Links And Notes From Today’s “Irish Debate”: Ireland Is In An Ideal Position To Recover From The Recession

Here are some links from today’s discussion on Irish Debate with yours truly. The topic was “Ireland Is In An Ideal Position To Recover From The Recession”. You can also watch the video recording at Irish Debate.

And here are my notes in preparation for the talk.

Thank you all very much for coming. In case I should forget at the end, I would like to take the opportunity to do my thank-yous up front.

First of all, thanks to Joe Garde for creating this space and making this conversation possible. When he called last week to see if I wanted to do it I was at first very reluctant, but then I realised that our new technological futures are about, if they are about anything at all, saying yes to new possibilities however they present themselves. So thank you for the opportunity Joe.

I am sitting in the offices of Social Bits using the 11 Mbps line that comes with this rather amazing Webworks building. Thanks to Ina O’Murchu and Mark Cahill for allowing me to use their rather impressive facilities.

Introduction. You can view my work history. I have Irish parentage and am a world citizen. I came here for personal reasons, every month or six weeks or so in 2009. Now I’m here for the summer commuting to London. Not knowing anybody and with a journalistic background, I became very curious about how things worked here. Latterly I’ve been involved as a contributor to Technology Voice. Technology Voice is about:

  • A positive view of the technological developments in the world around us.
  • A place where interested parties can contribute articles.
  • A provider of positive and useful ideas that readers in Ireland and elsewhere would find inspiring at some level.

The talk is entitled “Ireland is in the ideal position to recover from the recession very quickly and that the only thing holding things up is that Irish people can’t see it themselves”. It’s provocative, “link bait” perhaps, but actually it is what I really think. I am going to talk for about fifteen minutes and then again for about five minutes or so. Hopefully, we can have a good chat in between.

In the first part I am going to talk about the four things I believe put Ireland in the vanguard in the recovery from recession:

  • Stability
  • Education
  • Infrastructure
  • Technology


Things have been changing in the last eighteen months. There’ve been various points of failure: banks; government; police; church. The Irish have been abandoned and betrayed by the very institutions that are normally the places that we put our most trust in. It’s like Ireland has been under a year-long blitz. Every day we are being bombarded by more terrible news. But the people of Ireland are still here,

If I wanted to kill a country, I would undermine and destroy these institutions. The indicator of a failed state is the absence of these institutions. But despite this relentless fury Ireland goes on. Beaten and hobbling somewhat, but still going on. (Look at the figures regarding Ireland’s quality of life and stability index in the links above.)

What happened to Ireland would have destroyed most countries. So how did Ireland survive? Because the community of networks is stronger. Stronger than any institution. This means people can plan and look to the future. Why? Because Irish women are the strongest and most formidable group of people I have ever come across. It must not be taken for granted.


The educational density of Ireland is incomparable in Europe, again, see the links above regarding tertiary education. Ireland has nothing else to export except its brilliance. The Irish market isn’t big enough and knowledge has to be the main export. Stability and education are such great sales, but more importantly the resourcefulness I see all around me is startling compared to even the beginning of the year. Galway is the creative centre of Ireland but hardly anyone has ever really heard of it. (No more fucking Leprechauns!)

  • DERI, home of the next Web.
  • 091labs, home of innovators and developers.
  • Festivals every week it seems.
  • Flourishing arts.

All the ingredients for making San Francisco envious of Galway. Where there’s brains there is creativity. I am not saying any special programmes should be installed. I just recognizing what you have is the place to start.


There’s no need to start from scratch. Factories are already built, empty and ready to start from scratch. Housing sucks and needs to be started again properly.


Social Media is becoming distorted by advertising according to Martin Sorrell. He says that social media sites are “less commercial phenomena, they are more personal phenomena”, more similar to “writing letters to our mothers” than watching television. “Invading these [social] media with commercial messages might not be the right thing.” It is extremely important, with 1.8 billion users online, and 400 million plus of them on Facebook. Even Foursquare should be hitting 1 million checkins a day by mid-June.

But one of the most interesting bits of the phenomena is the adaptability of the medium to take advantage of every new technology that comes along. It’s hard to tell what is leading what. It’s not for me to point out opportunities in this talk, but there clearly are opportunities.

Social media is pervasive, adaptive, expanding, and Ireland is helping to lead the way. There are apparently only six properly-trained computer scientist/social media graduates in whole of Europe. By the end of the year, Ireland alone will have doubled that number. These are people with rigorous academic in-depth training. It is possible that a third of all genuine social media experts in Europe by the end of next year will be from Ireland.

Neuroscience is also relevant here. Along with this adaptability is the increasing knowledge of what we know about how our brains work. This is not incremental. We know our brains don’t learn best through the means by which we are educated. In fact, it is the worst possible way to learn anything. John Medina has produced his own set of rules for what we know really works for the brain. Sir Ken Robinson has also talked about what we know has to be done for education. See the links section again.

The opportunities for new thinking, new technologies and the combining and recombining of ideas facilitated my belief in the power of social media. Buckle up – it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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