Never underestimate the power of books !

2016-10-8--06-19-06


To a special friend…

 


“Let us pick up our books and our pens,” I said. “They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”
Malala Yousafzai


 

Of all the papers that speak about books, there are seldom those addressed to authors or writers. Generally speaking, a paper will advertise the latest publication or the first book of a new author.  

Anyone would tell that the bond between the author and the readers is obvious, hence such obviousness may also trigger the prevalence of certain gaps that need to be reminded to writers.

Once my first book was published, I was excited expecting my readers’ comments , hoping they would share more than encouraging words. In fact,  there’s been a common expression that came in the various feedback notes. It was about emotions. Yes, emotions that readers felt and discovered through my chronicles.

I was impressed and sincerely humbled as I never imagined that simple chronicles could spark such personal and intimate state of the heart.

As if people reminded me of what mattered the most through pages and chapters. “You allowed me to feel emotions I thought I had forgotten”. I assume that says it all about a book.

Whether we deliver a novel,  chronicles, essays or short stories,  we deliver a part of our intimacy to the eyes of the reader; at that point, we better be real and true. The bond between a writer and his audience is one of trust and honesty.

I learned a lot from these newly found friends (my readers), they showed me how high they put the bar of expectations for this book and eventually the next ones to come.

I rushed to my book shelves, did sort through these,  filing  those who procured me emotions during their reading. I tagged them as “my emotions books”; those I would read again with the same pleasure as in the first time.

If it is tempting to use a seductive style, or draw audience’s interest to appreciate how good writers we are; however if we cannot deliver our emotions, there are chances people will start fast reading through pages or simply abandon the volume as I did to the books that never procured me any emotion.

Delivering a book is a responsibility, a great one, our readers’ trust based on a very simple and human attitude: emotions !

Michel ©  

Is Global Citizenship at Risk?

00 Global Citizenship


We are citizens of the world. The tragedy of our times is that we do not know this. Woodrow Wilson


 

A few weeks ago I shared some thoughts about Digital (or Virtual Democracy), and was pleased to note some interest about the topic. Of course sharing a personal opinion is meant more of an awareness and food for thoughts, a tremendous job is awaiting the various sources and organisations who will have the task to define the foundation, thus the foundation of such new social and political paradigm.

Digital democracy can – at least for me – be only of one type, nations and territories, frontiers can no longer exist when it relates to such political format. Such democracies are built by Global Citizens (Call it Virtual Citizens as well) I am not a big fan of existing political views that exist in our world today, yet I respect each as I find each is in its growth process, changes will occur when times comes and when most elements in favour of such change are met. Digital / Global Citizenship is on its own path and its pace can be compared to the speed of a travelling comet! Not so sure any human force can stop it, eventually slow it somehow.

Virtual Citizenship is inevitable just looking at the trends of today’s virtual world: in some countries the ratio of intelligent devices is almost a 1 on 1 (952 smart devices per 1000 capita). If I translate it into my own language or comprehension, it means (to me) that people, need to brake their loneliness and connect to other people regardless of the barriers, frontiers and regulations to slow migrants to move from a place to another. People care to connect more than any other mean for a wellbeing when they are given the choice.

It is not uncommon to observe lots of criticism about the duality of real and virtual life. Still people claim these aren’t the same. They are right from a rhetorical and etymological point of view, the fact is more people connect every day on popular social networks and get friends with other people whom they would never imagine meeting in real life. These persons can be considered as the first generation of virtual citizens, I may say Global Citizen.

If you are member of one of these networks just look at how many people you got in touch with, numbers add up so rapidly. As a matter of fact I did that “human” inventory of the acquaintances and friend and business contacts I have made for the last 12 years, figures are overwhelming! One of the interesting thing is that I spoke to each of them not less than a couple of times, some occasionally but many on a regular basis. If I had to spend time in real life that would took me most of my life to reach half or even less people to speak or just say hello.

That brings me to share more thoughts about the title of my paper. Is Global Citizenship at risk? I guess it will be if we as citizens of this world do not first consider ourselves as ones who are part of this planet, and second if we do not care about who and what will provide what every community requires to ensure a better life in this virtual realm.

Digital Democracy is something new to most political systems, Global Citizenship is newer than ever. As most countries and their organisations are still limited with goals that speak of nation, borders, identity, ethnicity, and more of what defines a nation rather than a group of nations.

