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


Which way the bus is going?


I had a very funny but very interesting experiment today. I was reading some of my elder daughter’s posts when I saw the clipart (see above) proposing an amusing quiz to her visitors.

I knew what is was about for having tried in the past to solve the quiz myself, smiling to my daughter’s comments I saw she did not get the correct answer at first. Many others were unsuccessful too so everyone was joking how short sight they were.

This amusing incident was a confirmation to me that most of us, the education / training /material designers and specialists; we were in some way unprepared for the new changes that need to be done in education. The reason – in my humble opinion – related to the way we learned, the fashion we were educated and the thinking scheme we got to use in defining the principles of a modernized education approach.

I do not claim for a total change, but as long as we will keep our mindset work in a very linear and procedural manner, we will certainly lack some elements to help us bring key factors to a renewed creativity in education.

We all agree that changes must be done and applied, however we still think in a manner that make us innovate instead of create. . How much do we dedicate to engage to better know our audiences, students, teachers, programs, validation retention strategies? We fall into the trap of innovating through new technologies and still we mostly fail to provide a correct answer to a simple logical question: “Which way the bus is going?”

I know it seems too simple to compare with the various important challenges experts will need to think and come up with solutions on renewed education for the generations to come. But what if we just try to think the way they do? I think we are used so much to think in a two dimensional way that is does not seem obvious when we look at young kids able to solve in a more realistic way and manner such quizzes (I like to see them as the three-dimensional thinkers and users).

They are the one who are not afraid to consider technologies as a mean and seldom a tool, this allows their minds to act freely independently from schemes organized and structured as we are. I always keep in mind my grand-daughter’s when she showed me in less than 5 minutes how she used her mini-tablets to build and publish an animated multimedia clip with a couple of pictures, two drawings, some clipart and the music of her preferred singer. When done she knew how to publish it on her social network’s page, (she did not in fact because her dad did not give her the password 😉 )

I guess to us, it would have taken a FAQ, or consult the online help, and more to get started, all due to our education format we learned since the awareness of our consciousness.

I am grateful to both my grand-daughter and her mom for having reminded me some of the essentials in our field of expertise. Thinking like they do, isn’t a good avenue for a better adapted educational offering? This will let us know in which direction the bus is going, is it right?

Michel – December 30, 2013

Certified Fair Trade Education!

Fair Trade Education

Image credits: Eco educational

I know, the title may look awkward, yet the intention is unchanged: don’t we need Fair Trade Education?

During a morning ride to work, I thought of this situation where, we the populations who live in relatively privileged countries, regions and continents; we did some remarkable actions towards the less rich populations, our governments contributed to health and care programs, the united nations various organizations, some NGOs are actively on the filed providing active help, the fair trade certification to favour small and limited in resources local producers, coffee, agricultural products, and many other ways to help native producers are implemented every day in most of places where allowed and welcomed. This trend is booming and moving forward, hopefully these will also one day reach the social practices, not only a « help when needed » initiative, but rather getting into deeper to the roots of the happening of such difficulties: knowledge and education.

 Provide to the young generations all the means to take control of their destiny and reduce the importance of external help, such generations creating all the conditions to own their own solutions, adapt any existing technology into their geographic and social locations, thus contributing to the social wellness humanity is so keen on.

There is still a lot to do, maybe as a start we need to address such issues differently. Instead of sending goods and all chewed solutions, such may not be appropriate or adequate to suit the native living according to different cultural and geographical realities, we rather need to collaborate and share with them the real tools that would make them reach their own adapted social well-being and freedom from a never ending state of mind that makes them feel poor, unable to access to knowledge and always look at rich countries as dominant.

But what about education? Why aren’t there actions of the same nature and scope, education, sharing knowledge? I do not mean these limited and well-targeted initiatives from some religious-oriented programs and organizations who have – and this is totally normal – some hopes and obviously a hidden agenda to see these people they help, to adhere to the benefactor’s religious views. Why do we still need to think like conquerors, who own the ultimate wealth, and provide charity to poorer populations? My understanding and belief is to allow any human wherever he or she lives, to access to the wealth of education, such wealth preparing them to take their own destiny in their own hands.

