Updated: 08/09/2003; 12:38:04 PM.
Robert Paterson's Radio Weblog
What is really going on beneath the surface? What is the nature of the bifurcation that is unfolding? That's what interests me.
        

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

I read this week of a journalist who was being driven by an Iranian cab diver. The Cabbie was complaining that religion had entered every aspect of life and that he feared that the fundamentalists were taking over.

The city was Los Angeles and the country he was talking about was America


9:09:11 PM    comment []

Doug Adler and Dave Pollard on what school is really about.

Snip

It has always been in the interests of industrialized countries, or rather their captains of industry to have:

  1. a large pool of uneducated workers
  2. a rate of unemployment around 6%
  3. Bread and circuses to divert the great unwashed.

It keeps the public's minds off how they are being manipulated. The purpose of school is not to educate but to socialize individuals, to get them ready for the rat race.

So, why is this becoming a hot topic again now? Maybe it's because the inherent tension between a system designed to numb minds and dedicated teachers who are tring to stimulate those minds has reached, through the constant de-funding of education - a breaking point. Maybe it's because the actions of our politicians have become so blatantly harmful that John Q. Public can't be distracted enough anymore to totally ignore them. Maybe the world has become so tumultuous and patently dangerous place, particularly for Americans, that the lotus eaters have started to awaken from their stupors and have begun to see reality through their dreams. Maybe Ajmerica is in the act of swallowing the red pill.. I don't know the reason - I can only hope that America is finally waking up.


8:26:45 PM    comment []

Poliblogging

Dave Winer is asking PWB's (People with Blogs) to point to his piece yesterday on how candidates should leverage the blogging world. It's a good piece, and worthy of every campaign staff's review:

"It's not surprising to me, in a way, that weblogs have become such an important part of the early 2004 presidential campaign. I expect this campaign will take place more on the Web than it does on TV networks. That's why I think candidates who use the Web to raise money for TV ads aren't making enough of a bet on the Web, and are leaving the door open for those who do. But it must be hard to let go of a way of life. Politics has "always" worked that way, right? Anyway, it's surprising when a vision comes true, no matter how strongly you felt it would."

The sentiment is good, but the details seem to advocate a top-down mentality that is contrary to the weblog world. Dave lists seven suggestions for campaigns that would leverage whatever power blogs may have:

  1. Run a real weblog*
        "you must link to all articles about your candidate, not just favorable ones"
    Is this a good way to earn the respect of campaign professionals start off by telling them what they must do? Is such inclusive linking even possible? Just how would the the Dean campaign could even identify all the Dean links? The official Blog lists 257 Dean-specific blogs alone. Inclusive linkage is a job for someone else, like Google or Technorati.
  2. Get a pied piper*
         "Get an experienced blogger with a large community to write your main weblog."
    A key revolution of the Dean campaign is to share the voices of the campaign staff, who have become celebrities in their own right. Why would a qualified blogger do such a thing? If you're willing to do this, you're stuffing your own voice for more than a year, or you're limiting your editorial options. The great thing about blogs is that we do these things anyway, as independent voices.
  3. Include independent bloggers*
        "On the press bus, include people who are...making their minds up, people who will ask challenging questions"
  4. Publish advocacy guidelines*
        "Teach the people who represent you on the Web to do so with respect for others, respect for the candidate and the campaign, but most important, self-respect.
    Does top-down rules work anywhere? Self-organizing groups police each other based on the only standards they're prepared to conform to. This stuff simply cannot be mandated by a campaign, any more than it can be managed for an RSS controversy.
  5. Publish your schedule*
        "Make sure your candidate's schedule is on your website and it's current.
        Also, keep track of where your competition is, and consider publishing that as well."

