The Collective knowledge of Kids

nfte-microsoft-black-children

Recently I’ve been fascinated and consumed by the concept of the collective knowledge of kids and youths.

It started with my daughter learning games and rhymes at school that I had learnt 25 years ago. These are games and rhymes that are learnt in the school yard between classes. It represents a very pure form of collective knowledge; perhaps the purest persisting form. After 25 years they have changed somewhat but many of the lessons passed down are exactly the same.

The transfer of the collective knowledge of kids between age groups/cohorts is on a scale that is smaller than intergenerational, smaller than semi intergenerational. The high resolution of the scale – in terms of the short time between transfers – is what I think lends to the accuracy of the information transferred. I imagine it like playing Chinese telephone where you pass the message very quickly as opposed to taking a break between each transmission.

What is most fascinating about it to me, is that adults have moved further and further away from reliance on collective knowledge, as we have come to rely on other methods of discovery and storage of information. I think in a way we have also lost the respect that I think collective knowledge deserves, and also lost appreciation for collective knowledge as a resource. I also think that as people move away from the third world reality of village life, to the first world ideal of the immediate family unit (The American dream) that the pathways and connections that provide the infrastructure for collective knowledge break down, and a lot of the collective knowledge is lost. The information becomes isolated in the persons retaining knowledge. These people eventually age and fall out of the collective; and so knowledge is lost.

Going back to the infrastructure example; our community is like a computer hard drive with each person being like a megabyte of storage in a super computer. in order for information to circulate there has to be connections – electrical circuitry. In the community format these are relationships and interactions. As the amount of interactions reduce as a result of a more individual approach to life, which is caused by the aspiration to the concept of people being independent and an island standing alone or with the immediate family unit, the circuitry breaks down. When people aspire to this lifestyle the unintended consequence is that the amount of time spent connecting with others reduces. That in the hard drive example is a loss of circuitry.

The thing about the community hard drive is that it is constantly regenerating with people dying and people coming into existence. With a loss of circuitry we eventually lose information that just can not be transferred because the rate of transfer is just too slow. It is like having a slow internet connection and trying to download a catalogue of movies. A lifetime is simply not enough.

Many people have recognized this process happening under our noses and have tried to intervene by encouraging young people to have conversations with old people, or to record the stories of old people and put them in museums. These things are like last resort attempts to save a species from extinction by forcing it to breed and keeping specimens in zoos.

What is clear to me from the observation of the collective knowledge of kids,is that in order to counter the loss of collective knowledge in the wider community, what is needed is to build up circuitry.

 

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Parrotfish lives matter vs All fish lives matter. Parrotfish propaganda?

Page-Peche-responsableEnglish

First of all, propaganda is a ‘bad word’ where I’m from, but think about it in terms of its strict definition: Information presented with bias to support a point of view. Here I’m referring to information about eating parrotfish and coral reef health. I think the bias here is in the simplifying of information presented. By not presenting some information the result is a bias towards the information that is presented, even if bias is not the intent.

Ok, here goes.

PARROTFISH AND THE FEELGOODS

People love to feel they are doing good; doing their part to make the world a better place. This is a great innate thing about us. It is what has enabled several very important revolutions in human history. This human tendency is tapped into by social campaigns that rely on people’s natural tendency to do the right thing once they are provided with information to be able to make the right choice.

However, one of the challenges faced is that the world is a complex thing, and people acting as a group need simplicity. Because of this, mass action does not always address the complexity within a problem. Even more importantly, I think, it often leads to mass misconception; where the masses hold dear an imperfect understanding of reality.

What mass action does do, especially when packaged the right way, is make people feel good about themselves when they are doing the ‘right thing’. Simplicity makes it easy to do the right thing and to identify the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’.

Example. A war with pots and pans

 

“… the collection of aluminium pots, pans, railings and other metals during the war was largely a propaganda exercise intended to give blitzed civilians a feeling of having contributed to the war effort…”

With current parrotfish campaigns, I don’t believe the intention is to make people feel good about themselves. The genuine effort is to make a positive impact on coral reefs. However, the dangers of mass misconception are real and present.

PARROTFISH LIVES MATTER vs ALL FISH LIVES MATTER

The truth is that Jamaica’s reefs are heavily over fished, so it would make sense to reduce the consumption of all fish for reefs to recover.

