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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Depressed? Perhaps - but by whom? (in re: Manu Joseph. Again. Sigh.)

Dear Mr. Joseph,
I write as a reader in long standing of the penny-dreadful fiction you peddle as analysis. I once had occasion to describe your writing as "un-researched and pseudo-elitist drivel"; my exasperation had since declined, to be replaced by reluctant amusement. Your piece on depression as the cause of Rohith Vemula's suicide, however, slimes its way below even that low bar. The elitism, for one, is far more blatant, as the piece reeks of that old-as-our-civilisation desperation to attribute injustice to anything but caste
You could have done it, you know? You could have argued his treatment was a function of his politics, and that has caste would have been no issue if only he had remained suitably meek, not challenging the power of those who see command as their birthright. It would have been an egregious simplification - but at least a plausible one. But no. You had to conjure up something that would let you ENTIRELY avoid discussing the conduct of the University of Hyderabad, of the Hon'ble Ministers Dattatreya and Irani, and to mention the ABVP only in the most oblique terms. Ideally, something that would let you slip in some victim-blaming, for good measure. And so you settled on that other tired canard: what about mental illness? In itself, an enormously valid concern, but your manipulation of it is so disingenuous, boring, and infuriating as to be devoid of any redeeming value whatsoever.
In the process, you do such vast disservice - to Rohith's memory, his life, his friends, and his cause in particular, and to any nuanced understanding of casteism, academic freedom, healthy political participation, mental health, or suicide in general - that I find myself compelled to provide a point-by-point response. (Unlike you, I won't arrogate to myself the authority to explain what Rohith's suicide "means": I have no great faith that my interpretation of his writing is correct, but I am exponentially convinced that your reading of his character and motives is wrong. Also poorly argued - and again, that's by the low standard of your own past writing.) To pithily counter your copious errors would demand weeks of research and writing; I confine myself here to the six most blatant.
1. Your assertion that "Nothing in the entire note points to anything other than the storms within that may have pushed him to his death". I assume you have read the full text of Rohith's suicide note, from which you quote a few excerpts?" I'm curious: how does one have even a passing acquaintance with the history of caste in India, and read the phrase "... life itself is curse[;] the fatal accident of my birth." from a Dalit scholar as signifying or relating to nothing beyond the author's life?
2. Similarly, you cite Rohith's efforts to absolve everyone but himself of any role in his act. Having quoted an earlier letter where he suggested the VC help Dalit students drug and hang themselves, you do understand that he was skilled in the use of black humour? Knowing that, does the fact that he prefaced this absolution with the phrase "I forgot to write the formalities" suggest anything? (To my mind, that is exoneration a la Shakespeare's Antony, more damning than any accusation.)
3. On your new-found expertise with mental health. (That was sarcasm, in case the concept genuinely escapes you.) First, "clinical depression" is not a thing. There are diagnoses for various disorders of the mood/affect, including a variety of depressive disorders. (Brandishing "clinical" as if it were a technical term makes your self-anointed expert act less credible, not more.) In any case, the relation between depression, other mental illness, and suicide, is considerably more nuanced than you suggest. Depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide are correlated, but not inevitably linked; all three are also often comorbid with various forms of personality disorder. The direction of causality among these conditions is difficult to establish even in comparative studies. Among those diagnosed with depression (or "clinically depressed", to use your preferred term), many neither contemplate nor commit suicide; for instance, depression can manifest as a depletion of motivation, in which condition even suicide can be too much work. 
4. in turn, suicidal ideas and fantasies aren't particularly uncommon among otherwise healthy and content persons. They can be even more common among those who feel alienated from society - witness Durkheim's work on anomie. In any case, among those who do contemplate suicide with some depth or regularity, including those who go on to attempt suicide, few are even remotely concerned with "a sensible reason to end their lives". That decision is typically at least as emotional as rational, and the emotions involved are those of frustration, fear, powerlessness, or loss of hope. Only the last of these is a typical symptom in depressive disorders. It is not - as you claim - "in the nature of clinical depression that it is in constant search for reasons to bring the pain to a close"; indeed it remains unclear what "pain" (if any) is associated with depressive disorders at all. (Conversely, is it difficult - given the University of Hyderabad's Kafka-esque persecution of Rohith and his colleagues - to see what might have prompted frustration or a sense of powerlessness in him?)
5. Connoisseurs of your writing are well-acquainted with your talent for conjuring straw men, the better to burn them down while allowing the true culprits to escape in the smoke. In this case, I had imagined there was no room for this gambit, but you are truly irrepressible: "Poverty is a factor, not a cause" in Rohith's suicide, you say! Here is an attempt at sleight of hand with both hands empty, more pathetic than hilarious; it would be heroic were it not delusional. I won't even start to debunk this line of reasoning, because no one ever suggested Rohith's suicide was caused by his being poor! 
6. The grand finale: the victim-blaming. In all your wisdom, you pronounce that only "extraordinary atrocity or tragedy" can drive an otherwise non-suicidal person to suicide. You have some examples of what constitutes such "extraordinary" events (what a delightfully vague term, this "extraordinary"). By implication, if Rohith faced no such exceptional strain (which seems, at least to you, an open question), then his choice of suicide must be at least partly attributable to an underlying mental illness. By way of response: I worked with a crisis intervention helpline, and by far the largest number of calls we received were from teenagers and adolescents stressing over examination results. Shall we blame the youth for being fickle? Blame society for making exams an "extraordinary atrocity"? Or recognise that the subjective element in threat perception makes external judgments of stressor severity meaningless?

