The BYOD – or ‘Bring Your Own Device’ – movement has been gathering steam in schools. If you want to know my position on this, I put it this way: It could quickly turn into Bring Your Own Distraction’ unless we make sure young students understand what screens are good for, and what they are lousy at. Unless we teach young people how to engage with others, and the value of being able to dive deep into issues beyond simple search and scan, we will end up with a distracted workforce, and distracted leaders.
Speaking of whom, consider this: 650 British MPs will be issued iPads after the British elections in May. But apparently the Brits are concerned about distraction. (Just read the headline of this Forbes article, and you’ll know what I mean.) But skepticism aside, it’s about time elected officials are provided with technology that denies them the excuse for not staying in touch with the rest of us.
In my book, Chat Republic, I featured a prescient idea by a Sri Lankan journalist who said that we ought to make democracy more digital. In a nutshell, what Indi Samarajiva said was that the average citizen has a right to know how an elected acts on our behalf, in real-time! Here is Indi expounding on part of that idea.
Last December (21014) Accenture published a paper on ‘Government as a Digital Disruptor. It spoke of the need for an eco-system for open, collaborative, creative engagement. Read the paper here.
Ever since I stumbled on Chat Apps, and discussed it toward the end of my book, I knew that this thing curiously called Over The Top applications (or OTT), could tempt some to see us, chattering masses, as instruments of mass disruption.
Governments famously refuse to engage citizens, while pretending to call their system a participatory democracy. Some have suggested that the Internet disconnects as much as it engages people from public life. I was reminded of my conversation in April with Indi Samarajiva (on ‘Machine Readable Democracy’) when I saw this discussion.
It’s a tantalizing question. Could a participatory democracy be nurtured? Or should it be left to evolve organically? Or as Jos Zepps puts it, could we build a digitized, engaged democracy from scratch?
One of the organizers noted that the hash-tag #SMDayCMB, which had begun trending regionally (as a ‘tailored trend’) validated the fact that there was a highly engaged community now. Speaking of the community, it’s got the right volatile mix for innovation. One newspaper reported, it was a confluence of “hackers, bloggers, coders, geeks and geek lovers, journalists, techies, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.” Note: the absence of one group here – politicians. In post-war Sri Lanka, steering clear of politics appears to be a well-honed skill.
One of the highlights was a video-link up with Jehan Ratnatunga in California. Jehan is the person behind the comic YouTube skits. Fittingly (for this social media savvy audience) he explained how he landed a job with YouTube because of his hobby.
Watch this presentation by two of the smartest young entrepreneurs who understand not just technology, but how grass-root change and politics works at a fundamental level.
Watch the whole thing (it’s 25 minutes) because the best discussion is toward the end.