8 Random Facts about Stilgherrian

Oh, I get it. Social media “guru” Laurel Papworth has to kill time before her Saudi trip gets sorted out. So what does this visionary of society’s future do? She ropes me into a blogging meme. How modern. How avant garde!

How… 2005.

Laurel was tagged three months ago and is only getting to it now. And they’re not even real ropes!

Is that enough slagging-off? Shall I get on with it now?

Actually this will be fun on a Saturday morning. It’s been ages since I’ve done one of these. Here goes…

Continue reading “8 Random Facts about Stilgherrian”

Social media in Saudi Arabia — for women!

Social media’s pink-toned guru, as I called her, Laurel Papworth is currently in Saudi Arabia helping launch an online social network for Arab women. And she’s nervous. Her first post from Jeddah is fascinating. “No matter how naive I may be in some things, no waaaaaay can I pretend this community is just another oh, dating site, or tv show, social network. It’s a game changer, a rule breaker. Newsflash: social media is disruptive!”

Saturday Reading, 8 March 2008

I think I might make this a regular feature? Should I just use some automated social bookmarking tool to generate the page?

Four pieces feels about right for today.

Reminder: ACS Web 2.0 presentation tonight

A reminder: I’m going to the Australian Computer Society’s Web Technology SIG’s presentation on Web 2.0, in Sydney from 1800 tonight. Apparently the redoubtable Laurel Papworth will be there too, so the presenter from IBM ain’t gonna have an easy time.

I’ll be Twittering it at twitter.com/stilgherrian and writing something afterwards. You don’t need a Twitter account to follow what I’ll say. My Twitterings also appear in the sidebar of my website, but only refreshed every 15 minutes or so.

Enlightenment is about Conversation

Cover of Iron Kingdom by Christopher Clark

“Dare to Know!” is the title of chapter 8 of Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600-1947. And the opening words will bring a wriggle of delight to social media evangelists everywhere. (Hi, Laurel!)

The Prussian enlightenment [of the 18th century] was about conversation. It was about a critical, respectful, open-ended dialogue between free and autonomous subjects. Conversation was important because it permitted the sharpening and refinement of judgement. In a famous essay on the nature of enlightenment, the Königsberg philosopher Immanuel Kant declared that:

Enlightenment refers to man’s departure from his self-imposed tutelage. Tutelage means the inability to make use of one’s own reason without the guidance of another. This tutelage is self-imposed if its cause lies not in an intellectual insufficiency, but in a lack of will and courage… Dare to know! [Semper aude!] Have the courage to use your own reason! This is the motto of the Enlightenment!

[…] In the percolation through society of this spirit of critical, confident independence, conversation played an indispensable role. It flourished in the clubs and societies that proliferated in the Prussian lands…

The conversation… also took place in print. One of the distinctive features of the periodical literature of this era was its discursive, dialogical character. Many of the articles printed in the Berlin Monthly (Berlinische Monatsschrift), for example, were in fact letters to the editor from members of the public… The Berlin Monthly was thus above all a forum in print that… was not conceived as fodder for an essentially passive constituency of cultural consumers. It aimed to provide the public with the means of reflecting upon itself and its foremost preoccupations.

In other words, the strength and integrity of the Prussian state came not from the King or the bureaucrats telling everyone how things worked, but from people engaging in an on-going conversation about their own society.

In the age of “emerging social media”, this sounds very familiar…

Rainy Sunday reading

Nothing better than spending a rainy Sunday reading some thoughtful articles and listening to raindrops and corellas and koels chattering away — in between arguing with Laurel Papworth, of course! I’ve been reading some stuff Mark Pesce has posted recently, including his own essay Unevenly Distributed: Production Models for the 21st Century, as well as The Register saying that people are tiring of social network websites and a piece explaining why Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling book The Tipping Point is bullshit. I may reflect upon some of them later.