Look, I know I'm expecting too much. What I've presented here are examples of nuanced arguments, and nuance is a virtue you have scrupulously avoided in even your most immodest and unguarded moments. I'll settle, instead, for pointing out that mental illness as a tool for dismissing genuine social and political concerns just doesn't work the way you seem to think it does. Anyone who examines how Rohith was treated at the University of Hyderabad will see the injustice of the University's actions, irrespective of what we think of his mental health. (Meanwhile, your insinuations annoy the heck out of anyone who knows the first thing about mental health itself.) 
In short, to the question you raise - what if Rohith's suicide was driven by depression - the only possible answer is: so what if it was? Perhaps there was indeed a sickness in Rohith's mind, and if so, perhaps it did contribute to his decision to take his own life. To acknowledge this possibility is not to diminish him, his act, or its significance - because this sickness did not spring up, fully formed, and devoid of context. It was a sickness of our politics - of campus politics in particular - that came to afflict him to such fatal effect. As to caste, given its centrality to both oppression and politics in India, there is little doubt of the role it played in Rohith's specific experience: while neither sickness nor suicide were pre-ordained, that particular fatal accident of birth would remain salient throughout his life.
If logic cannot persuade you to nuance, might grammar succeed? As a writer, it cannot have escaped your notice that "depress" is an active verb, suggesting an actor - a subject - by whose actions the subject is "depressed". Before writing this latest travesty, perhaps you could have considered the etymology of the Sanskrit word Dalit, and how it relates to the Latin roots of "depress" (push down), "repress" (push back), "oppress" (push against - and, in literature, smother)?
To argue that someone is depressed is not to rule out the possibility that this condition was the result of unjust force.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Narrative Hijack in 3...2...1...

Hopefully, narrative hijack fix in 1-2-3-4-5.

I made a sincere promise to myself, and have largely managed to keep it. This was, of course, to *never* read the comments thread on anything on the internet. Unfortunately, when it comes to the latest controversy - Rosetta mission scientist Matt Taylor's ill-advised choice of shirt - the comment feed comes via friends, and unfolds across my own social media.

My first thought was that it was overblown. My second was - this is familiar. Everyone and their parakeet is going to be out squawking about how this illustrates their pet cause. And, sure enough, the grand melee to frame the incident (and the debate around it) in whatever terms best support one's argument is heartily underway. Much jousting, splintering of lances, dust kicked up; original issue all but obscured. 

Sanity (whatever I still possess of it) now demands some disambiguation of the issues (to say nothing of the non-issues) involved. Here's my tilt at it:

1.  Matt Taylor can wear anything he likes. 
Yes, he can. This is, indeed, the point of freedom of expression. But that doesn't protect him from being judged for what he wears. He could have worn unremarkable clothes, whatever you think is typical for this occasion. He could have shown up in a towel, making jokes about Archimedes, or a bathrobe, making jokes about Arthur Dent (which would have been awesome), or in a Star Trek costume (which would be confirming a whole 'nother bunch of stereotypes). He could also have shown up dressed as Che, or as Hitler, at least one of which would be seen as even more socially inept than what he did wear. In each case, he'd be judged. (To avoid adverse judgments at professional interactions, I propose this fairly simple thumb rule - "if Archer would do it, you probably shouldn't.")

Also, "freedom of expression" is a great argument against anyone trying to curtail that freedom, but it's a horrible argument for any specific form of exercising that freedom. You're literally saying the only merit that expression has is that it's not illegal. 
But I digress.