Imagine for example that each government decides to create the virtual or digital version for his citizens, what would have changed? Nothing much I guess! For believers that it is a viable mean to expand ourselves into a digital realm, keep in mind that if it happens it will inevitably come with all of the drawbacks that our reality is carrying and enduring since ages.

Global Citizenship requires a new social contract, a new paradigm as it will affect the entire planet. Education, communication, trading, and even human relationships. I am not trying to speak from an idealistic approach, on the contrary, let us think of what has changed so far in our day to day activities. Banking, purchasing, official communication with our governments, ordering food, learning, virtual visits to places we would never think of, and more to come. Under which system will this Global Citizenship be regulated? Who will be eligible to be recognized as such, will there be segregations, shall we admit and tolerate illiteracy in our own places of living not to say the rest of the world? Will the news channels dare to interpretation of critical events and serve these as our daily meals three times a day?

Global citizenship can start from home and our neighbourhood, our communities, just spreading good ideas, discussing, sharing our opinions, regaining the ownership of our decisions and freedom of choice.

I am not against laws and order, they are meant to keep a nation in order how about our planet, but it takes free minds to ensure the very existence of a true democracy!

Until our next chat,

Michel – August 6, 2015


The picture of this paper is from: Global Citizen Daily

Intellectual Self Defense! A Must!

00 Intellectual Self-Defense (2)


Citizens of the democratic societies should undertake a course of intellectual self defense to protect themselves from manipulation and control, and to lay the basis for meaningful democracy.”
– Noam Chomsky


 

It is not unusual when events occur in our life where we come to express some remorse or regrets for having let it happen not the way we wished.

Often we think to ourselves “I should have expressed my discomfort about this matter! Pity it is too late now!”

We often give our consent on matters, news or events without taking the time if it is right or wrong. You may ask people for the reason, many would say “I don’t care!” or “Why should I bother? They don’t care for my opinion!” fewer would nod and keep silent realizing they could have, but instead let it go because the majority of people did not react.

Just to put things in context. I do not advocate for reaction or argumentation for the sake of complaining by principle, on the contrary. I surely advocate for a clearer understanding about things when they are put in public and above all when it is THE time to express an opinion or require clarifications.

News channels use various communication skills, where the tone and the syntax make things look assertive and credible. It does not mean everything they say should be taken for granted, some signs could help us better differentiate when a journalist is assuming or presuming facts before confirmation is when he or she uses the conditional tone “It was alleged…” or, “rumors say..”

Keeping silent is a manner to consent, the forced consent as I like to name it. Moreover we are constantly exposed to such forced consents in many occasions: would you oppose a different opinion when your upper management Chief of something says something you disagree about? I am not sure you would put yourself at risk, yet if the time is appropriate there is no reason to drawn that person aside and request to better understand his or her point of view. I know for many it is unthinkable, I have done it more than once and sincerely I never felt my job was on the line!

“Because the teacher said so!” that’s quite a statement very seldom parents would challenge even if in awareness of their child’s circumstances. “I want you to stop this medication, and let’s see what happens in 15 days!” Medical professionals, always intend good and safe, yet they don’t walk in patients shoes, and will probably forget whom we are 2.5 minutes after your appointment is over (2.5 minutes being the time to record his or her remarks in your file!). We take for granted their words and move on no questions asked. Of course common sense will say most of the times these people are right. But, we do need to understand and make sure we feel “ok” about their recommendations.

If you spend a day, one simple day, noting in your mind how many times there are accepted consents you do not realize but you certainly acknowledge and realize afterwards you would have asked or shared an opinion before accepting. The most serious ones remain when there are decisions taken about the city, province state or country, where you are invited as a member of the community or country and you do not show. The drawback(s) being the decisions that may not be convenient, eventually you would had to share an idea that could bring something better…

I fully agree with Noam Chomsky about his idea to integrate a course about intellectual self defense into the schooling system, yet it is up to each one of us to start our self-education at home, in communities and in our cities.

It is easier to complain after the decision was made and taken, but we do know this will not change anything, simply because we missed an occasion to express ourselves freely.

If I do share my opinion and speak up knowing its consequences, being a concerned citizen but moreover in due respect and solidarity to those who cannot enjoy such privilege of free thinking and free speech.

