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Coordinator: Grant Crozier

The idea was simple: we had spent so many great evenings together talking to each other (and also to complete strangers) about subjects we were passionate about, and had learnt so much from each other (and from the strangers), that Al figured surely there could be a way of creating an environment in which anyone, no matter who they were or their background, could get together in an informal setting and share their passion and knowledge. Read more

Is Economics a Dismal Science?

A famous quote is that of Thomas Carlyle stating economics as the dismal science. Thomas Carlyle complained that society had become mechanical and lost much of its humanity because of the abstraction of ‘real things’ into monetary terms.

In fact, there appears much gloom around the fabled world of money and exchange, and as someone who is outside of this field of study I wrestle with just what it all means and what is the practical nature of economics (also known as political economy).

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Vivian Aristotle Smiles

An article in the Guardian newspaper (Friday 14 January 2011) was brought to my attention the other day. Hermione Hoby wrote about the amazing Vivian Maier.

This is a fine case of where someone was truly engaged with what they did and got good at it because they were passionate. For the love of photography and the fascination of the world around her Vivian Maier became a great photographer producing thousands of images which further inspire and move other people. The Chicago nanny died in 2009 leaving behind the chance discovery of 100,000 negatives that no one had seen. Her work is being hailed as some of the best in 20th-century street photography.
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It's Who You Know

An interesting book is Social Capital; Key Ideas by John Field (ISBN-10: 0415433037), Director of the Division of Academic Innovation and Continuing Education at the University of Stirling. Social Capital is a term which has been popularised by the American political scientist Robert D. Putnam, who defined it as:

features of social organisation, such as trust, norms and networks, that can improve the efficiency of society by facilitating coordinated actions

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What is it all about Brian?

So, what’s the Ragged University all about then ? Well, sometime back, whilst sitting in the pub in Hackney with four friends, we realised that was we shared information to socialise; swapped stories, compared facts, related things as entertainment. What is the nature of knowledge ? First hand experience is a good place to start.

What is the Ragged University all about then ? Well, sometime back, I thought that the Ragged Schools movement was immensely successful and what positives came of it.  People were valued who were not before, professions became unlocked to new talent, people invented answers to problems.  Imagine if they all had access to a printing press in each house, cheap paper, pens, multiple free librarys, the internet…
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Business and Community

We live in interesting times. When attending a conference on how businesses can become involved in their communities, I was impressed at the interest that the business community has in ‘putting something back in’.

So many questions are being asked as the economy goes through all of it’s changes and adjustments. For many it is a time when belts are tightened and prospects seem uncertain. We are being asked these questions by our circumstances and being pressed to come up with solutions. Read more

What if Aristotle had a PC

I have been thinking about the technology available today in context with the libraries available. It makes me wonder about what some of the people of the past would make of it all.

If we consider Voltaire who was a champion of the French Enlightenment, or Erasmus who wrote over seventeen million words in his lifetime, or the remarkable range of works created by the likes of Aristotle, what would they have managed with a personal computer. Everything was painstakingly done by hand, often through many drafts. Read more