One of the results of current ‘parrotfish lives matter’ campaigns is that people feel like if they don’t eat parrotfish then they are not a part of the problem, even if they eat other fish, and that it’s the people eating and selling parrotfish that are the real problem.

Coral reefs are ecosystems, and in ecosystems everything plays a role and affects everything else. Every fish on a reef is important and they all matter.

BUT DO FISHERFOLKS LIVES MATTER….. ????

Fishers have received a bad rap, not totally undeservedly, but sometimes based on a misinformed judge and jury public.

Did you know parrotfish are not scarce? (relatively speaking of course). Based on reef surveys across Jamaica in 2015,  parrotfish are the most abundant fish on our reefs (but they are mostly not fully grown).

In some places they make up the majority of what fishers catch. So you can understand why fishers will resist a ban on parrotfish, and feel that ‘parrotfish lives matter’ campaigns seek to undermine their livelihood. And it is easy to understand why such campaigns might not make sense to them.

SILVER BULLET?

Coral reefs are faced with a list of problems among which is a lack of herbivores to keep the reefs clean. So of course increasing the abundance of herbivores, especially big herbivores, is a great idea. But that alone is not enough. Some recent studies have found that when the sea is polluted, an increase in herbivores like parrotfish is not enough to combat algae that overgrow corals. One study in particular found that in polluted waters corals are weakened and the action of parotfish feeding actually resulted in coral mortality.

A ban on parrotfish may not actually save the reefs if we don’t address pollution. Unfortunately it is harder to ban pollution than to ban parrot fish. I think a ban on parrotfish would certainly help reefs, but it would hurt fishers and may not solve our problems.

THERE IS MIDDLE GROUND THOUGH

The real problem with regards to fishing is over exploitation. If managed properly we could harvest fish sustainably into the foreseeable future, including parrotfish. This would require careful management, which might be too much to hope for. But, Jamaica has one of the best managed conch fisheries in the world; certified sustainable. So why can’t we do it with our other fish?

SO IN SUMMARY

A ban on parrotfish: Easy concept to buy into, people feel good, may not solve our problems by itself, while creating problems with fishers

Managing our fisheries: Complex concept, not so easy to communicate, people don’t feel as good as easily, solves our problems if we can pull it off, happy fishers.

 

 

 

Important or unimportant bits.

Though i have thought about a lot of things I haven’t written about anything. But today I was reading some random stuff I wrote and I found it to be therapeutic; so I figure I’ll do my self a favor and leave another little treasure in the form of this. If only for myself.

Some of the things that have taken up my bandwidth lately….

  1. First thing that comes to mind.

I’ve been reading the comments of human beings on social media; and we are weird things. I’ve stopped feeling like what people say is important and more like what people say is just information that can be used to make sense of them. Like data to be analysed. For example, when two people disagree with each other in comments; they are so quick to be disrespectful to each other. They say some pretty nasty stuff. But i’m sure if they were to be two persons sitting beside each other in an airport and end up talking about the same things they’d probably be polite. The vast majority at least. Its a bit like road rage… except tripped by a far weaker stimulus trigger. I’m thinking there must be information about this out there. So many universities teaching and researching psychology, they must have covered this centuries ago.

2. What happened to the first half of 2015… in fact what happened to new years day 1999.

Time apparently moves faster as you get older… but older people are more patient. How silly we are. Nah. It is actually that we don’t mind waiting when we have to as much because we know how fast the time will pass.

3. Its much better to pay attention to debates than any single source of information. Its amazing how many great minds you’ll have on either side of any debate. They bring up some pretty interesting points on either side. No matter the debate.

Ok… before i betray my ‘man of few words’ character I’m going to call this a post. Later Inilek; and whoever else made it to the end. brush your shoulders off.

The politics of public opinion, and censorship.

Don't worry these labels help us make sense of you
Don’t worry these labels help us make sense of you

You have the right to be classified. And if you don’t choose a classification, one will be provided.

Politics according to Wikipedia, which I love without excuse (wikipedia, not politics), “… is the study or practice of the distribution of power and resources within a given community (a usually hierarchically organized population) as well as the interrelationship(s) between communities.”

