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Wayne MacPhail's Touch won't work in the rest of Canada

Merryblue
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Merryblue
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Joined: May 10 2001
Wayne wrote, "It is important to watch technology shifts, social media trends and communication politics for non-profit and activist opportunities."

I agree...especially in the urbs. For those of us in the Sticks, Internet connection is a little touchy at best. Heck, phone connections are not even a sure thing! Blackberries won't work and Ipods won't, either. Even Satellite phones don't work in most of Canada -- not unless you are willing to spend about $5000 for gear that still won't work on some days. How in hell people still believe those 9/11 cellphones worked 30,000 feet up in the sky is beyond me! I can't get a cellphone to work one step beyond the town's welcome sign--and that's on a good day! Most of the time, cellphones only work if you stand by the post near the 2nd window of the local steakhouse. High tech is fine if you're in the urbs.


Sharon
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Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003
There is no doubt that activists need to keep an eye on technology trends--in fact, they do it quite organically, and it's often the mainstream that needs to catch up.

But I find it rather bizarre that the central content of this article, published on a progressive website, reads like an advertisement for Apple computers. I'm not sure how much there is to be earned by tailoring activism to a device that retails for $450. Technology is certainly a powerful tool, and there's no reason why activists shouldn't take advantage of it, but if this was supposed to form the basis of the writer's article, perhaps a panegyric to Apple, facebook and microsoft wasn't the best approach.


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001
Heh. Well, I think Wayne has joined what I like to call The Apple Cult. It's kind of like The Linux Cult (except, I realize, one is commercial and the other is open source). I'm just drawing the similarity between them because Apple seems to inspire a fierce loyalty in its users, as does Linux - the difference between them, of course, being the aforementioned commercial aspect, and also that Apple products are (supposedly) easy to use, whereas with Linux you have to have a degree in rocket science in order to figure out how to put the damn thing on your computer and then run it. [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

Anyhow - it's a tech column, and as all of us who work with him know, Wayne is always on top of whatever new doo-dads and gadgets and web 2.0 tools are coming out that people can use to do podcasts, web sites or other online interactive things. So, obviously if he's writing a tech column where he's telling us all about this new stuff, it's going to be made by some company or other, and if he likes whatever new gadget he finds (which would be the point of writing about it) then it might sound like an ad for the company that makes it. But really, it's just a review.

I was asked a couple of years ago to write a book review for rabble, recommending good children's books for parents to give as gifts over the holidays, with progressive themes. So I found five books I enjoyed for different age groups and wrote about them. I didn't consider myself writing an advertisement for the publishers, although I suppose some people could have leveled the same criticism at me: "This reads like an ad for Annick Press!" [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]


CMOT Dibbler
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Is annick press part of a large multinational corporation?

HUAC
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Joined: Aug 10 2007
Merryblue appears to be holding what appears to be an elephants tail in his hand, lending weight to the rumour that, yes, there is an elephant here in the room with us. Whatever should be our response to this, if other than simply fleeing the building, screaming like banshees in total panic?
The poster was apparently not informed that hundreds of physical laws were suspended on 9/11, impossible cell phone calls included. Not permanently, of course, but only long enough for the media to shove the biggest fairy tale in recorded history down the throats of a populace who were and are, for that matter ready, willing and aye willy, aye, able to "truly believe" damned near anything that they "saw" on TV.
There is no shortage of dupes of like ilk on this board, I'm afraid. People who are quite willing to believe that "crashes" of large airliners no longer have to leave discernible debris behind when they impact the ground four times on one day. None. Zip. Nada.
450 tons of aircraft are, are, well, "gone". Amazingly stupid, far beyond all current definitions of the word.

Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003
I think screaming like banshees would be an appropriate response to that last post.

Anyway, as Michelle mentioned, there is a difference between promoting the fashionable product of a large corporation and say, the Linux distro I just installed last month (it's so easy to use! Where I used to wait hours for Windows to load up all the crap during startup before I could use it, now I just hurl my laptop across the room in frustration and write letters. Progress!). I think the journalist intended to demonstrate the massive impact technology has on culture, and was perhaps blinded by his own Apple bias. I guess I just thought that if I wanted to hear how great Apple was, or how imminent the death of desktop software was, I'd read Wired.

What I expect on a site like babble, however, is perhaps something along the lines of Merryblue's critique: that universality of technology is imaginary. According to this site, less than more than 30% of Canadians don't use the internet. Statscan reported that only 66% of Canadians use a cell phone, and it's safe to assume that PDA usage is significantly lower. Who are most likely to be on the wrong side of the technology gap and who are progressives trying to reach again?

I might also examine the contradiction underlying progressive aims promoted through dominant corporate infrastructure. It's not like activists should not be expected to make use of technology--of course they should--but often the promotion of consumer culture through hot items like the iPod Touch affirms the very values leftists should try to undermine. Perhaps a look at the disposable technology the iPod has traditionally enacted (we don't replace the battery, but we'll give you a discount on the next gen model), the "locking" of the iPhone so that you can only use a specific carrier, or the numerous open source jacks that have been developed to counter Apple's hegemony. To me, this seems more useful to the activist than casually mentioning RSS feeds.

