One thing I like about this text is its tone. There’s an honesty, an ingenuity that I find rare in this type of writing.
- startup ideas
- The background is important, in terms of the type of ideas about which we’re constructing something.
- what do you wish someone would make for you?
- My own itch has to do with Diigo, actually. There’s a lot I wish Diigo would make for me. I may be perceived as an annoyance, but I think my wishlist may lead to something bigger and possibly quite successful.
- The difference between this question and the “scratch your own itch” principle seems significant, and this distinction may have some implications in terms of success: we’re already talking about others, not just running ideas in our own head.
- what do you wish someone would make for you?
- It’s somewhat different from the well-known “scratch your own itch” principle. In this difference might be located something significant. In a way, part of the potential for this version to lead to success comes from the fact that it’s already connected with others, instead of being about running ideas in your own mind.
- grow organically
- The core topic of the piece, put in a comparative context. The comparison isn’t the one people tend to make and one may argue about the examples used. But the concept of organic ideas is fascinating and inspiring.
- you decide, from afar,
- What we call, in anthropology, the “armchair” approach. Also known as “backbenching.” For this to work, you need to have a deep knowledge of the situation, which is part of the point in this piece. Nice that it’s not demonizing this position but putting it in context.
was the first type
- One might argue that it was a hybrid case. Although, it does sound like the very beginnings of Apple weren’t about “thinking from afar.”
- class of users other than you
- Since developers are part of a very specific “class” of people, this isn’t insignificant a way to phrase this.
- They still rely on this principle today, incidentally.
The iPhone is the phone Steve Jobs wants.
- Apple tends to be perceived in a different light. According to many people, it’s the “textbook example” of a company where decisions are made without concerns for what people need. “Steve Jobs uses a top-down approach,” “They don’t even use focus groups,” “They don’t let me use their tools the way I want to use them.” But we’re not talking about the same distinction between top-down and bottom-up. Though “organic ideas” seem to imply that it’s a grassroots/bottom-up phenomenon, the core distinction isn’t about the origin of the ideas (from the “top,” in both cases) but on the reasoning behind these ideas.
- We didn’t need this software ourselves.
- Sounds partly like a disclaimer but this approach is quite common and “there’s nothing wrong with it.”
- comparatively old
- Age and life experience make for an interesting angle. It’s not that this strategy needs people of a specific age to work. It’s that there’s a connection between one’s experience and the way things may pan out.
- There is no sharp line between the two types of ideas,
- Those in the “engineering worldview” might go nuts, at this point. I can hear the claims of “hand waving.” But we’re talking about something complex, here, not a merely complicated problem.
- Apple type
- One thing to note in the three examples here: they’re all made by pairs of guys. Jobs and Woz, Gates and Allen, Page and Brin. In many cases, the formula might be that one guy (or gal, one wishes) comes up with ideas knowing that the other can implement them. Again, it’s about getting somebody else to build it for you, not about scratching your own itch.
- Bill Gates was writing something he would use
- Again, Gates may not be the most obvious example, since he’s mostly known for another approach. It’s not inaccurate to say he was solving his own problem, at the time, but it may not be that convincing as an example.
- Larry and Sergey when they wrote the first versions of Google.
- Although, the inception of the original ideas was academic in context. They weren’t solving a search problem or thinking about monetization. They were discovering the power of CitationRank.
- generally preferable
- Nicely relativistic.
- It takes experience
to predict what other people will want.
- And possibly a lot more. Interesting that he doesn’t mention empirical data.
- young founders
- They sound like a fascinating group to observe. They do wonders when they open up to others, but they seem to have a tendency to impose their worldviews.
- I’d encourage you to focus initially on organic ideas
- Now, this advice sounds more like the “scratch your own itch” advocation. But there’s a key difference in that it’s stated as part of a broader process. It’s more of a “walk before you run” or “do your homework” piece of advice, not a “you can’t come up with good ideas if you just think about how people will use your tool.”
- missing or broken
- It can cover a lot, but it’s couched in terms of the typical “problem-solving” approach at the centre of the engineering worldview. Since we’re talking about developing tools, it makes sense. But there could be a broader version, admitting for dreams, inspiration, aspiration. Not necessarily of the “what would make you happy?” kind, although there’s a lot to be said about happiness and imagination. You’re brainstorming, here.
- immediate answers
- Which might imply that there’s a second step. If you keep asking yourself the same question, you may be able to get a very large number of ideas. The second step could be to prioritize them but I prefer “outlining” as a process: you shuffle things together and you group some ideas to get one which covers several. What’s common between your need for a simpler way to code on the Altair and your values? Why do you care so much about algorithms instead of human encoding?
- You may need to stand outside yourself a bit to see brokenness
- Ah, yes! “Taking a step back,” “distancing yourself,” “seeing the forest for the trees”… A core dimension of the ethnographic approach and the need for a back-and-forth between “inside” and “outside.” There’s a reflexive component in this “being an outsider to yourself.” It’s not only psychological, it’s a way to get into the social, which can lead to broader success if it’s indeed not just about scratching your own itch.
- get used to it and take it for granted
- That’s enculturation, to you. When you do things a certain way simply because “we’ve always done them that way,” you may not create these organic ideas. But it’s a fine way to do your work. Asking yourself important questions about what’s wrong with your situation works well in terms of getting new ideas. But, sometimes, you need to get some work done.