The landscape of ‘traditional’ politics is often defined by where people stand on different issues. These positions define the groups/communities/parties etc – hence liberals, conservatives, leftists etc. Once these groups are defined, they begin to solidify and refine their identity, often resulting in an ‘us’ and ‘them’ situation. In its most evolved state, persons within these groups find it unthinkable for persons to exist across the borders of group identities. Meaning you should never find yourself on the ‘them’ side opinion on any issue and then the ‘us’ side opinion on any other issue. And so, you are either down with the revolution or you are not.

I’ve noticed that when broad reaching issues pop up in the general public, there is a certain political evolution process that follows. Issues that are not necessarily political to begin with – such as basic human rights issues for instance. The following is my mind trying to put order to the process.

1. The issue interests a lot of people, there is a buzz in the public and the issue is on everyone’s radar.

2. There is some blatant thing about the issue that everyone can agree on, and so there is a solidarity in response.

3. We start to realize that the landscape is not so simple and homogeneous and there are differences within the response. However, movements prefer simplicity and the general public is too massive to process complexity on a large scale.

4. So the narratives are developed; the for arguments and the against arguments. The characters are sketched; the authority, the victims, the revolutionaries, the pacifists, the submissive etc. And for the sake of simplicity and a clear sense of purpose groups are formed and groups understand the outside world by grouping those who don’t fit in their group into other groups.

Actors perform a scene from William Shakespeare's Hamlet for members of the media during a photo call to present Hamlet at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, London, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Four centuries after his death, William Shakespeare is probably Britain's best-known export, his words and characters famous around the world. Shakespeare's Globe theater is setting out to test the Bard's maxim that "all the world's a stage" by taking "Hamlet" to every country on Earth world, more than 200 in all. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
On-Guard!! …  and make it dramatic please

5. Whatever you say can be used against you… and you will not exist across the boundaries of group identity. Not in the eyes of the general public in any case; and beauty is as they say in the eyes of the beholder. Or as Emenem put it. I am whatever you say I am.

6. Censorship is the result – People don’t discuss religion, race, sexuality, politics etc. Now we add to that list riots and police shootings. And this is not just for wanting not to be misunderstood, but for wanting to remain employed, or friends, or safe. To have an individual opinion is a dangerous thing.

Oh how nice it would be for it to be ok to be an individual with varying opinions on varying issues.

That ‘truth about Jamaica and Jamaicans’ video

A descendant of the Taino or 'Arawak' people
A descendant of the Taino or ‘Arawak’ people

Backstory

There was this video making the rounds through my facebook circles entitled ‘The truth about Jamaica and Jamaicans’ which makes some pretty extreme claims. I watched maybe 5 minutes of it and decided it wasn’t worth the time when the claim was made that the native Tainos or ‘Arawaks’ never existed but Jamaica was always settled by blacks. However, I realize that many people have been taking this information as gospel. So i decided to go through it and point out what i see as some holes in the plot and my findings with regards to some ‘facts’ presented after double checking.

Here are just a few of them.

1. If the native people of the Americas never existed – how do you explain their descendants existing.
2. Genetic studies have proven the migration of people through the Americas and into the Caribbean. this movement of people was from Mongolia to america to south america to the Caribbean. You can see the resemblance from the native north Americans to the Mesoamericans to the Caribbean. And genetic studies have proven this. If there was a group of blacks in the Caribbean for tens of thousands of years, that group would be genetically distinct from African blacks. In Genetic studies this would stick out alike a sore thumb.
3.  El Mirador is thought to be 2,600 years old, not twenty six thousand years old. This brings into question the chronology upon which the theory is based.

4. if the European model of conquest is to disinherit people – meaning tell them they are not actually from that place.. why didn’t they do that in west Africa which they took over before heading to the Caribbean.

Ok I can’t go on… but i encourage people to do background research with regards to things like this. There is so much information out there, you owe it to yourself to not just take someone’s word for it.

Here is the awesome documentary that describes human migration out of Africa

To be fair, I must say that some of the information in the presentation is more sound, i think the points on the predatory international money lending entities is valid. I agree that third world countries are practically slaves to the system, with as much as half our production feeding the debt monster. Don’t know about my birth certificate being a bond used to trade me though… Anyhow; not because you are done with school and still celebrating the fact many years later, do your homework.

Who am I, Why am I here

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The questions that has puzzled mankind from the beginning of consciousness puzzles me every time I remember that I have a blog. Who am I and why am I here?

