Last night I had a high-anxiety dream. My sister was being taken away and she was reaching out to give me me her son, my nephew who is four years old. "They think he is Jewish" she was saying in a mix of Swahili and our shared childhood language so that no-one else would understand.
Although I've been thinking a lot about it today it didn't take me long to understand where the dream comes from. My sister lives in Mombasa, Kenya, and has her bag packed and route to the Tanzania border casually planned, if needs be. From and to what is another question.
She has no problem as far as I can see. The white ethnic groups (where she is from) or the brown ethnic groups are not directly in danger in the current Kenya crisis. But what happens if she finds herself involved in an "incident" in her daily life with friends, work colleagues, employees - from different ethnic groups - who are in the wrong trajectory? What risk do you put yourself in when you have your son at home waiting for you to come back?
At the moment I'm reading a book called "Wittgenstein's Poker". It's about two great philosophers of our time, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper who had a profound influence on the way we address the fundamental issues of civilization, science and culture. The lives of both Wittgenstein and Popper were greatly affected by being Jews from Austria. They may have identified with different intellectual lines of thought and worried about different epistemologies, but in the end they had to survive, support and suffer from having some "taint" of Jewishness in their person in the 1930's and 1940's - either through slaughter, suicide or worry about their immediate family or network of friends and relations.
I find myself feeling quite militant. Don't tell me that what's happening in Kenya is something "ethnic" or "African" or whatever. What's happening is something inside all of us. "Ethnic" is a euphemism for them or for they. And"they" could be anyone: people from another country or region ("The Portuguese","The Americans", "The Arabs") or with a different religious or sexual framework ("Homosexuals", "Christians", "Muslims", "Jews") or the "good" or the "bad" poor, or a different colour or way of thinking that doesn't make sense in the space where you stand.
We have to be vigilant about referring to people as "they". We have to notice what it means to someone to be a "they", We have to realise that sooner or later "they" refers to someone who is inferior or alien. And once a discourse and a feeling of "they" is in course then it's all too easy to talk about "The Other". And it's all to easy to construe "our"self -and "our" feelings in separation from "them".
And... things just happen. Sooner or later - and for one reason or another - it gets it's too difficult to lay yourself on the line for "the other".
On a micro-context I can see that what is happening in Kenya is related to corrupt politicians who, like online trolls, flame the partly voyeuristic - partly barbaric part that lurks in the we/they dimension of people in Kenya. When I was a teenager I saw these scenes in Wizadry of the Crow and other books by Ngugi wa Thiong'o.
But don't think it could only happen in Kenya. Or in "Africa". Or to "them". The we/they dimension lurks in all of us. Historically it could have been to defend the village or parochial "we" from real danger, whereas now it becomes an excuse to tell jokes, appear smart, gather friends, distance oneself, kick someone's head in.
You see it now becoming part of the discourse in Holland, France, UK, Us elections - just to start the list.
I know New Year has past, but if there's time I would like to slip in another wish. And the wish is that is that I and we stay vigilant so that we don't contribute to any personal or collective storyline where mother, sister, brother or parent are intimated, threatened or killed for being a "they".
I've not been very successful in finding a company in Europe for doing audio conferencing. I want to find a reliable service that I can host from Portugal or Europe. I was hopeful about highspeedconferencing.com, but my conference room number didn't always work, neither for me nor for phone participants. I've started using Intercall (based in UK) and get a great service from them, but haven't fully understood how much it's costing me...
If you use Intercall for a phone conference, you can phone from anywhere in Europe for the price of a local call. Until the 15th February that is. From that day on phone participants Portugal will be the only country who will have to pay the price of an international call. This is the news I got today:
We have received notification that all of our Portugal local access numbers from Lisbon will be ceased on Friday 15th February. Our carrier has been dictated to by a regulatory request from Anacom the Portuguese regulator to ensure that all geographic numbers in Portugal are used for the provision of telephony services in Portugal and not transferred to any other country.
Note: It is only for the Local number in Portugal, the rest of Local numbers for your participants around the world will work as usual,
Until recently (when they did away with TMN's monopoly) we had the highest phone costs and now we've got to have the highest phone bridge costs. Great!
In the meantime does anyone know of a relatively inexpensive telephone conferencing service in
Europe, where you have a your own conference room number specific to you? I'm talking here about being able to make the call without access to the Internet and without having to book the call in advance.
Polly Clicks writes about the great Anita Roddick and her impact on social entrepreneurship. She gives two good quotes from Anita:
“I want to work for a company that contributes to and is part of the community. I want something not just to invest in. I want something to believe in.”
“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito”.
Around thirty years ago I did a business studies degree. One thing we had to do was carry out a case study on a "small business person" in the city (entrepreneur is fairly recent discourse), analyse their business situation and predict their success. I asked the owner of a shop that I loved in "The Lanes" of Brighton if I could interview her and make her business my case study. She was charismatic, very busy opening her second shop, and quite quite inspirational. I was sure she would do well.
Well, the shop was The Body Shop and the woman was Anita Roddick. And carrying out that mosquito of a case study had an impact my life.
(And I regret burning all my notes, essays and projects after getting my degree because that case study would have been an interesting one to re-read now.)
CIBlend07 - 1st International Workshop on Blending Theory and Practice in Community Informatics. 27-28 November INESC Porto, Porto, Portugal.
WHY A COMMUNITY INFORMATICS WORKSHOP?