    Good idea.
  6. Choice in tools*
        "The Dean campaign made a big mistake, imho, by getting into the software business. Now it looks like the Edwards campaign is following them. Software and the candidates should be separate.
    I feel particularly qualified to respond to this point, since much of the early thinking on the DeanSpace initiative took place in my apartment, and I've attended IRC meetings and participate on the Dec mailing list.
    Dave's just wrong here. The campaign isn't in the software business. Zephyr encouraged the open source volunteers to do what they wanted to do anyway. It's not even clear that the volunteers are in the software business, since they're simply customizing a special Drupal installation ("community plumbing") and configuring it as a downloadable kit. Extending the Drupal toolset is precisely the act of "Building on what the weblog community has accomplished" that Dave recommends.
    Might the complaint be that they are building the kit on open source tools?
  7. Speak about democracy*
        "Advocate the benefits of citizens participating in government. Use some of your campaign money to buy Internet presence for voters. Talk about Jefferson, the First Amendment, etc etc. Ralph Waldo Emerson."
    Isn't this a suggestion to do what's criticized in item 6? The amazing comments section at the Dean Blog are full of deeper talk than has emerged from any think tank in the past 3 decades.

Dana Blankenhorn has also responded to Winer's call for linkage to his post. His take is also different from Dave Winer's:

"One thing I disagree with Dave on is his advice against creating software tools, as the Dean folks are doing. (Here's their latest.) In most cases, I agree with him...why reinvent the wheel? But in the case of a Presidential campaign, in a political world that lacks really useful industry-specific tools, I can't argue against it.

One thing Howard Dean's people have realized, that no one else (including Dave Winer) has realized, is that in a very short period of time they will become the Democratic Party. All candidates get temporary control of the apparatus once they are nominated. But this control is going to mean more this time, because the tools and sensibilities Dean is bringing to the Democrats mean more than Dean himself, and go beyond either him or his message. The Dean campaign brings lessons in social technology that every Democrat must have to compete, and a cadre of people who can teach those lessons. That will resonate long after Dean is forgotten.

Despite Dave Winer's attempts to be fair politics is being changed today by only one campaign, that of Howard Dean. (And not by his home page, either -- by this page .) And it's not about him. It's about an important lesson campaign manager Joe Trippi had to fight to learn some months ago, the lesson of letting go.

Give people the tools and they will make their own politics. That is your Clue for today."

Yeah. That's what we're talkin' about!

[Escapable Logic]

The power of the blog in politics grows


7:36:09 PM    comment []

I find it interesting that the Burning Man idea has taken off - see link to great pics by Xeni - The Burning Man is one of the oldest festivals that we have as humans. In the Horticulture period that filled the gap between the Guy's world of Hunting and the Guy's world of Farming, we had the time of the Goddess.

The King would have to die at the end of the season so that the land could rest and a new male energy could emerge to ensure a good harvest next year. In the time of his rule - he had a great time. Other versions of this had the King being torn into shreds by the women. Later versions substituted prisoners. The Druids did this and the Romans sacked the sacred grove on Angelsy to stop the practice.

On reflection most of our important festivals are linked to our past as worshippers of the natural cycle. Christmas - the winter equinox. Easter the spring equinox. Canada day or July 4th as near as to the summer equinox. Labour day close to the fall equinox. We don't need to "believe" in a story or abide by the teachings of a "book" if we link our life to nature. The reality of the cycle of nature reminds us all the time of where we are and how we fit - if we look up and notice.

If we immerse ourselves in nature, life becomes rich and juicy again - please have a look at the pictures and you will see what I mean. Much of our fear about death leaves us as we can observe how birth, growth, endings and death are part of the cycle of all things and that all things are connected. Much of our fear about being too small and insignificant goes away when we look up at the night sky and observe that we are part of this limitless universe.

We casually use the word pagan to describe a love of nature. If more of us were "Pagans" we would have a better world I think


8:18:30 AM    comment []

Changing Face of Blogs. I've been struggling to get going with blogging since returning from Europe.  Many of my thoughts just prior to going away had an increasingly Corporate Blogging thrust from thinking about teams to also how the news is collected.  So it... [Unbound Spiral]

Funny how you make your way through life and then through blogging you find someone by accident who is like a twin?


