Friday thread: If you can use language to activate your world view in somebody else, you have power.

George Lakoff, Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of California Berkeley talks to Tavis Smiley of PBS about what cognitive science might tell us about how Donald Trump is leading the media down endless rabbit holes, and what they might do about it. Raising the subject of President Donald Trump may seem to be against the spirit of our occasional Friday Threads, which is generally a holiday from the tribalism of politics. But the Trump phenomenon goes deeper than politics. … Read more

‪#‎FridayThread‬ – Corbyn’s networks as a modern digital ecclesia?

Newsnight had a fascinating conversation (with not a little tension) between Charles Moore (the conscience of the British right, let’s call him) and Matthew Parris (ferociously bright and pragmatic) over the elevation of a Remainer to the head of a Brexit government. Moore bemoaned the fact that in an age which the voters warm each time to a message of change, the new Prime Minister does not fit the bill of those looking for that change to become tangible. The only … Read more

Friday Thread: Could we have a democracy without Politicians?

We are all gearing up for an Assembly election at which we will select decision makers, complain about them for the next five years, and then select a slightly different crew in five years time. This is called democracy. Broadly speaking it works, but given the gridlock in the system and a pervasive sense of apathy about politics, it is probably wise to be on the look-out for ways of improving our democracy. One approach is to suggest that for … Read more

Friday Thread: “There is a third way to re-imagining common property forms…”

Interview with Michel Bauwens (Peer to Peer Foundation) – to mark the launch of Belfast’s ‘Festival of Ideas’ To mark the upcoming Belfast Festival of Ideas, the School of Law is launching a wide-ranging interview with a global pioneer of the emerging commons movement, Michel Bauwens. Talking to the School of Law’s Dr Peter Doran, Bauwens describes the work of his Peer-to-Peer Foundation and explores the significance of the re-emergence of ‘the commons’ and ‘commoning’ for society, the economy, law … Read more

Friday Thread: What is leadership in a digital age?

listen to ‘What does leadership look like in the digital era?’ on audioBoom The world is moving faster than ever before. And the capacity of our social and political institutions are struggling to keep up with, never mind understand that change. Today’s #SluggerReport looked at how the digital revolution is calling for a rather different form of leadership, if we are to begin operating outside the current operate outside the Pied Piper/new prophet/populist mode. As Neal Lawson has pointed out in … Read more

Friday Thread: What crazy woman would pop her head through a glass ceiling?

Well, probably not in general. Definitely not in politics. And certainly not in Ireland, where in the Republic just 15% of politicians are women. But elsewhere, in the global marketplace this is changing rapidly, as Hanna Rosin points out in her TED talk: …for every two men who get a college degree, three women will do the same. Women, for the first time this year, became the majority of the American workforce. And they’re starting to dominate lots of professions … Read more

Friday Thread: The dangers of ‘willful blindness’…

Margaret Heffernan speaking at a TedX in March 2013 put her finger on a fundamental problem which is found all over the world. Willful blindness is a legal concept which means, if there’s information that you could know and you should know but you somehow manage not to know, the law deems that you’re willfully blind. You have chosen not to know. There’s a lot of willful blindness around these days. You can see willful blindness in banks, when thousands … Read more

Friday Thread: Are we really just selfish, stupid and lazy? Or…

Thinking a little further on the Open Government theme, here’s a thought for a Friday afternoon from Dave Meslin’s The Antidote to Apathy TedX Presentation: I propose to you today that apathy is we think we know it doesn’t actually exist. Rather the people do care but we live in a world that actively discourages engagement: consciously putting obstacles and barriers in our way. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics … Read more

Friday Thread: What makes for a reliable economic/political superpredictor?

To quote the blurb… You don’t have to be a mystic to tell the future. Or at least that’s what political scientists would have you believe. But actually they’re not very good at it, as Tim Harford, the FT’s undercover economist, explains. This is relevant how? Well, we know broadly that we cannot predict the future in any absolute terms. Some people did warn the Celtic Tiger was going to come to a nasty end, but most did not, or … Read more

On Open Government: “Everything good proceeds from enthusiasm…”

Brian Eno in interview. However cynical views of the increasingly visible shortcomings of our democratic systems, people remain passionate as ever about the ‘wetware’ of politics itself, even if the democratic institutions struggle to retain a respectful place in their public affections. And we are not just talking about Stormont. Steven McCaffrey’s profile of the launch of the Open Government Network takes a realistic view of prospective of Stormont opening up to its citizens in a meaningful way. He cites their … Read more

Friday Thread: The Struggle for Esteem?

