Rugby Bullfighting

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Humour, Internet, Life | Posted on 31-03-2011


Last year I posted a couple of videos of my rugby team, the mighty Village Lions, in action – both on the field, and trying our hand at Portugese Bullfighting while over there on tour.

Not only has that video gone viral on Deadspin, we also just found out it was featured on TV in Colombia:

Surreal. But I’m glad I can check ’15 minutes of fame for wrestling livestock’ off my bucket list.


Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Internet, Life, Marketing | Posted on 26-03-2011


Right now I’m reading Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel – essentially a quick history of civilization and the role geography plays in shaping our past, present and future.

A chapter on technologies role in history yielded this interesting tidbit of info on the QWERTY keyboard that says a lot about human rationality and the power of vested interests:

Unbelievable as it may now sound, that keyboard layout was designed in 1873 as a feat of anti-engineering. It employs a whole series of perverse tricks designed to force typists to type as slowly as possible, such as scattering the commonest letters over all keyboard rows and concentrating them on the left side (where right handed people have to use their weaker hand).

The reason behind all of those seemingly counterproductive features is that the typewriters of 1873 jammed if adjacent keys were struck in quick succession, so that manufacturers had to slow down typists. When improvements in typewriters eliminated the problem of jamming, trials in 1932 with an efficiently laid-out keyboard showed that it would let us double our typing speed and reduce our typing effort by 95 percent. But QWERTY keyboards were solidly entrenched by then. The vested interests of hundreds of millions of QWERTY typists, typing teachers, typewriter and computer sales people, and manufacturers have crushed all moves toward keyboard efficiency for over 60 years.

We First Interview

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Business, charity: water, Internet | Posted on 23-03-2011


Last week I was in Austin, Texas for the SXSW mega-conference – think Woodstock, for nerds.

While there I had the good pleasure to meet a great charity: water supporter and one of the smarter guys in the cause-marketing space, Simon Mainwaring, who shot this video with yours truly for his blog (apologies for the croaky voice… SXSW will do that!).

Simon is a must-follow if you’re interested in social media for social good, cause marketing or corporate social responsibility. And I’m not just saying that because he’s a fellow Aussie!

Right now he’s promoting his new book We First, one of the first books I’ve heard of that will laser in on the intersection between social media, social good and corporate strategy.

I’ve had the good fortune to be able to thumb through a pre-release copy of the book and can enthusiastically recommend you pre-order it here.

World Water Day

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water | Posted on 22-03-2011


Today is World Water Day.

Water Changes Everything. Learn more.

Sending Kbell Down the Well

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Humour, Internet | Posted on 17-03-2011


My boss Scott just took a handful of big charity: water donors to Africa.

There’s nothing like being able to say thank you to our supporters – so check out the video we made for Chris Sacca, featuring the hilarious Kristen Bell.

Update for Chris Sacca from northern Ethiopia. from charity: water (special donors) on Vimeo.

PdF Audio: Using Social Media for Non-Profit Fundraising

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Internet, Marketing | Posted on 09-03-2011


Last week I was the guest of the Personal Democracy Forum as they hosted one of their series of PdF Network conference calls, this one looking at charity: water’s success in online fundraising.

The PdF team were good enough to share audio of the event, and Micah Sifry put together a quick outline of the call I’ll share here:

  • Money is a by-product of great connections and great content. Again and again, Paull explained how charity: water focuses on serving its supporters with content that is worth paying attention to, and on insuring that their experience working with the organization is “filled with delight.”
  • There’s no “donate” button anywhere on charity: water’s Twitter or Facebook presences. Instead, those channels are used for what they do best, to help spread messages and build connections. Don’t view “donors as wallets,” he said. They’re people with whom to build rewarding relationships.
  • Pay attention to (and share) all the great stories that your members may have to share. Paull talked about Riley Goodfellow, an 8-year-old supporter of charity: water who convinced her friends to eat rice and beans for a month, and then got their parents to donate the money saved on food, and who carried a water can to school each day to understand what it felt like to have to walk to a well each day to get clean water. (Her whole story is here.)
  •, the group’s distributed fundraising platform, has enabled thousands of people to build their own personal fundraising campaigns, many of them around donating their birthdays.
  • This approach has to be embraced from the top of an organization or it won’t work. Hands-on training for leadership can help a lot, otherwise people tend to reject methods they don’t personally understand. Also, charity: water is very much a “digital start-up,” Paull noted, with something like a third of its core staff devoted to online organizing, web design, coding, etc.

Podcast for: Using Social Media for Non-Profit Fundraising- charity: water’s Success

-download podcast here or visit the PdF site to stream the audio.

The Ups & Downs of Life in New York

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Life | Posted on 05-03-2011


Twice in the last 24 hours I had ‘ah New York’ moments. Two very different moments, both uniquely NYC. One reminded me just how much you’re a small cog in a machine in this city, the other was one of those little moments of magic that you can only find here.

The first is a very sad story of a homeles lady who froze to death 12 days ago, only 50 metres from the front door of my apartment. Grace was her name, she was one of the many people society forgets who find a home of sorts in the East Village.

I’ve regularly walked past homeless people asleep where Grace passed. And I’m sad to say I’ve rarely thought deeply about the struggles that have brought them to the streets of Alphabet City. So Grace’s story touched me deeply:

Twelve days ago, the frozen body of my childhood friend Grace Farrell was found on a few sheets of cardboard in an alcove at St. Brigid’s Catholic Church on Avenue B in the East Village. It was a tragic end to a sad and troubled life.

Her life was one of missed opportunities and betrayal. She was let down by the authorities in Ireland and the adults who passed through her life. Ironically, one interpretation of the word “grace” is favor or good will. Sadly, it would seem little was shown to her when it truly mattered. As a young child she was bounced around like a ball from one home to another. She searched in vain for answers. By the time she reconnected with her family it was perhaps already too late.

New Yorkers who noticed her passing — if it registered at all — saw Grace as another sad statistic, the first homeless person to die on the streets of New York this year, an immigrant from Ireland who lost her way, a fledgling artist with untapped potential. But those of us who knew her will remember her as a sweet child with a generous heart.

But just when New York seems cold, hard and unforgiving… you see something like the site that greeted Bryce Tom and I as we walked through Union Square station last night:

Midget Michael Jackson impersonators? Only NYC.

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