2. That's like saying he was "asking for it", and where have we heard that before...
It is disingenuous to compare criticism of Matt Taylor's shirt to the demand that women should not be judged for the clothes they wear.

First, that's a very stylised form of the feminist argument around clothing choices - more relevant ones involve blaming victims of harassment or abuse for their experiences, because the way they dressed was "asking for it". Unsurprisingly, the people making this distasteful comparison aren't bringing up or trying to engage with these stronger claims. (Always a giveaway, when someone deliberately steers for the weakest form of the argument.)

Second, even at the stylised level, it should be clear that the sexist nature of an act depends on its context, including characteristics of the person(s) involved. A hug is just a hello, or a gesture of affection, or romantic, or - if it's Shivaji and Afzal Khan - murderous. Context matters, and the gender of the wearer is an obvious element of context. If I (self-identified cis hetero male) wear a little black dress, I'm being funny / adventurous / ironic - as is the person that catcalls me. If a female scientist had worn a dress with the same images on Matt Taylor's shirt, again, it would probably be seen as funny / adventurous / ironic.

Third, even if he was asking for "it", what is the *it* in question? To be called out as sexist? In what universe is that morally equivalent to being harassed, assaulted, or blamed for your own violation? Saying Robin Thicke's lyrics are *rapey* is a world apart from calling Robin Thicke *rape-bait*. The entire point of the feminist claim is that there is an underlying hierarchy of power structures, which have disproportionately negative impacts on women, and that some actions reinforce those structures of discrimination. It is particularly perverse to suggest that calling someone (or some act) sexist does this.

The ironic bit is that the "feminist hypocrisy" brigade miss this underlying dynamic entirely. I'd love to live in a world where gender equality had been attained, precisely because then I could arguably wear shirts like that with no controversy. That's not the world we live in, though, and how we dress does have political consequences in this one.  

3. He's a scientist (a *real* scientist), he's above such things.
I can readily accept that Matt Taylor did not set out to do something sexist. But you don't have to be *a sexist* to be sexist (or do something sexist). I'm not going to try elaborating, because I pull that from one of my favourite pieces on the topic.

BTW, the idea that science - as a field - is not sexist is appealing, but plain wrong. In some ways, it may be *more* merit-driven and *less* sexist than, say, politics - I mean, it would be hard not to be - but iniquitous societies are fractal in nature. "As above, so below" applies; almost all relationships, institutions, and structures within such societies will reflect those patterns of power, because it is part of their cultural underpinning.

My chosen science - Psychology - has recently been shown as basing numerous findings on an absurdly skewed sample. I could reasonably make the claim that the field itself has been racist; this would not imply that everyone who conducted those classic experiments was *a racist*. Hopefully you see the difference by now?
(If you're going to say *social* "science", 1) don't. 2) tell me how that affects the argument?)

4. Okay, but he really is just a nice guy who made a genuine mistake. He doesn't deserve all this feminist ire. 
I tend to think the first part is true - I sympathise with Matt Taylor, and his reaction does say to me that he made a genuine mistake. I've lived that experience, and I've been in tears each time (because realising you've been sexist when you aren't actually a sexist feels awful). It's an irretrievable screw-up, and it's entirely up to the generosity of the person you offended to accept you meant no offense. In his case, I hope this happens, but the internet is not exactly known for generosity. (*Never* read the comments.)

I tend to think the second part is true, too, but that has less to do with Matt Taylor himself, and more about what the reaction says about the feminist movement. Again, not going to elaborate, because it's so eloquently argued by Julie Bindel, in the best piece I've read on this issue yet.

Which brings us to...

5. One guy in one shirt is not going to impact the number of women entering STEM fields.
Agreed. He's not. Anyone who believes that argument applies literally is referring to some pretty remote, hypothetical, pocket case.

On the other hand, there are inequalities in employment in STEM fields, and even the most sympathetic pieces have to admit they are driven by institutional factors. Unless there is scientific evidence to back up the claim that the relevant traits and aptitudes are unequally distributed by gender - I'm yet to see it - this means a gender gap in such employment exists. (Even if the traits are / were differentially distributed, an equitable employment mix would have to match the ratio of their distribution; this is still a hypothetical, BTW, because we aren't sure if we have unbiased instruments to measure that distribution in the first place. More psychology having been racist/sexist.)

