Thursday, 3 December 2009

Danger - if you're reading this online your brain is at risk

Well I'll admit to having been much worse at updating the blog this year at the event, but that's because I've been so engrossed in conversation and busy twittering away...quite apart from the outrageous socialising with all these nice people at one time or other associated with Humboldt University!

Anyway, today was a mixed experience, as with all conferences. Many folk twittering about sales pitch type talks, I didnt experience many of those, due to my choice of session probably. Closest to that was the one by Polycom, but they did it well by having a user to describe experience of using videoconferencing for music tuition and the issues in sound quality etc. They are doing a live link up with the Manhattan School of Music tomorrow to demonstrate.

The sessions were rounded off with a 'debate' on the proposal that the internet is destroying our children's minds. A motion led by Aric Sigman who shouted and attempted to scare everyone. His extremely aggressive style offended some, particularly those unfamiliar with him (the vast majority of the 2,000+ international delegates), but for others gradually seemed like a raving madman. He attacked the audience as being pushers of this mind-rotting technology..not a great debating tactic, but he gives the impression of a man who cares about nothing other than his ego which was bloated by the use of the video projection screens, sadly.

He then was robustly challenged by Donald Clark who did a great job and was happy enough to show some passion and contempt for the scaremongering. The next two speakers were less effective. Bruce 'the Brute' (see Private Eye) Anderson, a veritable caricature of a fleet street hack, his tie slung askew muttered along the lines of trying to support the motion but being 'reasonable' (the old good cop/bad cop pairing), then some guy 'from Silicon Valley,' Jerry Michalski gave a fairly anodyne response to that...his analogy of the development of the 'automobile' with the net currently being at Model T wasn't a good one for a European audience, as a bicycling Dutchman commented!

Anyway, what needs to be said to those unfamiliar with Dr. Sigman is that cherry-picking (ie selective use of some reports and wilfully ignoring of other contradictory findings) seems to be his speciality, as pointed out by Ben Goldacre who he seemed to have a pop at during the session. If you want more on this aspect and some examples then visit this link.

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