Sherlock Holmes series on BBC TV illustrates charismatic infatuation

January 26, 2014

The recent Sherlock Holmes series on BBC Television was launched in a sustained and skillful blaze of publicity. Its impact suggests an explanation of charismatic influence

The advertising hype created a teaser over the apparent death of Sherlock at the end of the first series two years earlier. The character in the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories survived a fall. The viewers were now invited to explain the survival of the Sherlock as played by Benedict Cumberbatch

The Holmes Watson relationship

Two themes dominated the first of the three episodes. The first was How did Sherlock survive the fall from a high building? The second was the intense homoerotic nature of the Holmes Watson relationship.

The Marmite factor

The reaction of viewers to all episodes was intense. The reviews released a quite astonishing emotional outpouring of replies. Fans demonstrated the so called Marmite effect [you love it or loath it, with little cool or rational reactions displayed] Nearly a thousand comments appeared hours after the Guardian review.

For the first two episodes reviewers tended to be rather lukewarm towards the production, acknowledging outstanding elements of acting and plot but rather unsatisfactory coherence and more than a whiff of smug self-indulgence. The third was widely regarded as by far the most dramatic and compelling to watch.

The infatuation effect

As evidenced by the thousand comments [of the first two and more unsatisfactory episodes for the critics], a sizable proportion of fans were infatuated by the mega-star of the series, Holmes played by Benedict Cumberbatch. For this group, the overwhelming emotion was unconditional expressions of love, coupled with anger at those who expressed any signs of disappointment in the production.

Is this a clue to the nature of charismatic leadership?

Possibly. At least there is a suggestion of a line of research into followership and charisma. The vulnerability induced in followers by the charismatic leader could be studied through investigation of the concept of celebrity infatuation.

Twitter goes public: a few tweets

September 13, 2013

When Twitter announced it was going public, Leaders we Deserve Editor in Tweet provided his own tweets to mark the news

Friday 13th September 2013

1. Tudor Rickards ‏@Tudortweet now
@smh Thanks.Your article on twitter has encouraged me to review my earlier blogs from the time I wondered what Twitter’s business model is
2. Tudor Rickards ‏@Tudortweet now
Further thoughts on Twitter. What I like: unexpectedness of tweets from people with primary focus to communicate not capitalize
3. Tudor Rickards ‏@Tudortweet now
Further thoughts of twitter: What I dislike, Use as crude and sometimes covert advertising [lessons to be learned from TV commercials]
4. Tudor Rickards ‏@Tudortweet now
I tweet therefore I am. I don’t tweet because I am something else
5. Tudor Rickards ‏@Tudortweet now
Last twitter tweet for now. Twitter will split into several services whose form and function will be shaped by us the tweeters.

A more formal analysis on how Twitter makes money came from The Sydney Morning Herald. This triggered the Tweets above.

Other early tweeters

1. Reuters India ‏@ReutersIndia 2h
Twitter takes first step toward going public
2. James Hirsen ‏@thejimjams 3h
Things to know before you load up on Twitter stock
3. Los Angeles Times

Twitter files for an IPO; five things you should know
As you may have heard, Twitter has filed for a confidential initial public offering of stock, so in case you aren’t too familiar with the company, here are five quick things you should know.
[Also shows original Twitter announcement]

Do Ye Ken John Keane?

March 26, 2013

John PeelLeaders we deserve announce the forthcoming post on leadership from author and leadership researcher, John Keane. John believes that social media such as blog sites are offering opportunities for experimenting with new formats for communicating ideas

John’s post, which takes the form of a piece of creative writing, will appear in LWD within the next few days.

The image

The image of John Peel [not John Keane] is from the nostalgic site Pipe dreams from the Shire . Blame your editor for thinking John Keane shared his name with John Peel before correcting the original title of this announcement. I thought subscribers might still enjoy the image of the celebrated Cumbrian huntsman.

Will twitter change the course of history and swing the Presidential election?

October 24, 2012

Another too-close-to-call Presidential campaign. And a pivotal moment is being identified as the first Presidential debate, which seems to have caught out team Obama by the influence of a whirlwind of tweets on reshaping political opinion

ABC’s Michael Brissenden suggested it did.

In his post Twitter frenzies shake up traditional debate tactics, he suggests that “In politics Twitter might be proving to be a new and somewhat unpredictable complication”. I have summarized his analysis below:

Impact of the first televised debate

If Barack Obama does lose this election, the first TV debate of this campaign will take on a historical significance that will be studied by political science undergraduates for years to come and no doubt writ large in campaign strategists’ offices for decades.