Counting is a political act. The enumeration of statistics is a political act. Where the numbers themselves are credible, they illuminate the effect of underlying incentives, policies, structures, institutions, cultures - precisely the stuff feminism studies, and (in this case) they show precisely the pattern it protests and wants to change! 

So, Will one guy wearing a gimmick shirt change those numbers, one way or the other? Pretty unlikely. But, did he just provide a very visible illustration of the culture that creates those numbers? Yes, spectacularly so. He doesn't have to subscribe to that culture. He may, in his daily life and work, actually be fighting against it. He still got on a stage wearing something emblematic of it. It's not implausible that somebody looked at that emblem, and decided any place with so obviously male (or childish) a culture was not for them. Matt Taylor won't be the reason that person didn't enter the STEM field - that's still down to the culture, not him - but he certainly made himself its instrument, and (unfortunately for him) its lightning rod.

Bonus: the red herring - A female friend made/got that shirt for him.
This has nothing to do with anything. Also, @#^#*&#! you, imbecile.

- x -

Until the next windmill, then.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

SGS14 Day 2: Speak Up!

आखिर हम इस हद तक पहुँच ही गए: हमारी मुख्य चुनौती | Edward Norton ने इसे ज़ुबानी दी - हम क्या कर सकते हैं, और क्या हम उसके लिए कारणत्व और जिम्मेदारी स्वीकार करने के लिए तैयार हैं ? हमारे कार्य इस स्थिति का भाग कैसे है - समस्या का, उसके हल का, दोनों का ? और हम इन कार्यों का सन्देश दुनिया तक कैसे ले चलें?

हम करवाई करना चाहते हैं, हम औरों से भी करवाई करवाना चाहते हैं, और हम सबको करवाई करने के लिए प्रेरित करना चाहते हैं | यह करवाई सार्थक और समन्वित होनी चाहिए, और प्रभावकारी होनी चाहिए | हम समझते हैं की इस काम में सामाजिक, सांस्कृतिक, आर्थिक एंड राजनैतिक बाधाएं हैं |हम इसमें शामिल नैतिक सवाल समझते हैं ; फिर भी, हम बदलाव लाना चाहते हैं |

Michael Franti ने इस जवाब का एक अंश हमें बताया |हमें अपने जूनून, अपनी काबलियत, और अपने पेशे को एक ही दिशा में गठबन्धित करना है: सेवा | सेवा के माध्यम से हमें प्रतिपूर्ति करनी है |स्कूल में Skype से हमे इस जवाब का बाकी हिस्सा मिला - सहानुभूति, हमदर्दी, संवेदना | Empathy!

जी हाँ, हमारे सामने कैन रुकावटें हैं | यह वास्तविक रुकावटें हैं, और यह गंभीर है | हमे हमेशा अपनी दुर्बलता का सामना करना होगा | आख़िरकार इस दुर्बलता से निराश होकर चुपचाप रहना आसान है |

कभी भी, किसी भी हालत में यह गलती मत करना !

हम सभी के पास आवाज़ है | यह, अपने आप ही, हमारी ताकत है |और हम एक दुसरे के आवाज़ को बढ़ा सकते हैं | आप कभी जान नहीं पाओगे की आपका आवाज़ कौन सुन रहा है, और आप किस की ज़िन्दगी, किस की दुनिया बदल देंगे |

ज़ोर से बोलो !


We've come down to it: the key challenge. Edward Norton called it - what do we do, and are we ready to accept causality? Will we take responsibility? Are our actions contributing to this - this problem, or this solution, or both? And how do we convey that message to the world?

We want to act, we want people to act, we want to inspire people to act. And we want to inspire meaningful, coordinated action with a clear impact. We understand the social, cultural, economic and political barriers to that impact. We understand the ethical dimensions of our own actions and choices. And we want - despite all that - to make change.

Michael Franti gave us a part of the answer: we have passions, we have skills, we have vocations - where we use our skills to earn a living - and we must have "seva": use our skills and abilities to serve, to give back. (Shout-out to Michael for philosophically perfect use of seva, in the yogic sense!)
The Skype in the Classroom session gave us the rest: empathy. Teach empathy, learn empathy, practice empathy.

So yes, we are faced with obstacles. They are real, and they are serious. We are confronted, always, with our own lack of power. And it is easy, ultimately, to let those obstacles and that lack of power silence us.


