"The documentary's title refers to the central symbol that forms the physical and spiritual hub of an intricately detailed sand mandala that is the centerpiece of the Kalachakra initiation, a Buddhist ceremony that attracts several hundred thousand monks and pilgrims to Bodh Gaya, India (the original site of the Buddha's enlightenment) in 2002"
The documentary also follows those who make the trip around Mount Kailash... something I'd really like to do - if I could take the altitude.
Usually the second question I am asked, after 'When are you due?' I'm not being ungrateful for people's interest, but it's a question that has started to unsettle me a bit... I have been shouted at in the street about five times since my bump began to show; always by men and always along the lines of 'Bet it's a boy!' or 'Here's hoping it's a boy!' I have even heard stories from a friend who has recently had a baby boy being told to her face that she guesses that 'the pressure is off now'... that she's had a boy.
I recently finished reading Ursula Le Guin's 'Left Hand of Darkness' - which is set on a world where the humans there are, for much of the time, neither male nor female. And have no sex drive apart from certain times of the year when they are in 'kemmer' or on heat. At which point, they tend towards either being male or female physiologically - having both sets of sex organs and all people capable of bearing children... From one 'kemmer' to the next, a being does not know whether they would be male or female.
Putting aside all the interesting observations Le Guin makes about the effect that this state of sex and androgeny has on a society's attitudes to war, education, child rearing and equality, I was interested because I don't know whether I am having a boy or a girl, and have no preference one way or the other.
This may be the only point in my life when I think of something as a human being first and last and I am not albe to ascribe it traits or a personality or think about it's future character or actions etc through the lens of it being a boy or a girl. I quite like this feeling. The only thing that's unsatisfying about this is talking about "it" as opposed to "he" or "she" which seems like such an inanimate word.
Two phrases caught my attention last week. Both of which I had a silent but strong reaction to. They were:"The economic incentive is integral to the environmental imperative" and "Everthing that can be measured can be managed." These phrases irked me - will fill in more later.
There's a book by Robert Chambers called '"Whose reality counts?" which was at the front of my mind today at the RSA's 'Social Impact of the web' conference this morning....
I arrived at the RSA and walked up the stairs into their lecture hall with the painted walls. It was five to nine, I hadn't even had a cup of tea, no breakfast, I had got up late... if you had looked closely you may have seen dreams and daze still in my eyes. I blinked over at the traditional lecturn, five panel seats and rows of audience seats and sighed with relief. I wasn't going to be asked to participate today; not if I didn't want to and I was free to sit and absorb and recieve for the next three hours - a passive observer. aah. lovely.
But as the morning grew, despite my general wallflower nature and my initial tiredness and passivity, I found myself thinking that Open Space is the only way in which the subject of 'social impact and the web' should be approached. There was a great deal of expertise in the room; I found myself with thoughts and ideas which I wanted to share but didn't want to pose that as a combative question.
Without form mirroring content - without the attendees exemplifying the networked conversations of the web 2.0 world, any transformation I felt was likely to be conspired and/or superficial. What I mean by this is that despite extended speeches around the nature of the relationship between the 'institution' (whatever form; whatever sector it emerges within), and the participative, networked model, this event superimposed this theme on a traditional, institutionalist format; that of 'experts' and 'audience'.
I was also surprised by the lack of diversity within the panel. Ten men, including Matthew Taylor who opened the event and one woman. I was reminded of this month's Prospect magazines' main article; 'The Big Question'. In the hard copy version of the mag, fifty or so people are asked their opinion on "Left and right defined the 20th century. What's next?" Only three women among this group of commentators. Should that go uncommented on? Are we so thin on the ground? And might it be worth commenting that the conversation, themes and inter-sections might be very different given a different balance in gender...?
Adriana Cronin-Lukas from the Big Blog Company was good. I particularly latched on to her ideas of evolving model of organisational structures. I thought she might be interested in the ASP; having grown themselves as an organisation as a complex, adaptive system. She spoke about the world of engineering which had surfaced complex problems and applied multiple simplified systems and processes. That the internet age was this stood on its head. That a few simple rules (and tools) was giving rise to greater and increased complexity.
One final comment on the (lack of) diversity of the speakers and audience was the UK-centricity of the debate. It wasn't framed as a UK issue; the web by its nature transcends national and international borders, yet there was no talk about the global social impact of the web; only local and national. (And somewhat understandably but off-piste was the problem of government, SME's and procurement.) These tacitly imposed borders of the debate truncated at source any conversation about the nature of global civic engagement when facing global challenges which also transcend national and interntional borders such as climate change. The social impact of the web on patterns of sustainable or unsustainable behaviour across the globe might be great indeed.
It sounds like I am having a real moan... But in fact, it was a stimulating morning on lots of levels; although what I railed against, as ever, promoted the most extended and divergent thoughts.
Brian Appleyard impressed with his dismissal of the professionalisation of politics which be cited as leading to a lack of wisdom and insight into the real world. That hyper-democracy, in constant feedback of everything on everything must require someone who had an insight into how to assess the data which comes in. That 'perabytes of data on the web is meaningless' and 'should not be treated as an autonomous force'. quite right. I could go on. I won't.
The over-riding image of today? A moire pattern
Interference patterns (of conversation) creating complex, but pretty patterns. x