Consilium: Social media is destroying society? Good!

Last month I took part in a fascinating discussion about the impact of social media and related breakthroughs at Consilium [PDF], an invitation-only annual conference put together by the Centre for Independent Studies. Here’s part of what I said.

The panel was called “Social Creatures: How social media is changing the landscape”. I joined Iarla Flynn, Google Australia’s head of public policy and government affairs; Nick Holder, a partner at LEK Consulting; and Cassandra Wilkinson, co-founder and president of FBi Radio, and author of Don’t Panic! Nearly Everything is Better than You Think.

The full blurb and a scheduled duration of 1 hour 45 minutes gave us plenty of scope for discussion and, as became clear once we were under way, for this particular audience much of what we were saying was new.

Consilium was held under a modified Chatham House Rule, which means I can’t bring you the whole discussion. But I did record my opening remarks and my summary, and I have permission from those I namechecked to mention their names — except for one that’s redacted.

Somehow I managed to use the phrase “arse end of the bell curve” and mention Prince Harry’s pubic hair. It’s a gift.

Play

The full transcript is over the jump. Audio and text ©2012 Stilgherrian.

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The really real revolutionary revolution of the Internet

James Burke

The man in the photo, science historian and broadcaster James Burke, is a revolutionary. So pay attention. This is important.

I don’t mean “revolutionary” in the lame-arsed sense used by every pissant little company with a new kind of double-whacko widget that’ll “revolutionise” the double-whacko widget industry. Because it’s now available in three different colours.

No, I mean the real kind of revolutionary: someone who advocates a revolution — yes, as in a complete overthrow of the established political system.

I’ve just finished watching Burke’s ten-part TV series from 1985, The Day The Universe Changed. It’s available on DVD, but you can also do what I did and watch the whole thing on YouTube. At least until some copyright-addled arsehole decides that you can’t.

As Wikipedia says:

The series’ primary focus is on the effect of advances in science and technology on western philosophy. The title comes from the philosophical idea that the universe essentially only exists as you perceive it through what you know; therefore, if you change your perception of the universe with new knowledge, you have essentially changed the universe itself.

To illustrate this concept, James Burke tells the various stories of important scientific discoveries and technological advances and how they fundamentally altered how western civilization perceives the world.

Apart from anything else, TDTUC is an excellent history of western scientific thought. But, after taking you on this journey, Burke’s final episode is a revolutionary call to action.

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