Sunday, March 29, 2009

The glut of information and social networking tools is not exactly strengthening our ability for critical thinking. On the contrary. Unfortunately it is often being exploited by bigots who continue to play on humans’ base instincts and polarize rather than clarify.

This post came to be as I was preparing an email note to my good friend Tommy Fernandes. What started as a conversation over a nice dinner has continued by email. It centered around the lack of critical journalism to bring key issues to the foreground. I think that when discussing any issue today there are 3 forces we need to deal with:
  1. high inherent complexity of the subject matter
  2. increased volume of information and
  3. Lack of time and/or knowledge
The combination of these forces makes it difficult for us (citizens) to relate to real issues. We need to rethink how we consume information and we must work to raise our standards and those of the media institutions we have. Not everyone can be an analyst, and hence we must push our elected officials to promote transparency and inclusion, so that we (who they represent) can make better decisions. We must not allow them to induce (artificial) complexity in the issues, that confuses.

Technology can help by providing easy-to-use tools for search, structure and visualization – but it can never replace context and critical thinking. I recall my January post on Nicholas Carr's article and my comments on EPIC and am happy to post a link to an updated version of EPIC (for 2015)

More than ever before, our increasingly digitalised society needs critical thinking!!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Us Now is definitely a film to watch for those of us interested in the way grassroots movements are exploiting collaborative technologies. Director Ivo Gomley has manged to capture many aspects and examples in the documentary. Also thanks to Sermo for making this happen.

After nearly 4 years of blogging on the topic of the Digital Society -- often times meandering out on to my technology-jaunts -- I have for the first time got a sense of this phenomenon -- Society 2.0 or "deep democracy" -- taking root. I could hardly contain my excitement watching the different examples. Was also busy tweeting to capture my thoughts for later blogging (some tweets in Norwegian).

The debate that followed the screening was not really a debate -- the speakers were more or less in agreement on most issues. Which is just fine. We got some "confirmation to proceed"; what is needed now is to sustain the level of discussion and find ways to uncover the real issues in making Society 2.0 happen. The general election in Sept this year is very tempting to try out some ideas to get the issue up on the table. Anyone out there with ideas?

In earlier posts, I talked about the need to get law-makers and businesses to get together. Watching the film today, I am convinced we must hurry if we are to give ourselves time to evolve our societies and influence the global world order over the next 10-20 years. I would like to see a multi-discplinary think-tank (TT) formed; comprising political scientists, social scientists, computer scientists and business organisations to name a few players. This TT should take no more than 6-9 months to propose a long-term approach (say 4-5 years) to revise some laws and policies for eg in areas like education, healthcare, civil law, welfare and employment. Make changes that are more favourable to this "deep democracy" we want to happen. This will not be a revolution, but a very fast evolution.

In earlier posts I talked about Norway as a test-bed for creating services for the digital world. I'm not quite sure right now. It appears that maybe Norway does not have "enough pain" to want to stretch itself to experiment with participative decision-making. I guess the old adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" holds true. However, I'm not giving up the thought completely. Two areas I'd love to see more work is in Education adn Health care.

Watch this space...