Maybe we should consider saying and acting more often about how much we care!

Until our next chat,

Michel – July 29, 2015

It’s About Time!

00 Medias


“Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups… So I ask, in my writing, what is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms.
I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power.
They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.”
― Philip K. Dick


 

If my blogs and papers were written using an assertive tone, if I used to push imperative advice and straight forward ideas, if … I am pretty sure I would had a larger audience, and that is a relief it is not the case, as I would feel so not myself!

What would it take to news networks, medias, and social forums to advocate for social good, what would it take to public opinion to read and listen to positive news at least once every 24 hours! Could they for once in a while turn these many deaths from statistics to tragedies and seek how to prevent such to happen?

Don’t we have enough of covering the wars, deaths, destruction just for the wars, deaths and destruction? Someone told me one day it was a necessity to cover and expose publicly such horrors and stop hiding ourselves from the reality! Yes, maybe! But is that our own reality? Is human kind meant only for that?

We live in a world of many contradictions. Since our first steps in life we are cared for, taught and educated to good, to live well, enjoy family and receive from our parents and caretakers all the love, the attention that can exist. Going to school, among other benefits, we start learning to meet with other people than mom and dad, we learn how to cope with our school friends, some will remain our friend from childhood, and the many will remain in the backyard of our memories if not forgotten, but they will remain people we met sometime during our lives. Schooling years also teach us to become good students, the education model aims to make us become the future good citizens. At the end of our school path we are supposedly fit for the world, get a job, settle down, and of course make a good life, in other words fulfill our dreams.

How confusing it could be to the minds of people to expect attaining such humanistic goals when at the same time they are exposed to the daily horrors of wars, killings and desperation of other people! What kind of model will they follow?

Something is wrong! Something is very wrong! I do not need to summarize what is happening in the world, not only in countries far from ours, but in our own schools, our neighbourhoods, our own communities.

Do not take me wrong, hiding such news is not my intention, but covering such events in a different manner is – at least to my opinion – what we are badly missing! What would it take to make that effort instead of falling into the scoopmania? How much percent does a national network cover good or positive events? I do not have the number but I doubt someone would ever venture to say there is a noticeable one!

Keeping people on alert through negative and horror stories will impact their daily life, it is not rocket science to note how individualistic we became: advertisement, consuming strategies, wellbeing promises, mostly address the individual instead of people in general. If people are free to choose they absolutely need to know what they can choose from, don’t you agree?

Medias have a responsibility towards their audience that is to provide trusted information, on the other hand, outstanding media have a greater responsibility that is to promote what people strive for! People have a responsibility too, that is to follow the media that will respect and provide what it takes to make the right choice of opinion!

Until our next chat,

Michel – June 29, 2015

Can Technologies Solve the Crisis of Education?

00 Linkedin Banner 3


“It is important to remember that educational software,
like textbooks, is only one tool in the learning process.
Neither can be a substitute for well-trained teachers,
leadership, and parental involvement.”
– Keith Krueger


 

I love this question because, at least for me, there are no clean cut answers. Adopting technologies is the natural course of things that walks with us, humans, in our own historical timeline. From the first educational model to the 21st century, technologies have always provoked passionate discussions the pro-technologies and the anti-technologies, surprisingly these opinions may have been flawed in a way; from the certainty saying technologies will solve the education crisis to the argument that technologies will never replace the human impact (educators) let’s admit, all may be right as all may be wrong.

Believing in such statement, seems to me, a simplistic attitude, comparing and measuring people’s faculty to deduct and reason to the automated functionalities of tools programmed by humans!

When people will feel less unsecure about technologies and when they will see these as the providing means to bring people to a higher level of comprehension and learning, then we can look at technologies as means to solve the crisis of education. People fall under the charm of the wow for each piece of tool when it allows them to “do” things they always dreamed of, still these tools need to express human brain intelligence never their own.

The crisis of education is a people’s matter. People who definitely have to speak to people if they want to bring the level of education to respond to students’ true needs. The principles of education have slowly drifted into a sort of stagnation since the first model, and has little walked the pace of the continuous evolution of people’s direct needs. It is not adding technologies that may bring the change, it is more the manner we look at both as what we ought to do!