- a Facebook
- Yet another recontextualized example. Zuckerberg wasn’t trying to solve that specific brokenness, as far as we know. But Facebook became part of what it is when Zuck began scratching that itch.
- organic startup ideas usually don’t
seem like startup ideas at first
- Which gets us to the pivotal importance of working with others. Per this article, VCs and “angel investors,” probably. But, in the case of some of cases cited, those we tend to forget, like Paul Allen, Narendra, and the Winklevosses.
- end up making
something of value to a lot of people
- Trial and error, it’s an iterative process. So you must recognize errors quickly and not invest too much effort in a specific brokenness. Part of this requires maturity.
other people dismiss as a toy
- The passage on which Gruber focused and an interesting tidbit. Not that central, come to think of it. But it’s important to note that people’s dismissive attitude may be misled, that “toys” may hide tools, that it’s probably a good idea not to take all feedback to heart…
- At this point, when someone comes to us with
something that users like but that we could envision forum trolls
dismissing as a toy, it makes us especially likely to invest.
- the best source of organic ones
- Especially to investors. Potentially self-serving… in a useful way.
- they’re at the forefront of technology
- That part I would dispute, actually. Unless we talk about a specific subgroup of young founders and a specific set of tools. Young founders tend to be oblivious to a large field in technology, including social tools.
- they’re in a position to discover
valuable types of fixable brokenness first
- The focus on fixable brokenness makes sense if we’re thinking exclusively through the engineering worldview, but it’s at the centre of some failures like the Google Buzz launch.
- you still have to work hard
- Of the “inspiration shouldn’t make use forget perspiration” kind. Makes for a more thoughtful approach than the frequent “all you need to do…” claims.
- I’d encourage anyone
starting a startup to become one of its users, however unnatural it
- Not merely an argument for dogfooding. It’s deeper than that. Googloids probably use Google tools but they didn’t actually become users. They’re beta testers with a strong background in troubleshooting. Not the best way to figure out what users really want or how the tool will ultimately fail.
- It’s hard to compete directly with open source software
- Open Source as competition isn’t new as a concept, but it takes time to seep in.
- there has to be some part
you can charge for
- The breach through which old-school “business models” enter with little attention paid to everything else. To the extent that much of the whole piece might crumble from pressure built up by the “beancounter” worldview. Good thing he acknowledges it.
Category Archives: grassroots
Seems like “influence” is a key theme in social media, these days. An example among several others:
Some people are more “important” than others.
It’s an attention economy: you need to pay attention to get attention.
This is one thing journalism tends to “forget.” Relationships between journalists and “people” are asymmetrical. Before writing this post, I read Brian Storm’s commencement speech for the Mizzou J-School. While it does contain some interesting tidbits about the future of journalism, it positions journalists (in this case, recent graduates from an allegedly prestigious school of journalism) away from the masses. To oversimplify, journalists are constructed as those who capture people’s attention by the quality of their work, not by any two-way relationship. Though they rarely discuss this, journalists, especially those in mainstream media, typically perceive themselves as influencers.
Attention often has a temporal dimension which relates to journalism’s obsession with time. Journalists work in time-sensitive contexts, news are timely, audiences spend time with journalistic contents, and journalists fight for this audience time as a scarce resource, especially in connection to radio and television. Much of this likely has to do with the fact that journalism is intimately tied to advertising.
As I write this post, I hear on a radio talk show a short discussion about media coverage of Africa. The topic wakes up the africanist in me. The time devoted to Africa in almost any media outside of Africa is not only very limited but spent on very specific issues having to do with Africa. In mainstream media, Africa only “matters” when major problems occur. Even though most parts of Africa are peaceful and there many fabulously interesting things occuring throughout the continent, Africa is the “forgotten” continent.
A connection I perceive is that, regardless of any other factor, Africans are taken to not be “influential.” What makes this notion especially strange to an africanist is that influence tends to be a very important matter throughout the continent. Most Africans I know or have heard about have displayed a very nuanced and acute sense of “influence” to the extent that “power” often seems less relevant when working in Africa than different elements of influence. I know full well that, to outsiders to African studies, these claims may sound far-fetched. But there’s a lot to be said about the importance of social networks in Africa and this could help refine a number of notions that I have tagged in this post.
5 Comments | tags: ADHD, Africa, amateurs, attention, attention economy, attraction, authority, bloggers, blogosphere, branding, brands, Brian Storm, buzzphrases, Buzzwords, capital, celebrities, centrism, clueful, Clueing, confidence, cultural capital, culture, distributed authority, distributed trust, egocentric, expertise, experts, fame, fans, filters, gatekeepers, glamour, goodwill, groupthink, hegemony, hierarchy, importance, influence, information economy, Institutions, J-Schools, journalism, journalists, knowledge management, knowledge people, knowledge workers, landminds, landmines, lead, leaders, legitimacy, mainstream, mainstream media, Mario Asselin, media outlets, MediaStorm, memes, memetic marketplace, microblogging, mindshare, Mizzou, moral enterpreneurs, name, network centrality, network effect, network graph, non-deterministic, non-linear, notoriety, personal brands, political capital, popularity, professionals, puce à l'oreille, qualitative analysis, ranking, ranks, rating, recognition, relevance, renommée, renown, repercussions, reputation, scale, social butterflies, social butterfly effect, social capital, social marketing, social media, social network analysis, social networks, social science, sociocentric, sphere, stars, statistics, stratification, tagfest, tags, talent, transmission, trends, trendsetters, trendsetting, trust, Twinfluence, Twitority, Twitter, Twitter Grader, viral marketing, voice | posted in A, acquaintances, advertising, advice, advocacy, Africa, arrogance, audience, cluefulness, Clueing, comment-fishing, cultural awareness, cultural capital, cultural diversity, diversity, Empowerment, ethnocentrism, expertise, friendship, globalisation, grassroots, groupthink, hegemony, humanism, individualism, information, innovation, Institutions, journalism, knowledge, knowledge management, knowledge people, localization, location-specific, market economy, marketing, mass media, memes, metaphors, mindshare, moral enterpreneurs, nationalism, networking, new media, news, online communities, openness, Places, prestige, public, rants, readership, shameless plug, soapbox, social butterflies, social butterfly effect, social capital, social networking, social networks, sociocentrism, sophistication, success in life, tagging, tags, trends, trusting people, tv, U.S. exceptionalism, U.S. media, voice, wishful thinking
I hate having an axe to grind. Really, I do. “It’s unlike me.” When I notice that I catch myself grinding an axe, I “get on my own case.” I can be quite harsh with my own self.
