The Engineering of Consent

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It is clear that a leader in a democracy need not always possess the personal qualities of a Daniel Webster or a Henry Clay. He need not be visible or even audible to his audiences. He may lead indirectly, simply by effectively using today’s means of making contact with the eyes and ears of those audiences. Even the direct, or what might be called the old-fashioned, method of speaking to an audience is for the most part once removed; for usually public speech is transmitted, mechanically, through the mass media of radio, motion pictures, and television.

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There are two main divisions of this communications system which maintain social cohesion. On the first level there are the commercial media. Almost 1,800 daily newspapers in the United States have a combined circulation of around 44,000,000. There are approximately 10,000 weekly newspapers and almost 6,000 magazines. Approximately 2,000 radio stations of various types broadcast to the Nation’s 60,000,000 receiving sets. Approximately 16,500 motion picture houses have a capacity of almost 10,500,000. A deluge of books and pamphlets is published annually. The country is blanketed with billboards, handbills, throwaways, and direct mail advertising. Round tables, panels and forums, classrooms and legislative assemblies, and public platforms—any and all media, day after day, spread the word, someone’s word.

By Edward L. Bernays 1947

Success, failure and the drive to keep creating

I l-l-love TED Talks, who doesn’t. Every other weekend I try to explore some new talks. There are so many and rarely a dud. In my next post I will share my current all time fav TED talk.

I caught this talk last weekend and it really resonated with me. I have never seen ‘Eat Pray Love’ (movie) nor have I read the book but I knew of its existence. The talk is by the author of the book Elizabeth Gilbert. The talk title is ‘Success, failure and the drive to keep creating’, but to me it’s all about “HOME”. Home is where you are at one with what you love, what you love more than life itself. Knowing where home is when you have been evicted by success or failure and you are lost. You need to know where “HOME” is. So you can return safely and get on with what you love. Enjoy.

Coding in school – are we ready?

Minister Bruton asks NCCA to consider coding in schools. And there is the first problem. When a minister asks for something he might as well have whistled the ask in morse code as nobody is going to seriously implement a strategy from an ask.

The teachers can’t code. They will need to be trained. This will take years and most of the years will be dealing with austerity cuts that hits teachers pay and conditions. The youngest teachers, the ones most likely to code are to be employed on yellow pack contracts.

Coding lesson #1 How many Croke Park hours does it take to change a light bulb moment?

Where is the expert report? Surely the Minister has prepared a dossier on this “ask”. He has consulted with CoderDojo mentors and its founder James Whelton, he has flown out to meet the Collison brothers and sourced comments from experts from science and industry to deliver the report that can’t be ignored. There is a report right?

The schools are fully equipped with up to date equipment to begin this training? While CoderDojo parents know that you must provide a laptop and that the session isn’t a baby sitting service, so too the schools know that the 6 PCs in the “computer room” that have Windows 98 installed (we think) will not be suitable for a curriculum wide roll out. While CoderDojo parents can provide PCs, a large majority of parents can’t.

While mentioning parents, they too need upskilling. If the kids are going to be coding then parents need to appreciate and understand and take some ownership for fostering this movement at home.

Mothers and Daughters. If this is to succeed then the 51% of population that are female must be on board. the scheme needs to insure that it’s mother board and daughter board and NOT mother bored and daughter bored.

The minister should be writing to the CEOs of the tax holidaying multinationals to advise them how they too can help in this endeavour. While they enjoy low to no tax status their future workforce needs education. Tax the companies accordingly and avoid gifts of hardware that will date in jig time.

Finally this will all be supported at a national level. Like the BBC Micro in 1981 and the BBC micro::bit in 2015, there needs to be a bottom up as well as a top down pincer movement to enthuse the kids and their parents that the only show NOT in town becomes the only show in town.

32bit Eire should be upgraded to 64bit Eire. Let the serious games begin.

Oh and Fine Gael you should appoint Ciaran Cannon TD to oversee this all gets done.