The Virtual Society in the Big Society

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Presentation for ESRC Seminar Series on Educational Futures at the London Knowledge Lab. November 19, 2010

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  • The future is a wonderfully slippery concept
    It allows us to set boundaries on what we discuss
    But its unbound character makes the work of the futurist very risky
    Very often the future is made present by designers, artists and philosophers whose characterizations of the future are both knowingly incomplete, but profoundly engaging
    These speculations are crucial to the decisions we take on behalf of the present

    Yet, which visions of the future deserve our respect and attention?
    If I were to tell you that the future of education is bleak and that in 100 years we can expect there to be no schools, universities or colleges, what would make my story compelling?
    What would I need to explain in order for you to believe this to such a degree that you based your outlook on life on my speculation?

    More often than not, this way of charcterizing the future does not lead to such radical changes in human behaviour.
    Despite the overwhelming evidecne of humanity’s role in climate change or even the sheer cultural pressure to accept the obligation of care to our planet, our lifestyles have not changed to such a degree as to align with such concerns.

    So, if we are not willing to change behaviour given the prospect of planetary collapse, what might be realistic to expect of any future speculation?

    How should we restrict our questions about the future of ethics in education?
    One way of addressing the future is to look at present day trends, from which we may claim what is likely in the near future
    While trends may be reversed, they are certainly frequent candidates for action within an economy

    Another approach may be to look at a fixed period of time, but again, how long? 100 years ,50? 20? 10?

    I have focused my talk about the future around the next 5 years, the length of term of the present government
    Yet this may be an artificial and deeply inadequate device, after all the future of ethics is not determined by the British system, even if there are culturally distinct dimensions of our society

    Yet this period has relevance in part because there is a new government, which will bring about change in various ways
    Its Big Society initiative is also imbued with values that may have a bearing on how we thing about the role of education in the future
    Much of the content of the Big Society draws on thick moral concepts – responsibility, power, ownership, fairness




  • Studies of ethical conduct in present day practices
    Studies of the methodology of ethical research

    At this stage, ought we restrict ourselves to ethics, or broadly focus on the moral principles that are worthy of upholding
  • What kind of subject is ethics?
    Studies of ethical conduct in present day practices
    Consideration of the ethical issues that will face humanity at large
    Studies of the methodology of ethical research
    My first focus is on the latter two aspects, I will then focus non the first two

    Which ethical issues face humanity and how might we research them?
    – use of art and design to create speculative empirical propositions about our ethical environment
    Role of popular culture in constituting the ethical terrain of today’s culture (eg. Big Donor Show)
    This is where ethics is played out
    Public engagment with ethics

    What kind of subject is ethics and how should we think about the future of ethical conduct
    This is where the virtual society in the big society applies
    Looking at digital culture reveals how ethical conduct is regulated in a democratized media environment
    Eg. Look at Ebay – reputation based economy
    - culture of sharing and collaboration
    Open source software

    We can see the principles of the big society alive and well in the virtual society – a self-regulating ethical terrain


    What kind of subject is ethics?
    Studies of ethical conduct in present day practices
    Consideration of the ethical issues that will face humanity at large
    Studies of the methodology of ethical research
    My first focus is on the latter two aspects, I will then focus non the first two

    Which ethical issues face humanity and how might we research them?
    – use of art and design to create speculative empirical propositions about our ethical environment
    Role of popular culture in constituting the ethical terrain of today’s culture (eg. Big Donor Show)
    This is where ethics is played out
    Public engagment with ethics

    What kind of subject is ethics and how should we think about the future of ethical conduct
    This is where the virtual society in the big society applies
    Looking at digital culture reveals how ethical conduct is regulated in a democratized media environment
    Eg. Look at Ebay – reputation based economy
    - culture of sharing and collaboration
    Open source software

    We can see the principles of the big society alive and well in the virtual society – a self-regulating ethical terrain


  • What kind of subject is ethics?
    Studies of ethical conduct in present day practices
    Consideration of the ethical issues that will face humanity at large
    Studies of the methodology of ethical research
    My first focus is on the latter two aspects, I will then focus non the first two

    Which ethical issues face humanity and how might we research them?
    – use of art and design to create speculative empirical propositions about our ethical environment
    Role of popular culture in constituting the ethical terrain of today’s culture (eg. Big Donor Show)
    This is where ethics is played out
    Public engagment with ethics

    What kind of subject is ethics and how should we think about the future of ethical conduct
    This is where the virtual society in the big society applies
    Looking at digital culture reveals how ethical conduct is regulated in a democratized media environment
    Eg. Look at Ebay – reputation based economy
    - culture of sharing and collaboration
    Open source software

    We can see the principles of the big society alive and well in the virtual society – a self-regulating ethical terrain

  • When thinking about
  • The Virtual Society in the Big Society

    1. 1. the virtual society in the big society @andymiah @UWScreative university of the west of scotland professor 2010.11.19 | institute of education building an ethical future
    2. 2. the future
    3. 3. the future
    4. 4. the future and ethics
    5. 5. and ethics Eduardo kac, alba Loizeau & auger, telephone tooth implantStelarc, extra ear
    6. 6. and ethics Stem cells, the dailyshowStem cells, Michael j foxStem cells, south park
    7. 7. the virtual society in the big society
    8. 8. what is ? in the big society
    9. 9. what is ? in the big society /// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// // / /// ///
    10. 10. what is ? in the big society /// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// // / /// virtual ///
    11. 11. A life on facebook, 2010
    12. 12. The Machine is Us, Michael Wesch, 2006

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