Sunday Open Thread — December 17, 2006

What I’m Planning on Writing About Soon:

  • Reintermediation: Why hollowed-out organizations are impoverished and fragile, and how to fill them out again, in a brave new way.
  • Experience-Based Decision Making: It seems an obvious choice, until you understand why the alternatives hold sway.
  • Making Blog Comments and Forums and Wikis Work: Do we need groundrules to enable real conversations, and would anyone follow the groundrules if we did?
  • The Long Tail: Why the tail will never wag the dog (while it’s attached to the dog).
  • How to Just Begin to Let-Self-Change: And when. They say the first step is the hardest…

What I’m Thinking About:

workaroundWorkarounds: The corollary to my Rule #1 of Human Nature (we do what we must, then we do what’s easy, then we do what’s fun) is that workarounds (which often allow us to do what we must, as easily and enjoyably as possible) probably dominate both organizational and social behaviour. If we want to understand how to bring about change in organizations or society, we need to understand why workarounds work (and when they work, and when they don’t). Could we work around hirerachy? Could we work around The Edge? Could workarounds save the world?

I’m also thinking about the role of art, and artists, in social change.

And, as we head into the final week of frenzied pre-Christmas consumerism, I’m trying to remind myself that regardless of one’s religious views, the act of giving presents could be a subversive way to give birth to a trueGenerosity Economy.

What’s on your mind these days?

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4 Responses to Sunday Open Thread — December 17, 2006

  1. Lech says:

    I’m thinking about my master’s defense on Knowledge Management (this Thursday). That’s about everything I can think of after 10 years (sic) of studies *g*Apart from that, I’m thinking about decent wiki solutions that would have all of the necessary stuff included and wouldn’t cost a fortune or otherwise come with no support at all… Then… Moleskines, Christmas presents and all of those new projects that lie ahead!

  2. Jon Husband says:

    Workarounds are the only thing that might, especially as they are the only thing people will actually do and are also really the only path accessible to us .. large systemic, rationally-based change won’t happen. I think we already know this.

  3. Hi DaveI am again resonating with things on your site – while personally I am thinking about my own role in all this change and where I can be most effective I too see a critical and crucial role of the arts and artists – and the art in everyhing. A conversation with two older Doctors confirmed it for me – today’s world has gotten to a point where we are overpreferencing technique over the art – the kunst – of Medicine…it isn’t that what we have is so much wrong as seemingly out of balance…In another way of thinking, perhaps our world needs to remember the spirit as well as the letter of the word / law…I am also thinking about context and how to work with physical and mental and conversation/dialoguic spaces to create environments/containers that provide another experience…so that people can begin to think differently about things – and have difference conversations…I am realising we need more than sustainability – we need, I need at least, whole new ways of thinking…And I am also clear that I am thinking I don’t want to do this alone – that there is a new type of collective emergingAnd somewhere in it all, the is a HUGE role for storytelling…and remembering things we know – ancient practices that nourish us!I am also thinking about America and the lessons that I have learned here…and how to share them!Happy holidays to you!Natalie

