Monday, 6 July 2009

tecchie shit, hippy shit, do shit?

I've always wanted the superhero power to be able to tell if people weren't listening to me. Like those glasses which can tell when people pee in a swimming pool, it's not a really a power that would save the world. But it might help me to adjust my tactics in all sorts of situations. Scientists somewhere are probably onto it.

Today I was at a brilliant conference, surrounded by people who weren't really listening. Reboot Britain asked the question ' how can the promise of our new digital age tackle the challenges we face as a country?' I still don't know the answer, but it's clear that there are more than enough people trying.

All around me, people were twittering, blackberrying, blogging, and even doing that 20th century email thing. On a closer look, most of this activity was entirely unrelated to the purpose of the day, and unconnected with the content of that session. Maybe they were listening to the speakers, but if so, they were taking multi-tasking to new heights.

At one point, the journalist Yvonne Roberts expressed a concern that too many people were trying to solve problems online that could only really be addressed through making something happen on the ground. Tim Smit's rail against hippy shit came from a similar concerned place.

And if I wanted my Luddite intuitions about the digital age confirming, during an imaginative, reflective speech from Jeremy Hunt, up on screen beamed this tweet from OP1UM1. "Line bankers and politicians against my garden fence and shoot them in their faces".

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