The goal of the workshop is to produce a seeding text on relevant
current and future issues of CI that will impact research and practice
in the near
future. We would like to work together and develop an in-depth
contribution to the field using our multidisciplinary and
cross-sectoral perspectives to establish
bridges between theory and practice.
It has become something of a 'tradition' to try and document
community informatics events as they happen using new online tools
(normally a wiki). We have learned that this process needs planning and
sufficient allocation of time and we will develop this idea more fully
online before the face-to-face event. This documentation will be a
combination of blind peer-reviewed articles submitted before the event
and the writing we do together at the event.
In the first instance the results of the workshop will appear on a
wiki, with the intention of a final and peer reviewed product to be
published in the Journal of Community Informatics, as well as any
individual, peer-reviewed, article-length contributions.
WHAT HAS BEEN DONE SO FAR
The workshop will continue the process that has been undertaken in
several events, including the On the Move Community Informatics
workshop at Montpellier 2006, the Wiki of 'Big Questions' that was
developed at the Prato Conference in 2006, and the Workshop at Open
University in 2005. It is likely that further documentation will emerge
from the Prato 2007 Community Informatics Conference.
This time, the whole event (including the online preparations) will
be devoted to designing, preparing and carrying out an online group
writing session. We are asking people who wish to participate in the
workshop to commit themselves to writing at least 2000 words as well as
working with, and critiquing others. We also ask that post-face-to-face
workshop, you work online to finalise and document the group
contribution. You will need a wireless-enabled laptop to participate.
The main written language of the conference is English, but if you are
prepared to commit yourself to preparing translations in other
languages, that would be appreciated.
If you would like to participate in the workshop, please contact Larry Stillman firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spaces are limited. You should register your intention to participate
(and contribute) by 8 September 2007. You should provide a case or a
written description of an issue and expect to create the agenda in
situ, where we will select which ones to work on. Then in those few
days we'll work on selected cases which will be written up and
presented in a wiki. If you do not have a burning idea of your own, but
are willing to work with others on selected topics, you are welcome to
attend as long as you are committed to this form of work!
Please send a 200-250 word abstract of the issue that you wish to
address. If you wish to submit a paper for blind peer review (up to
5000 words) please also send an abstract of that paper.
Understanding and practising community in community informatics: just what is it?
The practice of community technology and the theory of community technology
Community networks and networking
What does technology mean to communities? Appropriating appropriate technology
Participatory research and practice and community informatics
ICT as tools, spaces and processes for community development and community learning
Social exclusion and community empowerment - the role of ICT?
Gender/ disability/ queer/ multicultural community informatics
The relationship between development informatics and community informatics
Top down, bottom up, or is it a horizontal dance?
Academic disciplines and community informatics: are there any boundaries?
Theory testing in community informatics
Evaluation practice and community informatics
Case studies and stories that describe a burning issue.
The practice and/or theory of change
The economics of community informatics
Is there any difference between social informatics and community informatics?
How do you teach community informatics: to IT students? to community development students? to practitioners? to others?
COSTS, LOCATION, TRAVEL
We will only be asking for a modest contribution towards the cost of
food during the days, and there will be some pay-as-you go social
events. Accommodation in Porto is modestly priced at the Ibis Porto
You should make your own bookings Travel costs, visas, etc. are the
participant's responsibility. INESC Porto has an agreement with Hotel
IBIS S. João which results in a lower accomodation price. If you are
willing to stay there please contact: Ms. Marta Oliveira - email@example.com or +351222094317.
We cannot offer financial support for attendance.
INESC Porto is an institution created to act as an interface between
the academic world, the world of industry and services, as well as the
public administration, in the framework of the Information
Technologies, Telecommunications and Electronics (ITT&E). Its
activities range from research and development, to technology transfer,
consulting and advanced training. (English: http://www2.inescporto.pt/ip-en/about-us)
... and I don't care if you are twittering for a purpose, <ermm> saving the world. Darius Jahandarie has 11,301 friends and is apparently following me on twitter. I know because I keep getting emails to tell me that he is.
I've now discovered that you can block these pests, confirming that
You will no longer show up in the blocked person's list of friends.
Your updates won't show up on the blocked person's profile page.
The blocked person will not be able to add you as a friend.
Hooray! And sorry <errm> Darius, but no, I do not want to be your friend.
Something weird is going on. For two days I haven't been able to get to Google search or into Google groups - through any of my browsers. I've been looking (on Altavista search) to see if anyone else is having the same problem but it doesn't look like they are.
Is the world grinding to a halt? Or is the problem my end?
My name is Bev Trayner and I live in Setúbal, Portugal. The focus of my research and practice is designing for learning in distributed communities. I am particularly interested in connecting people in international communities. Key words are: communities of practice, learning, meaning-making, inclusion, multiliteracies, Portugal, and Web2.0 technologies. Keeping a blog helps me navigate my way through different practices and world views. Phronesis includes pondering on the specifics and the universal. It follows on from my previous blog "Em duas línguas".
Eu sou Bev Trayner e moro em Setúbal, Portugal. O objecto da minha investigação e da minha prática é o design para aprendizagem nas “comunidades distribuídas” (virtuais). Estou particularmente interessada nas ligações entre pessoas nas comunidades internacionais. As palavras-chave são: comunidades de prática, aprendizagem, a produção de sentido, inclusão, multi-literacias, Portugal e as tecnologias de Web2.0
Escrevo este blog porque me ajuda a navegar entre diferentes práticas e diferentes visões do mundo. Phronesis, a contemplar o particular e o universal, vem no seguimento do meu blog "Em duas línguas."