Monday, August 28, 2006

Well, I saw Al Gore last night. My friend and I had dinner before walking over to Charlotte Square. We got into the queue and shuffled into the hall, which was far smaller than I had anticipated. Many of the seats were "Reserved" for various big-wigs, which was unfortunate because most of those big wigs are causing the problems Al Gore was there to talk about. I got a seat way in the back but I had a great view of him and the stage so there was not much to complain about.

Once everyone was seated, they lowered the lights and Mr. Gore and a reporter from the Glasgow Herald took the stage. He introduced Mr. Gore and gave a bit about the book then handed it over to Mr. Gore, who started off warming up the crowd with some jokes. I thought this was fine and some of the jokes were funny but he still seemed a bit stiff but at the same time he has given the same speech over a thousand times and it can get a bit boring a repetitive. He identified three factors to what he calls the "climate crisis". First, the population boom. Second, the radical change in technology. Third, a complete shift of our relationship with the future in which we find the future disposable.

After this, the reporter asked him about the culture around this. He identified the huge change in the way we relate to information. He called it the "information ecology". The two major factors that I could find in this part of his speech was the "barrier for entry" and the war on the enlightenment (those are not his words). Before TV, getting your stuff printed was fairly cheap and teaching someone to read takes about two weeks. With the introduction of TV and the properties of the TV (meaning the reflex to watch it), the barrier to getting your message out was now huge. The other factor is the growing attack on the Enlightenment that TV provides. This is supposed to be his next book which will be available next year.

After this, they opened the floor for questions. Some were good; other's not so good but he really seemed to shine here. There was much less canned material and much more interaction. Any questions about his running again for president were quickly laughed over or he shook his head. He did make one bold prediction that Bush will sign the Kyoto Agreements in two years. Anyway, my friend was able to ask a question about his first book which did not go over very well. He even came back to it later on in the Q&A.

Once it was all over, my friend was able to get in the book signing line up front. While waiting in line, we ran into an American woman who is in the same school as my friend so we talked to her until we got to the head of the line. Mr. Gore remembered my friend and gave her a dedication in his book even though the attendant said that it was sign only with no dedications. I played camera man and got a couple of shots of her getting the book signed. Once the book was signed, we spent some time with the American woman before going to the big purple cow in Bristo Square since it closes today.

The whole event was pretty fun. I have never been that close to someone who held that kind of office before. The venue was very intimate and you felt like you were apart of the event. The questions were alright for the most part. We did get sidelined by a Scottish Nationalist who wanted to know if Al Gore supported independence for Scotland. He had a few comments about the dichotomy between political energy going into supra-national organizations (e.g. UN) and new smaller regional organizations (e.g. Catalonia and Scotland). The nation-state is pretty much falling apart as an organizing theme in the world. Otherwise, he endorsed Scotland's independence.

One of the things that struck me was that I had a better chance of seeing Al Gore here in Edinburgh than in the US. Also, the venue was much more intimate and talking to people was much more interesting than the US.

Update: A friend emailed me and it seemed that he misunderstood my usage of the term "energy" to mean "oil" such that "oil" should be going to the UN. That was not my intention and I have fixed the sentence in question to "political energy" which should clarify that section.

posted by Chris  #4:18 PM | 1 comments |