This is going to sound horribly vain, but I’m pretty good at what I do.

I have noticed that before they come to me, quite a few of my clients have used other consultants – many of whom, it would seem, are not quite as careful as I am.

Thing is, I talked to a number of my friends in the same line of work and they have all said that they have had similar experiences.

One commonality between all these cases is that the previous contractor was found either through a job site or through an agent. On paper the contractor looked rather good, but when it came to the actual work their skills (and in rare cases their personality) was found to be somewhat lacking.

With many people focussed on just ‘getting the gig’, in both these cases there seems to be no real incentive to put across wholly accurate information.

Clients too often ‘big up’ the project in order to make it more attractive, often promising options in lieu of immediate payment. All too often enthusiasm for the idea trumps reality.

To my mind, the problem that people are trying to solve here is almost exactly the same as the one you’re trying to solve when dating… basically that both parties have a set of requirements and are looking for mutual compatibility, but there is a strong incentive to exaggerate.

This got me thinking.. could it be possible to use the dating paradigm to improve success?

Perhaps the algorithmic approach employed by OKCupid could be adapted to this domain?

OKCupid is interesting because it asks seemingly unrelated questions which betray some aspect of the user’s personality. It is hard to game the result as results are averaged over a very large dataset, and a user is encouraged to add to this set all the time by means of making it feel like a game (and as Ben pointed out in his blog, this can be used to provide an incentive for much).

That said however, most of my clients have been found by word of mouth or from meeting face to face at events. So, like dating, I suspect that while the internet is a handy tool the real results are going to occur in the real world through social interaction.

So go to the next tuttle!

Image “Endless love” by Ali Nishan

A few days ago my father – a passionate amateur photographer – fell foul of Canary Wharf’s pretend police. His crime? Taking a photo of a shadow of a tree on a building.

Initially it was two fake police which challenged him, demanding that he show them what photos he took on his camera. This not even the real police are entitled to do, and fake police certainly can not (since they have no more rights than you or I).

He quite rightly refused, at which point the fake coppers prevented him from leaving, and so committed the first actual crime.

More fake police arrived and the situation became increasingly tense, the fake police demanded that he show them the photos citing “terrorism” and “9/11” and “The current climate” and said that taking a photo of a shadow was “not what normal people did”.

They threatened him by their physical presence, preventing him from leaving, and threatened to call the police. To which my father requested that they do so since it was the private security agents who were breaking the law (they of course didn’t call them).

The intimidation continued for about 40 minutes becoming increasingly farcical until the supervisor turned up, who was much less confrontational and admitted that they had no right to demand to see his photos or to detain him. My father, who was not feeling very well and was getting tired, showed the photo and was finally permitted to leave.

To his credit, my father kept his cool throughout although he now wishes that he hadn’t capitulated. We are now investigating possible legal action against the private security firm responsible and their agents.

This sort of scenario appears to be happening more often, and it is happening thanks to the passive co-operation of the public. It is understandable that people do give in at times – especially in situations like this where 20 odd 6ft something men were sent to intimidate one gentlemen in his 60s carrying a camera, however it is the general climate of passive acceptance that lets governments and corporations think we can get away with it.

Fundamentally, you have the right to film, take photos, say, do or be anything and you don’t need permission to do so. This is the essence of freedom, and to let this right – which (if you excuse the hyperbole) was paid for with the blood of your ancestors – be lost is the only crime that really matters.