Making Our Society a Better Place #60 #cong20


Coming soon.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Coming soon.

About Áine McManamon:

Áine is a digital marketing & social media enthusiast with a love for networking, both on and off-line. Instagram and Twitter (@SocialOnya) are her favorite platforms and she is an active user of Canva, a popular app for developing images for various social media platforms.

After travelling the country for numerous digital marketing & social media events, she saw the need for something similar in Mayo. Connecting with like-minded people, they worked together & founded DMM. Aine is still as passionate about the mission now as she was when it was first set up in 2015.

Having a background in events, advertising & marketing, she’s worked in various roles both here & in the US. Remote working has offered her various opportunities & she is always eager to up skill & develop new connections, which led her to joining the Womens Inspire Network.

Also finding time to be an active member of global network JCI (Junior Chamber International,  the leading global network of young active citizens, providing development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change), she was elected as 2020 JCI Mayo President. Here she enjoys working with multiple teams on various community & business projects, while developing personal development opportunities for members.

Contacting Áine McManamon:

You can follow Áine on Twitter, or Facebook (work and personal), email her or connect with her on LinkedIn.

By Áine McManamon

The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics, whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were, and ask why not.

John F. Kennedy

From reading through some of the submissions earlier this evening, it’s very clear that Society 3.0 is a complex topic that takes on a different meaning for each person, and I love that! Different perspectives lead to conversation, and conversation leads to new ideas and collaboration. While collaboration is something I’m passionate about, and it’s become more evident in society in recent years, today, I want to begin by bringing it back to basics.

So let’s start with the individual!

There are so many people both locally and globally, quietly transforming their communities and shaping the world that we all reside in today. People that are working to make society a better place for us all, whether it’s regarding gender equality, poverty, medical innovation, unemployment, government corruption, or climate change, the list goes on. The world is full of ordinary people, who want to improve not only their lives but the lives of everyone.

These ordinary people who create an extraordinary impact can be called the active citizens in our society.

An active citizen takes responsibility for local challenges, and sets out to find sustainable solutions. They develop the skills, knowledge and understanding that they need to acquire to be able to make a positive impact. The main goal is to improve the quality of life for people in society. And while one person can start a movement, to make a more effective & lasting impact, they need to collaborate with like-minded individuals.

Let’s take Mother Teresa, her impact went beyond a charity, it empowered others to serve humanity. Or Nelson Mandela, he didn’t just start a political revolution, he started a movement that inspired others after him to advocate for justice. Or most recently, Greta Thunburg, not just a young voice who leads by example, she has united people across all sectors of society to make a stand for climate change.

But we don’t have to go that far from home. Locally here in Mayo we have young active citizens who make a difference every day. Louisburg man, Padriac Rocliffe who founded Shine a Light, making a tremendous impact and helping the homeless in our society. Aaron Hannon, who has a human-centred approach to Medical innovation, and at a very young age started creating devices that really help people, these people could be your father, brother, wife, mother – everyday, ordinary people that we all know. Claremorris woman Laura Beston, who has been working tirelessly to raise awareness for those with disabilities, with a focus on mental health issues. I could go on.

We have so many individuals who create a sustainable impact on our society every day and that collaborate to make their impact bigger and better. They work to create a society for everyone, no matter who they are or what their circumstance.

This is a society I want to be a part of. Not one where money and greed rule. Or dictatorship is more powerful than the collective.

We have found ourselves in the middle of a pandemic and now more than ever we need to learn from it. Life as we know it has changed since March and yet people in our society complain about missing out on what they see as the norm, but if you look at a global picture, the norm for us is really a privilege..

As many of us are privileged, we don’t see the massive issues in our society, until they hit close to home. For the most part we have roofs over our heads, running water, heat. We don’t need to worry about where our next meal is coming from or if we can have access to medical supplies if we need them. In general we moan about the everyday things all the time. And while Covid-19 has been difficult for everyone in various ways, and heartbreaking for far far too many, in a way it was the wake up call that many people in society needed.

It’s past time that we all look out for each other, help neighbours, do something no matter how small, to make our society a better place when we leave it than it was when we found it. We have been gifted time. We have been given the opportunity to upskill, network online, find new hobbies, start back things we used to love before we became too busy. By doing this, we can realise how blessed we really are, and see that not everyone is in the same boat as us. Only then, will people really begin to understand some of the issues, and from that begin to think of ways to make our society a better place.

Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.