But I’ve been trained to voice my concerns. And I’ve been perceiving an important social problem for a while.
So I “can’t keep quiet about it.”
If everything goes really well, posting this blog entry might be liberating enough that I will no longer have any axe to grind. Even if it doesn’t go as well as I hope, it’ll be useful to keep this post around so that people can understand my position.
Because I don’t necessarily want people to agree with me. I mostly want them to understand “where I come from.”
So, here goes:
Journalism may have outlived its usefulness.
Like several other “-isms” (including nationalism, colonialism, imperialism, and racism) journalism is counterproductive in the current state of society.
This isn’t an ethical stance, though there are ethical positions which go with it. It’s a statement about the anachronic nature of journalism. As per functional analysis, everything in society needs a function if it is to be maintained. What has been known as journalism is now taking new functions. Eventually, “journalism as we know it” should, logically, make way for new forms.
What these new forms might be, I won’t elaborate in this post. I have multiple ideas, especially given well-publicised interests in social media. But this post isn’t about “the future of journalism.”
It’s about the end of journalism.
Or, at least, my looking forward to the end of journalism.
Now, I’m not saying that journalists are bad people and that they should just lose their jobs. I do think that those who were trained as journalists need to retool themselves, but this post isn’t not about that either.
It’s about an axe I’ve been grinding.
See, I can admit it, I’ve been making some rather negative comments about diverse behaviours and statements, by media people. It has even become a habit of mine to allow myself to comment on something a journalist has said, if I feel that there is an issue.
Yes, I know: journalists are people too, they deserve my respect.
And I do respect them, the same way I respect every human being. I just won’t give them the satisfaction of my putting them on a pedestal. In my mind, journalists are people: just like anybody else. They deserve no special treatment. And several of them have been arrogant enough that I can’t help turning their arrogance back to them.
Still, it’s not about journalist as people. It’s about journalism “as an occupation.” And as a system. An outdated system.
Speaking of dates, some context…
I was born in 1972 and, originally,I was quite taken by journalism.
By age twelve, I was pretty much a news junkie. Seriously! I was “consuming” a lot of media at that point. And I was “into” media. Mostly television and radio, with some print mixed in, as well as lots of literary work for context: this is when I first read French and Russian authors from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
I kept thinking about what was happening in The World. Back in 1984, the Cold War was a major issue. To a French-Canadian tween, this mostly meant thinking about the fact that there were (allegedly) US and USSR “bombs pointed at us,” for reasons beyond our direct control.
“Caring about The World” also meant thinking about all sorts of problems happening across The Globe. Especially poverty, hunger, diseases, and wars. I distinctly remember caring about the famine in Ethiopia. And when We Are the World started playing everywhere, I felt like something was finally happening.
This was one of my first steps toward cynicism. And I’m happy it occured at age twelve because it allowed me to eventually “snap out of it.” Oh, sure, I can still be a cynic on occasion. But my cynicism is contextual. I’m not sure things would have been as happiness-inducing for me if it hadn’t been for that early start in cynicism.
Because, you see, The World disinterested itself quite rapidly with the plight of Ethiopians. I distinctly remember asking myself, after the media frenzy died out, what had happened to Ethiopians in the meantime. I’m sure there has been some report at the time claiming that the famine was over and that the situation was “back to normal.” But I didn’t hear anything about it, and I was looking. As a twelve-year-old French-Canadian with no access to a modem, I had no direct access to information about the situation in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia still remained as a symbol, to me, of an issue to be solved. It’s not the direct cause of my later becoming an africanist. But, come to think of it, there might be a connection, deeper down than I had been looking.
So, by the end of the Ethiopian famine of 1984-85, I was “losing my faith in” journalism.
I clearly haven’t gained a new faith in journalism. And it all makes me feel quite good, actually. I simply don’t need that kind of faith. I was already training myself to be a critical thinker. Sounds self-serving? Well, sorry. I’m just being honest. What’s a blog if the author isn’t honest and genuine?
Flash forward to 1991, when I started formal training in anthropology. The feeling was exhilarating. I finally felt like I belonged. My statement at the time was to the effect that “I wasn’t meant for anthropology: anthropology was meant for me!” And I was learning quite a bit about/from The World. At that point, it already did mean “The Whole Wide World,” even though my knowledge of that World was fairly limited. And it was a haven of critical thinking.
