Dadamac Voices

opinion pieces

Reflections on employment, a TV programme and a guru.


A TV programme in 2011 was a turning point for me. The programme followed a familiar format. There were four participants, all facing similar difficult situations. They were shown struggling on their own; a guru offered advice; they acted on it. When the credits rolled a voiceover updated us on their situations a few months later. This is an account of what happened as I watched the programme, and what I did as a result. First I'll describe the programme itself and how I responded to it. Later I'll write about the action I took, progress so far, and what may happen next. The name of the programme could influence your response to what follows, so I won't name it yet.


We were introduced to four main characters. My heart went out to them. I have struggled with similar situations at various points in my life. I could tell you those stories, but the details are not important here. What matters is that you know I am qualified to comment on this subject, and could give you ample evidence should you so wish. If you are facing redundancy, or have been struggling for some time to reposition yourself in the world of work, or you are supporting someone you love in that situation, or you are seeing relationships crumble under the relentless onslaught of failure to find work, then be assured that we could talk easily and truthfully together from areas of deep shared experience.


2011 - Dadamac and Dadamacademy - asking questions and exploring answers

I tend to ask questions. When my Dad read us bed-time stories one of my favourites was about the Elephant's Child - who:

"asked questions about everything that he saw, or heard, or felt, or smelt, or touched, and all his uncles and his aunts spanked him. And still he was full of 'satiable curtiosity!" `

Like the Elephants Child I pestered my many uncles and aunts with endless questions. As an adult the Open Univeristy increased my confidence and ability to "ask questions" and find things out. In particular the systems course that I did helped me to see the value of getting the right questions.

Soon after I got involved in the things that became Dadamac one of my friends was questioning why I put so much of my own resources into what I was doing. Like me, he had been an OU student. - and that helped him to understand my explanation.  I explained that, in a way, what I was doing was similar to what I might had done if I'd done a higher degree (not a taught one. but a research one). I had got inolved in things that enabled me to explore various questions on a deep level, and I was hooked on the intellectual challenge - naturally I was putting my time and money into it - as I would have done if I was a "normal, traditional student'

Dadamac as a learning journey

Dadamac reflects my ongoing learning journey - and it is full of wheels within wheels.. I'm  a learner learning about learning, and doing so by teaching and learning, and using the Internet for much of that learning, and learning about learning (and teaching) by using the Internet... doing things in practice, reflecting on them, reading what others have written, discussing.. asking myself questions and exploring the answers. Of course I don't have any accreditation for my knowledge, but I do have a considerable digital footprint. 

Moving on

Hi David

Time to move on. We've been playing with the idea of exploring the future together through open letters, for three months.

I haven't yet written a reply to the last open letter you posted but our paths have crossed several times since you wrote it. So this post is to tidy up our open letter experiment and bring in some conclusions from our recent meetings and conversations elsewhere.

Setting the scene

Let me set the scene for this post - probably the final post of the first stage of our journey into the future together. This was a three month experiment, which is now drawing to a close. We may choose to restart - and that would be a second experiment, growing out of the first. Or we may draw it to a complete close. Either way is fine.

I'm writing from memory (because I'll get drawn into a different level of detail if I go back and read what we wrote). If we do need to check for mismatches between my recollections and what we actually wrote we can check the archives later.

Archiving our lives

The possibility of checking the archives of our posts - and not normally allowing ourselves any exchange of ideas outside of that space - gives us access to a level of accurate recall usually denied us in other areas of life. The possibility (indeed the reality) of accurate recall is changing as we begin to find our way in this strange reality that is "the way we live our lives now".

Now - and our perceptions of it

What do I mean by "now"? I guess I mean the succession of days that I live in - days like today, December 19th 2011.

If I start to analyse today it is packed with things that used to belong "in the future". Such things arrive repeatedly - and with increasing rapidity. The future becomes the present on a daily basis. This quickly makes the recent past seem historic.

Zipping the bags

Pamela McLean and David Pinto: An Exploration of the future through a mixture of fact and fiction.

Hi David,

I can understand your impatience to be started on our journey. I'm bad at packing. I spread out everything that I might need, and struggle to decide what to leave behind. I've seen advice that you should pack half of the stuff you think you'll need and take double the money. I'm sure it's good advice - assuming you can afford to double the money, and that there will be shops…

I'm never really ready to travel. It just becomes nearly time to go - I have to zip up my bags, check that I have the essential paperwork, and hope I've got it more or less right.

Maybe we should have fixed a time to leave. Maybe you won't wait much longer, so maybe I'd better just zip up my bags and trust I've got what I really need. After all, this is a trip into the future. We aren't going to be there alone. Other people will be there too. Maybe they'll help me to get hold of anything I forgot to bring.