Joshua J. Marine

People who see challenges are the ones that create solutions. It’s not always an easy path but we all have the power to take control and turn challenges our society faces into opportunities and leave behind a legacy that our great great grandkids will be thankful for. Now is a time for social transformation.

We all need to connect for the future. A collective action where we work as one big team, reflect on experiences, celebrate our achievements and learn from our mistakes. While an idea or movement can begin with an individual, collaboration is critical to creating lasting positive change in our society. From collaborating, we discover new perspectives, learn new ideas and together achieve solutions that were once unimaginable.

I’ve learnt a lot about Active Citizenship over the past few years. I’ve been fortunate to hear stories of people not only locally, but globally. Stories of people who empower others, create solutions and work together for sustainable impact. It has inspired me to try to do small things where I can to help others and in turn help make our society a better place.

Today, when thinking about Society 3.0 I went back to basics and looked at the individual. Let’s not forget to mind each other, work together, and make our society a more loving place that’s welcoming to everyone.

Society Needs Liveable Cities #59 #cong20


Covid-19 has forced us to change how we live, work and operate as a society. Now our cities must change with us to become better places to live in and pass on to our children.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody when they are created by everybody.
  2. For decades we have allowed the wrong things take priority – retail space, offices blocks and attracting tourists over building communities.
  3. Now is the time to push for fundamental change in how we design our cities, changes beyond the current ‘temporary’ realignment of our streets.
  4. Proper engagement and collaboration between business, residents and local authorities is key.

About Barry Mac Devitt:

 Barry has spent most of his career in marketing working for a number of multinationals across the food and telco sectors. He has also worked on the agency side too, so he knows the other side of the fence as well.

More recently though he was CEO of DesignTwentyFirst Century a not-for-profit that was one Ireland’s pioneers in promoting design thinking as an approach to advancing solutions, engendering change and unlocking new ways of learning in people. Some of this work was featured by Jeanne Liedtka, one of the worlds leading authorities on design thinking, in her bestselling book ‘Solving Problems with Design Thinking’.

He is now an independent consultant who wants places that we are happy to live in and pass on to our children.

Contacting Barry Mac Devitt:

You can connect with Barry on LinkedIn

By Barry Mac Devitt

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

Jane Jacobs

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended basic assumptions that have long anchored just about every facet of our lives, from home and family to work and politics to our towns and cities.

It is a crisis that first and foremost has threatened our very being and so for many of us it has made us really reflect on how we live, where we live and what’s important to have around us – community, outdoor space, local shops, access to nature, areas for safe socialising and play…

These are not things that trip off the tongue easily when you think of an Irish city.

For decades we’ve prioritised retail space, offices blocks and the fleeting tourist over well planned mixed-income family-friendly residential neighbourhoods for our cities. Living in the suburbs and commuting to work is the model we have always accepted…until now.

When you look at cities like Amsterdam, Stockholm, Milan, Barcelona who have all had their COVID challenges they are bouncing back because they are busy with locals shopping, dining, moving about, sitting in parks and going about their business. In fact many of these cities are becoming more liveable not less because of COVID. This is in stark contrast to here, especially Dublin city which is on its knees because it has been completely hollowed out.

So now is the time to push for a fundamental change in the way Irish cities are designed beyond the ‘temporary’ realignment of our streets currently being forceded through under COVID by our local authorities. People want properly planned, multifunctional places that provide what they need near where they live.

But key to this success will be through real engagement and collaboration between business, residents and local authorities. As far back as 2012 the governments Putting People First policy recognised that ‘participation of citizens in public life and their right to influence decisions that affect their lives and communities is ‘at the centre of democracy’ (Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG), 2012, p.157). So engaging citizens to bring greater ownership of, and participation in, local decision-making is fundamental to making our cities work for us all.

The recent proposal from Dublin Chamber to have planning decisions based on a ’15 minute City’ model is a positive and creative move. Pilot programmes like this are needed in local authorities, but real transformational change will only come with a whole city and holistic visionary approach that includes greater citizen participation, especially considering our climate and biodiversity crisis.

Covid-19 has forced us to change how we work and operate as a society and economy. Now our cities must change with us to become better places that we are happy to live in and pass on to our children, cities that are liveable, thriving and resilient against future shocks. Cities that are for all of society.

