TED Talks Yanis Varoufakis

An intriguing look at society and the power of capitalism and the role of democracy delivered at Tedglobal in Geneva, December 2015.

There is a movement in democratic states and change of power, which Yanis Varoukis argues is having an increasing demise in benefits for all recipients of democracies.

The following excerpts are taken from the TED video and for a fuller understanding of the recent TEDglobal event see more here.

We see democracy as part of the furniture, capitalism begets democracy, but it doesn’t! Democracy is receding in Europe.

Chinese leaders and others have said that democracy would be banned if it ever threatened to change anything. They are wrong if they think we can dispense with democracy.

Without it our future would be bleak, our societies nastier, and our great new technologies wasted.

There is a green peaks paradox… a mountain of debt and now a mountain of idle cash. This belongs to rich savers and corporations frightened to invest in the areas which would dispense with the mountains of debt.

All those things that humanity desperately needs and societies would benefit from to enable enterprise and communities to thrive.

There is a low aggregate demand as so many people are out of work or on low paid jobs, which reinforces the worry for the investor to lend or reinvest the money.
Capitalism grows wastefulness, it encourages idle cash, it should be used to benefit and energise lives and develop human talents and engage with green technology.

Twin peaks which fail to cancel each other out…

“Democracy is when the free and the poor control government.” – Aristotle.
Our own liberal democracies have their roots in the Magna Carta.

There is a separation in the political and economic sphere and today the economic sphere is eating into the political sphere. One can be in government but not have the power, this has gone to the economic sphere which is consuming itself with the mountain of idle cash.’

This is definitely worth further discussion and if we continue to paper over the cracks we will never see the fault line until its rather too late!

Sue Martin

SmithMartin Partnership Working with communities

Digital Knowledge – how smart are you?

Digital Knowledge – 6 year olds are as smart as 45 year old adults, with a peak for digital understanding at 14 – 15 years! (Ofcom findings).

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In a report published by Ofcom, an average 6 year old understands more about digital technology than a 45 year old.

At 6- 7 years, the Digital Quotient is 98, at 10- 11 years, it is 104, and by 14 – 15 years it has risen to 110.

In contrast,the older age groups of 45 – 49 years have a Digital Quotient of 96, and 50- 54 years have a Digital Quotient of 88.

The slide downwards continues as age increases. The findings were taken from a sample of 80 children and 2000 adults, so the figures are a guide and not an indication that all in those age groups fall into the DK described.

image3-4.jpgThe DQ was devised by Ofcom to gauge awareness and self confidence around electronic devices from tablets to smart watches, knowledge of superfast internet, 4G mobile phone networks and mobile apps.

Confidence around devices , we see as being fundamental, along with the ability to explore the resources or devices, and to access a myriad of different methods and facilities with confidence.

This is an area, where the adults definitely do not know best!

It is also interesting that in the age groups of majority of decisions makers ( we suggest from 40 54 years) that the DQ is already on the decline. We know from experience that it is hard for officers to engage with a resource which they are not familiar with and where younger people have a greater understanding.

Today’s 6 – 7 year olds have grown up with YouTube, Spotify, music streaming and accessing TV through downloads. How cool is that?

Things which make us stand back and gaze in amazement are like bread and butter to children.

Our partnership perspectives, as educationalists and IT developers mean we see the enormous potential ahead. Children who can teach themselves IT and given the opportunity are able to create Apps, and develop programming skills. Let alone all the intuitive learning that takes place through IT systems, and bypasses so much of traditional learning processes.

It’s a brave, new world!

Our partnership is immensely excited about the prospects for learning and for the benefit this will bring.

Don’t be like an ostrich with your head firmly in the sand!

The best way to approach IT?
Let our Partnership help you undertake change…


ICT, young people and helping them to create for the future are the way to go….

SmithMartin Partnership LLP

Social change or social stagnation?

This short film, in the masterly RSAnimate series, features the ideas of Renata Salecl, a Slovenian social and legal theoretician.

Her key argument is that choice in current society suppresses social change. That burning with the desire to consume in the capitalist system, we develop a critique of self, rather than of society.



Our need to choose and consume, based on a sense of needing to belong, needing to not upset colleagues, friends or other social contacts, leads us to develop a false sense of being in charge of our own lives, but which drives us to feel a sense of failure at our poor choices or inability to acquire what others have.

Notions of class war or class identity, for Salecl, are replaced by inadequacy.

Freud determined that malaise in civilisation is mirrored by malaise in the individual. However, the issue with these over arching conditional statements about communities in the capitalist world, is that they are based on the perception that everyone has choice, that every economic player has the access to the modes of action that allow the fulfillment of choice.

Is this wrong? Does everyone have the same economic and social functionality to act? We think not. Economic power, social status and educational achievement have still not reached par for everyone. It is a structural deficit that inhibits social change not choice.

To see the cake is to recognise confectionary. To have no income, or insufficient income, means that cake today or tomorrow is merely an ideal for many.

Still, another great film. What do you think?

You can see another RSAnimate film on changing educational paradigms on our blog here

The web and education – how we think about information

Michael Wesch of Kansas State University produces a continuous stream of films and concept refreshing ideas about information, education and the cultural power of the web.

The short film below offers the viewer some interesting insights into the way the web has changed how we will think about education, schools and universities in the future.

The Canadian media thinker Marshall McLuhan in the sixties saw that ‘…the school is the custodian of print culture’. Now, Wesch argues, the game has changed for institutions. People can read, wrie and publish their own reflections on the internet.

The Wesch argument is based upon the insight that ‘…the public now lives and breathes in a much larger sphere of information and knowledge’. He argues that education’s interface with technology should allow individuals to pivot their life course decisions by “…5 degrees”, in a way to release potential that would have been unimaginable before the advent of WWW.

The Wesch film also has a piercing shard of insight into the potential collapse of hierarchies. The abandonment of which schools and universities will probably find the hardest thing to achieve.

Wikipedia, populated with volunteered knowledge, is larger than the Encyclopedia Britannica. The web means, for Tim Berners-Lee, that ‘…the link is enough’. With enough hyper links the bookshelf, the hierarchy of knowledge becomes less important.

Not irrelevant, but in a way that allows the knowledge researcher to follow the nodes and synapses of a thought or idea – in a way which would be impossible in a traditional print library.

You can find Michael Wesch’s YouTube channel here, to see more of his film work around ‘digital ethnography’.

You can also find the Thirdsectorweb home page here. Our partnership service for schools and Children’s Centres. which helps to publish their information, knowledge and culture on the web.