Category Archives: Politics


More Discussion on Personal Work Learning Environments
Forever blowing bubbles
Blair to go, now give back the Labour Party
70 Years of Revisionism
The latest word on globalisation
A flock of geese
Wikipedians at war

More Discussion on Personal Work Learning Environments

Tony Karrer has usefully kept track of a list of 16 out of the outburst of blog posts continuing the discussion around PLEs and work:

More Discussion on Personal Work Learning Environments : eLearning Technology

Then he wonders…

.. if people will adopt these tools and approaches over time, then as a corporation, if you want to be able to keep the content after an employee leaves, especially blog content … then shouldn’t you make sure you provide these tools now rather than having tools adopted that are outside the firewall and personally owned where you will lose the content if the employee leaves?

which kind of confirms the point being contradicted in Jay Cross’s comments:

Pitting individuals against corporations is not productive. Nor is the implication that businesses are out to steal workers’ intellectual property.

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Forever blowing bubbles

As West Ham struggle with legal challenges to remain in the premiership despite beating Manchester United at the weekend, Lynn Walsh writes about the world economy in a major analytical piece entitled:” World Economy: Forever blowing bubbles?

Posted in London, Politics | Comments Off on Forever blowing bubbles

Blair to go, now give back the Labour Party

Now that Tony Blair has no further use for the Labour Party, the organisation he used and transformed into a pro capitalist, anti union, pro nuclear, pro imperialist war party, is he going to give it back to the people it was originally built for again?

Unlikely, he’s too busy making youtube videos congratulating riight winger Nicholas Sarkozy’s victory over the socialist candidate in the French presidential election.

FOCUS Information Agency

Blair congratulated Sarkozy on his victory over Socialist Segolene Royal in a message posted on the popular website YouTube earlier this week and commended the French for their high turnout in Sunday’s election.
“Nicolas is someone with whom I have worked on several occasions, who I admire and who I consider a friend,” said Blair,

Posted in Politics, UK | Comments Off on Blair to go, now give back the Labour Party

70 Years of Revisionism

As the anniversary of the bombing of Gernika approaches in 2 days time, Aleksu writes on the Eusko blog about attitudes in Spain and the struggle to establish history.

Eusko Blog : Ingeleraz: 70 Years of Revisionism

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The latest word on globalisation

The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country… All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are destroyed by new industries whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised countries, by industries that work up raw materials drawn from the remotest zones, industries whose products are consumed in every quarter of the globe… The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarous, nations into civilisation.

The above was first published in 1848, by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto quoted in “Globalisation and Imperialism” by Mick Brooks 2006

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A flock of geese

Stephen Downes argues that the following statement is invalid:

“The flock of geese decided to land”

in Half an Hour: Geese

What in fact happened is that each individual goose decided to land. We observed this and interpreted it as the flock deciding to land.

photo under CC licence by glennharvey06

What a wonderfully clear example the flock of geese idea gives us to try and think about this clash of perspectives which has been rumbling along about individuals and groups, blog networks compared to listserves, the illusion of flat hierarchies, left right, north south, hive mind or cooercion and so on. It might just be me, but the geese question seems to point at something which may turn out to be a central and fundamental issue, like the difference between the naturalistic worldview and idealism.

So I will argue that the flock of geese did decide to land. {{ducks}}

Maybe one goose made the first move towards landing, or maybe the trajectory emerged from out of whatever was going on between the flock beforehand, but what happened next is a process which I would call ‘arriving at a group decision’. One or more individual geese began to move towards landing in such a way that the intention to land began to be communicated through the flock. Each individual goose then took a decision to follow the leaders, or ignore them. I’ve observed occasions when this results in a cleaving of the flock, with one part landing and another group splitting away to circle around and land in the next field, for example. Now, some individuals may be motivated by the desire to land, and others by a preference to stay with the group who are landing, that doesn’t matter. Nobody said it has to be one goose one vote in a secret ballot. The decision can be swayed by acts of leadership, by an averaging of cumulative actions, or by random events but a decision is what is arrived at by the flock in just the same way as the various parts of my own brain somehow come to a conclusion as to which shirt I will put on in the morning.

The reason why all of this is important, is because sometimes groups can do things which sums of individuals cannot, like negotiating decent pay and conditions through collective bargaining for example. In that case, the individuals within the syndicate need to be willing to subject themselves to a group discipline in order to take effect action without splitting. There has to be a mechanism to take a group decision which is binding on individuals in order for the individuals involved to benefit from collective action.

That’s why the emphasis on individual networks rather than groups disturbs me, it’s all too reminiscent of Mrs Thatchers’ “There is no such thing as society, there are individuals and there are families”. Networks seem to have the effect of exaggerating inequality as already stronger nodes attract new connections faster than weaker ones. Is that the effect we wish to take an active decision to cultivate or should we make positive choices to nurture alternative patterns with greater long term sustainability?

Well Stephen is a skillful and knowledgable philosopher so I expect he will tear my proposition apart if he ever reads it, but if anything remains it can only help to clarify somebody’s thinking, somewhere – like mine perhaps.

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Wikipedians at war

Admin and SysOp privileged wikipedians slug it out in access protected IRC channels.

Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2007-02-05/Arbitration and IRC – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Only fragments of the story make it through into the public sphere but you can get an idea of the rancour which develops when you start setting up groups within groups within groups at the same time as sending out the impression of a democratic process for general consumption. An all too familiar pattern, unfortunately.

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Thanks for reading Andy Roberts articles about Politics on the DARnet Blog