Each of us has a voice. This is, itself, power. Applied, it can surely bring change. More, we can amplify each others voices. And you never know who's listening, whose life you can change. Speak up. (Try telling people about UNICEF Rapid Pro -

#2030NOW needs you.
#2030Now #SocialGoodSummit 

SGS14 MasterClass, Day 2: Engagement & Amplification

आप अपने प्रमुख दर्शकों का ध्यान और संलग्नता कैसे अपनी मुट्ठी में ल सकते हैं ? आप लोगों को कार्रवाई करने के लिए प्रेरित करते हैं? आज के MasterClass अधिवेशन से कुछ युक्तियाँ : -

  • Internet का इस्तेमाल करें ! Internet का इस्तेमाल करें ! Internet का इस्तेमाल करें ! के बल पर लोग सिर्फ जानकारी के उपभोगता ही नहीं, बल्कि उसके निर्माता भी बनते हैं | निर्माण से स्वामित्व पैदा होता है ; स्वामित्व करवाई का जमानत है |
  • सिर्फ समाचार ही नहीं, करवाई के लिए ऐलान भी शामिल रखें. RYOT News' Bryn Mooser हमे बताते हैं कि लोग खबरों से प्रेरित नहीं होते, बल्कि उन खबरों के जवाब में वे क्या करवाई कर सकते हैं इस सम्भावना से |
  • उपयुक्त निवेशक खोज लें |यह गलत कल्पना है कि सारे निवेशक एक समान हैं - आप के लिए काम करने वाले किसी को ढूंढे |
  • उत्कृष्ट पदार्थ बनाये | आप को सिर्फ एक बार उसे बेचना नहीं है, बल्कि उसके गुणवत्ता के डैम पर लोग उसे बार-बार खरीदते जाये |
  • "Catalytic Innovations" में निवेश करें | ये ऐसे निवेश हैं जो औरों को भी नवाचार करने के काबिल बनाते हैं |
  • बहुभाषी बने | इन सवालों में वैश्विक दिलचस्पी है - अपने आप को इस वैश्विक श्रोतागण से वंचित मत करे |

How do you get your major audience - millennials, women, investors, whoever - engaged with what you are doing? How do you move people to action?
The MasterClass today had a number of suggestions. 
  • Use the internet. Use the internet. Use the internet. The internet makes people not only consumers, but producers of content and information. Producers have ownership, and ownership assures involvement.
  • Embed a call for action. This is what RYOT NEWS is doing, building off the key finding that people respond not to content but to their ability to take action related to that content.
  • Find a suitable investor (or investors) for your efforts: it's a myth that all investors think alike, so find those that click with you.
  • Make quality content. Innovative and engaging content. The internet will do the rest, and there will be a response. (Check out Fabian Cousteau's Mission 31!)
  • The same is true of design: make good products. Yoobi's Ido Leffler says the goal is not to sell once on altruism or guilt, but to get loyal customers because they like your products.
  • Look for "catalytic innovations" - investments that can build the capacity and platforms for unleashing entrepreneurship.
  • * Get multilingual. These interests are global. Don't block yourself off from a larger audience.

YPFP and we Global Language fellows are on top of the last one, at least!

Monday, September 22, 2014

SGS 14 Day 1: The Summit!

Missed out on day 1 of the summit? No worries, you can catch all of it here -

TL; DR? Well, come back and watch when you can. Until then, some themes - in Hindi and English!

आज के प्रमुख विषयों की संक्षिप्त प्रदर्शनी -

* ज्ञान शक्ति है | जानकारी शक्ति है |
* ज्ञान के साथ-साथ, आप किन व्यक्तियों और नेताओं तक पहुँच सकते हो, यह भी मायने रखता है |
* Digital technology & innovation से ज्ञान और पहुँच दोनों पैदा या प्राप्त हो सकते हैं - इसीलिए ये सचमुच शक्तिशाली उपकरण है !
* लेकिन ये शक्ति अभी भी अकेले व्यक्ति के स्तर पर सीमित है | उसकी सच्ची ताकत सिर्फ उस वक्त ज़ाहिर होगी जब इस प्रौद्योगिकी से दुनिया भर के बदलाव-करक के बीच संयोजन जुड़ जाए |
* फिर हम आखरी कदम तक पहुँच जायेंगे - निर्णय और निर्णय निर्माताओं पर वास्तविक प्रभावों में उन आदानों का अनुवाद ! क्या आपके नेता आपके अनुदान सुन रहे हैं? उनका ध्यान कैसे मिलाया जा सकता है ? इसके लिए ज़रूरी रणनीतियां समझ लो, और उन पर अमल करो !


