Saturday Links for Nov.26-05


Grassroots Organization and Connection

What Do You Call an Open Space Facilitator?: Wendy Farmer-O’Neil’s Open Space blog asks an important question. In keeping with its unique, complex-environment orientation, Open Space provides a framework instead of a methodology, and its practitioners employ practices rather than tools and develop capacities rather than expertise. A key element of Open Space ‘events’ is the Invitation, so what do you call the people who ‘lead’ them and attend them, when they are self-organized? Facilitators and attendees, as Wendy points out, is a bit awkward and seems to elevate the ‘facilitators’ hierarchically. Hosts and guests is a bit pretentious — the party metaphor is a bit over the top. Wendy suggests artists and participants, but to me that, too, creates an unwarranted gap between them. How about convenors and practitioners?

Magnifying the Imagination: Imaginify has created a model, shown above, that is also inspired by complexity theory, to help grassroots creative organizations (charities, artists, Open Source practitioners etc.) connect, share knowledge and ideas, and collaborate.

Directory of  Non-Partisan Grassroots Organizations: eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s Network Partners list consists of companies trying to bring about social change, and a better world, by non-partisan, non-political means. I’ve said before that if we’re going to save the world we won’t do it by political or economic means, or by inventing new technologies, but through grassroots social, entrepreneurial and educational means. These organizations get it.

Grassroots Democracy and the Culture of Groups:  A new article in First Monday by Beth Simone Noveck argues that social technologies can at last allow the devolution of politics to the community/group level, by enabling these groups to self-coordinate to do more macro level tasks, obviating the need for much of what larger, less responsive political units (states) now do. A long and intriguing look at the culture of groups. Thanks to reader Sven Cahling for the link.


What Will Google Do Next?: My prediction was that Google would stick to its search expertise and, having mastered find-what and find-where, would next tackle find-who, and create the global directory of everyone’s interests and expertise, the connector that would help us find our next employer, partner, friend or romantic interest. Internet News suggests that, instead, Google’s going to build on the success of Google Desktop and take over personal content management, one of the four pillars of PKM, starting with the so-called Office applications.


CIA Veterans Condemn Torture: A group of former CIA officials say Cheney’s argument for the necessity of torture in intelligence-gathering is nonsense. Thanks to Dale Asberry for this link and the one that follows.

The Fate of the State: A 10-year-old article by Martin Van Creveld (notably before 9/11) suggests that the nation-state is losing power and authority, and being succeeded by new forms of political organization better suited to the needs of our times.

Science & Health

Singing Unlocks the Alzheimer Brain: BBC news reports that singing can help Alzheimer sufferers regain some of their brain function and reconnection with the world. Thanks to Dale Asberry for this link and the two that follow.

And Mice Sing Too: Research by Timothy E. Holy and Zhongsheng Guo reveals that, when you pitch-shift (lower to human-audible range without slowing them down) the mating cries of mice, you discover that they bear an astonishing similarity in structure and sophistication to bird songs. Listen for yourself.

Arginine Better than Fluoride at Reducing Calories: Treehugger reports that scientists have discovered that arginine, an amino acid found in saliva and also occurring naturally in nuts and whole grains, neutralizes the cavity-producing acids produced by plaque bacteria.

…And for those looking for some provocative Christmas reading, I’ve put my Save the World Essential Reading List up on Amazon listmania. But consider buying them through your local independent bookseller.

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2 Responses to Saturday Links for Nov.26-05

  1. Zephyr says:

    Dave – that’s a monumental graph you have of how social groups can grow and develop. I am so impressed with how you take such a broad concept which has so many intricate details to it, and you condense it into a visual image which anybody can understand after some study. That is an excellent communication technique.That graph hits the nail right on the head. There are two sections of guild of philosophical writers who each take on these two different projects – number two and number three. I’ve been seeing this in my interactions on the net. I give a lot of focus in my writings here and there, to the task of seeding ideas. I know how to analyze the social issues at an internet discussion board – and I can start setting some precedent for a different manner of social interaction there. And because I do this after much analysis – I always see that a chorus of other voices join me in supporting this new idea about the patterns of our social rituals and comings and goings at that discussion board.I like spending my time with many different parts of the internet, and I don’t like being caught in one place for any length of time – I’m that kind of person who has eclectic interests… But I always find this other type of writer who comes in and develops these ideas I propose and puts the sweat and work into it…. It’s beautiful. This is what you term “the resonant guide” stage.Then there are emerging systems and community thrivability which develop out of that. I have also seen this need for “open intellect” in the middle there. People are quite resistant to new ideas presented by people who are talking in the language of the philosopher-writer guild. There’s a natural trepidation there – when there are all these premises underlying the reasoning process which aren’t explained or dealt with – and which might be things which are not accepted commonly by society at large.

  2. Dave Pollard says:

    Zephyr: I’d love to take credit for the graphic, which I really like, but as I acknowledge in the second link writeup in this article, it’s a creation of Imaginify. I agree with your points, especially the need for openness and resonance at the intersection of different ways of thinking.

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