Friday, 19 February 2010


There is no such thing as a free lunch.

The concept here could be, if someone pays for your lunch then there is an implied obligation to pay them back, clearly this is based upon the paradigm of value being some transferable commodity that can be encapsulated in notes or coinage of some sort or more accurately in today's world, digitised bank records and can be passed from one person to another.  But, couldn't I buy you lunch and not expect you to pay me money back in return?

The concept could be broader and the obligation could be to give some value back in another form (you scratch my back, I'll buy you lunch)  -- this mixed-metaphor still describes "no free lunch".  But I would still maintain that I could buy you lunch and not expect my back scratched.  I guess I should've put that in quotes!

It could be argued that nothing is free and that ultimately someone is paying for it, whoever pays me sufficient money such that I can make my magnanimous gesture of a free lunch, ultimately paid for your lunch.  I don't hold with this -- there are some natural resources that are in such abundance and are not (or should not) be under the control of an assumed authority to meter out.  Resources that could be considered to be free for all.  However this then brings us to The Tragedy of the commons, which argues that free access and unrestricted demand results in depleted resources through over exploitation, probably permanently.

The suggestion is that each individual realises that grabbing what they can for themselves, even when they know it will damage the whole supply, is in their personal best interest and so they cannot help themselves.  In the modern solutions section of the graffiti-pedia page it starts its description as "in the absence of enlightened self interest....".  This is the tragedy! Our default start position is,  "absence of enlightened self interest".  We assume that as individuals, governments, corporations and society we cannot take only what we need, we have to grab it all quick before it goes - bugger the rest of you.  We cannot see that if we take what we need, dare I say it - take nothing if we don't really need to and leave it for someone else, that this is actually in our own best interest.

No one owns the internet.  Ok, people charge us to get to it but eventually - as is starting to happen with telephone lines, that capital expenditure is written off and there is no need for the owner to generate income simply from using it.  There is a continuous hum about free internet sites starting to charge, that commercialisation of the internet is expected, we naturally assume it has to make money.  I don't.  I hope the components that are free,  remain free and that many other aspects become free.  That corporations, governments and society realise that there is a phenomenal possibility for enlightened self interest in the whole world creating and maintaining free and open global dialogue.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

I, I'm a little divided

Why try to write it yourself when others have already said it and said it so much more effectively than you could ever manage?

I, I'm a one-way motorway 
I'm the road that drives away 
Follows you back home 

I, I'm a streetlight shining 
I'm a white light blinding bright 
Burning off alone 

It's times like these you learn to live again 
It's times like these you give and give again 
It's times like these you learn to love again 
It's times like these time and time again 

I, I'm a new day rising 
I'm a brand new sky to hang 
The stars upon tonight 

I, I'm a little divided 
Should I stay or run away 
Leave it all behind 

It's times like these you learn to live again 
It's times like these you give and give again 
It's times like these you learn to love again 
It's times like these time and time again

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Your opinion counts

How much are we, or should we be, swayed by other people's opinion. There have always been opinion leaders.

In the Pharmaceutical industry we even have a TLA for them -- KOLs.

I think its part of the natural human condition to want to fit in, even if we are trying to fit into a remote tribe of geeks teetering on the edge of geekdom. No man, as they say, is an island. [A brief interlude and a search on the internet reveals] John Donne, the author of this poem, is "they".

So as much as we wish to form our own opinions it is inevitable that others influence them. The speed of that influence is noticeably quicker since the advent of social networking.

Many people are left stone cold by surrealist art - I find it quite liberating. Admittedly Fey Poem Coffee Break seems a strange title but this and the intriguing image gave me something to think about and pleased me. Is it art? Does anyone have a right to criticise it? or the artists right to create it? are you influenced by my opinion?

The following picture is one of my favourite pieces of my own art. Is it art? Possibly photography is just recording fact. I would maintain that in someway I orchestrated or composed it; some part of it is fortunate and "right place right time". I simply don't remember if I asked Ellie and the guys to stare in the water or if something had just caught their attention. I'm not sure if I was consciously aware of the striking juxtaposition of the weeping willow hanging soulfully into the Thames and the jagged stark tree jutting in menacingly from the side. I do know that I edited the photo, in my mind I can still see Will standing under the tree, I clipped him out, as he wasn't looking into the water. If you do like this picture, and I hope you do, were you influenced by my monologue?

So why all this bleating about "influenced by opinion"? Well, a mate of mine, Drew, put a very funny comment on Face book about "Dances with Smurfs" - a small amount of research identified this as a joke name for Avatar. Drew, whose opinion I respect, clearly thought that "Dances with Smurfs" is a less than edifying demonstration of James Cameron's artistic ability. His opinion was in polar opposition to my previous discussion on the subject. So should I allow my view to change, I must admit I stopped to think -- as I do respect Drew's judgement, and it has influenced me even though my feelings were clearly modified by the context of my viewing. 

Clearly this is not about if either of us is right or wrong, but more the nature of opinion and the age-old instinct to create a consensus and if this is enhanced or influenced via virtual networking.

I would say that opinion is not a solid fact; it is context and mood sensitive and will evolve and age as all things do. A gut reaction can be more visceral and true to base nature but a developed savoured opinion can be more lasting and give a balanced view.  So perhaps we are now more prone to circulating "gut feel" via networking sites and we will just have to get used to accommodating each other’s raw truth rather than considered opinion - my view was not considered I mean, I have no-way of knowing if Drew cogitated or evoked.  

On Avatar then, despite its obvious shortcomings in plot and blatant simplistic moralising that is to be expected from Hollywood, I still believe it was a visually and aurally outstanding experience and a fantastic movie to share with the kids. It provoked some fascinating philosophical discussions about spirit and the meaning of self from the scenes where consciousness transferred from one body to another. I would still recommend it - just don't go and watch it with Drew yet, until I've had time to work on him.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Nothing to Say

So I haven't written anything on my blog for a while. I suppose its because I don't feel I have anything to say.

“Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you've got to say, and say it hot.” 

A "google" search attributed this to DH Lawrence. 

In this modern world, where the hive mind hums relentlessly, we don't need to rely on memory.  Social networking media informs our opinions, "massively multi-user graffiti site", wikipedia, is the first repository we all visit for our research. 

We are moving into a strange world where my claret coloured thoughts don't just meander aimlessly into the silent evening as I sip my Chianti - they get published, stark and glaring in their futility.

Will paralanguage ever effectively transition to cyber space?