Saturday, December 08, 2007

potentially precarious

The network of relations are not all pulling together, sometimes they pull apart. The pushing and pulling on the strings that bind make for a precarious existence.
For txt messaging at Youthline, how useful is it that a sibling organisation, lifeline also uses txt, email and Internet postings? In part Lifeline's use provides credibility as a larger and more conservative organisation takes on practice that was innovative. Concurrently, this has been made possible through winning the contested funding. Its amazing that charitable organisations can work cooperatively when the processes shaping them encourage competition.
The Gods seem to be smiling on Youthline today; it is the Coca-Cola Christmas in the park tonight and it is not raining. This pulls on all the resources (people) Youthline can muster as its largest fundraising event. That the rain holds off contributes significantly to Youthline's wellbeing. The ability to raise charitable donations is to a large extent subject to the benevolence of God/s and/or the fickleness of Auckland's early summer weather.
There is the huge goodwill of volunteers, and also of paid employees (well beyond financial remuneration). What is it that creates the circumstances of giving the gift of time? (Titmuss wrote of this regarding the gift relationship; from human blood to social policy. What creates such philanthropy? What creates such philanthropy in NZ today? A whole new chapter to consider. A whole new thesis I suspect!).
There is also a funding war keeping the cost of txting down.
People dont use what doesnt work.
"People will use technology if it helps them, if it makes their lives better"
Stephen Downes said this regarding the 45-page guide to the evaluation of e-learning. The same might well be said of the use of txt, Internet postings, and email for counselling.
The philosopher in me struggles with such pragmatism, but here it is:
There is no pleasing everyone. Whats used, is used, to the extent that it is useful.
Sounds profound.
Might need to revisit this when the Oyster Bay wears off....
Circular arguments, and the profanity associated with such pragmatism, might not look so good in the morning :)

Pragmatism and fragility. hmmm.


  1. Anonymous12:37 PM

    The thing that strikes me about new ways of doing things (aka technology) is that for the most part, the original intent of the gizmo is rarely the use that is taken up. Lots of examples. To me, this points to an interesting habit where we tend to assume that gizmo X was actually designed to do what it is now being used for, i.e. the myth of design, make and appraise of technology as it is often taught in schools.

    We also know that the making life easier line plays out interestingly when you, for example, have say two online information sources, one which is has richer resources but devilishly difficult to use, the other much poorer resources but dead simple to use. The easier to use resource wins. Then there is the small initial advantage a particular technology may develop, perhaps randomly, which is then amplified quickly over time. The Beta vs. UHS video format comes to mind. There are others.

    For me, all of this underlines that we are always considering the sociotechnical, not just the technical that somehow gets taken up or adopted as diffusion theory suggests. It's all about negotiation between people and things. Delegation of work to a thing which is never a simple matter as Latour elegantly demonstrated a long time ago.

  2. the making life easier aspect is an area i have been mulling over. The cell is in the pocket, its available when and where; it may also be 'easier' than talking. Texting seems to be within my teenagers comfort zone, not only as a familiar medium but because the writing can be scanned & sent and responses similarly scanned b4 being read. There is a sense of being more in control in this medium. At least thats what i suspect, but really, i need to ask the actors.
    It might be that a real time ph call to a crisis agency has the appearance of ease, but not to this (target) age group. I suspect this ability to scan, consider, control what comes in and what goes out is the 'not so small' advantage that seems surprizing to those of us who have not grownup with the medium.
    Here seems the heart of the social and the technical, at least for today.
    Thanks for the post cj.