Someone told me (offline) that my reaction to Live8 yesterday was unduly critical. Isn’t it better for people to be charged up and optimistic about a big challenge, such as poverty, rather than overwhelmed and demotivated? It’s a tricky call. I still agree with George Monbiot that Live8 will have done more harm than good if provides a smokescreen for governmental actions on aid that are so riddled with terms and conditions that they are “are as onerous as the debts it relieves”. Gary Silverman made a similar point in Saturday’s FT: “the trouble with feel-good weekends such as Live8 is the next day’s political hangover: where do we go now?”(July 2 page W2). Is there a middle way between happy-clappy pop concerts, and cynical inaction? One answer is to educate ourselves better. The Worldchanging website, for example, does a brilliant job in publishing a stream of stories about “the tools, models and ideas for building a better future”. The site’s editors, Alex Steffen and Jamais Casco, have quickly built up a large readership by orchestrating intelligent discussions of the question: how do we create a future which is sustainable, dynamic, and prosperous? Supposing some among the Live8 masses get hungry for more knowledge, and find it in places like Worldchanging, the question then becomes: what do they (we) do with this information? The challenge for good ideas sites, like Worldchanging, is to keep the good stuff coming but without making us feel anxious that that we are not responding adequately to this flow of good ideas. This is where the need for kinds of institutions, and new kinds of politics, comes in. Of which, more anon.