In the future maybe some of the constraints we face now won't be constraints any more. Already we see things that seemed fixed tumbling around us. Much that our parents and grandparents accepted and took as unchangeable is long gone.

Many of our tumbling constraints relate to the death of distance, and time-shifting, and what I think of as “fluid walls”. I mean events where “being there” merges with “being involved at a distance” or through something recorded previously - events that are streamed and recorded, where some people contribute via Skype or other video links, where "being there" can sometimes feel like being a studio audience.

Humpty Dumpty, words, gestures, and me.

Pamela McLean and David Pinto: An Exploration of the future through a mixture of fact and fiction.

in "Alice in Wonderland" -  or maybe "Through the Looking Glass" -  Alice is exasperated by Humpty Dumpty. It's all about the way he's using language. Humpty insists on using words  to mean what he chooses them to mean - never mind what they mean to other people.

I'm with Humpty Dumpty on that.

I can see his point.

It's hard enough to find words to capture enough meaning to explain things to myself. Maybe I should stop worrying if the words mean something different to other people. People have different cultural reference points. Words are rooted in individual experiences. We construct our own meaning as we live our lives  - even the simple words "parent", "school", "breakfast"  - are deeply rooted in our personal lives and times and cultures. As for using words to share ideas ...  maybe we are even crazy to try.

We don't think in words do we? We think in thoughts. And those thoughts don't come in straight lines – they come through connections. That's why it's such a struggle to express thoughts in a linear way, when inside you they are all churning and bubbling, connecting and exploding, combining, reforming, doing whatever it is that thoughts do when you're thinking them (or maybe, in fact, the thoughts are simply using order to get themselves thought) anyhow they just do whatever it is that thoughts and ideas do when they are happening.

It's hard putting things into words.

I can drive people crazy when I talk.

I keep failing to provide a linear narrative. i start sentences and don't end them. I interrupt myself. I seem incapable of choosing between what people must know, what they should know, and what they could know.  I wave my  arms around. (I wave them around when I'm on the phone as well. I can't think out loud without using my hands.)

Preparing for the journey

Hi David

I love your idea of a journey - and I confess to a twinge of envy that you seem to have already "found your voice" to start the exploration.

I hesitate to begin - and yet I long to - so with no clear voice I will quickly start to collect up what I already have relevant to this journey. I'll scatter it around us and see what might be useful to bring along.

Regarding maps and journeys

Starting our David (Pinto) - Pamela open letters

Pamela McLean and David Pinto: An Exploration of the future through a mixture of fact and fiction.

Hi David.

It was lovely to talk with you this evening. Do let's try open letters to each other for a while. How about doing it for three months? Frequency not predefined, just as often as we have something to share with each other. Hmm...  that takes up to the New Year, a perfect time to review things and decide what to do next.

You'll need to sign in at and then I can give you permission to write an "open letter" blog here.  It's a bit more hassle than simply e-mailing to Posterous, but Andy has set up various neat features that Nikki uses when she blogs here, and as we get familiar with them I think we'll be glad we chose this space.

just thinking what else I've been doing that I didn't mention to you -  but not sure where to start.  No matter. If we do the open letters then anything of importance will probably turn up again  while we're doing them.

 if you're around on Thursday you might like to check out First Thursday October 6th 2011  I've appreciated meeting the people you know, and you might enjoy meeting some of the people I know too –   and if it happens that there's only you and me there, well, we can chat in public, in real time, and maybe fast-forward  some of our ideas.

Thanks for encouraging me to get this started. Let's see what emerges.



Ramadhan (Tanzania) on Poverty and Population Increasing

Message to Pamela and Dadamac community

Thank you for your  patrotism to invite us again  

 to the meeting place for Dadamac's "First Thusday" meeting


Dear members as we are keeping on moving in  

threshold of the 21st Century , a  Century  that is  characterizing  by  competition. It is clear, therefore, that  this Century be a Century dominated by those with advanced technological capacity, high productivity, modern and efficient transport and communication infrastructure and, above all highly skilled manpower imbued with initiative. If we are to be active participants in global developments of the twenty –first we must, as a Individual, find the ways of improving and strethening ourselves in these areas"Povert and Population increasing"

Today's generation of young people is the largest in history. Over 3 billion people - nearly half of the world's population - are under the age of 25.  It is crucial that we engage the young decision makers of tomorrow in the development decisions of today.  I hope that,  the Teacher talking  Program in Kenya will keep on rolling so that to imancipate young generation from mental slavish awareness and creativity.

925 million people do not have enough to eat - more than the populations of USA, Canada and the European Union; 

(Source: FAO news release,  

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