Ideal, I tell you. Moan all you want, it felt like the ideal place at the ideal time.
And, during the summer of 1993, it all happened: I learnt about the existence of the “Internet.” And it changed my life. Seriously, the ‘Net did have a large part to play in important changes in my life.
That event, my discovery of the ‘Net, also has a connection to journalism. The person who described the Internet to me was Kevin Tuite, one of my linguistic anthropology teachers at Université de Montréal. As far as I can remember, Kevin was mostly describing Usenet. But the potential for “relatively unmediated communication” was already a big selling point. Kevin talked about the fact that members of the Caucasian diaspora were able to use the Internet to discuss with their relatives and friends back in the Caucasus about issues pertaining to these independent republics after the fall of the USSR. All this while media coverage was sketchy at best (sounded like journalism still had a hard time coping with the new realities).
As you can imagine, I was more than intrigued and I applied for an account as soon as possible. In the meantime, I bought at 2400 baud modem, joined some local BBSes, and got to chat about the Internet with several friends, some of whom already had accounts. Got my first email account just before semester started, in August, 1993. I can still see traces of that account, but only since April, 1994 (I guess I wasn’t using my address in my signature before this). I’ve been an enthusiastic user of diverse Internet-based means of communication since then.
But coming back to journalism, specifically…
Journalism missed the switch.
During the past fifteen years, I’ve been amazed at how clueless members of mainstream media institutions have been to “the power of the Internet.” This was during Wired Magazine’s first year as a print magazine and we (some friends and I) were already commenting upon the fact that print journalists should look at what was coming. Eventually, they would need to adapt. “The Internet changes everything,” I thought.
No, I didn’t mean that the Internet would cause any of the significant changes that we have seeing around us. I tend to be against technological determinism (and other McLuhan tendencies). Not that I prefer sociological determinism yet I can’t help but think that, from ARPAnet to the current state of the Internet, most of the important changes have been primarily social: if the Internet became something, it’s because people are making it so, not because of some inexorable technological development.
My enthusiastic perspective on the Internet was largely motivated by the notion that it would allow people to go beyond the model from the journalism era. Honestly, I could see the end of “journalism as we knew it.” And I’m surprised, fifteen years later, that journalism has been among the slowest institutions to adapt.
In a sense, my main problem with journalism is that it maintains a very stratified structure which gives too much weight to the credibility of specific individuals. Editors and journalists, who are part of the “medium” in the old models of communication, have taken on a gatekeeping role despite the fact that they rarely are much more proficient thinkers than people who read them. “Gatekeepers” even constitute a “textbook case” in sociology, especially in conflict theory. Though I can easily perceive how “constructed” that gatekeeping model may be, I can easily relate to what it entails in terms of journalism.
There’s a type of arrogance embedded in journalistic self-perception: “we’re journalists/editors so we know better than you; you need us to process information for you.” Regardless of how much I may disagree with some of his words and actions, I take solace in the fact that Murdoch, a key figure in today’s mainstream media, talked directly at this arrogance. Of course, he might have been pandering. But the very fact that he can pay lip-service to journalistic arrogance is, in my mind, quite helpful.
I think the days of fully stratified gatekeeping (a “top-down approach” to information filtering) are over. Now that information is easily available and that knowledge is constructed socially, any “filtering” method can be distributed. I’m not really thinking of a “cream rises to the top” model. An analogy with water sources going through multiple layers of mountain rock would be more appropriate to a Swiss citizen such as myself. But the model I have in mind is more about what Bakhtin called “polyvocality” and what has become an ethical position on “giving voice to the other.” Journalism has taken voice away from people. I have in mind a distributed mode of knowledge construction which gives everyone enough voice to have long-distance effects.
At the risk of sounding too abstract (it’s actually very clear in my mind, but it requires a long description), it’s a blend of ideas like: the social butterfly effect, a post-encyclopedic world, and cultural awareness. All of these, in my mind, contribute to this heightened form of critical thinking away from which I feel journalism has led us.
The social butterfly effect is fairly easy to understand, especially now that social networks are so prominent. Basically, the “butterfly effect” from chaos theory applied to social networks. In this context, a “social butterfly” is a node in multiple networks of varying degrees of density and clustering. Because such a “social butterfly” can bring things (ideas, especially) from one such network to another, I argue that her or his ultimate influence (in agregate) is larger than that of someone who sits at the core of a highly clustered network. Yes, it’s related to “weak ties” and other network classics. But it’s a bit more specific, at least in my mind. In terms of journalism, the social butterfly effect implies that the way knowledge is constructed needs not come from a singular source or channel.
The “encyclopedic world” I have in mind is that of our good friends from the French Enlightenment: Diderot and the gang. At that time, there was a notion that the sum of all knowledge could be contained in the Encyclopédie. Of course, I’m simplifying. But such a notion is still discussed fairly frequently. The world in which we now live has clearly challenged this encyclopedic notion of exhaustiveness. Sure, certain people hold on to that notion. But it’s not taken for granted as “uncontroversial.” Actually, those who hold on to it tend to respond rather positively to the journalistic perspective on human events. As should be obvious, I think the days of that encyclopedic worldview are counted and that “journalism as we know it” will die at the same time. Though it seems to be built on an “encyclopedia” frame, Wikipedia clearly benefits from distributed model of knowledge management. In this sense, Wikipedia is less anachronistic than Britannica. Wikipedia also tends to be more insightful than Britannica.