Leadership Qualities for a Collaborative Society 3.0 #58 #cong20


“Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen.”
Alan Keith
Covid19 was the catalyst to create collaborations of that would never have been imagined.
The true test was not the best idea or the most potential to succeed. The test was in the people values, fears and behaviours.
Ultimately it was the person centred approach, open communication and giving everyone a voice that made OSVX. Society 3.0 in Beta.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. “Do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg RIP 2020
  2. Keep your HEAD with Humility Empathy Action and Decisiveness
  3. COPE with Clarity, Openness, Perservere and Energy
  4. Hit the Target with Honesty, Integrity and Transparency.

About Gillian Berry:

I am a qualified clinical nurse specialist. Recent roles include Education, Practice Development Facilitation and Project Management. I am driven by Quality, Patient Safety and Person-Centred Care. I hold a HDip CCU Nursing, PGD Infection Prevention and Control, PGC in Clinical Trials Management (Pharmaceutical Medicine), PGC Medical Affairs (Pharmaceutical Medicine), Cert in Quality and Safety. I founded PerCen Technologies in 2019 in response to challenges that I felt were not addressed in Healthcare. They are supported by the first national HIHI call by the Health Innovation Hub Ireland. It was set up to create person centred innovative solutions to clinical unmet needs. Its aim is to use scientific knowledge and the latest technologies to compliment clinical evidence based practice. My EitHealth journey stared in 2019 where I participated in the Wildcard Hackathon in Amsterdam, followed by the digital health validator in Trinity College and IP training. I am also on the EITHealth expert panel. At the start of the Covid19 Global Pandemic I combined her 25 years healthcare and her post grad education to create a process to break the chain of infection. I co-founded OSVX Open Source Volunteers Extended. Which attracted over 1000 STEM professional volunteers, academic institutions, SME’s and Multi-National’s and facilitated 30 projects with a transfer of knowledge and skills.
I am an active member of EmpowerHer and Network Ireland where I support women peers in business and entrepreneurship. I recently won the regional Power Within Champion for my work on the Covid19 response. I am on the EITHealth Alumni as the Regional Coordinator for UK and Ireland. I aim to facilitate the continued success of the EITHealth Alumni, promote innovation and empower the members to continue their health innovation journey.

Contacting Gillian Berry:

You can connect with Gillian on LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter or send her an email.

By Gillian Berry

See Gillian’s presentation below that she delivered at CongRegation 2020.


Beware of the Society we Influence #57 #cong20


This is an article written by the influence of researching and reading various society 3.0 pieces. This is my view on what I assume society 3.0 is based on my research and my view of what it will lead us to.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. I hope you pull a better understand of the topic from this.
  2. AIs and bots
  3. people interlinked and our power on the creation of the next society.
  4. Covid-19 influencing the use of technology for us to survive the pandemic, we’re already too dependant on it.


About Emma O'Keeffe:

 I’m an animation student at limerick institute of technology. We had to dive deep into this topic in one of our modules, thought I’d share the outcome.

Contacting Emma O'Keeffe:

I am unreachable as the AIs have claimed my email accounts. If you do succeed in reaching me, congratulations. Try email.

By Emma O’Keeffe

“Society: The totality of people regarded as forming a community of interdependent individuals working for the benefit of society”.

(Society, in the Past, in the Present and in the Future.#9#cong20, 4th October 2020)

We are a society based on laws and regulations which limit oneself. Creating a society based on routines which can lead to a narrow-minded body of people. We have created a habitat by a limited imagination that forced unnatural objects into this world. It is a society based on fear and judgement of the unknown, hence why we have created this fantasize version of reality where we’ve authority to comfort us.

We have the possibility to become a society that runs in harmony with the patterns that exist in everyday life. To trust that our actions and decision as individuals and as a collective group of organisms reflects an effect on society and the patterns we are woven into as a society. When we become aware of these elements, we develop a higher level of thinking and understanding. This creates a form of comfortability with the unknown, which in return gives us fuel for our creativity and a new perspective on imagination, but also a broader one on life and how we fit into society as a collective group.

We are too dependent on technology although it did help us tremendously though the pandemic. By setting up a “help desk” using CCR (COVID Community Response) and helping to mass produce ventilators at an increasing speed. I feel technology is moving too fast in our society and as we gain technical skills, we lose previous skills, we become engrossed with technology. Such as Herbal medicine, hunting, blacksmithing, etc. As society progresses, I feel this will only get worse. Although technology is a good resource it can be deadly in the wrong hands. Such as ransomware, AI, and bots blackmailing/hacking, spying smart home devices, etc.

