RIP Michel Rocard

Michel Rocard is dead. It will be a long time before any political figure appears, in France
or anywhere else, that has his rigorous intellect, his ethical position, or his clarity of vision.

890635-michel-rocard-psu
Michel Rocard, socialist militant in 1971. Source: Agence France Presse

He saw the need for France to disengage from its colonial holdings well before anyone else.

He was a true believer in the possibility of government by the voice of the people, with social justice – in short, a social democrat in the true sense of the term, not the way it’s been mangled by ideologues of all sort.

He was a true lover of Europe – a Europe of federated nations, working collectively for the common good – not just economically, but politically and socially as well. Not managed by technocrats, but by European citizens who felt themselves to be European citizens.

He saw, back in 2014, that the UK had done a lot of damage to the EU and needed to get out – about which more in my next post.

He was a staunch defender of open source software.

As prime minister, he passed the minimum revenue allocation for all French residents.

He believed that good decision making requires reflection, that you have to take the time to accomplish that.

He believed you need to be practical, and deal with reality as it is, in order to make life better, without losing an idealistic vision of how that might be.

He shall be sorely missed, even by people who don’t even know his name.

The Morning After: Brexit of Champions

How poor communication and The Big Lie affected the referendum in the UK to leave the European Union

Well, well, here we are, cleaning up the mess after the UK has voted to leave the European Union. It was quite a party, the hooligans were out among the lambs, detritus was thrown and left on the ground, hangovers were rampant, and come the mourning after, everyone had to get a grip on in order to keep down their Weetabix.

Apparently, already four million people (as of this writing) have signed a petition asking if they couldn’t just vote again – pleeeeeze. According to a Washington Post article, Britons spent the next day searching on line to find out what the European Union was. You’d think they’d have wanted to do that before they voted, wouldn’t you?

Lie to me

A good piece of the answer to why they didn’t comes with the now time-worn phrase, “The big lie.”

Continue reading “The Morning After: Brexit of Champions”

Four Years on the STC Board – A Review

Dear readers, I have just completed two terms as a director at large of the Society for Technical Communication (STC). I think those of you who are STC members deserve a review of what those four years have – and have not – accomplished.

When I first ran, I had a long list of issues that I wanted dealt with. I was going to insist that they be taken seriously, my intention was to be a real pain until the board looked at all of them. Much to my amazement, all the issues on my list got raised within the first six months of my board tenure, without my having to insist on anything! This despite the fact that from my first day, we were faced with the need to find a new Executive Director. Life on the STC board has been a series of surprises, obstacles, successes, and disappointments.

Continue reading “Four Years on the STC Board – A Review”

Pot Shots: They’re So Easy

It’s been 15 years since I moved out of Paris, and three and a half since I stopped going there regularly to work. And still, I find myself feeling that the recent assault in the French capital was an assault on “my” city. It was also an assault on human dignity.

As I think about it, and grieve, I am also struck by how much this issue hinges on questions of communication.

Continue reading “Pot Shots: They’re So Easy”

Words Are Important

Back in the 80s, when I worked in radio, I remember very vividly the words of Andre Codrescu, a writer and commentator on NPR, the U.S. national public radio network. Codrescu came to the U.S. escaping Nicolae Ceausescu’s Romania. In one commentary, he was recalling some event involving either protest, writing, or both. I no longer recall what the event was, but I remember this sentence:

In Romania, words have power. You can go to jail for them.

Continue reading “Words Are Important”

Millenials and Social Networking – A Critique

Someone directed me to a post about Millenials and Social Networking, It is written by someone who, I imagine, is a member of that generation, and yet I find it totally – but totally – wrong.

I wanted to reply in situ but it seems you need to log onto Facebook to do so. I don’t do Facebook, so I’m posting my reply here:

I’m not a millenial, but a baby boomer, and I take umbrage at the proposition that simply because sites like Twitter and Pinterest foster curation, people have lost the ability (or desire?) to be creative. “To everything there is a season” and a place, as well. We use different social media for different purposes. Curation is not simply imitation, it’s also selection, and that means practicing a discriminatory ability, critical reading, etc.

Generation Y does have problems that are specific to it – so did we, so does every generation. So what? If you look at the research, the notion of Gen Y as narcissistic comes from my generation, not from the data. Gen Y is creating what Henry Jenkins refers to as the “Participatory Culture,” something we individualists have had a hard time doing, especially after we hit middle age, and certainly in our dotage.

Let’s stop promoting clichés and look at real data, real people, and real situations. The world has become a harder place than it was in our youth, let’s help younger people cope with it, instead of dumping on them. Otherwise, what was the “summer of love” for?

Who Has a License to Drive the Information Superhighways? – part 2

Quite a while ago, I promised a second part to my critique of the analogy of Internet with Superhighways. As usual, sloth, and other pressing emergencies made it fade into the background. But with the U.S. Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC’s) ruling on Net Neutrality still fresh and shiny, this seems like the moment to make good on that promise.

Before Internet of Things – Internet of Ideas

The phenomenon known as Internet of Things – where intelligent, connected objects communicate and take decisions without human intervention – could not exist if we didn’t already have an internet where the majority of communication remains textual (like this blog, for instance). We tend to prefer familiar models, and the model of written communication is one that is deeply embedded in Western cultures.

But the Internet is also a natural transmedia vector, and we already see stories being told by parallel text, video, audio, fixed image, and other kinds of content, on multiple screens. To get the whole story, you have to engage with all the different media that are used to tell it, and none of them has the complete lowdown. We use very different perceptual equipment to understand each of these media, and they happen simultaneously. This is so far away from any kind of superhighway analogy – we are, in fact, in the realm of parallel universes!

Continue reading “Who Has a License to Drive the Information Superhighways? – part 2”