The cultural awareness point may sound like an ethnographer’s pipe dream. But I perceive a clear connection between Globalization and a certain form of cultural awareness in information and knowledge management. This is probably where the Global Voices model can come in. One of the most useful representations of that model comes from a Chris Lydon’s Open Source conversation with Solana Larsen and Ethan Zuckerman. Simply put, I feel that this model challenges journalism’s ethnocentrism.
Obviously, I have many other things to say about journalism (as well as about its corrolate, nationalism).
But I do feel liberated already. So I’ll leave it at that.
9 Comments | tags: -isms, 1980s, ARPAnet, axe grinding, BBS, Caucasus, Chris Lydon, Cold War, colonialism, distributed processing, Encyclopédie, Ethan Zuckerman, Ethiopian famine, free speech, functionalism, gatekeepers, gatekeeping, Georgian Republic, Global Voices Online, imperialism, Internet, journalists, Kevin Tuite, libération, nationalism, post-encyclopedic, racism, René Diderot, respect, Ronald Reagan, Rupert Murdoch, sociological determinism, Solana Larsen, Usenet, USSR, We Are the World, Wired Magazine | posted in alter-globalization, alter-mondialistes, arrogance, audience, Christopher Lydon, cluefulness, Clueing, clueless, Cluetrain Manifesto, comment-fishing, Communities, confessions, constructivism, consumerism, Crazy Predictions, critical thinking, cultural awareness, cultural capital, digital lifestyle, diversity, Empowerment, ethnocentrism, Ethnography, freedom, globalization, glocalisation, glocalization, grassroots, groupthink, hegemony, humanism, informality, information, Institutions, journalism, knowledge, knowledge management, knowledge people, local, localization, Marshall McLuhan, mass media, media, mediascape, memes, mindshare, moral enterpreneurs, Nation-States, nationalism, new media, New York Times, news, nostalgia, online communication, online communities, online publishing, open access, openness, optimism, participatory culture, personal, Placeholders, Radio Open Source, ramblings, rants, shameless plug, soapbox, social butterfly effect, social networks, sociocentrism, technological determinism, trusting people, wishful thinking
Montréal est en passe de (re)devenir une destination pour le café. Mieux encore, la «Renaissance du café à Montréal» risque d’avoir des conséquences bénéfiques pour l’ensemble du milieu culinaire de la métropole québécoise.
Cette thèse peut sembler personnelle et je n’entends pas la proposer de façon dogmatique. Mais en me mêlant au milieu du café à Montréal, j’ai accumulé un certain nombre d’impressions qu’il me ferait plaisir de partager. Il y a même de la «pensée magique» dans tout ça en ce sens qu’il me semble plus facile de rebâtir la scène montréalaise du café si nous avons une idée assez juste de ce qui constitue la spécificité montréalaise.
11 Comments | tags: 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters, acide, adolescence, Ahuntsic, allongé, amateurs, amer, Anthony Benda, arabica, arômes, arômes de torréfaction, arômes variétaux, assemblage, Aux deux Marie, éthique, balance gustative, barista, bière, Brûlerie Saint-Senis, brouillons, café arabica, café au lait, café équitable, café éthique, Café Brossard, Café Dépôt, café et vin, Café Femenino, Café Genova, Café Myriade, Café Mystique, Café Olimpico, café piston, café robusta, Café Santé Veritas, Café Solo, Café Terra, Café Union, cafés italiens, cafetière à piston, cafetière piston, Caffè Artigiano, Caffè ArtJava, Caffè in Gamba, Caffè Italia, Caffè Italia Montreal, caffè latte, Caffè Vivace, Canadian Barista Championship, cappuccino, Carlo Granito, Cartierville, cépage, Côte Ouest, chimie du café, chocolat, Club Social, coffea arabica, coffea canephora, CoffeeGeek, communauté italienne, communauté montréalaise d'amateurs de cafés, dégustation du café, direct trade, domaine, domaine culinaire, effet du papillon social, enthousiastes, espresso allongé, ethnographie, Europe, expresso, filtre conique, fraîcheur du café, France, gaz carbonique, geek de café, granita, Immanuel Wallerstein, Intelligentsia Coffee, intellos, Italie du Nord, Italie du Sud, Jean-François Leduc, juge de barista, Kraft, La Maison verte, La Petite ardoise, latte, latte art, latte macchiato, macchiato, Mauro Maltoni, mélange à espresso, mémoires, Mike Piccolo, milk-based, Moi & Café, mondialisation, Montreal Coffee Renaissance, Montreal Espresso Scene, Nestlé, notoriété, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, onde de choc, origine, Outremont, oxydation, panforte, papillon social, Paris, pensée magique, Petite-Italie, Petite-Patrie, Plateau Mont-Royal, Proctor & Gamble, PT's Coffee, pyrolise, quartiers de Montréal, Renaissance montréalaise du café, Rive-Gauche, robusta, Rosemont-La Petite Patrie, Saint-Henri, Saint-Léonard, salade mixte, Sammy Piccolo, Santropol, Sara Lee, scènce montréalaise du café, Scott Rao, Second Cup, Sevan Istanboulian, siphon, Spiro Karagianopoulos, sucré, supermarché Latina, terroir, thé, Third Wave, Third Wave Coffee, Third Wavers, Tim Hortons, Toi, Moi & Café, torréfaction, trip to origin, troisième vague, Van Houtte, Vancouver, végétaliens, vignoble, Villeray, Vince Piccolo, Wallerstein, West Coast, Westmount, World Barista Championship, Zoka, œnologie | posted in alimentation, alter-mondialistes, café, cafés, Caffè in Gamba, coffee scenes, comment-fishing, Crazy Predictions, cuisine, culinary, Cup of Excellence, diversité, drinks, espresso, Ethnography, français, Francophonie, geeks, glocalisation, grassroots, Institutions, Montreal, nostalgie, Personnel, Placeholders, predictions, Québec, ramblings, réseaux sociaux, shameless plug, social, social networks, Starbucks, wishful thinking
Would the Rebut Global shows count?