* Knowledge is power
* Access matters
* Digital technology & many, many innovations can deliver both access and knowledge. That's exactly why they're powerful - but that's still at the individual level...
* The real power is unleashed when these tools can enable connections and real-time collaborations between aspiring change-makers and networks of change agents across the world.
* The final step is translating those inputs into actual influences on decision making. Are global leaders listening? And what will it take to make them listen? Find out, and get it done!


Unsurprisingly, much of the focus was on education, and specifically on educating communities by educating women and girls. It is, as one speaker said, *the surest way we know to eradicate poverty*.

On that note, let me sign out with a piece from my former boss, a man who's championed the cause of educating girls in India for many, many years: Imagine, he says, [a world of schoolgirls]( You'll probably love it. 

SGS 14 MasterClass, Day 1: Missions, Innovation, Connections

मैं इस कहानी की शुरुआत इस सुबह के आखरी वक्ता से करूँगा: Ben Keesey of [Invisible Children]( उन्होंने हमें बताया कि सबसे पहले, हम जो बदलाव लाना चाहते हैं, उसपर हम खुद विश्वास रखें | जो व्यक्ति और संगठन दुनिया बदल देते हैं, वे उस बदलाव को लाना सिर्फ एक फ़र्ज़ समझते नहीं हैं, बल्कि उस फ़र्ज़ को ही अपनी पूरी ज़िन्दगी बनाते हैं | Ben ने हमें बताया की आज की दुनिया में कोई चार में से तीन लोग मूल रूप से फारिग  या लापरवाह हैं ; अगर हमें उन्हें प्रवृत्त और प्रोत्साहित करना है, तो हम किसी भी हालत में खुद ऊबे हुए नहीं हो सकते |विश्वास और रचनात्मकता से ही यह काम लिया जा सकता है !

इस तरह मजेदार तथा कृत्यवान योजनाएं बनाना ज़रूरी है, क्योंकि - जैसे कई व्यक्ताओं ने कहा था - बदलाव प्राप्त करने में सम्बन्ध एंड संजाल अनिवार्य है | सभी समझते हैं की किसी भी तरह के बदलाव - PPPs, advocacy, community empowerment, microcredit, building constituencies for change - को स्थायी बनाने के लिए हमारे विख्यात प्रयास एकजुट होकर परिवर्धित होने ही होंगे |

मैंने इसे अनिवार्य क्यों कहा ? इसलिए, क्योंकि हम "नवाचार" (innovation) से जो समझते है, उसी का स्वभाव मूल रूप से बदल गया है | यह सिर्फ प्रौद्योगिकी विकास या अविष्कार की बात नहीं रही, बल्कि समाज-सुधर की बात बन गयी है | नवाचार उस वक्त ही सफल कहलाएगा जब उसमे कुछ "नया" नहीं रहा है, वह किसी रूप में अपेक्षा-भंग नहीं करता, क्योंकि लोगों की आदतें, अपेक्षाएं और रवैय्या ही बदल चुके हैं |

आसानी से दिखाई देता है की इस प्रयास में सहभाग और धीरज की ज़रुरत क्यों होगी ! (प्रतिबद्धता भी |) अब चलो, हम summit में ही चलें, और ऐसे लोगों से मुलाक़ात लें जिनमे इन गुणों की कोई कमी नहीं...


Let me start this post where the MasterClass ended: Ben Keesey of [Invisible Children]( telling us, above all else, to believe in the change we want to make. The people and organisations that change the world, says Ben, don't just have a mission - they're *on* a mission.

Ben talked about a world where 3 of 4 people are fundamentally disengaged; if the goal is to get them engaged, to harness their energies to direct change, then being boring will get us nowhere. Conviction and creativity, in short, was his formula.

Ben's challenge - to combine fun and function - came after a number of speakers had explored the importance of connections and networks to achieving this change. Whether it was PPPs, advocacy, community empowerment, microcredit or building constituencies for change, the shared conclusion was that individual efforts have to be amplified by linkages and connections to have sustainable effect.

That comes, largely, from the new understanding of what an innovation is: not a technical adaptation - although it might involve or rely on a technological development to come into being - but rather a form of social change. The successful adoption of an innovation is its mainstreaming or normalising - it isn't disruptive anymore, but rather the accepted way of doing things. Attitudes, norms and habits have shifted.

Easy to see why molding this will need a network. And patience. And commitment.

Now on to the Summit itself, to hear from people who have all those qualities in abundance!

#2030NOW #ypfp #sgs14