Or simply

Why do I have a blog?

Today I looked at myself squarely and said “I have a blog because I was responding to a post on facebook and the response was too long and now I have a blog”.

I know it’s a disappointing reason, but that’s the truth. There is  no greater purpose behind my blog… unless I am a puppet and there’s a greater power pulling the strings… but as far as my mortal senses can tell it was just the human in me wanting to be expressive on a single day that has caused this thing to pop up on the internet. A virtual speck within the vast universe of coding (the internet that is).

Why I am here is because of who I am. I am a human being filled with human tendencies.

Oh yeah and there is one other thing. There is a lot of chatter online, and there needs to be voices in the mix for people who think like I do. It’s all about representation. I’m a self nominated, self elected representative of people like me. If that offends anyone then they are not like me and I didn’t mean them… I didn’t run for that seat.

Ok world. Expect the unexpected.

Garvey, Obama, Chronixx… and Russian to a lesser extent

A summary before I weigh in my thoughts. Chronixx made a post on social media in which it can be inferred that he refers to the US president as a ‘Waste man’; in the post he mainly addresses the issue of the injustice that Marcus Garvey has been served by the USA. What happened next was a barrage of anti Chronixx sentiment like scatter fire across the digital realm for ‘calling Obama a waste man’, followed by a second but way less voluminous wave of return scatter fire from Chronixx supporters.

Dread was never intended as a polite title. Chronix, dread
Dread was never intended as a polite title. Chronix, dread

Among the anti Chronixx wave of scatter fire was a post by popular dancehall producer Russian, in which he is generally disrespectful to Chronixx and says that no one is perfect and references Garvey, calling his Black Star Line shipping company a ponzi scheme. Some have expressed shock that the Jamaican public and members of parliament have not reacted the same way over Russian’s disrespect of our own first national hero as they did over Chronixx disrespect of a foreign president.

USA President Obama
USA President Obama

And now I weigh in.

Firstly it is evident that many see Chronixx as the voice of a generation, and a balance to other ‘negative’ voices in the space that is Jamaican popular culture. This is not something he asked for, in fact it is the same outspokenness that has now invited new enemies that rallied this generation around him as their voice. Whether he asked for it or wanted it or not, people care about what Chronixx says. And so when I hear people say that his statements are his opinion and people shouldn’t react certain ways because of his personal opinion, i can understand that feeling, but I can also understand why people react.

I get the feeling that Chronixx sees himself as more than an entertainer and that his genuine intention is to be a force for good and to make a difference in the world. I hope this is a learning experience for him, because he still has a lot of good and great works to do, and i don’t think people should give up on him even if they disagree with what he said. As I see it, the lesson to be learnt is that when you are positioned as he is, every word from your mouth or hand can send ripples across the world. You have to be very calculated to make sure that those ripples change the world how you intend for it to be changed, and also to avoid defeating your own purpose. Which in this case, as I see it, the purpose was to highlight Marcus Garvey but most of the tongue wagging has been about the messenger and not the message. In order to truly learn the lesson however, he should analyse this entire situation, dissect it, and gain a deeper understanding of how people and the culture work. People are funny things.

Secondly it is apparent to me that Jamaicans generally care more about what Chronixx says than they do about what Russian says, and sadly Jamaicans care more about what is said about Obama than what is said about Marcus Garvey.  After reading Russian’s actual quote, I don’t think he intended to diss Marcus, though what he said can easily be interpreted as being disrespectful

"No one remember old Marcus Garvey" lyric by Burning Spear
“No one remember old Marcus Garvey” lyric by Burning Spear

Thirdly, the media hypes everything. The media cares about page views and likes and shares and sales. They love the drama because media is for sale and drama sells.

Fourthly… I wish people were more problem-solving oriented than bashful. Exhibit 1: the youth are fiery, rebellious, outspoken and revolutionary… nurture them, this energy can change the world. Exhibit 2: Jamaicans care more about Obama than Marcus Garvey… I can’t say i know the solution for this, but I know only a few artistes who have songs about Marcus, top of the list is Burning Spear, but he is not popular among the youth. And I know that in school we only learn a few facts about Marcus during the heroes week. We spend way more time learning about who colonized Jamaica and the European power struggles in the Caribbean. I’m no expert here, but I think it is obvious that solutions are there waiting to be found.