(In response to a Maine academic asking for a socially conscious “Reality TV” show…): Open Source » Blog Archive » The History of Utopia
Another of my blog entries on Quebec television and social activism…
A surprisingly superficial podcast episode on what could have been a very deep subject.
start a conversation about manipulation, persuasion and freedom from choice
To summarize the main issue of that episode: is marketing and "upselling" by restaurant chains undermining the individual freedom to choose quality food? Apparently simple a question, but billed as much more than that.
Maybe they refrained from delving deeper into any of those issues because philosophical discussions, perhaps aesthetic ones especially, are off limits in "polite company" in U.S. media. Too bad.
Actually, I’m genuinely disappointed. Not necessarily because restaurant chains are very important an issue for me (in Montreal, they don’t seem to have the exact same type of impact and I love to cook). But because the show’s participants all came very close to saying very important things about individualism, food, and freedom. The first two are too rarely discussed, IMHO, and the third could have been the "hook" to discuss the other two.
If you want to know more about my thoughts on this podcast episode, check out some of the tags below.
5 Comments | tags: agriculture, alarmism, artisan beer, artistic, bastardization, corporate, craft brewing, defeatism, democracy, factory, flavor, flavours, freshness, global, grassroots clique, inexpensive, leapfrog effect, non-specialists, nourriture et culture, oligarchies, popularity, popularity contest, production, protectionism, resistance, self-determination, snobbery, social struggle, sommelier, specialty coffee, subsistence strategies, sue-happy, trendiness, universalism | posted in advocacy, aesthetics, Alcohol, art, États-Unis, Beer, beer diversity, beer in media, beer politics, binge drinking, Chowhounds, Christopher Lydon, cluetrain, Cluetrain Manifesto, commodities, community-building, consumerism, consumption, craft, craft beer, craft beer culture, creation, creativity, cuisine, cultural capital, cultural diversity, development strategies, economics, ethnocentrism, Ethnography, experience, expertise, food and society, foodies, globalization, glocal, grassroots, groupthink, hegemony, individualism, joie de vivre, location-specific, market economy, marketing, mass media, moral enterpreneurs, musings, nationalism, nostalgie, playfulness, pleasure, podcasts, product and process, productivity, Radio Open Source, rants, responsible drinking, social capital, social change, social dynamics, social networks, standardization, Starbucks, statistics, success in life, taste, tasting, trusting people, United States, writing
I’m usually a bit careful before jumping on the soapbox, but this is quite interesting. It’s from the blog for Black Gold, a documentary about the global coffee market.
The Trials of Daryl Hunt deals with national racism in the US justice system and [Black Gold] deals with the globalised racism maintained through a rigged international economy that undermines any sense of economic justice for the developing world, in particular Africa
Heard about Black Gold on the CoffeeGeek podcast. Haven’t seen the movie yet but comments about it in that podcast make it to be a powerful movie about the plight of coffee farmers, but with some flaws. The point remains (and is well-made by CoffeeGeek Senior Editor Mark Prince) that this story needs to be told, that people need to realise what is going on.
Usually, “Black Gold” refers to petroleum more directly than to coffee. Interestingly enough, coffee is (as coffee people are fond of saying) the second most-traded commodity after oil. And brewed coffee is usually black, or at least dark. So the title seems fitting, if a bit ambiguous. Going further with that stream of consciousness, we can think about skin colour and skin tone, which are used to identify “racial” groups by some people. It might have been on the minds of the documentary’s producers, as they do mention Africa and racism.
This in a context in which some people seem to think that Africa’s economic status relates more indirectly to internal politics, lack of business acumen, and kinship (i.e., Africans themselves) than to global trade or politics. We definitely need a broad discussion of the “Dark Continent” stereotype. And, yes, we do need to touch upon the issue of racism. It’s there and it has a deep impact on the world in which we all live.
Food for thought? Thought for food.
Leave a comment | tags: Africans, Black Gold (movie), coffee farmers, CoffeeGeek, colour, documentaries, ethical coffee, Ethiopia, fair-trade, global trade, international politics, Marc Francis, Nick Francis, racism, Sundance, Tadesse Meskela | posted in activism, Africa, Coffee, Cup of Excellence, globalisation, globalization, grassroots, podcasts, race, Starbucks
Interestingly, the Slashdot thread sparked by this news item revolves more around the issue of cost-prohibitive textbooks than around ideological issues surrounding advertisement in publication. Several of the dozens of comments in that thread are quite insightful, including some below the moderators’ radar.
Here’s my own comment on that thread, slightly edited.
My 2¢ as an instructor (cultural anthropology, African studies, linguistic anthropology, ethnomusicology).