However, in our Society we are so focused on technology, creating, growing. Yet the most powerful technology is our imaginations and our perspective vision on our ideal future. Technically our technology is our ideology on what future everyone has in mind. When each person’s ideology of the future is combined it creates societies ideal future “Society 3.0” based on our imagination and will power for tomorrow.

I believe Society 3.0 is a society that strips individuality as we must live and work on developing this society instead of growing and developing ourselves. I know we naturally adapt to societies changes; however, I feel it is healthy to take a step back, a timeout to work on yourself as an individual. As this society focus on your woven identity in society instead of the identity, we create for ourselves. I believe it is also necessary to have individuality as a person.

I also believe society should have a completely different structure as the hierarchy has too much influence and power within society. People that do not fit this class must obey and bend to the rules made by these people, which is unacceptable. I also feel that they are corrupt and get away with a whole lot more than an average joe would. Which brings me on to the next point poor vs rich. There are two sets of rules in society one for the poor and one for the rich. The gap between these increases every year. There are more homeless people begging on the streets waiting for a few cents to add up for their next meal and the quote and quote rich people are out there spending money on the most ridiculous unnecessary things. Such as flexing five mac books online and posting how their parents got them a green Lamborghini for their birthday instead of a red one, they wanted. I feel the rich should be taxed way more than the poor and instead of assuming every homeless/poor person is a drunk/druggy, we should invest in accommodating them and not shoving 20 people into one hotel room while stripping them of their humanity. While this is happening, the middle class is slowly disappearing. The hierarchy should be dismembered as we all have equal responsibility on the running of this society, we were brought here the same way and will leave here the same way. We all have the same goal to improve the running of society for the generations to come and for ourselves.

However, in a sense we are dooming ourselves as so many people will become part of the useless class which in return will lead to more homeless and poor people increasing the gap if we do nothing about it. We are a technical based society and as technology develops, it will come to the stage where bots and AIs will take certain jobs and these people won’t have the skill sets to adapt to society 3.0 as they’re from a different time and generation. These people include today’s youths from 12-25 who will become part of create the useless class and the early from 60 upwards, who cannot hack technology to integrate into this society. This is already affecting jobs such as switchboard operator, bowling alley pinsetter, lift operator, film projectionist, knocker upper, bridge toll collector, check-out cahier, railway ticket seller and factory workers. This will only increase, leaving the question to linger, where will humans fit in in society? As we will have another class of idle people.

I formed my view of Society 3.0 by piecing together ideas. After reading several submissions to Congregation 2020, I believe Society 3.0 is quite complex. Like other complex societal issues, I believe we should not zone in on a single aspect.

Reference links:

Book of Recommendations:

Technology furthering social transformation:

Society 3.0 a radical thought experiment:

Society in the past, in the present and in the future:

Meritocracy Has its Merits but it’s No Way to Build a Society #56 #cong20


Meritocracy is the fairest way to organise society, right? But what about those it leaves behind?

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Key Takeaways:

  1. New media has facilitated the rise of populist leaders who cast aside facts in favour of emotion.
  2. They succeed because their emotional message resonates with people who feel left behind by meritocracy.
  3. Left-wing parties ought to appeal to these people, but those parties embrace of meritocracy leans towards elitism.
  4. The question of whether one individual is ‘worth’ more than another cannot have a place in a sustainable society, no matter how that worth is measured.

About Conn Ó Muíneachain:

Conn Ó Muíneachain works in Communications for Blacknight, the Irish web hosting company. He’s a writer, blogger, podcaster, radio prodcer and engineer. Labhair Gaeilge leis.

Contacting Conn Ó Muíneachain:

You can connect with Conn on  Twitter or see his work with Blacknight.

By Conn Ó Muíneachain

15 years ago I bumped into a friend of mine on the street. He was a mentor to me. He gave me my start working in local radio and taught me about media, professionalism and editorial standards. Back in the early days of independent radio in Ireland, he, and others like him, brought old-school training and experience from RTÉ and BBC. They worked with ex-pirates like myself to forge a new era in broadcasting in Ireland.

We had both moved on from local radio by then. Though working as an engineer, I was still interested in media and excited by revolutionary developments on the internet: blogs and podcasts. Excitedly I told him about blogging, about two-way media, about subscribing and aggregating and curating feeds. I talked about consumers being in charge, programming their own media consumption, bypassing the gatekeepers.

He was horrified.

“Who are the editors? Who controls this?”, he asked. “What about journalistic ethics?”

I could see his point of view. In the old world, media was restricted to those who could invest in printing presses and distribution, studios and transmitters. Along with that came a sense of obligation, a knowledge that having a platform – or a pulpit – put one in a position of privilege which must not be abused.