The frenzy of online engagement is like performance algebra – a jumble of characters, symbols and short, sharp calculations that somehow end up reaching a conclusion, faster and more efficiently than the old-school campaign long division.

As a result 90 minutes of prime time TV became a political eternity. In cyber space no-one can hear you scream but they can sure tell if you’re off your game. They used to say you could tell who won a TV debate even with the sound turned off – but no-one can control the volume of instant messaging. And politicians all over the world are being caught flat-footed by it.

It was 90 minutes the Obama campaign could never get back. The dynamics shifted decisively and now we have a contest that some think could end up being one of the closest presidential races ever.

Two more weeks

Two more weeks of relentless politics, increasingly targeted on the handful of ‘swing states’ whose uncommitted voters are believed to hold the key to the election. Two more weeks of attack ads. Do they influence anybody? And if not, why are funders spending billions of dollars on an expensive turnoff? The pollsters have been predicting a close race for some while.

To be continued

Anti-capitalist group Anonymous targets another Bank website

October 20, 2012

The Anonymous anti-capitalist group claims to be behind the recent disruption to the HSBC bank websites

On Thursday 18th October, another denial of service attack on a Bank’s website occurred. The group of computer activists known as Anonymous claimed responsibility. Anonymous appears to be loosely linked network of activists. This particular attack seems to be claimed by a UK-based part of the wider network, although the description as a ‘splinter group’ seems inappropriate.

Aggrieved activists

The Anonymous messages, partly via Twitter, appear to show that the activists are particularly aggrieved that the attack may may be claimed by other militant groups. This addresses the assumption that the attack was by Muslim hacktivists as part of campaign of denial of service attacks against US banks last month in protest against the controversial Innocence of Muslims video.

As some of you may be aware HSBC bank suffered several DDoS attacks on the named sites in the past hours they were all brought down by@FawkesSecurity. Before any claim fags attempt to take ownership of this attack, the proof is all in our Twitter account, Targets, time and date :) @FawkesSecurity

We are Anonymous
We are legion
We do not forget
We do not forgive
Expect us

To be continued

Face to face in Moscow: Facebook’s founder meets Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

October 2, 2012

Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg met Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow to discuss intellectual property issues.

Zuckerberg was beginning his quest for new global markets, as the leader of the newly floated Facebook organization [May 2012]

The Voice of Russia reported:

On Monday [1st October 2012] Dmitry Medvedev and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had an informal meeting at the Prime Minister`s residence outside Moscow.

Since Mr Medvedev has his personal video blog, not to mention accounts on Facebook, Twitter and LiveJournal, his meeting with Zuckerberg, whose social networking site already has over 995 million users, has become a hot topic for the media.

Mr Medvedev was reported as saying

“The social networking sites have become extremely popular worldwide. And Facebook`s contribution to this is obvious. If I am not mistaken, some 10 million Russians are on Facebook. Of course, it is not that much compared to the US, where there are about 30 million Facebook users. Still, these figures are impressive. We also have our national social networking sites such as Odnoklassniki (Classmates) and VKontakte (Staying in touch). Besides, everybody is using Twitter. This is a kind of a different reality. And you personally have contributed to this”

Mr. Medvedev and Mr Zuckerberg discussed copyright protection on the web.

“As a lawyer myself I am very interested in this issue. I used to do research on it in the past. I believe that if an object of intellectual property is not listed on the web as requiring special protection it could be used freely” Mr. Medvedev said.

Friends or not?

When the meeting was over, Mark Zuckerberg presented Dmitry Medvedev with a T-shirt printed with the address of Medvedev`s Facebook page. The Voice of Russia report did not say whether Dmitry and Mark had friended each other, and if so, when.

The IP challenge

The conversation ever-so-politely introduced the challenges of intellectual property rights facing Facebook and other Western organizations as they seek to work globally.

The bonds that tie

It occurred to me that for all the differences in culture, America and Russia have been parts of the world which have seen the rise of self-made entrepreneurs cum billionaires. In that sense Zuckerman has a head start over the more traditional Fortune 100 CEOs in doing business there.


Image from biz Russia. IP rights as indicated by Mr. Medvedev

Social media helped the hunt for the murderer of Jill Meagher

September 28, 2012

The investigation of the disappearance of Jill Meagher in Melbourne, Australia appears to have been accelerated through the use of social media and CCTV footage released by the police

The search for a missing woman in Melbourne, Australia ended tragically but was immensely speeded up through the use of social media.

Jill Meagher a young Irish woman working for an Australian media company, ABC radio, went missing after leaving a bar in the early hours on Saturday [20th September 2012].

