Death panels vs. death squads

June 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Death squads work under cover of darkness, kidnapping and killing, robbing people of their lives and inspiring terror among the people.

Death panels have official sanction to take and ruin lives. They meet in government buildings with Orwellian agendas posted at the door.

I had thought that the Senate committee crafting the new health care bill was a death panel.

But to the degree that citizens are demoralized, broken in spirit, by a new health care law, I was wrong.

The Senate committee is a death squad, operating in darkness, stealing peole’s lives, spreading fear and destruction across the land.

Or so it seems today.

Truth driven underground, voices rise up

June 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Society drives a portion of the truth about itself underground, and people create an alternate pathway for that truth as best they can. Both of those ideas are worth studying. How does a society like ours silence and drown out voices, stories, facts, understandings, truths? And how to people find a work-around, and with what kinds of success?

The silence of the citizen

June 20, 2017 Leave a comment

A little theory about the weakness of our democracy.

Silence is the basic mode of a citizen, largely unallied with others, having no regular civic audience, skilled in no form of public address, possessing no reliable stream of information or one so contested and poisoned and vexed as to be more problem than aid, susceptible to cynicism or despair or indifference or fear every moment that is not spent laboring or consuming entertainment or tending the beautiful or bare walled garden of the private life.

Watching the Trustees at work

June 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Summary: The university’s Trustee governance structure works on a management model that doesn’t seek a lot of input from students, faculty, or the voting public. 

For the first time I attended all the open or public* sessions of the Trustees of Indiana University over the two days of their June meeting, held this time on the South Bend campus. Much good work was introduced and approved there, including new buildings and renovations of older buildings, improvements to programs, that sort of thing. There was an admirable, positive spirit of public service throughout, and I was pleased to have witnessed it.

As a faculty member, I noticed, though, that faculty voices and roles were not very much in evidence. (I think faculty spoke for about ten minutes over the course of the two days of meetings.) Thinking further about that, I noticed that student voices, though present, were also not much involved through most of the two days. (There is, though, one elected Trustee who is a student, as required by the structure of the governance of IU, and that Trustee seemed very capable. That Trustee was, however, perhaps among the quieter members of the nine-person group.) Thinking further, I realize that the general public was not a speaking presence at this meeting, though I believe there are sometimes protests at these sessions.**

What does that mean? Impressed as I was by what I saw, I walk away realizing that this is a management system and not, say, a collaborative system or a democratic system.
Whether or not the university’s future would be improved by the voices of faculty, or students, or the general public, this particular two-day meeting did not look very much in that direction. The university is managed, it seems–often, I thought, managed well***–but managed in a way that minimizes the input of three vital groups: students, faculty, the voting and tax-paying public. If those groups want to have an impact on the governance of the state’s leading public university (sorry, Purdue), they can’t rely on the normal format of a Trustees meeting to make that happen. Fair enough, and point taken.

____________________

*The Sunshine Laws, as they are called, for Indiana, leave room for the Trustees to have some private meetings, and two sessions last week were closed, each amounting to about an hour. Possibly, though, these were just the lunch breaks for the group–not sure.

**There was a microphone stand set up in the public seating area, but there was never an invitation to those attending to use it. There was also a press table, often occupied, but no invitation for the press to ask questions during the two-day meeting either. I don’t know if this is typical or not.

***One item for future consideration, mentioned in passing, seemed quite wrong-headed to me. It was, however, the kind of management-oriented proposal that will not be thoughtfully considered unless those largely-missing voices are heard, I believe.

The decay of the open Web

November 26, 2015 Leave a comment

Hossein Derakhshan@h0d3r –has just published an essay that is very specific about the nature of activism, free speech, hyperlinks, and blogging, and also about the stakes for all of us in the way the Web has evolved away from the openness we knew about a decade ago. Like other important pieces of writing, his essay implies a theory of healthy and unhealthy society. A healthy society is a Web-like weYour Voiceb of voices and institutions and texts with hyperlink-like connections that thinking, feeling people make and remake together. The tools in our possession make this easier or harder or impossible to do. A former political prisoner recently released, the writer has stepped out of a time machine, in effect, to discover that the necessary tools have eroded while he was away. Please consider “The Web We Have to Save” and write about it. He considers the responses and his follow-up thinking on his website, too.

PS. A few days later, for the 25th anniversary of the first web page, I added this on Facebook: The ability to publish without a printing press, to link to the words of others, to collaborate with readers and writers around the world, to respond on your own terms and in your own time to important events that you have witnessed, to affiliate yourself with kindred spirits you have never met, to innovate with technology so that other forms of creativity have new ways to grow, to reach for a more meaningful democracy…all owe a debt on this anniversary. And all at risk of being taken back to one degree or another.

PPS. And early in the new year Dave Winer continued this discussion with “It’s time to care about the open web.”

Indiana’s “So That Happened” Moment

April 26, 2015 Leave a comment

Facebook thinks NPR-affiliate WVPE hosts a spam website, I guess, so I have to ask you to click this link to read or hear the essay on Indiana’s walk of shame this spring.

The text and audio are here–please click.

Progress continues

August 25, 2014 Leave a comment

Progress continues

The effort to make a writer’s Facebook postings also save (or update) to a WordPress blog is moving ahead. Dave Winer’s Little Facebook Editor is testing the concept, and this post was composed on the current version of that software.

I like this approach a lot. Why should a writer contribute to a web service like Facebook without having the ability to save a copy of any serious pieces to a backup site or even another public site? If it is difficult to save your web postings, then a company like Facebook is essentially urging us to throw them away after a quick use. But what we write on the web can be more useful and more important than that. This new software is working out the practicalities of a better way.

If you want to give it a test drive:

http://facebook.smallpict.com/2014/08/25/postingToWordpressAndFacebook.html

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