Saturday, 9 May 2009

A for progressive thought

I've had this idea tumbling around my inner landscape for a while now. The basic principle is as follows (as per my comments on Dave's post on Derek Draper's recent resignation):
Anyhow, I think it’s time to dust off my old idea from Members Net days of setting up an online academy of left-wing thought. Something which scrobbles for thought what scrobbles for music - that expands one’s mental horizons around a structure of Web 2.0 participation and political preferences. Anyone got the technical knowhow and resources - or perhaps more importantly the inclination - to put it into practice?
And here:
I think any such academy could include two focusses - one, didactic and pro-active, the other browsing-based with a “see where the tide takes you” approach. That’s why I mention and not Spotify. You seem to suggest a Spotify model where we choose what we already know and home in on that; I would prefer a broader brief in that stretching-of-existing-horizons sense that exemplifies through its Neighbourhood Radio model. I would, in fact, like to set up a site with a much broader brief than that, but, if truth be told, I think sponsorship is only possible if you focus on one area of thought. No one is honestly interested in breaking down the walls. And perhaps it would not be useful, after ten years of the Third Way, to want to continue to try doing so.
And here: allows you to choose your music (band, singer, composer, whatever) and listen only to that. allows you to do that for a price or - for free - provides you with the option of Neighbourhood Radio. Neighbourhood Radio involves you keying in your favourite band and getting to listen to a couple of their songs, and then moving ever-outwards (automatically) to other music which users of the community have tagged as similar. Thus the “tide” I mention, as you slide from similar to similar to similar. It means you end up listening to stuff you’d never dream of listening to. You can then tag what you like as a favourite, and this - in turn - affects how the system serves up further content. A more controversial aspect of is the scrobbling feature it supplies - which can be disactivated - and involves telling the world what you are listening to on your PC. Using this concept for thought - identifying readers and reading habits - is an issue, of course. But then we’ve been happily buying from Amazon without considering the privacy implications for years (well, perhaps most of us have - maybe not all).

An online academy could involve two wings - the highly scholarly aspect which could be pay-only and then a kind of “everyperson’s” version which would involve the scrobbling and Web 2.0 approach I outline above, and would, with initial ground rules, hopefully be self-generating. I went on a two-weekend seminar with the Labour Party on progressive thought some years ago and found it a most exhilarating experience; since then, I have always wanted to widen this experience and make it available online for a broader audience.

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