Sunday 19 August 2012

Upsetting the CART

Boating is not a mainstream hobby, pastime or lifestyle. It is in reality a minimalist interest set within the framework of the Inland Waterways. Some boaters take a myopic view that the Inland Waterways are just about them. 

The bigger picture provided by 20:20 vision is that there are for every boater hundreds of waterways users who have no interest whatsoever in boats and boating. They may be fishermen, walkers and waterways volunteers. It might be cycling or photography that attracts them. 

One way or another boaters are going to have to learn to accept that we are in a minority. Old issues about what we pay -v- what they pay. Is a no brainer. This is just a divisive tactic that detracts from the real issues we all face. The "friends" of the Inland waterways. Be they business or individuals are going to have to be convinced to put their hands in their pockets. Its a new world order - get used to it. That's not to say that we should not challenge and question CART and its motives and actions.

One such way to raise issues, fight causes and change opinion is through social networks. Social networking is a blunt instrument that can be for the good or for the bad. There is no question in my mind that social networking sites are here to stay. Powerful new technologies provide great benefits, they can also be used to sway public opinion. It's a poor business today that does not keep itself abreast of the public's opinion. Especially a charitable one that will have to reliant on the man in the street digging deep into his pocket. 

What exactly is a social network? If you look up the definition you will discover that at a basic level, it is just a group of interconnected people. But things have changed because now we now live in a world where anything we want to be known can be seen by millions in a matter of seconds.
Public pressure has been applied to the big corporations such as Rupert Murdoch's News International. Newspapers did not want to run with the story and risk of bringing the wrath upon themselves, collectively they tried to ignore the issue. Which eventually caused the closure of the News of the World and has led to people being brought before the courts. Which in turn has led to the Levinson enquiry and to the police re-opening the whole investigation. The downfall of Murdoch was done through social websites raising pressure on the government. 

But is Social networking really social and doesn't it feel to you that with all this accessibility to each another we are still quite isolated. So is social networking changing to one where it gives people the illusion of social communication when it’s really just more isolation. So instead of doing something enjoyable such as talking, eating and drinking with my friends, I am merely sending them notes and amusing photos via the Internet.

Social networking often has an underlying theme that draws people together  such as the Inland Waterways. When conducted through dedicated forums can make significant changes to the perception of many things. However, each has its own clientèle that colour or stain the theme depending on the readers or writers opinion.

There are many boating forums to choose from and each seems to garner its own under class. Some forums are "Sawdust and Spittoon" establishments where rowdy behaviour from behind a keyboard is the norm. These forums are not the place for anyone of a sensible disposition. This is the domain of the internet troll. It is a domain with little real influence beyond spitting bile and venting spleen and angst.

There are other boating forums which are rigidly policed and are the domain of the "Rowena and Rodney" types. With long discussions on the merits of various brands of brass polish. They don't want you to rock their boat or point out issues that they should be concerned about.

There are what could be considered "Specialist Boating Sites" with regular commentators. This is where the edges of social networking sites start to become blurred by the outer fringe of the media. Often these sites actually have hard facts and evidence to back up their claims.

Twitter, is social commentary for people within a limited number of characters. It is also limited in value. I often get the impression that the tweets are from people of a lonely disposition who would be better off getting a budgie and tweeting to that. 

Farcebook has changed our perceptions of friends and acquaintances. To one where the notion of worth is through the number of friendships. Not friendships in the traditional sense, but cyber friendships where acquaintances don't even exist and there is no long-term significance.


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