Communication from Down Under

Greetings, Earthlings.

As I indicated in my last post, it has been hard to write. Things seem too bleak, or simply too overwhelming to explain.

At last, I have something to communicate and share with you, that is both simple and hopeful. I have been in Melbourne, Australia for the last two weeks, visiting with friends I haven’t seen in years, and attending the conference of the World Federation of Associations for Teacher Education – WFATE, or World FATE as they like to call it, with good reason.

This conference has been spectacular in many ways, but right now I’m just going to write about one. Today, we went out to the town of Sunshine, in the outskirts of Melbourne. They say it is the most diversified municipality in all Australia. We were there to visit an art gallery.

Gallery owners today often complain that they can’t get young people to come into their galleries and look at the art. The Gallery Sunshine Everywhere puts young people’s art on its walls, so everyone – young and old – can appreciate the work of young artists like Naomi:

Naomi - young artist posing with her painting

Naomi, posing with her work at The Granary Cafe in Sunshine, Australia – part of an exhibit of young artists

Logo of the Gallery Sunshine Everywhere

 

This gallery exists anywhere in the town of Sunshine that cares to exhibitNaomi and her friends take part in an after school programme, organised by their mentor, Carmena Borg. The Gallery Sunshine Everywhere is a project directed by Maureen Ryan, that turns any space in Sunshine into an art gallery if they want it. Working together, they professionally framed the young artists’ work and hung it in the town’s Granary Cafe for all to see.

Naomi and her artistic mentor, Carmen, at exposition of art by Naomi and her friends

Naomi and her artistic mentor, Carmen, at exposition of art by Naomi and her friends

The professional treatment given to these works validates the children’s creativity and helps them see themselves as confident, expressive, creative individuals. The solidarity we witnessed between these children and their parents and neighbours was also quite special. We would like to thank Carmena, Maureen, and especially Naomi and all the other artists taking part in this exhibit for inviting us and treating us with kindness and hospitality.

Closeup of Naomi's picture sharing a frame with another picture by her friend Ruby

Naomi’s work shares a professional frame with one by her friend Ruby.

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A Long Silence

Dear Readers,

Not for the first time, I break a long silence. Perhaps my longest silence ever.

In the past, I’ve written about being busy, lots of excuses for not writing, etc. All the experts on blogging say it is an error to not post regularly. I am in error.

This time, my silence has been for a deeply emotional reason. I have been overwhelmed by the events around me. I have wanted to write so much that I have been paralyzed, and unable to say a word.

Events in the United States, not just the presidential election, but all of what has been going on there the last few years in terms of polarisation, (lack of) gun control, blindness to climate change, exclusion of voters, return of increasing racism, etc. have bothered me, since the U.S. is such an important force in the world, despite efforts of its current leaders to ridicule itself.

Even more serious, from my personal point of view, are events going on in Catalonia, where I pass about half of my life (Barcelona). The conflict between Catalan independence supporters and the Spanish government is rife with stupidity on both sides. But the actions of the Spanish government defy belief, and border on fascistic tendencies. I do not use this word lightly. I usually criticise people who tend to call anyone who does something they don’t like a fascist. I do mean it seriously with regard to the Spanish government. The problem is, though I can assemble lots of evidence, it is too overwhelming to do so in print. What we are living as daily life in Barcelona is both “normal” (business goes on as usual) and “oppressive” in that every attempt by a major segment of the population (you can argue if it’s a majority or not, but you can’t deny that it’s significant) is systematically suppressed by a judiciary that is in no way independent of politicians, and is manipulated by a cynical central government that only knows how to crush its opposition, not to negotiate or understand.

This blog is about communication and information. I state clearly, and from personal knowledge, that the Spanish government is not only lying to its own people and the international community, it is manipulating the Spanish media to control the message Spanish people receive, building hatred against Catalans while accusing Catalans of “hate crimes” against Spain. People who wear a yellow ribbon, symbolising support for political prisoners, are arrested for “hate crimes,” and sometimes beaten up in the street, while those who paint Nazi Swastikas on walls go uncharged, not even for graffiti.

The media in Europe and North America have begun to realise how they have been duped, but the depth of the corruption and authoritarianism that we are seeing here is not getting out.

All of this makes me sad and silent, and I apologize. I should have something useful to contribute. Mostly, I’m doing it elsewhere than in this blog.

