Recently in Culture Category
May 13, 2013
Liveblogged notes of Zachary Neal's talk on community integration and cohesion at the RSA.
In this talk he's going to focus on micro networks. Are diverse communities possible? Tha answer's grim: no. But there is a bright side...
He's been thinking about community policy in the US; it's fragmented and piecemeal. It's more clearly articulated in the UK. In 2001 the Home Office came out with a report on community cohesion, which lead to the Commission on Integration & Cohesion. In 2010, the Cabinet Office made it clear it was important as part of the Big Society rubric.
This is the right direction - but there's a hidden problem, a policy paradox. It's not clear how integration and cohesion interlock. Are more integrated communities more cohesive? Or are more integrated communities less cohesive?
In segregated communities, similar people live near one another. In integrated communities, different sorts of people are more evenly mixed through the neighbourhood.
In fragmented communities, people have disconnected social networks. In cohesive communities, people have dense special networks.
April 15, 2013
I've been mildly obsessed by the work of Continuum Fashion since I saw Mary Huang speak at NEXT Berlin last year. In particular, their Constrvct service looks to me far more like the future of fashion in a digital age than the current model, which is just the old mail order catalouge rethought for the online era. I've been blogging about it on and off for NEXT Berlin since I backed their kickstarter.
This video neatly captures what it is, and the possibilities inherent in the system:
Custom designed fabric? Made to measure? Unique garments posted to your house, at less than designer prices? So much potential here...
April 3, 2013
Ah, the 1980s. Digital watches*. Shoulder pads. Big glasses. And great, if cheesy movies. Recent enough that our cultural record of it is safe, right?
The movies of my teenage years are under threat. Actor James Woods writing for Den of Geek:
My career peak chronologically occurred in the 80s and 90s, naturally enough because those were my 30s through 50s, the 'right' age for leading roles. It has come to my attention that many of the films made during that era were independently produced films. Because of an anomaly in current world copyright laws, 'authorship' of a film is held by any person or company owning the negative. Sadly many great films of that era have been butchered to fit television broadcast schedules and negatives lost forever. Independent films remain particularly vulnerable as those negatives and rights are not protected by powerful studios. Often times the original production entities no longer even exist and the principals may be dead.
Something must be done. It'll probably include a montage sequence to an upbeat 80s number...
*Yes, that is me in the 80s wearing a digital watch in the photo.
October 11, 2012
Has social become a disturbing orthodoxy? Andrew Keen thinks so… And he's kicking off an event called Creative DigiFest 2 at the University of Southampton
He's a fan, as he outlined in the Cult of the Amateur, of the world of the gatekeeper, of those who create being an elite, professional call. As media has been democratised, the world has become a Hitchcock movie, we've slipped into noir…. The amount of personal data travelling over the network is rapidly growing - and he's painting a picture of where that's used to identify the stranger next to you, to give you as much information is available. In Hitchcock's Vertigo, the detective knows nothing of the woman he's been paid to follow - there's no Twitter or Facebook to look her up. The film is a wonderful warning about falling in love with something that isn't true, can't be true, that can't exist… There's this idea that the internet is bringing the human race together, based on the idea that the network is liberating. It's a similar idea to Marx's idea that the industrial age would allow humanity to achieve its potential.
Sean Parker - one of the early investors in Facebook and co-founder of Napster - wants to eliminate loneliness. That's what he said when he launched his newest startup. It's become the defining characteristic of Silicon Valley. Collectively, the grouping of apps and sites that make up social media are progressively destroying any idea of privacy. He cites everything from Waze (which I used to get here) through to the obvious ones like Twitter. There's a social reading site, which he considers a contradiction in terms. He has a go at Yammer - which allows the end of loneliness in the workplace.
Highlight is a "fun way of learning about people nearby". That mean learning about strangers. That means doing away with loneliness. The Truman Show is a classic warning about where we are going. The destruction of privacy which seems so absurd in that film, is being celebrated in Silicon Valley. Mark Zuckerberg has said that we have only one identity (and Keen thinks he wants to own it). He's wrong. We have many identities. Keen asks us to declare that we want to live without privacy, to return to the world of the interdependent village, where all business was public business.
Most of us are mini-celebrities, but we can't handle it. We make fools of ourselves, we humiliate ourselves. Technology isn't doing this to us - technology is reflecting us. Narcissism has always existed, but the internet is enabling it. The internet is like a huge pile of free drugs in the middle of the world.
Yet, any writer that isn't on Twitter should have his hands chopped off… Visibility, you see, is a necessity, but also a trap. The price of these services is our data, and the new oil barons of the information age ar ethe founders of Facebook and LinkedIn et al. Free is the great seduction. As value and reputation migrate to the network, we are paying a heavy price for free. We need data literacy, not tech literacy. Social media helped trigger the Arab Spring, but it's also being used by governments to spy on their people.
Big brother is gone. It has been replaced with little brother. We're all little brothers now. Perhaps we now need an On Digital Liberty. He recommends Quiet, a celebration of the introvert, and the ability to create separation.
We need to:
- Fight the economy of free. It's destroyed the entertainment industry, now it's destroying us. What I had for breakfast isn't something that Zuckerberg should be able to sell to Kellogs.
- We need to focus on the economic value of privacy - it's something that will have appeal to consumers if presenting the right way
- We need technology to forget. Data should degenerate as our bodies degenerate. What make sue human is our ability to forget.