Contrary to what some people seem to think, some of us instructors do care about the price of textbooks. Many of us see textbooks as a necessary evil and some of us get almost allergic reactions when sales representatives from publishing houses come to our offices. (Got several visits and calls myself, even as a visiting lecturer.) For those of us who care about reasonably-priced textbooks, some publishing houses’ practises are anti-competitive and unfair.
Case in point. Decided to use a short, inexpensive textbook for one of my introductory-level classes, two semesters in a row. Price and length did have an impact on my decision (the textbook was itself better than more expensive ones). It was published just in time for the first of those semesters and cost about 40$ at that point. The second semester, without notifying me, the publisher had bundled that textbook with another book. The bundle was 60$. Not that expensive. But my students still had to buy something that we never used.
One problem for an instructor, when the textbook is cost-prohibitive, is that students are more likely to complain if the course doesn’t follow the textbook very closely. Secondly, different editions are often confusing in the changes that they imply (much more so than software releases!) and it’s difficult for an instructor to keep track of all of those discrepancies. Not to mention that an expensive textbook may discourage students from buying other material for that subject.
According to someone close to me who used to work at a publishing house, textbooks are the main source of income for several publishers. A bit like “hits” for record labels, but students aren’t free to choose textbooks as they please.
Obviously, the financial model is skewed.
Those issues should be enough to encourage everyone to adopt a new model. But there’s even more.
Textbooks are typically written by a handful of authors who may be well qualified for explaining several of the issues included in those textbooks but who still have areas of limited expertise. The result in cultural anthropology, for instance, is that textbook chapters on language are usually full of inaccuracies while chapters on the authors’ areas of expertise appear quite decent. In some cases, an instructor might even end up having to “fight the textbook” instead of using it as a reference.
Online material accompanying textbooks in some disciplines generally seem like an afterthought instead of representing a central part of the approach. The ultimate effect is that students get disinterested in that material and will come to rely on other (and often unreliable) sources.
While some publishers offer instructors the possibility to use material from different books, these sources should all be from the same publisher. So an instructor can’t use Chapter 3 from Jane Smith’s textbook published by one of Thomson’s many subsidiaries and Chapter 4 from Amy Johnson’s textbook published by Oxford University Press. How can we get a diversity of viewpoints, in such a situation?
The solution, IMVHO? Open textbooks. Teaching material based on an open content model. Supported by instructors and their institutions. With a flexible, modular design.
Yes, Wikibooks may be part of that solution. But there are other issues to think about. How do we motivate instructors to contribute content to such a project? Does it count for tenure? Who will lead the effort to complete such a textbook? How can we integrate those books in our teaching? Will students use those textbooks the way they were intended or discount them based on perceived lack of quality? Are students without Internet access out of luck? Who will provide “technical” support to students and instructors? How can we produce affordable dead-tree copies for those who need them? How can we make deals with publishers to integrate excerpts from primary texts? How can we share material to instructors without giving too much away to students? How can we integrate this material with course management systems like Moodle (and, for the unlucky ones, even Blackboard)?
Still, if we get together, as students, administrators, and instructors, we can eventually solve all of these issues and, hopefully, challenge prevailing models of academic publication.
6 Comments | tags: anti-competitive, freeload press, online learning, open content, open publishing, Thomson Learning, unfair business practices, wikibooks | posted in Academia, academic institutions, academic models, academic publishing, advocacy, course management systems, diversity, grassroots, openness, Teaching, textbooks
Michel Leblanc en entrevue sur le Carnet techno de Bruno Guglielminetti. Michel a d’ailleurs répondu à mon propre billet sur la blogosphère québécoise, ce qui m’a permis d’admirer son propre blogue (et de commenter sur un de ses billets).
ClodiMedius a aussi répondu à mon billet et a créé son propre billet sur le même sujet. Nous devrions aller prendre un café dès mon retour à Montréal.
Cette chaîne de contacts par blogues interposés a démarré grâce à un billet de Marie-Chantale Turgeon mentionné par Guglielminetti dans l’épisode précédent de son carnet en balado-diffusion.
Donc, ça se précise.
Dans cette entrevue avec Guglielminetti, Michel parle brièvement de la formation de YULBiz, petit groupe de blogueurs et de gens d’affaires montréalais créé par l’entremise de blogues. (Michel explique la création de YULBiz entre 5:58 et 7:35 pendant l’entrevue). Selon Michel, la formule de YULBiz commence à avoir des échos à Québec (la capitale) et en France. On peut penser au marketing viral (si on le désire ardemment) ou même à un mouvement “grassroots” comme Kino.
Évidemment, c’est pas une formule réellement unique, il y a certainement beaucoup d’exemples ailleurs. Mais c’est un regroupement qui s’est créé à l’aide de cette fameuse blogosphère québécoise, prouvant donc la vitalité de ladite -sphère.
Détail intéressant, YULBiz semble avoir été déclenché par une rencontre dans un café. Rien d’unique là-dedans: la Révolution Française elle-même a été planifiée lors de rencontres dans des cafés parisiens. Mais c’est une tendance très forte, pour nous Québécois, de donner rendez-vous à des nouveaux contacts sans nécessairement avoir de but très précis. Ici à Northampton, ma femme a eu un peu de difficulté à appliquer ce même genre de procédure en ce sens que le rendez-vous semblait présupposer un but plus spécifique. Ici dans le Nord-Est des États-Unis, des amis se rencontrent parfois sans but précis (“just to hang out”) mais les nouveaux contacts requièrent souvent des procédures légèrement plus formelles. C’est un détail, mais il est lié à plusieurs aspects de la culture québécoise, depuis le statut des rapports amicaux avec distinction sexuelle (c.-à-d. qu’au Québec une femme et un homme peuvent facilement être de véritables amis) à la gestion de l’horaire hors de la vie professionnelle (un soupçon de «compartimentalisation»).