This is way more criticism than I usually give rabble columns, but I guess I've been waiting for a tech column for a while, so these are somewhat canned ideas that have been set loose.

[ 05 November 2007: Message edited by: Catchfire ]


Wayne MacPhail
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Joined: Apr 19 2001
I plan on writing about the OLPC laptop and, perhaps, the Asus eee PC (both Linux-based) in the near future. I'm also a fan of the Nokia N800. I will also write about Apple, IBM, Nintendo, Bell-Sympatico etc., critically when they do interesting things. Brand names will be mentioned. Large corporations will be praised when they do good things and slammed when they don't. But, they will not be ignored, nor will smaller shops and underdog undertakings.

I'll also be writing about stuff with no brand names attached and about tech issues that I think matter to the left and the general public. Bell-Sympatico throttling bandwidth comes to mind.

I'm a fan of great industrial design, no matter who does it, and I'm very keen on user-centric online experiences - no matter who offers them. Not so keen on cornea gumbo and clunky menu junk (GIMP, I'm talking to you).

I like Apple products, but am less thrilled with their AT&T spawned crappy consumer behaviour regarding the iPhone (paid ringtones, late-to-the-party SDK, locked phone).

Hope you enjoy the column, thanks for reading so far.

[ 08 November 2007: Message edited by: Wayne MacPhail ]


Sharon
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Lard Tunderin Jeezus
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Joined: Aug 27 2001
I welcome Wayne's latest article on DRM, and rather enjoyed it. (This article that I read yesterday was popping to mind as I was reading.)

But I'm not looking forward to yet more reviews of hardware and software in this venue. There are lots of outlets for such opinions, and there's nothing particularly politically progressive about technology. I'd be afraid that such reviews would displace more pertinent content here.


Wayne MacPhail
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Thanks for the feedback Lard Tunderin' Jeezus. I have to disagree that "there's nothing particularly politically progressive about technology". There are lots of technology developments the progressive left needs to be aware of in order 1) to take advantage of them, as I pointed out in the iPod Touch column and 2) to be prepared to go to bat over privacy, social justice or environmental issues that the technologies raise.

Plus, I don't hold to the opinion that everything on rabble has to be political. I certainly am looking at technologies from a left point of view but that shouldn't stop me from bringing interest tech or gadgets to light if I think they have interesting potential or are just plain interesting in their own right.


N.Beltov
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Joined: May 25 2003
You guys are missing one important aspect of technology for the left. The classical Marxist view, that societies change when the contradiction between the productive forces (this includes technology) and the social relations of production becomes "intolerable", that underlines the importance of technology makes this subject of interest, at least, to those who don't automatically reject such views. Marx and his buddy Fred Engels had a huge interest in tech changes and new developments in science, not only to substantiate their own views but also, for the important social change that it might foreshadow.

CMOT Dibbler
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Joined: May 17 2003
quote: Plus, I don't hold to the opinion that everything on rabble has to be political.

But Wayne, Rabble was founded in the wake of the quebec city anti globilization protests as a condit for proggressive voices. There's a lot of political analysis that goes on at Rabble, many politicians read Babble, and left wing activists use the What's Up section of this site to inform people about protests and causes which other leftes might be interested in.
This place was founded by and for left wing partisans. 99.9 percent of the content here needs to be political, otherwise, what's the point?


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001
Lots of things aren't directly political, but are indirectly. A lot of progressives use tech gadgets, particularly online technology, as a way of reaching the masses without having to go through the mainstream mass media.

And I disagree that rabble content has always been 99.9% political. The RPN, for instance, has all sorts of progressive, but not necessarily political, podcasts. auntie.com isn't all political. And certainly babble has never been all political.

My vision of rabble is as an online meeting space for progressives. I personally have always thought we could use MORE content that is progressive but not necessarily completely political, especially judging from how many non-political babble threads generate so much interest. Furthermore, I think everything CAN be seen as political, in a way. The way we live our lives is profoundly political, from the food we cook and eat, to the stuff we consume (or don't consume), to the popular culture that interests us, etc.

Why do you think babble has been such a popular part of the site for so long? It's because we can talk about anything here, not just specifically politics, as long as we do it within progressive parameters.

I think there is a discussion to be had among progressives about new tech products out there that facilitate communications, especially ones that are accessible to individuals or small organizations who might want to do some DIY broadcasting or consciousness-raising. And lo and behold, we're having this discussion because Wayne wrote the column about the tools he uses and we're talking about what the politics is behind the decision to use or not use certain technologies or buy from certain companies.

How is does this NOT fit into the mandate of this site?


Wayne MacPhail
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Joined: Apr 19 2001
Plus, a lot of folks on the left are gearheads, nerdpeople and Linux hippies. All good people.