Yes technologies may solve the crisis of education if both the top and the base of people meet and start learning from each other, and No technologies will never solve any crisis, they will simply postpone the inevitable disconnection between the model and the learners! Education is a matter of people, as long as this component is missing the more learners will drop out! Bringing learners into the solution of educational issues has never been so urgent as before. Young students are the best contributors to reduce the existing gap between the present model and the technical trends, they are naturally inclined to share their knowledge. The actual paradigm is stalling (if not already totally stalled), injecting adrenaline – new technological tools – without a healthy regimen, cannot suffice anymore.

Let us stop extending the non-solving attitude, let us stop considering education as a privilege for an elite, let us stop considering education as a cost in national budgets, it is time to consider education as an obligation for each government to prioritize.

Can technologies solve the crisis of education? I think they can once people start considering people and not people being demographic statistics within the system of education.

If we all agree that education is in need of an important review, and probably a major update in its various mechanisms, it is useless to think this can only happen through technologies; I am inclined to think people who lead education need to change the prevailing business model and remind themselves that their real employer are the students!

Until our next chat,

Michel – June 4, 2015

They Are Smarter Than You Think!

What all this has to do with kids, you may ask? I guess they are the adults of our future who will have created these means of communicating we ever dreamed of since the first visual lessons found in the caves of Lascaux!

BUS_Quiz


“Imagination is more important than knowledge.
For knowledge is limited to all
we now know and understand,
while imagination embraces the entire world,
and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
– Albert Einstein


I do not know if you have ever seen that little quiz and tried it of course. I you did not have the answer you’d feel probably like the many who did not, yet 90% of the young ones were able to answer correctly!

Sometimes adults speak to children in a tone nearing infantilism, thinking they would not understand. You would be surprised how much they do understand us. It is just using the proper expressions and the appropriate words. Kids are like most people on a continuous learning process, we need to keep in mind they will learn the way we teach them.

I remember as a father, thinking that my kids would never understand “adult” expressions, I felt the need to “adapt” some words convinced that would be easier for them. I never realized how wrong I was. I remember when my elder was three years old, she used one of my “words” to ask for cooked rice, the persons who knew the meaning of it were us her parents and of course herself. Just imagine when her baby sitter felt lost when she asked to have some cooked rice, then cried and kept on asking to eat, in her own words as learned from her parents!

When I failed a couple of times to answer that little quiz (see picture at the top), I realized how, we adults, tend to complicate our thinking about the basics of logics.

I am pretty sure you must have hundreds of examples proving the pertinence of kids’ abilities to learn and understand matters we assume only adults are capable of.

When educational news started speaking of kids learning to code, I confess I had a subjective reaction, judging this was the influence of new technologies and obviously manufacturers who inevitably wanted to ensure their future consumers to adopt their products, you know thinking there’s a conspiracy theory behind almost anything we don’t grasp. I realized how wrong I was. Learning to code early would provide to the coming generation with new means to engage easily into their adult age and its requirements and realities. If it sounded unusual in 2015, how natural would it be in 2035!

Imagine if in the 60’s r the 70’ when Arthur C. Clarke spoke of cell-phones and Internet, of interspace telecommunications, at a time when none of this existed! Remember on the epic Star Trek sage when they used their numeric pads for reading reports, no one spoke of tablets at that time, or the symbols coded language Data the android was using to communicate with other races and different cultures.

I would not make false assumptions that we reached these realities today.

Kids deserve to be considered with respect the same manner adults share such respect among themselves. Regardless of age gaps, young ones will always amaze and surprise us through the ease they can be in logic thinking.

I agree that many of us are resisting and fighting change, that change that is going ways faster than we have been prepared for. Less than 20 years ago, we were at the baby steps of popular computing, today we have at our disposal portable tools that connect us to the entire planet, most likely n 20 years from now we will find very normal communication with space travellers or settlers on the moon or planet Mars, maybe further.

What all this has to do with kids, you may ask? I guess they are the adults of our future who will have created these means of communicating we ever dreamed of since the caves of Lascaux!

ʺI received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library. For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it.” – Isaac Asimov

Until our next chat,

Michel – May 12, 2015


 

Digital Democracy, are we already there?

