Global Villages, Connection Generation, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

The drive from my home to the University of Canberra gives me the luxury of listening to some great radio programs on Radio National and Classic FM. The journey takes eighty minutes and so by the time I arrive at the University or home on the return journey I have had the opportunity to listen to news, a range of ideas and composers. The rich resources of the ABC website enable me to follow up any of the day’s items.

On Friday (8 May) I was thinking about the Public Sphere discussions hosted by Kate Lundy. I had missed the event but had followed with interest the blog post news and the Twitter feed (the Twitter part of the discussion reminded me of some of the points Mark Scott had made at the National Library of Australia’s Innovative Ideas Forum). Just out of Braidwood I tuned in to Radio National’s Life Matters and was delighted to hear Richard Aedy‘s introduction to his Talkback program To Tweet or not to Tweet?

The guest on the program was Iggy Pintado. Iggy’s son and father joined him on the program to discuss the characteristics of connectivity. Iggy Pintado is the author of the Connection Generation.


It was interesting to learn that “the book reveals how individuals, groups and networks have progressed beyond their intent to communicate to a tangible connection between people, information, experiences and ideas”. The program used the tag #lm for Twitter during the discussions.

Jelle Marechal was on the program too. He discussed the potential of  a social network site such as GetaLife to create real world activities.

The audio recording of the program is here. A number of people called into the program and helped explore the role social network sites play in people’s lives. Two key issues for me were the discussion of a connected ‘global village’ and the range of connections we have with this village. I liked Iggy’s discussion of the invitational nature of social networks and the choices each of us makes to participate or not.

Just as Life Matters finishing I was driving up the hill past Lark Hill Winery and switched to Classic FM where there was a repeat of an interview between Margaret Throsby and Dan Rubinstein, Director of African Studies in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. The next forty minutes was a delightful exploration of Biocomplexity in the context of Professor Rubinstein’s study of zebras. On his Princeton University home page he notes that his research explores:

the rules governing animal movements and migration—and involves the interaction of ‘self-organizing’ behavioral movement rules, ecological information, and habitat structure at multiple spatial scales to understand how migratory animal movements respond to human induced land use change and how these changes in movement in turn affect population stability.

What was fascinating about the discussion was that it touched upon many of the group, network and community discussions in last year’s CCK08 course on connectivism and connected knowledge. I realise that it would have been fascinating to have shared a 2007 report Social Networking for Zebras (Science News Online, volume 172, number 22) with colleagues on the CCK08 course. But the immediate links with the Life Matters discussion that had taken me from Braidwood to Bungendore were very strong too.

Dan Rubintein’s analysis of the plains Zebra and the Grevy’s Zebra resonate with discussions about the formation and development of stable (and unstable) social networks in on-line communities. Iggy Pintado describes himself as a ‘super-connected‘ networker. His experience seems entirely congruous with the success of plains Zebras … an eco system of on-line engagement has emerged and has stabilised. I was left pondering if Robyn Williams’ approach to social networks discussed in Life Matters was akin to the Grevy’s Zebra experience and reflects a distinctive response to modernity that is very clear about the tools of conviviality used.

What a delightful way to spend eighty minutes!

090507 Public Sphere Discussions, Canberra


Photo by Andrew Stawarz

I was alerted by Michael de Percy to the Public Sphere discussions to be held in Canberra on 7 May. Pia Waugh (Policy Adviser to Senator Kate Lundy) has worked very hard to develop this program.

The schedule is:

0900 Introduction and comments – Senator Lundy
0910 The ‘unexplored country’ we will be entering with high speed broadband – Craig Thomler. Presentation.
0920 Green ICT – Tom Worthington. Presentation.
0930 Building a Smarter Planet – what is happening in the digital world to build a digital economy and the imperative that we harness technology to position Australia for the challenges it is facing – Judy Anderson (IBM)
0940 Opportunities for online collaboration over long distances with high speed broadband – James Purser. Presentation.
1000 Public empowerment through public engagement with government at all levels – Stephen Collins. Paper.
1010 Citizen engagement and community participation online: The Canadian experience – Michael De Percy. Presentation.
1020 Government service delivery in the new contexts of (a) broadband, (b) highly diverse access devices, (c) highly diverse patterns of use, and (d) highly diverse human needs – Roger Clarke. Paper.

1040 Rural and regional accessibility in regard to accessing agricultural and environmental information for those working on research and on-ground change – Nerida Hart
1050 Personal Publishing, Archival and the Consequences of Upstream (bandwidth) – Jeff Waugh
1100 Online video publishing possibilities and technology needs – Dr Silvia Pfeiffer
1110 Privacy and filtering – David Vaile
1120 The successfully rollout of FTTH in an Australian regional town and how it expands towns with populations of a few hundred, to hundreds of thounsands. Also the economic modeling required – Adrian Blake
1130 High Bandwidth – getting things done: particularly in respect to dealing with complex real world problems, emergency management and dealing with skills shortages. This is relevant to both the commercial and community sectors – James Dellow
1140 Brief presentation on perspectives put forward on the blog for comment – Pia Waugh
1155 Thanks and close of event

Video stream of the event can be found here. Twitter link is here.

I am in Brisbane on 7 May and so will miss the event held at the ANU. My contribution to the debate is a discussion of the role of High Bandwidth in growing sport communities at local, national and global levels.

Some of my ideas are here.

This is an example of using GrangeNet to explore high bandwidth for elite sport use and this is an example of how a connected sport system can contribute to community development.