Cut me (to the) quick

29 August 2010

I’ve been looking closely at my social media connections – Facebook, specifically – and have been a little uncomfortable with the mashup of my professional and private life that Facebook has made over time. I resolved to separate the two using the advice on Lifehacker. In doing so, I discovered that my father has disconnected himself from his single remaining connection with me, his firstborn son. Not that we were close at all – far from it, I suppose – but it hurts nonetheless.

Facebook, like many other social phenomena of the Internet, is a wonderful tool of the new age of connectedness. I am a user and advocate of using technologies like Foursquare,, Blipfoto to immerse yourself into the networks of humanity all around us. This new experience, however, leaves me sharply aware of the brutal nature of the new communication channels: there’s nothing like the rich exchange between two humans sitting face-to-face, using the complex emotional streams of facial expression and body language to be clear. Even that is hard enough. When you are reduced to a few words of type, or the 140 characters of Twitter, care has to be taken in disambiguating what is meant.

The most eloquent of communication, though, is tacit exclusion. It really, really hurts.


BBC Question Time

23 October 2009

I wasn’t going to blog about this but I have just read Seb Schmoller‘s skewed assessment and thought I should after all.

The BBC is obliged to be politically impartial – you could argue that all public media ought to be so but we are all aware that this is more than naive an expectation. Their reasoning for inviting Nick Griffin onto Question Time can never have been, “that it wished to discredit the BNP and negate its influence” for this would imply political purpose. The BBC can have no political purpose. Rather, as their DDG said clearly yesterday, the BBC responds to rising political importance by following what the people do – in this case, the people voted the BNP a couple of MEPs. They therefore represent a view – a minority but significant view – of a part of the people of our country. They therefore should be involved in public debate so that we can hear, be influenced by and respond to their eloquence, the strength of their argument, their charm, personality, good looks and all the other things that affect how we dispense our electoral power at the ballot box. Bravo, BBC, for not being bullied into the suppression that was demanded by the clamour outside TVC and elsewhere, for this would have been oppression. Only the dishonest or stupid fear open debate.

As for the choice of panelist, this was a master stroke. An articulate and moderate Muslim woman; a highly experienced politician from the establishment that caused the reaction that voted in the extremists; the extremist; and the sharpest intellect I have seen on such a forum for years. Bonnie Greer, the playwright, commands not only devastating wit but also a thorough knowledge of history. With these and apparent ease, she allowed Nick Griffin to place himself by his own words right where he belongs. At the end of his own political rope.