thought it interesting that while Julia was talking to a packed room of people aiming to get into her “global green room” – her term to describe leadership networks – another such global green room was in session 120 miles away, with participants talking about exactly the same thing. In Bristol, academics were discussing the developments in social network analysis at the annual meeting of the United Kingdom Social Networks Association. (Yes, there really is such a thing. This was its eighth annual meeting.) I was not able to get to this either so I missed out on hearing papers such as “Accelerating the Diffusion of Innovations via Social Network Analysis”, which I am sure was fascinating and would not require copious draughts of Red Bull beforehand.

My avatar in Bristol was Dr Dimitris Christopoulos, the sort of Greek chap who, back in the days when he was single, I might well have sent an avatar to check out. He organised the UKSNA conference and when I contacted him, he told me that he had recently spoken at the 42nd Conference of the British Islands and Mediterranean Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. It took place at the Scottish Parliament and is another event I failed to attend in June, although I admit that is simply because I was entirely ignorant of its existence. Maybe next time I will send an avatar – after all, if a conference is worth doing 42 times and has eminent academics such as Dr Christopoulos in attendance, perhaps there is a global green room going on there that I need to know about.

So what on earth did I get up to in June? Where did it disappear to? The diamond jubilee took up the first few days, and, to be honest, hiding indoors from the rain with the Aga on full blast was what I felt like doing for most of the month. I did make it to Royal Ascot, and on the evening when social networks were being debated in London and Bristol, I was at Trent Bridge. This, for my foreign readers, is the Nottinghamshire county cricket ground, and I was enjoying a global green room of my own with cricketers-turned-commentators Jonathan Agnew and Tony Greig. They were reminiscing about what it was like to face bowlers such as Michael Holding in the days before the advent of cricket helmets, when I am not entirely sure Red Bull was an option.

Back at Professor Hobsbawm’s public lecture, attendees had been asked to list their profession when registering for the event. Professor Oswick noted that no fewer than two osteopaths had signed up. What does this tell us? That osteopaths need to build a network too? Is there a global green room for osteopaths? If there is, will it need an avatar? I doubt it.

mrsmoneypenny@ft.com

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2014. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.

LIFE AND ARTS ON TWITTER

More FT Twitter accounts
SHARE THIS QUOTE