00 Digital Culture II


“It is just when people are all engaged in snooping on themselves and one another that they become anesthetized to the whole process. Tranquilizers and anesthetics, private and corporate, become the largest business in the world just as the world is attempting to maximize every form of alert. Sound-light shows, as new cliché, are in effect mergers, retrievers of the tribal condition. It is a state that has already overtaken private enterprise, as individual businesses form into massive conglomerates. As information itself becomes the largest business in the world, data banks know more about individual people than the people do themselves. The more the data banks record about each one of us, the less we exist.” ― Marshall McLuhan, From Cliche To Archetype[i]


This paper was inspired from a new contact on Twitter© who described in her bio her determination to make “digital democracy” happen one day! So Marcela, this paper is a “thank you contribution” for the cause, a noble cause, I too, endorse!


If you search about E-Democracy or Digital Democracy (DD)[ii] there are chances you may feel surprised by the not too many results, such is normal I would say. From the ironic point of view, are we claiming real and true e-democracy when there is so much trouble to put some real life democracy among humans and among countries, and from the less ironic point of view, e-democracy or digital democracy is (at least for me and if you agree on the first point) like a new born learning the fundamentals of life…

Of course some countries, some officials, and some organizations have started thinking out loud about this inevitable fast paced phenomenon, no wonder why this sudden interest, just imagine the power it will grant to those who will be able to put the first elements of such a foundation, they will be the leading inspiration and why not the leading “authority”. I would compare e-democracy to groups of settlers who arrive somewhere new and “claim” the territory … such is human nature I guess, taking for granted all of what exist on planet earth, the cosmos and now the e-universe! (On a another thought, I wonder what these settlers will do when they’ll e-meet the e-natives of a newly found e-democracy country)

No matter how noble and how altruistic these intentions are, we ought to remember that the real life democracy has to be a reality where people can enjoy its full benefit to their wellbeing. If e-democracy or digital democracy gets its inspiration from the actual, I would sincerely feel cautious as real democracy (demos = people – Kratia = rule) has still steps to walk in order to be stated as such.

I guess we will all agree that Digital Democracy is an inevitable happening, as it has a main goal that is to provide access to knowledge to the majority of people, it has to break the barriers between the “Know too much” and the “I need to know” cultures. We can no longer avoid skipping the sense of open sharing of knowledge richness to the entire planet, if not then what would be the purpose of using the terms ”e-democracy or DD”?

If we take a glance to democracy, although its roots come from ancient Greek culture, it has been openly known late 16th century as we all know the various milestones real democracies has strived and continue evolving since to be a certainty that people can enjoy and benefit.

I find it very normal that e-democracy could “worry” those who since the time have taken for granted the thinking trends about digital world, as it is also normal that the major challenges ill not be how to implement e-democracy but how the actual “owners” of it will have to let go and free digital space to such lifestyle!

Let us hope the lessons learned about real-life democracy will teach us what to prevent and how to benefit from a new opportunity to make things right in both realms: real life and digital!

I would like to share with you these words, I find inspirational:

Here is the crisis of the times as I see it: We talk about problems, issues, policies, but we don’t talk about what Democracy means what it bestows on us the revolutionary idea that it isn’t just about the means of governance but the means of dignifying people so they become fully free to claim their moral and political agency. (Bill Moyers)[iii].

What if? What if, for the sake of the experimentation, we add to each important word of the quote, the prefix “e-“, wouldn’t that be obvious what needs to be planned and done in our future e-life as e-citizens?

Until our next chat,

Michel – April 27, 2015


[i] Herbert Marshall McLuhan, (July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980) was a Canadian philosopher of communication theory and a public intellectual. His work is viewed as one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory, as well as having practical applications in the advertising and television industries.

[ii] The origins of the term Democracy:
000 Democracy

Also …

E-democracy (a combination of the words electronic and democracy), or internet democracy, incorporates 21st-century information and communications technology to promote democracy. That means a form of government in which all adult citizens are presumed to be eligible to participate equally in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. E-democracy encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.

[iii] Billy Don “Bill” Moyers (born June 5, 1934) is an American journalist and political commentator. He served as White House Press Secretary in the Johnson administration from 1965 to 1967. He also worked as a network TV news commentator for ten years. Moyers has been extensively involved with public broadcasting, producing documentaries and news journal programs. He has won numerous awards and honorary degrees for his investigative journalism and civic activities. He has become well known as a trenchant critic of the corporately structured U.S. news media.


The image is a courtesy of: Fundación Telefónica | International