Can we make ourselves feel good without making others feel bad? Political philosopher, Cillian McBride, explores this question with people from Tiger’s Bay, a Loyalist community in North Belfast. He talks to them about bonfires, flags and parading, and the challenges posed by cultural practices that neighbouring communities can experience as hostile gestures. He suggests we think about these issues in terms of a struggle for social recognition – a feature that is common among all individuals and societies. Dead_Air_Radiomedia … Read more

Friday Thread: Where do good ideas come from…?

“They come, more often than not, in small fragments…” The inimitable David Lynch Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

Friday Thread: How to thrive in a world where change is constant…

A few years back I got asked to judge in a fun version of the Dragons Den as part of Microsoft’s Imagine Cup at the Science Gallery in Dublin. It was pitched largely at students in the Regional Technology Colleges right across the Republic, from Letterkenny and Sligo to Waterford and Cork. It’s the nearest I’ve seen that matches what MIT Media Lab head Joi Ito is calling for in the TED talk above, which is to start utilising the … Read more

Friday thread: Perhaps ‘War’ brings a properly social benefit after all?

Today’s Friday thread is a talk delivered yesterday at the RSA in London by Ian Morris, author of a new book which posits the controversial idea that, over time, war is actually good for us, not necessarily as individuals but as societies. The presentation is fairly short but it was around this part I think Morris gets to the hub of his thesis… Violence is an evolved adaptation. Pretty much every species has its own way of using violence. Each … Read more

Friday thread: “In this country we need to be extremely vigilant about the stories we choose to tell ourselves”

So whilst we’ve been indulging in the usual northern recriminations over St Patricks Day, and getting hot under the collar over the Alliance Party Euro candidate making a pitch for the liberal nationalist vote, southern audiences were treated to some great content on St Paddy’s Day in We Need to Talk About Ireland. I was particularly struck by this contribution from the playwright Bryan Delaney on the critical importance of storytelling and why it matters to the future of Ireland: … Read more

Friday thread: On doing things that make us feel good but which don’t work…

Benjamin Brattan gave this anti TED TEDx talk in San Diego last year. He’s talking directly to the kind of techno-utopianism that TED often falls into. But this section towards the end might have some useful lessons for Northern Ireland. Consider, following Jim’s analysis this morning, that the Haass talks fall under the category of “things that make us feel good but which don’t work“: If we really want transformation we have to slog through the hard stuff: the history; … Read more

Friday Thread: For ‘trial and error’ you have to first try something (then not be afraid to fail)

There’s a part of the conventional stage which the dramaturg Stephen Joseph used to frame as the ‘God Wall’. That’s the bit at the back which in perspective terms is the origin of the actors complete authority over his audience. In the TED talk above, Tim Harford takes a similar idea and transposes it into conventional design, planning and politics. He calls it the God Complex. Here’s the very core of his argument: …the complexity of the world that surrounds … Read more

Friday Thread: “If we take man as he really is, we make him worse.”

Here Viktor Frankl cites a survey [h/t Ciaran] which comes to the following conclusions about American students: 60% said that they wanted to make a lot of money; and 78% said that finding a meaning and purpose in the world was important to them. He then goes on to illustrate a great insight from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: If we take man as he really is, we make him worse. But if are seen to be idealists and overestimating, overrating … Read more

Friday Thread: Nine years later you can see improvement in quality and equity

In the week were told our education system is both inequitable and poor… Andreas Schleicher notes that equity and quality are not inimical. But the solutions he offers from Germany is a major challenge to a lot of assumptions about how education is done. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and … Read more

Friday Thread: Why shared values and beliefs come before trust

One of the things we are seriously short of in Northern Ireland is ‘trust’. Trust, argues Simon Sinek, is not reliability, it springs from you share with others: What’s a nation? A single group of people with common set of values and beliefs.And the single biggest challenge that any culture or any organisation will ever face is its own success. \ This he says works fine at the beginning. But as time goes on: The problem is why they do … Read more