A funny thing happened on the way to inclusion


My amateurish meanderings around evolutionary psychology have provoked a limited, albeit high quality, response. So, in a desperate attempt to boost my numbers over the weekend I will revert to what has been a more popular topic; terrible jokes.

On Wednesday and Thursday I chaired the National Digital Inclusion conference. This was my third time and on each occasion we have managed to make the conference have a stronger activist feel. This year, ahead of the unveiling of an action plan by the Digital Inclusion Champion, Martha Lane Fox, we asked delegates to come up with twenty promises. The grand winner, judged by among others Shadow DCMS Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Prof Tanya Byron, was a commitment by Peabody and Southern housing associations to get all their sheltered housing residents on line.

But neither this and the other nineteen ideas, nor all the speeches and workshops, will be what is remembered from the two days. Oh no! The conference was held at Vinopolis, the wine museum and venue near London Bridge. And so it was incumbent on me to litter (which given its connotations of rubbish is the right word) the proceedings with puns. In ascending order of brilliance here they are:

' I do hope this conference will see the issue of inclusion approached with real claret - e'

' It's workshop time. Let's Rioja 'nd roll'

' I want us to avoid jargon, speaking in terms that would appeal to white vin man'

' Sorry you had to queue in the cold  to get in. A woman in a sequin jacket was moaning at me. I didn't mind. I'm rather partial to a sparkling whine'

' We had hoped Lord Mandelson would join us today but he insisted if he had he would have required a special entrance for members of the House of Lords; the Peer door. It is a pity because our delegates from Paris would have enjoyed it for, as we all recall, the French adore Peer door.'

' I worry that we make too sharp a distinction between the on line and the off line. For those in areas with slow connections the feeling is of being semillon.'

I did ask the thousands of Tweeters and bloggers following the conference for their own ideas. But the only one who replied admitted his mind had gone blanc.

Maybe digital includers don't drink wine, maybe it was the way I told them, or maybe (but this is preposterous) the jokes aren't actually that funny. Anyhow, I may not have got many laughs at the conference, but I'm glad to let my readers begin their weekend with a smiling face. After all, not too have shared these comic treasures with you would have been very Chablis.

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