Welcomes and some initial logistics for our Technology Policy blog

Welcome to our Technology Policy Blog for the new academic year.   I will be teaching Introduction to Technology Policy.(and the Negotiations elective) this term as well as acting as ‘keeper of the blog’.  I am back after a sabbatical last year and ready for a new academic year of blogging.  In the past, we’ve only used the blog on the module  Although this has worked well, after discussions with Michael Pollitt and others, we would also like to use this year as a pilot to extend the blog to cover other modules and provide the opportunity to engage with other faculty within our Economics and Policy subject group.

The blog will be the main vehicle, but we will also link up via regular engagement on Twitter, which provides an opportunity, to distill or extend some of the main points you will be making at greater length in the blog and to disseminate ideas that emerge from the blog.  I’ve done a moderate amount of tweeting in a personal/professional capacity and have learned some things about how to make better use of social media (as a curated news feed, as a means of engaging with like-minded colleagues around the world and as a way of promoting current research and outreach).  Some will already have dabbled with Twitter but others will have no experience at all.  In my experience, some people love Twitter, some tolerate it and others are less convinced, but I have also found that views evolve over time, so at this stage, I only ask for a good faith effort to engage.

Whereas Twitter constrains you to short (often sharp!) points made in under 280 characters, I would like the blog posts to deliver the succinctness of Twitter (hopefully without some of the snark and sarcasm) while affording the opportunity for greater reflection.  I have not found a way to physically constrain the length of blog posts, but I would ask all contributors to aim for a maximum of 140 words in response.  This also makes it easier to digest what others have written and to respond in kind.

We will be tackling a range of topical subjects that emerge from the week’s headlines and will also be seeking to link up to the curriculum, not just on TP1, but for this term, we will also seek to draw in lessons from TP2 and the other TPE electives.   Each week we will cover a different theme (e.g., ethics, policy implementation, lessons from history, leadership, etc).  We will also link up to specific examples drawn from the ‘Eight Great Technologies‘ although if we are to keep the blog current then it will be difficult to pre-determine which topics and themes will emerge from one week to the next and so I beg your indulgence at the inevitably fluid nature of the process.   Moreover, although I will be kicking off the topic each week, the blog is a vehicle not just for my own ideas but belongs to everyone and so I would encourage suggestions on topics and themes over the course of the term.

Generally, I will try to start each week’s blog with a few thoughts and reflections on the theme and direct you to a specific case or two and then provide several questions to prompt further debate and discussion.  It is then up to you to offer your response, either directly in response to my initial or in response to comments from others.  The blog is at its best when there will be some genuine insights and a back and forth and perhaps even some (respectful) disagreement.

Some other logistics – The new blog will go live every Friday and will be open for contributions until the following Friday when it will be closed and a new topic and theme will be uploaded.  One of the goals is almost real-time engagement, so that places the onus on everyone to respond in good time.  Of course, there is a bit of slack in the system if you miss a week (for everyone except for me that is!), but I would encourage you to contribute early and often since the blog allows us to extend our discussions outside the limits of the classroom.

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