  4. Musclemouth says:

    I entered “how to save the world” into Google and your blog came up first. I skimmed a few entries. I enjoyed the thoughtful tone and somewhat freewritten structure. Then I came across a question: “What’s on YOUR mind thse days?” Now what blogger would ask such an open-ended question? Perhaps someone who is similiar to myself. Just one individual and another individual, wondering things, and apparently caring about the state of the world.Now I have frequently been one to “take action” in the form of protests, hip hop music lyricism, conversations, and so on. But for the past few months, I have been just “communing” with the Internet and the information that can be found therein. I have found myself in a somewhat Hamlet-like state in which I am balanced upon the knife edge between thought and action. I have been trying to think of a title for my CD, whenever that will be released. I have been trying to encapsulate the state of the world in a single statement. And I have been agonizing over the darkness of the human heart, the futility of action, and other mordbid intellectual pursuits of the existentially tormented philosopher. I have been exploring knowledge of all sorts, feeling intuitively that all knowledge is interrelated. For example, a dog’s olfactory apparatus is just as worthwhile a topic of intellectual pursuit as, say, the study of communism, or of Republicanism, or of the beauty of kites.I have felt disconnected, in a painful way, from “nature”, which I can only approximately define as “that which is green, dirt-laden, and otherwise non-human-made.” I have discovered that my emotional connection with “nature” takes merely the form of a sense of alienation. When I postulate that one key to saving the world is to cultivate a heart-sense of connection with “nature”, I find myself lost for reference points. Perhaps the answer lies in going camping, “communing” with “nature”, owning a pet, taking a sailing trip upon the wide-open ocean, and so on. I think one must experience “nature” first-hand in order to engender the necessary animus and motive for taking steps to harmonize my actions, and those of humanity, with those of “nature”. Intellectual pursuit can only take one so far.I find myself concerned with the fallibility and barrenness of language (more specifically English) to communicate and “grok” organic, continuous, analogous concepts and experiences-made-flesh. This is why I’m a poet. I am holding out for those special exceptions in which language can unlock certain “programs” within human psyches for the betterment of, not just mankind, but Earthkind. For it is crucial to our selfish survival that we bcome unselfish.I find myself disgusted with people. I am discouraged with the androidal tendencies of a population whose individual components are forced, by greater and greater degrees, to comply and bend to fit the needs of the hive mind and the Borg-like social program. The larger our population gets, the more “unified” (read: “homogenous”) its individuals must become. Those who cannot find it within their bones to assimilate are gradually sloughed off. I find myself dying inside. The harshness brought on by concrete and steel – the callousness engendered by a near-universal feeling of “Fuck it!-ness” – seems to have sent the better part of our population to the foundry, in which souls are melted down, pounded into shapes, and placed into positions that more-or-less serve the Mass Society. We are pack animals-cum-herd animals-cum-mass animals. Our intellects are far more developed than our instincts, far more adapted to our conditions; this breeds a major emergency situation analagous to a gun in the hands of a five-year-old. In other words, only bad things can come from this.I could talk about the woulds, the coulds, and the shoulds of the direction humanity should be taking, and how to go about it. I won’t, for what is, is, just as the weather is what it is. Yet, just yesterday I recently discovered a wonderful way to look at the world. It’s called “systems theory”. Its social aspect usually takes the form of something called “sociocybernetics”. This has little to do with robots, per se. According to Wikipedia:”Systems theory has also been developed within sociology. The most widely cited scholar in this area is Niklas Luhmann (see Luhmann 1994). However, some others, such as the members of Research Committee 51 of the International Sociological Association (which focuses on sociocybernetics), have sought to identify the sociocybernetic feedback loops which, it is argued, primarily control the operation of society. On the basis of research largely conducted in the area of education, Raven (1995) has, for example, argued that it is these sociocybernetic processes which consistently undermine well intentioned public action and are currently heading our species, at an exponentailly increasing rate, toward extinction. See sustainability. He suggests that an understanding of these systems processes will allow us to generate the kind of (non “common-sense”) targeted interventions that are required for things to be otherwise – ie to halt the destruction of the planet.”Now this is very exiting to me. An academic pursuit in which the chief goal is saving the world?! No way! That exists?! Thank God! I am not so alone in my feelings after all.So, you asked what was on our minds. This is my response. I want to know what to do. I am 26 years old, a long-time thinker, and very experienced at life. I have traveled to far-away places, I have traveled inwards towards my heart thousands of times, and I have gone spelunking in the minds of others by way of conversation and shared experience. Yet I am still just as lost as I’ll ever be. Part of me actually would rather not have it any other way. For it is this feeling of discouragement which, although at times paralyzing, actually fuels my individuality in the long run.I would encourage anybody who has a passing interest in saving the world to check out systems theory, and explore a few of its countless rabbit holes. At the very least, you won’t feel so alone.

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