A Facebook page was set up to raise awareness drawing on CCTV footage. Within days the police were able to identify and interview a suspect, and locate Jill Meagher’s body.

The breakthrough

The breakthrough came a day after police released CCTV video taken from the store, which showed a man wearing a hoodie talking to Ms Meagher, 29, at 1.43am on Saturday as she walked home after a night out with ABC work colleagues. Police say they were led to the scene by the man charged with the murder and rape of Ms Meagher.

The role of social media

In a statement issued on behalf of the family, Mr McKeon [Jill’s uncle] said: “We are devastated…There are no words to describe how we feel at what has happened. We acknowledge the role that social media has played in the search for her. It has helped us to reach a conclusion, although it is not the one we had hoped and prayed for.

The down side

Social media coverage is not a universal good. On the down side, even in this case, a senior Melbourne police chief joined with Jill Meagher’s grieving husband in calling for people not to post anything on social media websites which might prejudice the trial of the man accused of killing her.

Technology and crime

Police investigations often take advantage of the potential of technological inventions.

In 1910, less than a decade after the commercialisation of wireless system, the captain of the westward bound SS Montrose, asked his Marconi operator to send a brief message to England: “Have strong suspicions that Crippen London cellar murderer and accomplice are among saloon passengers. Accomplice dressed as a boy. Voice manner and build undoubtedly a girl.” A detective from Scotland Yard boarded a faster ship and arrested [Crippen] before SS Montrose docked in Montreal.

See also

Crime investigator outlines procedures

Facebook IPO helps define the American dream

May 19, 2012

The initial public offering for Facebook shares reveals much about the American dream

The valuation

When the dust settled after the first day of trading [18th May 2012], Facebook’s valuation, of just over $100 billion placed it roughly on a par with Amazon.

The dream of wealth creation

The wealth accruing to Mark Zuckerman and the other young co-founders has been widely noted. In America, much has also been made about what is seem as tax-dodging by Eduardo Saverin, who has taken up residency in Singapore and renounced his American citizenship, although his actions are seen differently in Singapore


On the date of the public offering [18th May 2012], The Verge attempted to answer the question of why the stock appeared to be trading at a figure based so much on expectations.

Why would so many smart, rich people put such a premium on the stock? IPOs are an insider’s game. Buying the stock today at $38 means paying a premium to the founders, early investors, bankers, and even the bankers’ best clients, all of who have passed the stock down the food chain and taken their bite along the way.

Can Google and Facebook be compared easily?

The success of Google and its continued growth after its own share launch is now being used to justify the excitement. Google’s revenues are roughly three times those of Facebook ($9 billion to $3.5). But the prospects for the two companies seem difficult to assess (although the graph offered in The Verge article is worth studying).

The Initial Public Offering [IPO] was considered less than a success. The Los Angeles Times put it this way

“There was all this pressure and hype and attention with all eyes on Facebook — and the starlet tripped on the red carpet,” said Max Wolff, an analyst at GreenCrest Capital Management in New York. What went wrong? Analysts point to a variety of factors that might have given investors pause. Its valuation at about 100 times earnings likely struck some as too high. Its growth in new users is slowing. And Facebook has not yet found a way to cash in on mobile devices, where social media is gravitating.

This week’s decision by General Motors Co. to stop advertising on Facebook because it wasn’t getting results heightened concerns about how Facebook can profit from its 900 million users.

But perhaps the biggest blunders came in recent days as the company and its largest shareholders moved to maximize their profits at the expense of new investors.

Friendship and economics: The dilemma for Facebook

Other commentators have gone beyond the financials, suggesting a flaw in the proposed growth model of Facebook. The massive popular reach of the corporation comes with a belief that ultimately it was a social phenomenon primarily about achieving social goals. In particular it has redefined personal identity and the concept of friendship. There was always something apart from economics in that set of beliefs.

The dilemma for Facebook becomes more visible now that the corporation is legally obligated to conform to economic principles and governance. Considerations of ethics, stock price and social vision increasingly will interplay. Even its efforts to promote the American Dream may be scrutinized more coolly and globally.

The rise and fall of Bo Jilai and Gu Kailai [Updated]

April 15, 2012

The fast-changing story is being updated here. An earlier post reviewed the accounts of the political demise of charismatic leader Bo Jilai and the prosecution of his wife and one-time celebrity lawyer Gu Kailai, for the alleged murder of British businessman Neil Heyward, a friend of Bo.

The updated post draws on a wider set of information sources, including links with Chinese language sites where English language translations are available.

