Quick glance at The Big conversation, as I've never really looked at it before. In particular, the Conversation starter page. I'll have to read through it properly later really, but saddening to note the instructions: "Download pdf of this chapter by clicking on image", below a square picture of Mr T Blair without any alt text. Very, very sloppy, and would never pass muster (mustard?) in any serious web agency. This is actually repeated just above, as well. There seems to be a huge rift between people that should be using the net as a communications channel, and the people that know how best to use it, at least in the public sector. None of the government sites I've seen are very good, and it makes me wonder just how serious they are about using the Internet. As always, I get the impression that there's far more emphasis on putting something on-line, and trumpeting the fact, than there is on making it something decent. I'm not really sure which is better - something or nothing, pending something good, but I'm not particularly impressed.
The other thing on that page is this sentence: "The challenge for public services is to provide universal services that are also personalised to individual need, in a consumer driven age."
Maybe I need to stop resisting the onslaught of consumerism, avoid thinking about it as something to steer around, and adjust it into my head such that it is most certainly somewhere that we are currently at, and that it makes more sense to work out how to move away from it. An acceptance in order to work out the best way to move on from it. Perhaps it's of little use to think about our society, and the changes that should be made therein, in terms of choosing between consumerism and alternatives. Perhaps it is more fruitful to decide that we have been drawn into a world of individualism and capital, and use that as a basis of deciding where to go next - keeping hold of the good parts, and discarding the bad.
A subtle change, but a useful one in terms of how we see ourselves. Kind of an "acknowledge there is a problem" attitude, rather than pretend there isn't one and end up struggling against it as a result.
Hence solutions and alternatives need to play upon capitalism - identify what works, and why it works, and build build build upon it in a way that caters to those factors. The path of least resistance.