The Play Ethic is the site of Pat Kane, author, journalist and half of the duo, “Hue + Cry”. The phrase came to him during band rehearsals and was to serve as a headline bringing together a wide range of interests of his; cultural, technological and political.
As the Nineties progressed, the idea that computers and networks were making our societies more open, institutions more transparent, and civic and creative voices more prominent, began to increasingly excite him. Guided by magazines like Wired and Mondo 2000, and academics like Manuel Castells, he began to explore the nascent Web – exulting both in the diversity of the voices on there, and the increasing possibilities for self-expression.
He was interested in the cultural contradictions of informationalism and the idea that if imagination, mental agility, empathy and passion are the crucial elements that distinguishes one product or service from another – and if the Net was the process that coordinates this – then how did that sit with top-down managements which are happiest when demarcating job roles, and counting keystrokes? The reported rates of absenteeism and disillusion among UK workers seemed to indicate the problem – that the “Protestant work ethic”, already made shaky by consumerism, was being entirely unravelled by computers and networks.
So for him, “the play ethic” came to seem like a pointer towards how these contradictions might be resolved. What would organisations be like which encouraged creativity, open-ended learning and experiment – the essence of play – as preferred characteristics for their employees or colleagues? What kinds of products, services and actions would these “players” generate?
His book “The Play Ethic” goes someway towards answering these questions and is available in our bookshop @ mutantspace.com under the section “Writings on Culture”. His website, on the otherhand, serves as a constant up date in this ongoing search for answers
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