Keith Kahn Harris

Metal Jew

Call for Contributions: Reflections on 2011

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[Cross posted from New Public Thinking]

We are looking for contributions to our first New Public Thinking book, a moment of reflection at the end of a year of networked disruption. More from Keith Kahn-Harris and Dougald Hine

2011 has been an extraordinary year. It was the year of Occupy, the Arab Spring, Wikileaks and the humbling of Rupert Murdoch. It was also the year of the meltdown of the Eurozone and the Fukushima reactor, both part of an eruption of risk and collapse.

More personally, both of us have experienced 2011 as a year of excitement and inspiration. We found ourselves impressed and energised by new possibilities: new ways of finding each other, coming together and making things happen, embodied in a torrent of innovative start-ups, projects, initiatives and movements. We have tried to make some contributions to this wave of creativity, through our involvement in the University Project, New Public Thinking, Unbound and much else.

So what did it all mean? What exactly has happened? We feel a strong need to mark 2011 in some way. We want to take stock and look around us at the world that is being remade, moment by moment. We also want to look at what failed to happen and what didn’t change, at the limitations of the changes we have witnessed. Was the energy and vitality that we drew on in 2011 ultimately just playing at the edges of a collapsing global system?

We are also concerned that our own efforts in 2011 to make an impact on a fast-changing situation are in danger of getting lost in the flood of work. We are aware that some of the projects we started never quite took off, as we struggled with burnout and the ever-changing reality. We want to create some kind of modest legacy to this year that may provide a starting point and a conceptual structure for what comes next.

So this is our plan: we are going to assemble a collection of our own and others’ responses to 2011. These will be short, impressionistic and provisional. The collection will be published as an e-book and possibly as a hard copy too. We will work fast and collaboratively, deliberately avoiding setting up elaborate plans that we cannot complete. We aim to complete our work by February/March.

We therefore invite you to send us your responses to 2011, taking these brief reflections as a starting point. Do you share our sense that something extraordinary happened? How do you make sense of the events that surround us, within the experience of your own life? What hopes or warnings do you have as we head into 2012?

Contributions should be up to 3000 words and should reach us by December 31st. Please send them to