Today we’re talking about technology and the fragmentation of attention with Maggie Jackson. After an early career as a foreign correspondent, Maggie returned to the US and began writing about workplace and worklife issues. She began noticing the impact of early technologies such as laptops and cellphones on people. At that time, the tone of the national conversation was quite utopian and, Maggie felt, naive. “I call it the gee-whiz factor”, she told me, “many people truly thought that technologies were going to solve our problems, connect us, teach us, transport us, magically and painlessly”. Voicing any concerns or pointing out downsides easily had one labelled as a Luddite.
Delighted to unveil, on the The Very Good Network ‘Spare Ideas’ podcast, my 3 potentially world-changing inventions which should also, ideally, make me unimaginably wealthy. They are CatNav™, Jesus and Mary Choon™ and Empathy Twister™. Prepare to be wowed. Thanks guys, that was fun. Hear the whole show, which also features my son as one of the presenters, here.
“I’m working with people who have worked with these ideas for 30 years, for example now in the US, coming to me and saying, “I’m completely disillusioned” and then feeling that disillusionment as a problem. I generally say disillusionment is not a problem, it’s a good thing. It’s disillusion and you don’t want to be believing in an illusion. How do we see this as a productive moment?”
David Sax is a journalist living in Toronto, Canada, and he is the author of the book The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter. I found David’s book fascinating, with its suggestion that the current revival of vinyl, books, photographers using real film, physical notebooks, all speak to something deeper that is happening in the world around us. How, I wondered, does analog interact with our imaginations in a way that digital can’t? Do real, tangible, actual things provide more for our imaginations to connect to, to be sparked by, to colonise?
I am increasingly fascinated by two words I think are vital to our future, but which I see declining in the world around us, “what if?” Navigating a way to a safe, nurturing and liveable future requires our coming together to create What If spaces, places and events where we can come together with others to ask those questions. The Transition movement, for me, has always been one of those spaces, the invitation for people to join up with others to look at their place through what if lenses.
A while ago I was reading a report about the psychological impacts of climate change, and came across the term ‘pre-traumatic stress disorder’. It fascinated me. The author of the piece that discussed the idea was Lise van Susteren. Lise is a General and Forensic Psychiatrist in Washington D.C , and has been involved in […]
A bit of a departure from our usual format here, but I wanted to share this with you. For COP21 December 2015, Transition Network created a great little book called ’21 Stories of Transition’, a full colour overview of some of the inspirational stories emerging from the Transition movement. All the printed copies are gone, so you can now download, for free, in English or in French, the pdf. I’m very fond of it. Beautifully designed by Jane Brady of Emergency Design, it is one of my very favourite Transition publications. For me it really captures what a movement looks like that has the invitation to ask, and then act on, ‘What If?’ questions, at its heart. Enjoy.
I was instantly smitten. It looked like a project that brought together many of the things I love: local currencies, people actually making things, community, a playful approach to a serious subject, creating a space the invites the imagination in, and beautiful design. All it needed was a small craft brewery on the side, and I’d be moving in! Looking into it more, it turned out that Dan and Hilary are working together on a feature film called ‘Bank Job’, and that the Bank is a part of that.
This is a website about the power of “what if?”, and how, in a time of existential challenges, we might take “what if?” ideas and make them a reality. “What if we tackled climate change with imagination, courage and positivity?” is one such question that runs through all our blogs here. But I have been deeply impressed by the work of Daniel Raven Ellison and his efforts to try to get the city of London designated as a ‘National Park City’. As we’ll see, it is a powerful “what if”, one that opens up the imagination and all manner of possibilities.
It was billed as “an emergency summit for change”, and it was a call that drew around 150 people from across the UK, and even some from further afield. Hosted at The Edge, a community-funded church building in the centre of Wigan just round the corner from the actual Wigan Pier (yes, that one, the one with the road famously leading to it), the event, exactly a year before Brexit becomes (or doesn’t) a reality, was co-presented by at least 40 organisations.