We know how important and how critical is education and we also know how people who do not have access to such knowledge, can become, behave and feel towards rich nations. Knowledge and education owners know perfectly well the challenges can this wealth drag entire generations to negative outcomes. Do we need to elaborate about the young kids who are forced to fight in other’s wars, or the children who are obliged to slavery-labour in factories, or underground mines just to make corporate richer and wealthier? How could we address these nations with advice on ruling their own countries, asking them to establish justice and democracy when we prevent them to freely access to knowledge and education? I think these are the true and real challenges, and the responsibility falls on the ones (us in fact who live in developed regions of the world) who own knowledge and the means to share it with the less fortunate ones.

Some may think that these new solutions such as open online courses (the MOOCs) allow everyone to access to knowledge that I agree, yes it is true, provided the people who need the most these courses can access to a low level of technology (A computer and a connection to the Web) I would say, provided they can afford to have electricity… and further more …

If we need to be helpful, we need to provide all what it takes to make our help initiative profit the people we want to help. I would not like to criticize things for the principle of criticizing, but I would rather hope that we wake up from our self-centered comfort and for one 1 minute in a day, a week, a month or a year, we put ourselves in the same shoes of those who need us. It is only ONE (1) minute of our time, if we can afford such for the sake of human kind…

How can we help? I think solutions can be found closer than we think. Imagine if every night we turn off our Laptops, tablets and other devices we do not need, because we simply sleep? This will save the consumption of internet servers, online services this extra, this information is based on a real survey that was conducted some 2 or 3 years ago about how much of these essential resources we could save for the benefit of other countries. Besides if we don’t know what to do the rest of the world, let us start with our own, our communities, and our own children who have no access to higher education, because they simply cannot afford it… Let us live realistic things and learn by example how we could share our knowledge and education with others the close and the far ones…

Be assured I am not a dreamer, I am simply sad to see we always project our lack of initiatives to excuses we always put in the midst that in appearance look very logical but in fact can be surrounded. If I look at my social connections, the virtual and real ones, I am connected to around 18000 persons, who are connected to other thousands, let us pass the idea, and let us be creative in our close communities. Living solutions by example, will help figuring out solutions. There are thousands of success stories that can inspire us, and by the way we do not need to wait until such times Christmas and New Year to think about that, it is an opened around the year project… One minute a day is that so much asking from ourselves to make a difference?

2013 is closing, 2014 will be knocking at our doors soon, could we add this idea to our New Year resolution’s list? One minute to offer to our kinds a minute of certified fair trade solidarity!

Michel – December 16, 2013

About this blog and a little about me …

I decide, finally, to write the English adaptation of my French blog. It took me a while to start this new journey, and I am not really sure if I will feel enough courage to pursue this new adventure.

I discovered the blog reality a few years ago, I lurked and read a lot before I submitted my first comment, then lately while answering a blogger on a topic I am very interested about, Education, I figured out what if instead of just commenting the article I could write my own opinions on the subject. I joined a platform that offered such service, not really knowing how this worked (I still feel I am on a learning curve to better understand the usefulness of all the available tools.

It’s been since July of 2013 I have published 55 articles, wrote 10 other papers, all in French, I really enjoyed the journey so far, and intend to continue this sharing with you my visitors, with people I know others who will just pass by, what matters is the sharing of our mutual richness.

If I decided to pass on my thoughts in English, it is simply because I felt it was just and fair to let my English native contacts, acquaintances and friends to know a bit more about me and what brings me into this realm.

Feel free to visit, to share or not to share a comment, and if you think I need to improve my writing, I will gladly receive your comments and suggestions.

Thank you for passing by…

Michel – December 16, 2013