My name is Ale Fernandez. I live in Barcelona, Spain and I'm Chilean and Italian.
I am a web developer, artist and technical researcher.
I've lived in Scotland, Italy, Spain and England and career-wise I am interested in distributed systems and their applications to improvised performance and ecology.

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4/06/2008

3 books for Bristol

Yesterday I went to the shops, in a desperate last push to get some new curtains, the inner liner white £1-a-metre ones that people put in a drawer when they move in somewhere, and then put back when they move out. And mine were all mouldy... Bleah! Anyway, I stopped in Waterstones for ages and bought 3 books: Clay Shirky's "Here comes everybody", Noam Chomsky's "What we say goes"(hope I don't get in trouble for linking to a torrent, but they're interviews, and that link will give you the full original audio for them) and Rob Hopkins' Transition Handbook.


All these purchases were devoted to my quest for finding a way for the re-use and investment in technology to become a strong part of the Transitionista's vision. I think we've got loads of equipment these days that we can recycle and make use of for a long time, and if we all have generators or solar panels, some of that charge can be spent on the laptop... So no matter how stupidly apocalyptic the future is going to be, there has to be a place for robot overlords or it just won't be fitting.



I also think - due to Clay Shirky's many videos from recent boing boing entries, and from his book, there is a big problem with adoption of technology and engineering skills required to maintain it, and the transition movement: there's a cultural gap between the people who use this technology more readily - instant messengers, Skype, social networking sites etc - and other people who can't or don't want to for various reasons be as acquainted. But on the other hand, these are tools which allow a huge change in the way things are working, and this is evident even locally, where the Railway Path's celebration last week brought together 1500 people via mostly online word of mouth (lots of last minute problems with flyers) and where the council meeting had the most people attending that the mayor had ever seen in all his time there. He thought maybe we'd come to wish him goodbye, as it was his last meeting. The meeting was also different because it was webcast, it resulted in a video statement on the planned transport route by Mark Bradshaw, and because there was a lot of correspondence, mostly in public view, since the meeting, between residents condemning the labour backroom anti-green pro-consumerism deal - this after many labour councillors had marched with railway path lovers just a day earlier. I doubt there is any other organising power than that which technology provides, that's able to ensure communication and organisation between disparate communities, dealing increasingly with all manner of public and private, local, national and international entities around them, who have historically been more organised than the individual.



The transition handbook and it's corresponding movement of transition towns - local initiatives to guide a small geographic population - a village, town, city or suburb to resilience against peak oil and climate change. In Bristol this is gaining popularity - I've heard Transition Bristol described as "intelligent and sexy" and they have lots of funding (due to run out soon though) for glossy posters and showings of various inconvenient films, as well as a very popular subsidised distributed tree planting - but village meetings seem without scope as many local initiatives have still to get off the ground. The transition thing in general is still looked at a bit cautiously by other groups, as it does seem to have a lot of spiritualist, permaculturists' "positive thinking" and simplistic, step driven information on how to deal with this fossil fuel-bad millenium. Maybe they will turn out to be a cult of happy shiny people, but if it really works out, this isn't really an organisation, but a framework, and a framework for it's own future development.



And finally, Noam Chomsky, because I think I can back up quite well that the guy is an anarchist and peaceful, and intelligent, and I think he only says things that are really well researched or he won't talk about it, and in this little red book he says all kinds of things that we were asking ourselves about politics - all from his point of view as an outspoken US political historian, but that can apply in many ways to the behaviour of councillors at a council meeting and our anthropological understanding of it.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Hi Ale
Looks good, will comment that I can't really get on with reading all what you put because of the formatting and colour... but what I coped with reading looks really good
and some interesting points about technology
but loads of people keep saying that we are forgetting people who don't use computers
and that we should be posting flyers and posters
I can't understand why emailing posters out to supporters and asking them to print 2 and post them up Doesn't Seem to Work (but it didn't!!!)
also something that interests me is that postings to discussion groups goes very quiet at the weekend... are people doing internet only while at work???
Sarah

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