RSA Short

We have taken huge steps towards tackling some of the biggest threats on humanity throughout history, and in many ways our lives have never been better! So where do we go from here? Author and historian Rutger Bregman argues that in order to continue towards a better world, we need big ideas and a robust vision of the future. Revolutionary ideas, that were once dismissed as a utopian fantasy, became reality through people believing there was a better way – but what if our progress is hindered by our own dim view of human nature?

This RSA animated short - Where Do We Go From Here?is an extract from a longer talk given last year (click to watch the full thing). It is based on his book Utopia for realists - which is also well worth investigating.

Rachel Botsman on trust

This TED talk from 2016 introduces the idea of trust - and the profound changes that are taking place around it. It introduces some of the key ideas in her new book: Who Can You Trust?: How Technology Brought Us Together – and Why It Could Drive Us Apart which came out at the start of October 2017. The blurb puts things this way:

We are at the tipping point of one of the biggest social transformations in human history - with fundamental consequences for everyone. A new world order is emerging: we might have lost faith in institutions and leaders, but millions of people travel in cars with total strangers, exchange digital currencies, or find themselves trusting a bot. This is the age of "distributed trust", a paradigm shift driven by innovative technologies that are rewriting the rules of an all-too-human relationship.

You can also catch up with her in discussion with Andy Haldane, the Chief Economist at the Bank of England at the RSA. Click for more.

Developing materials for dyslexic students

open dyslexicWe are experimenting with a new font - OpenDyslexic - and formatting for study resources. You can take a look at our efforts in a new unit for housing studies. If you are interested in helping us with this project please let Mark K Smith know - he is working on new versions of the courses on helping and counselling skills, and teaching and group work which will use the new design. We have already found an issue - font size - and suspect there are plenty more! 

The most recent kindle apps have the new typeface as an option - as  do a number of kindle readers - following a recent software update click for more.

You can also get an OpenDyslexic extension for your Chrome browser.  This extension overrides all fonts on webpages with the OpenDyslexic font, and formats pages to be more easily readable. Click for details.

The first social media suicide - Rana Dasgupta

This Guardian article about a teenager in a Paris suburb who streamed her own death - and acquired a morbid kind of digital celebrity - has some important things to say about many people's experiences. Click to read. It is extracted from a longer piece 'Notes on a Suicide' published in Granta 140.

Big Capital. Who is London for?

This new book by Anna Minton examines the London housing crisis. She looks at the impact of luxury developments and the squeeze on social housing. Both local and central government policies and activities have made it worse. You can get a flavour of the book from an extract in the Guardian. Minton, A. (2017). Big Capital. Who is London for? London: Penguin.

Are digital technologies making politics impossible?

In this RSA podcast, James Williams ’ argues that digital technologies privilege our impulses over our intentions, and are gradually diminishing our ability to engage with the issues we most care about. He explores:

  •     How the ‘distractions’ produced by digital technologies are much more profound than minor ‘annoyances’
  •     How so-called ‘persuasive’ design is undermining the human will and ‘militating against the possibility of all forms of self-determination’
  •     How beginning to ‘assert and defend our freedom of attention’ is an urgent moral and political task

James Williams, a former Google employee and doctoral candidate researching design ethics at Oxford University, recently won the Nine Dots Prize - and his arguments around the pervasive effects of digital technologies are of great relevance to what we do as pedagogues, educators and workers. Access the podcast via SoundCloud.

Future proof

In this report published by the Institute for Public Policy Research, Matthew Lawrence argues that Brexit is the firing gun on a decade of disruption. As the UK negotiates its new place in the world, an accelerating wave of economic, social and technological change will reshape the country, in often quite radical ways. The report focuses on five trends: population change; growing fragility in the economic world order as globalisation evolves; the Brexit after-shock; technological transformation which could affect 75% of jobs; and instability in an age of natural systems decay.