By the same token, the traditional institutions of the media had authority and trust with the public. In particular, government-funded public-service broadcasters viewed impartiality and integrity as core values and people in general had a sense that, if you saw it on the news, it must be true.

I replied that, however noble its intentions, traditional media disenfranchised some people. I talked about “the wisdom of crowds”, the self-correcting nature of platforms like Wikipedia, the openness and debate on many blogs and forums.

I was deluded.

We were both right, of course, in our own way. One of the elements of blogging which I had come to appreciate was the ability to ‘invite yourself into a conversation’. If you had experience and expertise on a particular topic, your writing could help to establish you as someone with authority in the field. I had seen many examples of that, especially with people involved in the web startup community. I still recommend blogging to people whose professional credentials can be enhanced by developing their reputations online.

I envisioned a meritocracy, a virtual enlightenment salon on a global scale. But I gave no thought to what the less enlightened would do with this technology.

Now we know.

The rise of populist authoritarian politics, particularly in the US and UK, is, in my opinion, a direct result of the democratisation of media which resulted from what was called Web 2.0. Brexit and Trumpism are destructive phenomena which worsen living standards and damage society. But they appeal to people who felt they had no voice. The disenfranchised.

That’s not to say that some of these people, or rather their opinions, are not “deplorable”, as Hilary Clinton said. Many are barstool bullies or ‘karens’, who derive their own self-worth from disparaging people who are different, and discriminating against them. Racism, sexism, hate and terrorism are unnacceptable in a civilised society.

But perhaps part of the problem lies in a word I’ve used already: meritocracy. In his new book, The Tyranny of Merit, the philosopher Michael Sandel argues that the current failure of left-wing parties to attract support from the people who stand to gain the most from their policies, is because left-wing ideology has embraced meritocracy. And, while meritocracy has its merits (obviously), it also has a dark side. In championing merit, it leans towards elitism, and the implication that those who do not succeed have only themselves to blame.

That’s not a nice feeling, and it’s easy to see why those who feel rejected by those they see as elites are swayed by populism. Trump’s success has been to cast aside facts and truth in favour of an appeal to the emotions. He tells people what they want to hear.

In doing so, he manipulates social media in exactly the way that it is designed to work. No editors. No fact-checking. The consumer is in charge of programming their own content, signalling their likes and preferences, and the algorithms respond with more of the same.

This is what my friend foresaw and I failed to recognise. In recent years, I’ve despaired at the monster created by Web 2.0: a world polarised into silos and echo chambers, where people only hear the ‘facts’ which confirm their own biases.

But social media didn’t create the problem. It just revealed it. It’s true that populists have used it as a tool to whip up support for their “burn it down” message, but if a sense of grievance exists among a sizeable proportion of society, then perhaps the problem is with society itself.

If so, then for ‘Society 3.0’ to succeed it must take this disaffection into account. That doesn’t mean we should pander to hate. But Sandel’s argument suggests we should consider the role played by notions of meritocracy.

Meritocracy is inherently exclusive. You cannot have winners without losers. But we are all losers in the end. Pandemic has brought about an existential crisis, a reminder that no one gets out of this alive.

The question of whether one individual is ‘worth’ more than another cannot have a place in a sustainable society, no matter whether that ‘worth’ is measured in terms of money, or virtue, or beauty, or talent. That may be difficult for us to accept, but I believe it is the only way forward.

Cross Boundary Leadership and Society 3.0 #55 #cong20


Working across silos and sectors has shown spectacular assaults in 2020, lets learn from these lessons.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Leaders need to learn from others outside of their sectors
  2. For projects to be delivered in crisis situation, groups need to  demonstrate the ability to rapidly build internal and external consensus and support
  3. Industry needs use non-traditional resources, enter an entirely new fields and prototype fast.
  4. Building relationships and trust across sectors is now vital

About Dara Connolly:

 Dara Connolly is CEO of Common Purpose Ireland, a global social enterprise, operating across 100 cities around the world with over 80,000 alumni. Its object is to provide inspiring and challenging programmes for leaders from diverse backgrounds and sectors, allowing them to connect with each other, expand their perspectives and create real change in their organisations, societies and as individuals.