- We need to see government as a solution not a problem, curbing the market's data abuses.
- We need to become data literate, to manage our reputations, and learn to lie when we need to.
Mark Zuckerberg wants to own the narrative of our lives - that's why he invented Timeline - but we need to reinvent dark rooms to protect ourselves from that.
Q. Are these just teething problems?
A. Possibly - but possibly not. I hope they are - that's the point of my work and the work of others.
Q. What are the consequences of embedding the right to be forgotten in law?
A. The other side of the argument is losing heritage for future generations. It's very complicated, and their could be unintended consequences. One of the great issues of our age is 'are we all public figures now?' - if so, we have a responsibility to leave our data to others. I don't think we do…
October 9, 2012
The rise in computing power between 1990 and 2020 will be insignificant compared to the rise in the thirty years thereafter. Solar panels will be cheaper than coal by 2020. If you're under 30, you've never really seen change, because it take those 30 or 40 years to really become visible.
What does that have to do with Hexayurts? They're built from standard industrial manufacturing sizes of materials - sheets and half sheets. If the hippies had had these things they would have won. Burning Man is covered with them. In year 10, it's starting to acquire exponential momentum.
Our houses are three things: accommodation, storage of wealth and investment. Right now - accommodation is well met, storage of wealth and investment are ruined, because prices are going down. If we build millions of new homes, you can drive prices down so far that everything changes. Mortgages go away. Ireland has 200,000 empty units. The over-build is gigantic and we won't let the housing prices drop, because no-one wants to admit that the houses aren't worth what they once were. The market is totally illiquid. Abundance breaks the financial system.
Economists get a bad rep, but there are some good new ones. The new economists:
- Coase - companies are efficient pockets of command-and-control within market chaos. But that only holds for some costs of decision making.
- Nash - it's possible that everyone can get stuck in a situation which will destroy all of them, because the costs to the individual of changing the situation are too high - you need co-ordinated action from all - the goat rodeo.
- Benkler - new kinds of value creation exist in an abundant information, cheap communioncatin world. It appears commons based per production works bett than capitalism.
Valve is apparently the most profitable company per employee in the world. They mythology is that you pick and choose your projects in the company. It has no internal coercive structure. If you drive out fear, you get good quality communication. Hierarchy create fear which reduces productivity. The boss of Valve can't get his own games made - but the people who work for him make him $300,000 a year. The pyramid doesn't work in this environment. It's an internal anarchy.
Hexayurt is not a business. There's no bank account. There's just a domain name. Yet, it's the most efficient shelter in the world, and its growing exponentially.
Windows is a corporate ecosystem, and is full of evil midgets - the crapware. Apple is a benign dictatorship - unles you're the app developer who gets kicked out of the store. Linux is structured like the Goth tribes that sacked Rome. The secret to Open Source success is looking like you can finish it on your own. They've sacked the server market and haven't quite done the same with desktop. Apple has put a thin level of dictatorship on top of Open Source BSD and sacked Microsoft, but you can't contain the anarchy.
The three futures:
- Cheap energy, cheap information
- Resource scarcity and war - the classic bleak future
- Decentralise (Naxalites) - a machete version of capitalism
Fear of the nuclear bomb stopped us thinking rationally. It might all work as long as we can get the nanotechnology or biotech risk under control. Stop anyone making an open source 3D printer for genes...
We could end up in a world where the largest functional organisation is 24 people for 4.5 months. Could happen. To survive, we need one planet consumption and no apocalypse technology.
They did a book: The Future We Deserve. Sourced on Twitter, two weeks to edit. Go.
August 28, 2012
Valve, whose website says the company has been "boss free" since its founding in 1996, also has no managers or assigned projects. Instead, its 300 employees recruit colleagues to work on projects they think are worthwhile. The company prizes mobility so much that workers' desks are mounted on wheels, allowing them to scoot around to form work areas as they choose.
Will McInnes' post on company co-ownership versus traditional corporate models is worth some time, too.
Really looking forward to Meaning 2012 in October...
August 21, 2012
August 17, 2012
From a Meaning 2012 conference e-mail:
The childcare is provided by Officrèche, an Ofsted-approved nursery which offers co-working space with flexible childcare onsite and is 10 minutes away from the conference venue.
Funny how things like that have suddenly become a lot more important to me in recent weeks…
(The conference itself looks really interesting - an examination of how organisations could really operate in the 21st century, with the new options available to us)
August 13, 2012
Theme Park is a great, interesting attempt at doing a deep, thought-provoking blog. Well worth a few minutes of your time.Like so many tyrants, paper was overthrown - by the digital age. And, like so many revolutions, we just exchanged one tyranny for another. We took the wire as our new ruler, and it bound us tightly to our desk. The electric cables to power our computers; the ethernet jacks connecting us to the internet; even the twisted copper of the phone line all conspired to keep us on the office's side of the window.
July 31, 2012
Someone needs to say they're going to show up for it. That's what makes stuff happen. Lots of other important things help too, but it really kicks off when someone says "I'm going to be there or do this, no really, I am, I don't care if nobody else does, I am."
That's what makes it so much easier for everyone else to join in. That's leadership in a world of organising without organisations. Someone is committed.
I've done this. I've seen this work. With more ability to communicate, to network, to be social through the internet, new models are emerging. This is a cool but productive one. And Lloyd, Dan and others are pushing it onwards.