Groups vs Networks: The Class Struggle Continues

Stephen Downes, Sept 29, 2006
Commentary by Stephen Downes

It's Saturday morning as I write right now from my hotel room in Wellington, New Zealand, and as I try to check some reservations and flight details and try once again to upload some audio before I leave these shores and these climes for home I am probably not to be trusted with my observations, thoughts and feelings forged not only in the last week or so of sleep-deprived madness in New Zealand but in that sunny Saturday afternoon in Frankfurt, the veldt of the Kruger, the townships of the South Cape, the hills of Lesotho.


Such adversity often brings out the best in me, and even as I agonize over the conditions of its creation, the fired-up conversations, the late nights, the drawn out arguments, the glares across the room, the harshly worded email messages, the flames, the phone calls, the angry shouts in hotel lobbies, crammed shuttle buses, salt-slicked ferry decks, even as I agonize over all this, some part of me, somewhere, is asking, "why?" (this would be right next to the part asking "why me?") and in some deep sense I am trying to put some sort of order to all this.


It was beautiful, brilliant, sad, heartfelt, desperate, angry, pleasing, painful and at long last far too short and far too long. And so out of all this came this talk, which I am so pleased with, at least, before having heard it (I'll listen to it on the airplane), because whatever the words I uttered actually said, they were genuine, they were well-forged, they were mine, they were ours, they belong to Leigh and Rose, they belong to Tony Carr and to Nico Baird, they belong to the cattle-boys of Lesotho and to the people who weren't here today but who have always been here.


The audio of my talk, I think, reflects all of this and more - please, if you listen to nothing else from me this year, listen to this, because everything I write comes from the heart, and this is as close to it as anyone is ever likely to get.


So while I offer up my thanks to Leigh for organizing this last stage of my journey, I am still not sure whether I would ever do it again... and yet, even so, I am looking at plans for next time, on a Canadian train, perhaps, in a Brazilian minibus, who knows? To the Southern Hemisphere: hail and farewell! And know that your skies will always be in my eyes, your people always in my mind, and a desire to return always in my future.
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