Dara has had an eclectic career as a leader across a variety of worlds. With Recreate, a Creative Reuse social enterprise, he built it from an idea to an award-winning sustainable business. As Head of Business Development and Property of Temple Bar Cultural Trust Ltd, he managed a cultural and commercial property portfolio of over €100M, being involved in land mark projects such as Culture Night, development of the West End and Ireland’s first retractable roof in Meeting House Square. In addition, he has had stints in the tech multinational sector, financial services and corporate fundraising and a number of diverse start-ups.

Dara has a real passion for people and their development, always seeking to expand the inclusivity objectives of Common Purpose’s programmes. He is also cares deeply for the arts and the environment resulting from his time with Cultivate (a sustainability NGO). His very rewarding time as director and chair of Saplings Schools for Children with Autism has given him a real interest for children with special needs development and their welfare.

He is a qualified Management Accountant and holds diplomas in Business Studies, Project Management, a Post Graduate Diploma in Innovation and is an alumni of Common Purpose Meridian programme for senior leaders.

Contacting Dara Connolly:

You can connect with Dara on LinkedIn.

By Dara Connolly

Ireland 21 or How we Might Discover a Way out of Populist Dysfunction and Disorder #54 #cong20


 As our traditional tools for identifying popular will break down, we need a new approach to the development of public knowledge

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Populism is on the increase in part because technocrats have lost the ability to converse like human beings.
  2. At the same time, the ala carte menu on offer from social media means that our “ability to know the world, and to know ‘truth’ has been degraded”.

About Mick Fealty:

Mick has built an sustained online community around the inclusive political blog Slugger O’Toole. He believes creativity is key to developing resilient and convivial human responses to the deep uncertainties invoked by the onset of the digital age. He lives in England.

Contacting Mick Fealty:

You can reach Mick by email or connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.

By Mick Fealty

Aimsigh do thobar féin, a chroí,

óir tá am an anáis romhainn amach:

Caithfear pilleadh arís ar na foinsí.’

Cathal O Searcaigh

In a time of want, says the poet, there must be a returning to ‘sources’. Firstly after the financial crisis and now in the midst of Covid 19, there have been many ideas for Ireland’s regeneration. They range from piecemeal reform to let’s get rid of the state.

What’s missing in a digital age, where public voice is endlessly atomised, is a broadly shared narrative – anchored in an understanding of where people and the country’s place in the ever-shifting contemporary world.

When we problematise populism, we are mostly considering an issue of what we consider to be an obstacle (that refuses to get out of our road), rather than how we solve a more basic fault which is that institutional democracy has drifted out of signal with its polis.

Populism is a long tail failure both in the capacity and the willingness of elected politicians to listen out for and then enact the democratic will of the people.

There are at least three constituent parts to the way modern democratic politics operate:

  • The term populism is a confusing one. For generations, political parties have measured success in their ability to attract more of the ‘popular’ vote than anyone else. It’s suddenly unpopular because mainstream is losing its capacity to be popular.
  • Opportunism is also used as a term of abuse, but even a glance at history grasping opportunity can lead to effective long-term actions, such as the UK Labour Government in 1945, and the Thatcher/Reagan administrations of 1980s.
  • The third but much less talked about element is the technocratic ability to understand the machinery of government (and the wider market) sufficiently well to bend them to your will in order to do the things you’ve promised during the election.

These new populist poets (to borrow Mario Cuomo’s famous distinction between campaigning and government) succeed against dry technocratic regimes because many well-meaning technocrats have lost the ability to converse like human beings.

There are a number of contributing factors. Where once we had a plural press (as gatekeepers to our collective sanity) we now have monopolising platforms like Facebook and Twitter, where ‘editorial’ decisions are controlled by non-human algorithms.

With no integrating human intelligence at work each individual citizen takes their own lonely journey into a wilderness. As Jaron Lanier puts it, “your ability to know the world, to know truth, has been degraded, while the world’s ability to know you has been corrupted”.

Meanwhile, as this artificial world speeds up its demands, minute by minute, government must plod on at the same old analogue pace. The grinding tedium of law making affords little opportunity for engaged lawmakers to fight back within the same urgent timeframes.

In such conditions, where context is a purely individual experience by design, international treaties, and other binding conventions can feel like they only reduce the scope for new forms of action or meaningful listening by elected representatives between elections.

For the new entrants things are different. Power, rather than agency, seems to be both the immediate and long-term object and ‘ingroup comradeship’ takes the place of ‘meaningful participation’ in terms of developing policy or collective actions once in power.

In other words, the rise of populism is symptom of a deeper malaise in the modern governance system, namely that the old bridges which carry relations between the traditional centre (where key resources are) and the edge (the parish) is broken.