7:55:56 AM    comment []

Campaign to tackle bullying. Behavioural consultants are to be drafted into schools in attempt to stem the rising tide of bullying in the classroom. [BBC News | News Front Page | UK Edition]

There is a bullying epidemic going on in many schools all over the west. Is this because there are more "bad" kids? I don't think so. Maybe it is because there is so little structural identity available anymore. What does this mean? I think that we all need to know that we fit in somewhere. If a school offers no formal tribal structure such as "houses", the kids will make their own. In this Darwinian alternative tribal system, the strong and the cool persecute the outsiders - the different, the uncool and the weak.

Yet we persist in thinking that bullying is an individual issue. Why are we so blind?


7:54:28 AM    comment []

Ivy had an educational technology breakthrough las .... Ivy had an educational technology breakthrough last week: she learned to use the computer mouse. Apparently this is not evidence of prodigy status, as there is already a booming market for toddler-targeted software. The article isn't particularly well written, and I found the idea of parents spending $2.8 billion on educational toys (including multimedia) sort of repulsive. Overzealous moms collecting every Baby Einstein title and talking about the importance of a good college for their 16-MONTH-old's future...isn't it all a bit disgusting?

Pushing very young children into predefined learning activities seemed rather odious, but that first impression may not be entirely fair. And the definitions of pushing and learning are tricky. I spend a lot of time online, and my two-year-old wants to participate, so we've found a few things that we enjoy doing together online. It's certainly learning -- play and learning are completely intertwined. I had shown Ivy how to use the mouse a couple of times before, and she enjoyed zooming it around the mousepad for its own sake, but had never made the connection between the physical motion and what was happening on the screen. The week before in the SuperDuperDolphin game, she suddenly understood that the dolphin did tricks when she clicked on the pail of fish, but she couldn't figure out how to move the cursor over the pail.

Last week's breakthrough came while playing a Flash activity called Sing-a-Song Clay-Along from the Disney empire (see screenshot). It's a simple piano with four characters, one of whom is performing at any given time. I gave her the mouse and showed her how to click the button again, then let her loose on the virtual keyboard. She was concentrating intensely, but smiling when the character would sing different notes as she clicked the keys. Then I asked her to try getting the pig to sing, and she slowly moved the cursor over the pig and clicked...then went back to the piano and started clicking virtual keys. Oink, OINK, oink...to her great delight.

I suppose this is happening for young kids all over the world these days, and shouldn't be a big deal. But for someone who believes in the power of the web to transform learning and knowledge, it seemed like a significant milestone -- a symbol of the online access Ivy will have to ideas, entertainment and other people throughout her life. She won't remember the first time she used a computer, mouse or software...it's just part of her environment. I wrote a bit about Ivy's favourite online activity from her pre-mousing days: The Snake Game, using me as a guide and the Google image search as her playground. It's a great way to spend time, but her new skill gives her more control over the world...well, the virtual world, anyway.

I guess I have this vague sense of lingering guilt that she's too young to be sucked into the digital vortex, but I think that's the Luddite in me. These things she's experiencing online are more interactive than anything she'll see on TV, and allow her more control to create, explore and manipulate than any reading session might offer. But $3.8 billion is just ridiculous -- one of the coolest things about the web is that this stuff is all free. [Jeremy Hiebert's headspaceJ -- Instructional Design and Technology]

I think that games have a lot to teach us about learning. Our instructional model is wrong. How we really learn best is by "Playing". Why boys love games and hate school.


7:35:38 AM    comment []

News of an asteroid that could hit earth in a decade. While I would normally ignore such a warning, who can be sure anymore? I wonder how we would live if it became sure that as a species we had only 10 years left?
7:08:40 AM    comment []

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