Not so tiny

I discovered the tinygigantic site because they wrote some nice thing about my manifesto, “Purposive Drift: making it up as we go along”. Since then I have been visiting it regularly. tinygigantic is the brain child of Language in Common, a creativity and communication studios, and reading their stuff is like a breath of fresh air. It has that curious, hard to pin down, feeling of being authentic.
In a curious way it reminds of my experience many, many, many years ago of sitting in a cafe off Baker Street and reading my first copy of the International Times. At the time I was working in a film lab, wearing my suit and and tie, as required, and dreaming about doing something creative. Hitting the International Times was something I had never experienced before. It was like talking with my friends about the kinds of things we talked about – something no newspaper or magazine I had encountered before had done.
The International Times, or IT as it later became known, was the first of the underground press in the UK. In part a product of its times, it was also the result of a revolution in print technology that made it possible for a small group of people to produce a magazine or newspaper relatively cheaply.
After that first experience, I devoured the underground press ferociously. Some of the things I bought only had one or two issues. What I liked was the openness to new ideas. What I was more critical of was a kind of sloppiness and uncritical tolerance of anything that could be seen as part of the underground and an intolerance of anything outside it.
As Germaine Greer wrote in OZ magazine in July 1969, “The political character of the underground is still amorphous, because it is principally a clamour for freedom to move, to test alternative forms of existence to find if they were practicable, and if they were more gratifying, more creative, more positive, than mere endurance under the system”.
Germaine Greer characterised the politics of the underground as being amorphous. That word is important because the rethinking that was going on was more complex and diverse than it is now often remember. What is often forgotten is the ideas that underpinned Thatcher and Regan’s revolution were just as much a product of the Sixties as those ideas that seem to oppose them.
In a piece I wrote about three years ago I argued:
“… that much of what is happening to us now, how we got here and how things will develop over the next two or three decades can be understood in terms of three powerful “action ideas” that achieved momentum in that period of radical rethinking. I call them “action ideas” because they are ideas that people put into practice, not simply something they think about. The three “action ideas” are:
Self-Created Identity – the idea that individuals and groups can grasp the freedom to define and to create their own identity and way of life.
Market Romance – the idea that markets are the most effective way to organise human affairs, leading to widespread liberalisation, privatisation and deregulation
Digital Everything – the idea that any activity or process can be described in terms of binary numbers and simulated in a computer system.
When we look around and see what has changed from that world of shared routines to the more complex world we seem to be now creating we can usually find at least one of these action ideas at work. I am not saying that these ideas are the sole cause of what we see going on, the world is a more complex place than that, but what I am saying is that pragmatically they provide a useful tool for understanding and taking appropriate action to deal with the changing human landscape.”

Now, I seem to have wander a long way from tinygigantic, but there is, I think, a connection. The freshness and authenticity I see in their writing links back to what was positive in what we know call the Sixties, so you could say that they seem to be the children or grandchildren of the Sixties, without the crap.