BRAIN FOOD: Speaking out - Manuel Castells, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, and internet expert

BRAIN FOOD: Speaking out - Manuel Castells, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, and internet expert - Professor Castells is a popular chap. His address at the LSE earned him spontaneous applause from the packed house of mainly LSE

by KHALID AZIZ, chairman of spoken communications specialist theAziz Corporation - www.azizcorp.com
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Professor Castells is a popular chap. His address at the LSE earned him spontaneous applause from the packed house of mainly LSE freshers. And why not? Is this not the guru of the phenomenon that has shaped their young lives? Had he not just published the seminal work (until the next one) on the web, The Internet Galaxy? This was the book's official launch and the LSE had hit on the promising formula of inviting other academics and internet experts to discuss it.

We listened hard to some of the key phrases lifted from his book, but not because of his strong Spanish accent. Sentences like 'The internet is multi-modal, linking, although not necessarily linking, in an electronic hypertext' do not travel well to the spoken arena. In fact, they sound plain ridiculous, even if you have half an idea what they really mean.

Still, I saw this gem being earnestly scribbled down by several in the audience and it will no doubt be rehashed in many a future thesis.

And so it went on. Impenetrable stuff - a triumph of academic discourse.

Yet sales of the book will no doubt be boosted, if only by those trying to find out what Castells was banging on about.

Key moment: The internet is just another medium - 'It can enhance our human values such as freedom but can also accelerate the dark side of the human experience,' said Castells.

Key lesson: If you are mounting prestigious events with eminent - if not lucid - speakers, do not have duff equipment. I seem to remember making the same point about a talk at the LSE a year ago.

Silver tongue or foot in mouth? (Foot in mouth)

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