The capture of the public conversations across the democratic west by a small number of digital firms has shown up issues that have been present for decades. Growing inequality and the capture of markets by wealthy elites is leading to unassuageable public anger.

As Lonergan and Byth observe, we live with “a world where the maps guiding our action seem to be both less accurate and decidedly skewed to the interests of an entrenched elite, and we shift from economics as imagined to angrynomics in practice”.

For example, 90% of US stock market activity is share buy backs, so global markets continue to do well even as the real economy tanks during the Covid crisis. Such stories may be beginning to emerge in serious policy forums, but there’s still no sign of solutions.

The new populist comes unincumbered with serious public expectation. So, he can befriend the most marginalized and neglected and scoop big electoral prizes. But his ability to tell stories is not usually matched with capacity to make the technocratic elephant dance.

The fact is we need our populists to be more technocratically able, and our technocrats to find sufficient humility to take instruction from those who put our elected representatives in charge of our public administrations. It’s not really a question of either/or, but both.

The US’s slump into circular (and exit free) culture war narratives is really a failure of the central machine of government to connect with the interests of a diverse citizenry whose parish domains in some cases lie not too far distant beyond the Washington beltway.

But, we are deluding ourselves if we imagine this is just an American problem.

So, how can the reduction of human diversity to bare numbers be reversed? How do we get back to where our institutions can be more certain that they actually “know what they know”. The route out of unattractively dry technocratic discourse is not more of the same.

Rory Sutherland provides a rather heavy hint in his recently published book, Alchemy:

“The need to rely on data can blind you to important facts that lie outside your model. A new campaigning style, a single rogue variable or a ‘black swan’ event can throw the most perfectly calibrated model into chaos. However the losing sides in both these campaign [Clinton and Remain, both in 2016], have never once considered that their reliance on logic might have been the cause of their defeats, and the blame was pinned on everyone from the Russians to Facebook. Maybe they were blameworthy in part, but no one has spent enough time asking whether an over reliance on mathematical models of decision making might be to blame for the fact that in each case, the clear favourite blew it.”

Hard to argue with that. So here’s a practical idea…

Over the last few years myself and John Kellden have been working on a methodology which reverses the traditional dynamic of the focus group where instead of gathering opinions on stuff we already know we ask them to tell us what we don’t know, through anecdote.

This deliberately unfocused approach involves the gathering of small stories that illustrate the feelings (not the averaged thoughts) of ordinary people. Whilst opinions tend to converge then diverge, stories invariably diverge even if their themes converge as universal.

It’s not just because understanding the unknown unknowns has become more important in the whirl of digital society, but as part of a three stranded process over time it is capable of building an ongoing participatory inquiry into the sense and purpose government or itself.

The aim is to build a more reliable narrative map for deciding what’s needed whilst at the same time immersing politicians and policy makers in the quotidian language of ordinary people to create a shared and a sharable understanding of key the problems ahead.

By combining inputs from three strands of working groups we would create a bridge between anecdote and narrative, building a rich and meaningful ‘tapestry’. It’s based on a stakeholder metalogue model, rather than dialogue, to build up a picture on a blank wall.

And it starts on the premise that that a bridge needs building from the edge to the centre and back again: thus, we developed the idea of the three “buns” (‘bun’ meaning the base or mountain foot in Irish):

  • Bun scéalaí (storytellers): People who are ‘committed’ to their locality or parish. Their stories provide the core material and act as anecdotal pins placed on the wall.
  • Bun na spéire (horizon): Social activists who are cognisant of what needs to be done and have a view of the horizon. They provide the wall with movement and lines of further inquiry.
  • Bun an thuiscint (understanding): Specialists with a mountaintop view who possess crucial lines of sight on complex issues. They contribute meaning and act as legend to the evolving wall.

This is a mapping process where anecdotes are tagged and become pins on a large blank wall. With added lines of sight on problems raised, can lead to discovery through reflecting on, reviewing and identifying missing pieces and better informing us what can be done.

Out of additional inquiries comes a richer tapestry woven allowing new narratives to be shared and jointly owned among various (sometimes competing) stakeholders and able to bridge the growing gap between the democratic centre and the places real people live.

Such narratives continue to be refined and developed in terms of of desirability, feasibility and sustainability, and an anchoring such narratives into existing discourses to offer a robust narrative bridge as a working alternative to current drift into discord.