Donc, la blogosphère québécoise dans tout ça. Une de ses caractéristiques (probablement partagée avec plusieurs autres parties de la Blogosphère globale) est de donner lieu à des rencontres in situ. Cette tendance est peut-être due en partie au fait que les Québécois accordent beaucoup d’importance aux rapports directs mais elle est surtout liée à un contexte de concentration démographique métropolitaine. Dans ce cas-ci, on parlerait plutôt de blogosphère montréalaise, puisque c’est le fait d’habiter à Montréal (code d’aéroport «YUL») qui semble avoir permis aux membres de YULBiz de se rencontrer. Et, parlant de blogosphère montréalaise, un regroupement de blogueurs de la métropole québécoise s’appelle YULblog. Et ils semblent se rencontrer régulièrement.
Une autre caractéristique, assez évidente peut-être, c’est que les blogueurs québécois (ou, du moins, montréalais) franchissent la barrière linguistique entre Anglophones et Francophones. C’est une tendance assez prononcées parmi plusieurs groupes (y compris des brasseurs-maison), mais ça demeure un phénomène très intéressant.
Ensuite, on pourrait parler de l’importance de la «vie expressive» (art, poésie, création, musique, etc.) dans les blogues québécois. Michel Leblanc lui-même blogue de façon poétique. Rien de rare là-dedans, plusieurs blogues ailleurs ont des contenus artistiques. Mais le mode expressif semble assez fréquent dans la blogosphère québécoise. Quoique, c’est une observation très préliminaire qui mériterait une analyse un tant soit peu poussée. À ce sujet, cette fameuse étude comparative entre internautes français et québécois me paraît réellement fascinante.
Dans ce contexte, et pour être parfaitement honnête, il me semble plus utile de tenter d’observer la blogosphère québécoise «pour elle-même» (par ses propres caractéristiques) que de la mesurer à un critère démographique. Bon, c’est un peu le culturaliste et relativiste qui parle, mais quand même… Un ami Iranien me disait à propos de la communauté iranienne de Montréal qu’elle était plus petite que la communauté iranienne d’une ville un peu plus grande, mais qu’elle était selon lui «de meilleure qualité». Sans nécessairement parler de qualité intrinsèque, on peut dire que la blogosphère québécoise est petite mais qu’elle est certainement dynamique.
Leave a comment | tags: auditoire, local network, multilingualism, social pulse | posted in blogue, café, cafés, Canada, Francophonie, grassroots, lectorat, local, localization, Montreal, podcasts, Québec, radio, ramblings, social networks, social publishing, stereotypes
First encountered the notion of the Medici effect through this interview with Frans Johansson in Ubiquity, a journal frequently mentioned on the Humanist Discussion Group.
A recent article about important changes coming from simple ideas made me post a short blog entry about changes from simple ideas. Interestingly enough, Johansson himself posted a comment to that entry.
This is in fact a frequent stream of thought, for me. In both business and academia, we tend to live through ideas. Specific ideas. Especially those which can generate money or research projects. An important dimension of the “Medici Effect” seems to be that simple ideas can lead to great accomplishments. Another important dimension is that ideas are both generated in and implemented by groups. Some social contexts seem especially conducive to new ideas. This perspective is well-known enough that even Denys Arcand’s Invasions Barbares had something to say about it.
There’s a lot of directions one could take to talk about innovation from that point. Among the possible threads: artistic creativity, personal innovation, sense of discovery, the economies of ideas, ideas come from the people, “intellectual property,” fluid/organic innovation, boundless ideas, innovation through links between ideas, Lavoisier on ideas (nothing is created or lost, everything is transformed, including ideas), and so on and so forth.
My personal feeling is that the very concept of innovation has become something of a “core value” for a number of people, especially in industrialized society. The type of “newer is better” view of “progress” in both society and technology.
In my mind, the best thing to do is simply to bring ideas together, a “shock of ideas” («le choc des idées»). Hence the long list of tags… 😉
Leave a comment | tags: achievements, art as process, artistic, bricolage, bullish perspective, business, busy life, Chindia, collaboration, collage, cooperatives, dilettante, Game Theory, guild, homme à idées, homo ludens, information management, information wants to be free, lab, leapfrog effect, Marcel Gotlib, mashups, Media Lab, Medici effect, memetic marketplace, meritocracy, non-professionnel, non-specialists, plagiarism, Prix de Rome, publish or perish, Samba schools, Slightly Better Muffin, theory of flow, time management, transmission, universalism, waves, wiki, World-System Theory | posted in Academia, aesthetics, alter-globalization, amateurs, art, college life, commodities, Communities, consumerism, creation, Creative Commons, creativity, cultural capital, development, development strategies, economics, Empowerment, experimentation, globalization, grassroots, humanism, hype, individualism, innovation, intellectual property, interdisciplinarity, ivory tower, knowledge, knowledge management, knowledge people, Learning, market economy, memes, mindshare, naïve, politics, popular culture, prestige, product and process, productivity, professionals, ramblings, research, science, social capital, social change, social networks, specialists, success in life, technology, writing
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