November 8th 2012

WEstern news reports indicate link between murdered businessman Neil Hayward and British security forces

October 26th 2012

Bo expelled from Parliament but unlikely to stand trial before upcoming elections

October 22nd 2012

Interesting debate on a wide range of issues , including the Bo Jilai affair

September 28th 2012

Bo Jilai expelled from the Chinese Communist party . Western reports drawing on sources within China suggest that dealing with Bo Jilai has become a major consideration within efforts to arrange a smooth transition to new leadership.

September 24th

The story continues with the trial and conviction of Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun for 15 years in prison finding him guilty of “bending the law for selfish ends, defection, abuse of power and bribe-taking.”

August 2012

The post has been updated to report the series of events leading to Gu’s arrest for murder, and her being given a suspended death penalty. There is little news of Bo Jilai. Commentators inside China suggest there is little public coverage, and little sympathy for the victim who is portayed as involved in a financial scam or blackmail extorting money from Gu Kailai.

May 10th

Francis Fukuyama speculates that Bo was ousted on fears he might become ‘the next Mao’

The Indian Express challenges theory of Chinese resilient autocracy. (effective succession planning)

May 9th

Korea Times argues that the tensions in China including the Bo Xilai case may lead to ‘recalibrating’ of foreign policy towards North Korea

May 7th

New York Times evaluates Bo Xilai as brilliant…ruthless…[with a ] penchant for power and glory [which] earned him powerful enemies.

May 6th

More rumours of the defection of Police chief Wang which triggered the Bo Xilai political downfall.

[Posted in advance of cover date, May 14th by Time Magazine]. An in depth analysis argues that China’s move to technocratic leadership is becoming re-politicised

May 4th

Bo Xilai and Chen Guangchen stories examined by Voice of Russia for Eurasiaview

May 3rd

Thoughtful analysis of ‘The Bo Xilai crisis’ by The Toronto Star

May 1st

Western sources appear to contradict the story of Bo Guagua and the red Ferrari .

April 30th

Gu Kailai asked a British firm to accept a secret £150,000 over-payment and to use the money to pay her son’s school fees at Harrow, a former company director alleges

April 28th The Western media have shown diminished coverage of the Bo Xilai story. Attention has switched to his wayward son Bo Guagua. There is also some mention of Guagua’s half brother Li Wangzhi.

April 27th

Bo Guagua: Not a Ferrari but a Porsche says Wall Street journal

Details of the driving offences from the English version of Elenco Notizie, Italy.

April 26th

Western news reports claim Bo was involved in phone monitoring of China’s top politicians including President Hu Jintao

April 25th

Police chief Wang Lijun had told US officials that Mrs Gu was directly involved in Heyward’s murder by cyanide

Bo Guagua defends his life style in Harvard newsletter but avoids reference to the broader Bo Xilai story

April 24th

Other stories seem to be supplanting this one for global interest. The BBC China Round Up gives a dozen other URLs but no mention of the Bo Xilai one.

April 22nd

Reuters report [April 17th, 2012] China’s Bo backed, then blocked murder probe against his wife

April 21st

A US-based Chinese-language website that has reported extensively on the Bo Xilai scandal in China says it was crippled for several hours by a concerted hacking attack.

April 20th

A BBC TV report widens accusations against Bo Xilai.

April 19th

Business Week claims Bo Xilai Son Not in Custody, Remains at Harvard

NTV report based on Chinese websites examines mutual accusations between Bo Xilai and Chinese security chief Zhou Yongkang. Photo of Zhou from Xinhua via Want China Times, Taiwan

As state officials attempt to control the story, the Chinese blogosphere has devised its own coded language to circumvent censorship.

April 18th
Prime Minister David Cameron and politburo member Li Changchun hold constructive talks in London.

Foreign Minister issues written statement about the Heyward case and is quizzed in Parliament.

BBC updates its reporting

April 17th

Western reports turn attention to lavish lifestyle of Go and Gu’s son, Bo Guagua. Image is of a Ferrari which crashed in Beijing and was allegedly that of Bo Guagua.

The Shanghaist considers the (British) Daily Telegraph a good source of information on the developing story of “our favourite playboy”, and reports his possible asylum bid being helicoptered from Harvard.

The BBC reports that Prime Minister David Cameron will raise the issue of Mr Heywood’s death today at a meeting in Downing Street to discuss trade, cultural and education links with politburo member Li Changchun.

New York Times also reports on story

April 16th

English East Day outlines official Chinese statement on the way the investigation into Bo Xilai and the arrest of his wife Bogu Kailai has been conducted through the rule of law in China.

‘Unconfirmed’ reports in British tabloids such as the Daily Mail suggest Heyward had an affair with Gu Kailai

The Australian claims Heyward will be named a spy for MI6 based in contacts with intelligence gathering agency founded by former MI6 employee.

