15 October 2010

Internet the new TV

In the mix of an article looking at Malcolm Gladwell's examination of social networks and real social change... I saw this.
“If the Internet didn’t exist, Barack Obama would not be president of the United States,” says Ben Rattray, the founder of Change.org. “The fact that the most powerful person in the world wouldn’t be in that position without the Internet and organizing online says something.”
It reminded me of reading about how TV changed everything for elections.  How the early leaders of both the USA and Canada would likely not have been elected in an era of TV  (or radio possibly for that matter).   The importance of how the visual changed debate.   Marshall McLuhan said that the televised debate changed everything and likely the internet changed the landscape again.  

One question I have is:  did the internet really organize people?  The answer is yes if you voted for (or were in favour of) Obama.   Or did the internet change the game again?  Where TV made elections about how good you looked in a suit and how much you fidgeted and looked dishonest etc,  did the Internet make the person with the most tech savey-ness, the best iPod play list or cool factor win?

I'm no Marshall McLuhan so I'm not going to state it as fact.   But I do think the "change" came it lots of places.

Working group sizes

Picked this up from Bill Kinnon  originally on Cult of Mac
The Mac team they were all in one building and they eventually got to one hundred people. Steve had a rule that there could never be more than one hundred people on the Mac team. So if you wanted to add someone you had to take someone out. And the thinking was a typical Steve Jobs observation: "I can’t remember more than a hundred first names so I only want to be around people that I know personally. So if it gets bigger than a hundred people, it will force us to go to a different organization structure where I can’t work that way. The way I like to work is where I touch everything.” Through the whole time I knew him at Apple that’s exactly how he ran his division.
It's an interesting statement about how many people we can work (live, cooperate) with.  While I don't like to contribute to lifting up Mr. Jobs and Apple as bigger than necessary, this is an interesting quote from someone who's success is obvious.  I do think that the 100 person threshold is important and so many people hang on what Jobs says (or at least sells) - so take it at the value you assign.

11 October 2010

Technology and Education

Q. Do you think it is our job as educationists to increase the capacity of the student to come to grips with this new experience of a new technology?

A. They are totally at grips with it and what we want to give them is some detachment.

--Marshall McLuhan, Education in an Electronic Age,
in The Best of Times/The Worst of Times:
Contemporary Issues in Canadian Education, 1970
(As posted by

10 October 2010

Wake up and smell the iCoffee

Ending the article - Is Facebook Killing Our Souls?  Shane Hipps writes this...
Now it will be tempting to conclude after all this ranting that I am simply a Luddite, a technophobe bent on the dismantling of all digital technologies. This is not the case. Admittedly, I was hardly even-handed in my observations. However, to herald the virtues of our technology is mostly redundant, it would be like trying to argue the importance of breathing. It’s already here, and the value it adds is self-evident. This is why the technologies are so prevalent: we automatically know their benefits, otherwise we wouldn’t use them. My concern is that our culture seems only capable of seeing the benefit and utterly blind to the liabilities, the inevitable losses certain technologies bring. I have no interest in trying to end or stop such technological innovations; to do so is like trying to resist the wind or the tides. Instead, I want us to understand them with depth. Not with na├»ve embrace, or fearful rejection.
If we learn to wake up and understand, perhaps we will be able to use them rather than be used by them.
 Neil Postman wrote about the one eyed prophet that could only see one side of the invention.   This summary is how I feel every time I point out how the latest greatest anything might not be such a device of salvation to whatever.

But it still needs to be said.

6 October 2010

Why the revolution will not be tweeted.

Continuing a theme here.

Malcolm Gladwell is skeptically that social media is going to change the world.  The types of inspiration and motivation that social media generate are essentially shallow in results.
Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice.
If you want to change the world, you better make some real friends, not Facebook friends.  It's the real friends that you will have some influence over in the long run

(HT to Ben Arment)

2 October 2010

So many things to read.

Malcolm Gladwell is becoming one of my favorite authors.   If you haven't read Tipping Point... or his other work, you need to check it out.

Just saw that Adam at The Second Electric has posted a few interview quotes from Gladwell in a Q&A piece at The New Yorker.

I really do think he has some awesome thoughts on things.
On the Internet’s transience:

The essential fact of the internet is that nothing is permanent. AOL was once the king of online—remember? I doubt that anything that is done electronically will facilitate social activism all that much—at least not unless you’ve put a real world structure in place first.

I do love his skeptical nature about technology (good luck finding him writing anything much online)  He just doesn't buy into the hype, yet has an excellent awareness of what is going on.   He's not some cranky old Luddite - he's young and aware that maybe we're being feed a big hard sell on technology.  (my words not even close to his)
On technology’s impotence:

This is what drives me crazy about the digerati. They refuse to accept the fact that there is a class of social problems for which there is no technological solution. Look. Technology is going to solve the energy problem. I’m convinced of it. Technology is going to give me a computer in ten years time that will fly me to the moon. Technology is going to build a car that goes 100 miles to the gallon. But technology does not and cannot change the underlying dynamics of “human” problems: it doesn’t make it easier to love or motivate or dream or convince.
I wish I could spell it out like that.... Isn't that the opposite of ever Apple commercial you've ever seen? (Actually most technology selling commercials)   I think somewhere in there is the baked in truth of what is going wrong with a lot of the big show church stuff...   You can't motivate change with technology... even when you try really hard.
On using Twitter to motivate social activism:

The issue isn’t informing people. It’s organizing people. Twitter is great at the first. But not so great at the second—and Dr. King and his counterparts needed organizations, not communications tools. Remember in the 1960’s you could reliably reach upwards of 95 percent of the black community in urban areas in the South through the church. And there you had their undivided attention for an hour! Who needs Twitter when you have sermons and regular prayer meetings?
I think the thing I notice most in that statement is the difference of information and organization.   I need to think more of ways that different media do this (or don't)