As I said I’d be going to the RSA conference on the way that we use the web to shape our society I thought I should.
Saw a few people there that I knew already and got to meet David Wilcox (thanks for the cup of tea and slice of cake) which was fantastic.
Robin has a good account of what the speakers were saying (at least until his battery died).
For myself I found bits interesting; Cass Sunstein warning about the down side of the long tail by reminding us that if we only read the people who think the same thing as we do about a given subject we’ll become more extreme on that issue; a short discussion about the tension between the citizen using things like YouTube to disrupt the controlled environment of political electioneering and the growth of “gotcha” politics; Tom Stienberg’s wry “there are no winners on Comment is Free, only losers“.
There was also some talk about whether we were just talking to ourselves – i.e. had the phenomenon of political blogging (by which we’re talking opinion rather than politicians blogging about doing politics) grown the audience for political engagement.
There were problems with the conference too. I felt that there was an assumption on the part of many of the speakers that politicians couldn’t be a force for good and that a kind of Power Inquiry agenda would improve our political decision making. I thought there were too many talking heads and not enough engagement or time for networking. And I found it difficult to see how the theoretical would apply to what I and other civic minded users of the tools that are out there are interested in trying to achieve.