April 15th

Heyward’s death linked to murder by suicide

April 14th

More about the life style of Bo Guangua

April 13th

Freedomnewsgroup provides English language links of the developing story.

Daily Times of Pakistan reports that China has deleted thousands of online posts over ‘rumours’ and temporarily closed others for ‘rectification’.

A post from the Economist gives more background to the story

New York Times adds a few more details to earlier accounts

August 22nd

Bo Xilai goes on trial. A long-running drama reaches a critical stage.

Sept 22nd 2013

Bo Xi Lai trial trial ends with life sentence. Wall Street Journal assesses political implications

The rise and fall of Bo Jilai and Gu Kailai

April 12, 2012

The rise and fall of the charismatic political leader Bo Jilai provides an insight into political leadership processes in contemporary China. The story took on an additional twist with the prosecution of his wife and one-time celebrity lawyer Gu Kailai, for the alleged murder of British businessman Neil Heyward, a friend of Bo.

Jonathan Fenby of the Guardian provides background to the story. [April 10th 2012]

Though he had cut a swath for the past five years with his promotion of his mega-city of Chongqing, complete with the singing of old patriotic songs, Bo was (a) too flamboyant and uncontrolled a figure to be tolerated by the consensus board that runs China, and (b) lacked solid factional support. He was too much of an individualist in a system that works by committee. Whatever fame it brought him, his ambition made him vulnerable in the end. [But] Bo fell because he was too much of a tall poppy and lacked allies – his handling of the fall-out from Heywood’s death in a Chongqing hotel room was also exceedingly clumsy.

Gu Kailai and the Neil Heywood murder case

The downfall of Bo was spectacular enough, but then the story took on a more sinister tone with the arrest of his wife Gu Kailai for the death of Neil Hayward

Gu, Bo’s second wife, seems to have much in common with her husband. Like him she is known as charismatic, eloquent and bold. She forged a high-profile career as a lawyer, which she bolstered with two books on her successes representing a well-known sports coach and Chinese firms challenging a US court judgment.
Like [her husband] she comes from party aristocracy: although her mother was descended from a famous Song dynasty minister, her father, Gu Jingsheng, was a renowned Communist general. But as her husband climbed the political ladder, Gu’s public profile declined dramatically. Bo told reporters last month [March 2012] that she gave up her career two decades ago so she could not be accused of benefiting from his position.

She is thought to have spent much of her time in the UK, where their son studied at Papplewick, a prep school in Ascot; Harrow and then Oxford University from 2000. It is understood Gu had suffered from depression in recent years, and it is thought she may also have sought treatment in Britain.

Heywood, who told friends he got to know the family after writing to several leaders in Dalian to introduce himself, said he had helped arrange [their son] Bo Guagua’s education. According to the Wall Street Journal, he was among a small group of friends and advisers on whom Gu relied in recent years.

The Guardian editorial

In a subsequent editorial, The Guardian described the developing story as evidence of irrevocable changes in China through its economic transition and the inevitable transparency of an era of Social Media.

What was it over? The investigation into the murder Neil Heywood, in which Bo’s wife Gu Kailai was strongly implicated? The rise of an opportunist princeling, who had turned a city with the population the size of Canada’s into a massive personal springboard to national fame? It took more than a month from the incident which started all this, the dramatic flight of Bo’s former ally and police chief Wang Lijun to the nearest US consulate, to the removal of Bo as Chongqing chief. Another few weeks elapsed until Bo was dismissed from the politburo. Obviously Wang’s allegations against his former boss had to be investigated. But there must also have been one big bust-up, as rival party barons settled scores over the seat in the standing committee that Bo will now never occupy.

The fall of Bo tells us about the ability of the communist leadership to manage change. The Brutal factional politics can no longer be concealed behind a screen. It is duplicated in real-time all over millions of them. The second is that, whether or not Bo’s fall was accidental or triggered by forces outside Chongqing, the myth that the grey, collective, consensus-led leadership can carry on business as usual has been temporarily dented, if not permanently shattered. The next generation of leaders faces such massive that it patently cannot carry on business as usual. Third, Bo’s rise and fall came amid a steady crescendo of debate about the need for reform, political as well as economic.

Through Western Eyes

I have drawn mostly on the excellent Guardian coverage of the breaking story. More information and video links can be found through the [US] lonedaysite. However, I am conscious of the perils of reporting only through the Western media sources. Through western eyes, accounts have the density of a John le Carré political novel and with a dash of Lewis Carroll.


The image of Bo and Gu is from where it is attributed to an internet photograph.


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