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English is Dead

The other day, I used my World’s First Digital Finger to tap the “Reply” button to an instant message from my best friend. I have about 10 000 friends, actually, but only around 1 273 qualify for “best” status. This one was complaining about the weather. “When it rains, it pours,” he said. I replied, “I like that – I go out in it, because to feel – to really feel – is a rare thing, these days.” Of course, when I go out to really feel the rain, I’m wearing my Polar Perfect Protection jacket, but I manage to really feel wet, all the same. My best friend – sorry, I can’t remember his name just now – was worried about global warming. “Everything in its own time,” I told him. “Don’t like the weather? Wait a while.”   He wasn’t real happy with that answer. “My world class weather station software tells me that the times, they are a-changin'” was his quip.”The more things change, the more they stay the same,” I replied.

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The Latest From Our Research

Here’s the latest update on “Probing Our Future,” the current research project conducted by The Transformation Society with the collaboration and support of Adobe Technical Communication:

Our Guest Blog Post, “Blazing the Future TechComm Trail” by Ray Gallon and Neus Lorenzo is on line at TechComm Central by Adobe. It provides a first reflection on the other activities in the project, “not to research new technologies, tools, or delivery channels, but to understand how the evolution and ongoing use of these things affects our practice, our needs, and the needs of our users, so we can better understand our path.”

Recording of the Webinar “Probing Our Future” from October 4, 2016 on Adobe Events

Webinar slides “Probing Our Future” on SlideShare

Storify transcript from the live Twitter chat on October 6, 2016

Earlier post on this blog about the project

Watch for our white paper, coming soon.

Enjoy!

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Talking About My Generation

Greetings, earthlings.

I am a baby-boomer. There are more of us in the world than any of the rest of you generations X, Y, Z, Me, You, Millenial, whatever.

We were a progressive generation that changed the world. We created the sexual revolution, we fuelled the American Civil Rights movement, we invented rock festivals. Hell, we invented rock (actually we didn’t, it was Black blues groups in the 40’s who did that, but we take all the credit).

We created the sixties and seventies.

We had the summer of love.

We tried all kinds of soft drugs, and a few hard ones, and praised their ability to change our spiritual perspectives.

With or without drugs, we opened our minds to Asian philosophies and spiritual practices, and discovered that without them, we probably really couldn’t have quantum physics.

We discovered ecology (it was always there, just most people hadn’t noticed before)

Above all, we were free, free, free.

So What Happened?

Today, we have become smug, arrogant, complacent, and conservative.

The individual freedom we all thirsted for so much has become selfishness and egoism. We disdain community values while preaching them to others.

We criticise our children and grandchildren, claiming they have a smug sense of entitlement which, in fact, is our own even smugger notion of our own supposedly superior positions.

Instead of changing the world, we want to send it back to the stone age.

We want to close the doors, circle the wagons, seek refuge behind an “identity” we would have disdained when we were 20, and shut others out. Tough luck if they die on the open sea trying to escape wars that we instigated and let others fight.

We vote for ultra-conservative, even extreme right-wing leaders who promise things they know they cannot and will never deliver, but whose bombastic simplicity reassures us.

We are the epitome of “do what I say, not as I do,” and then we decry the cynicism of younger generations.

We think we were the last people to invent anything of worth.

“We are old, Father William…”

I weep for my generation.

Author’s note: Nothing in this post is proven, it’s all opinion. My own. I would love for someone to prove me wrong.

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Probing Our Future

Logo_transformationSociety_SmallFor some time, I’ve been mentioning The Transformation Society, a new organisation I co-founded with Dr. Neus Lorenzo. We are very excited about a project we will be doing at this year’s TCUK conference.

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Why the EU is Better Off Without the UK

Shortly after the Brexit vote, a French diplomat was quoted as saying,

Before, Britain had one foot in and one foot out. Now, they have one foot out and one foot in.

Ironic truth. To me, it is crystal clear that the European Union needs the UK, but not as a member – as a friend. Dear Britons, I am so glad you voted to leave – and I am also glad that you’re not going very far. You’ll still be there, just over the channel, playing in our back yard, vacationing in our sunny climes (unless that changes – global warming, you know…), and enjoying our food and wine.

Not only that, you’ll still be trading with us, fighting by our side – at least some of the time, and probably even welcoming Polish plumbers.

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