Imagine the satellite is down and GPS no longer works, so that feeling our way to what is true can only done mile by mile. This is a map that people don’t have to believe because of what they’re told by some expert in a white coat, but because they were part of making it.

Conspire, Collude, Corrupt, Compete & Collapse #55 #cong20


Coming Soon

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Reading Time in Minutes


Key Takeaways:

  1. Wake-up
  2. Find ways to to breath the same air
  3. Play together
  4. Seek together
  5. And maybe we survive together

About Gar Mac Críosta

Gar Mac Críosta is an IASA certified architect and spends much of his time trying to figure out what being a sociotechnologist is; so he can be one. He regularly engages in humane human experiments and is very certain that he spends most of his time being uncertain. Currently (since March 2020) he is the Product Lead for the COVID Tracker App in the Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland ( a COVID-19 pandemic response app. Gar has worked as a Digital Advisor to the CIO in the HSE since early 2019. Gar is the founder of Business Model Adventures and has been an active contributor to IASA Global since 2006, developing & delivering education and certification programs. Gar has facilitated the development of change programs with C-level executives, senior managers, technology leaders, and executives in the areas of business model innovation, digital strategy, architecture, and design across various indus­tries. Gar is a Certified Architect Professional (IASA CITAP), a Fellow of the Irish Computer Society, a LEGO Serious Play Practitioner (LSP) and in the process of becoming a Cynefin Practitioner.

Contacting Gar Mac Críosta:

Coming Soon

By Gar Mac Críosta

Conversations about the future tend to hinge around what it will look like when we get there. How things will be better, fairer, more just, more equal. If you had a subatomic particle sieve that you could push our universe through i don’t believe you will find one ounce of fair, one atom of justice. We the talking monkeys on the back of this organic space ship who at this point after 200,000 years of development have a story about ourselves that includes the ideas of heroes/villains, good/bad, right/wrong, success/failure, friend/foe. These are all stories that we use to make sense of the world we briefly inhabit, they are passed down, distilled, washed and amended to suit. We can tell ourselves these beautiful stories and it’s entertaining, hopeful and optimistic. It also gives us a sense of certainty we imbue the story with belief, we invest time, we give this future, life and we jointly share it with each other.

We have created a story about the way the world works and for many people we cannot see this matrix-like weaving of story internally, communally and globally that traps us into a system that is adversarial, self-terminating and running out of time unless the techno-optimists dreams come true (Mars, Meteors and more).

If we accept that we are in some ways trapped in this mesh of stories in a potentially self-terminating system then waking up from this can be quite scary. It’s easier to cling to these fantasies. This situation is compounded by the increasingly partisan nature of communications, the pollution of the information ecology and an increase in mis-information and dis-information. Our loss of self and loss of sovereignty render us like a neotenous newborn who cannot survive outside of the current system.

Wake Up

  • How do we wake up and what do we do if we wake up? I’m not an naive idealistic believer that this will all magically fix itself. I’ve got the baggage and the mental malware associated with 20+ years of work plus 20+ years of education running inside my cranium. Leave aside the bad code – the wiring isn’t great and the plumbing could do with some work.
  • That said the conversations I’ve been having over the past 36 months give me a sense that there is an increased awakening and recognition not just of the immediate risks but rather of the the existential risks and generator functions that are leading us down a self-terminating path.
  • Waking up is not just being alive to possibilities it’s about investing time in the development of self – (not just woo
  • -woo self development stuff) our relationship to information and our relationship to others. This is real development of self with relation to sensemaking and choicemaking, our relationship to others, our ability to engage in the world in a different way are a prereq to anything.
  • Given the scale of the problem this is not one we can tackle alone, nor is one person (definitely not me) able to make sense of it all, therefore collective sensemaking will be needed.
  • Cong is a place where we get to glimpse, we meet, we share and we marvel with others who are in varying degrees of waking up and some still sound asleep. What do we do next?
  • Well we make some moves and throw some shapes and see what happens. The moves we make will use familiar words in unfamiliar ways.

Conspire – breathing together

  • conspiremake secret plans jointly to commit an unlawful or harmful act breathing together with
  • etymology – fromcon– ‘together with’ + spirare ‘breathe’.
  • Conspire has such a bad name but unless we breath the same air and plot together we will never get out and make progress. The unlawful or harmful nature is only with relation to the current prevailing story and narrative. If our goal is to break free we need to mentally unhook ourselves from the shackles of this story. Breaking the mold is never comfortable, but finding people to explore idea and breath the same air is a start. Cong is one such place to start to breathe the same air.

Collude – playing together