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Month: April 2010

The Architecture of Social Spaces

Fascinating reading from Robin Hamman:

In my post yesterday on using technology and social business strategies to blur the boundaries between inside and outside the business I noted that some of these ideas aren’t dissimilar to techniques used by architects to do similar things with internal and external spaces.

I spent quite a while talking to space planners and architects who worked in this sphere back in my GRID editing days. I’ve been reminded more than once of their thought processes as I investigate out own community building efforts,
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On Anecdote as Argument

An interesting (and critical) analysis of the shortcomings of the anecdote-based argument style used by Clay Shirky and others:

But stories and analogies should be a starting point for thought, and not its terminus. They should be the spark that prompts more analytical, more rigorous investigation and introspection, testing out your idea to see where it fits reality and where it fails. In this essay, and in some of his others (see below) anecdotes are all there is, and that’s just not good enough.

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An Electoral Retreat From Twitter

I am a perpetual floating voter. I have political opinions, but no strong party loyalty – and I’ve voted for all the main parties and some minority ones in the elections I’ve participated in over the last couple of decades. There’s a simple reason for this: I believe that the cut and thrust of discussion is at the root of politics, and the more tribal you are in your politics, the more likely you are to say “Party X must never get into power again”, the less likely you are to engage in discussion in a thoughtful, intelligent way.

And this is a rather long-winded way of explaining why I’ve largely abandoned Twitter during this election campaign. Whereas most of my reading pre-election came from links on Twitter, now most of my stream seems to be filled with tribal posturing and links to “amusing” photoshopping of election posters. It seems to me, well, petty. And not a little childish.
Have I retreated to newspapers? No. The depressing predictability of the tribal voices on our national press has lead to precious little that inspires, informs or educates in them. Instead, I’ve found myself actively seeking out more intelligent and cogent debate on blogs (including, admittedly, some from national newspaper journalists) and sites specifically dedicated to political discussion like Talk Issues. This is one of those times when the 140 character limit of Twitter works against it. While it’s great for sloganeering and creating a comfortable little echo chamber of like political minds, it leaves not room for detail, for debate, for politics. Now some of these blogs are tribal. They are from people of a particular political stripe – but they tend to wear their allegiance openly, and are prepared to engage in genuine debate with people who hold different views to them. And that’s the critical difference – genuine engagement in discourse. Frankly, I find it depressing watching social media advocates who normally shout about the conversation to the high heavens suddenly becoming slogan-spouting machines, just because there’s an election on.
And so, for now, you’ll find me scanning Twitter, but living in my RSS reader and amongst the blogs, where I can actually learn something.

News Values vrs Personal Experience

On Sunday, I should have been flying back from a conference in Portugal. Instead, I spent the day with an American friend trapped in London. We helped a German family find their way to Waterloo for a trip to the channel ports.

People were marvelling at the plane-free skies, and discussing the long-term implications of the crisis.
And what were the Sunday newspapers reporting? Friday’s news.
When the journalistic radar is so detached from the mainstream experience, it’s no wonder that we’re going through a rough patch as a profession…

The Caring, Sharing LinkedIn

LinkedIn has decided to get a little more actively involved in the status update / media-sharing game:

I suspect a lot of people will dismiss this too quickly. Social media types obsess over Facebook and Twitter, but forget that LinkedIn feels more comfortable to many older business types. This could end up being another significant source of traffic from a social network site. 
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Sickbed Reading #1

Stuck at home, in bed, making an exciting variety of unpleasant chesty noises. Be glad this isn’t an audio blog. Here are some things that have caught my eye:

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