CMOT Dibbler
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Okay, now that I have actually...ahem...READ Wayne's column I must say that the topic of his peace was relivant. I just don't want his column to bcome more about technology(Oh gosh! This ipod's screen is so bright!) then it is about changing the world(this is how ipods can be used to oppose tyranical dictatorships!)

Wayne MacPhail
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Don't worry, I'm not THAT much of a gadget freak, though my wife would beg to differ. I mean, I am coveting an Canon G9 now, I must admit :-)

CMOT Dibbler
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Joined: May 17 2003
I think it's also worth noting that while computers are cool(without computers we wouldn't have Babble!) the future of the planet rests to a fairly large extent on people who are to poor to afford hightechnology and have never heard of Bill Gates.

Wayne MacPhail
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Joined: Apr 19 2001
I wish I'd never heard of Bill Gates. Seriously, though, it's also important that we think of technology beyond desktop computers. A lot of good work is being done in Africa by doing news coverage via cellphone. And, initiatives like the OLPC One Laptop Per Child project, promises to bring technology to children who would otherwise never be able to connect to the web or share their stories online. That's the stuff that really excites me.

triciamarie
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Joined: Jul 28 2006
All I'm saying -- I read the iTouch piece and immediately spent a half hour researching prices, then gave my head a shake. (The only news it gets is CTV.)

I hadn't expected to be subject to those influences here.

Now I keep half-expecting tech banner ads, or contextual product placement in the other columns.

Seems to me redflagdeals already has it covered on gadget envy / self as consumer?


Wayne MacPhail
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Joined: Apr 19 2001
Just don't tell me my column about net neutrality made you sign up for cable.

[ 22 November 2007: Message edited by: Wayne MacPhail ]


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001
[img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

triciamarie
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Joined: Jul 28 2006
quote:Originally posted by Wayne MacPhail:
Just don't tell me my column about net neutrality made you sign up for cable.

Didn't read it.

Why, were you enthusiastically boosting Rogers products as a means for readers to engage in political action?

[ 24 November 2007: Message edited by: triciamarie ]


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001
Maybe you should read it and then you'll know what he was talking about.

It's kind of rude to attack someone's column if you're not going to bother reading it first, don't you think?


triciamarie
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Joined: Jul 28 2006
quote:Originally posted by Michelle:
Maybe you should read it and then you'll know what he was talking about.

It's kind of rude to attack someone's column if you're not going to bother reading it first, don't you think?

Correction: Wayne MacPhail attacked ME in reference to that column.

My earlier comments to Wayne were in regard to the iTouch article. Based on his response to the concerns that have been raised, I see no reason to believe that readers will not be subject to the same openly pro-consumption message in future. I have explained my personal difficulty with this particularly when it is couched in terms of political activism.

So why would I continue to read this?

[ 24 November 2007: Message edited by: triciamarie ]


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001
I don't really think he attacked you. It seemed like more of a joking tone to me. But I guess I can see where you could have read a bit of snark into it. To be fair, though, implying that a columnist would put paid product placement in his column as you did is also a pretty huge insult.

I think it's kind of unfair to judge someone who has written three columns on only one of them. Most columnists have written at least one column I've disagreed with. Why write someone off after just one column?

I think your questions (and others who have raised them) are good for discussion. That is, the question of how much to "buy in" to certain products in order to use them for activist purposes.

At what point do new gadgets go from being tools for change and become toys for overconsumption? Or are they both on some level?

I don't think that is a resolved debate on the left, and certainly there's no agreed-upon line.

I do apologize for the "rude" comment. I guess I just really liked his last two comments and was feeling protective as a result. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

[ 24 November 2007: Message edited by: Michelle ]


triciamarie
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Joined: Jul 28 2006
Thanks Michelle.

quote:Originally posted by Michelle:
[QB]...implying that a columnist would put paid product placement in his column as you did is also a pretty huge insult.

Actually, I didn't intend to imply that Wayne is bought. The joke was that the other Rabble columnists will start finding sneaky ways to introduce product placement in their columns, ie to support ad revenues from internet traffic -- not, obviously, a likely outcome for that bunch -- thus the (attempted) humour.

quote:

Why write someone off after just one column?

I'll probably get over it and go back to reading him in a while.

Some of my best friends are techies so it will actually be very helpful to be able to communicate about political issues with them in terms of their own area of interest.

And certainly Wayne will have my undying loyalty if there is ever a column on the features and capabilities of the federal Conservative party's CIMS constituent and supporter tracking system (aka CPC scary database, per a previous thread).

[img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]


Wayne MacPhail
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Joined: Apr 19 2001
Hope you enjoy the column.

Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001
Heh, good idea, triciamarie. So Wayne, think you can get into the CPC database? An investigative report? [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004
quote:Originally posted by Wayne MacPhail:
Hope you enjoy the column.

Your column is a nice addition to rabble, Wayne. Thanks


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