Sunday Open Thread — October 7, 2007

boracay Second Life
Me in Second Life. (Everyone here is beautiful)

What I’m Thinking of Writing (and Podcasting) About Soon:

Coping With the Strategy Paradox: I met recently with Michael Raynor, who wrote The Strategy Paradox. He’s now looking at what else we can do to deal with this paradox, and he poked some holes in my argument that what we need is resilience, not planning.

Does Our Formal Education System Preclude Natural Enterprise and Natural Community?: There is some strong evidence that the education system destroys our creativity, and our natural propensity and ability to collaborate, self-organize and self-manage. Can we hope to have Natural Enterprise and Natural (Intentional) Community unless we first re-form, or blow up, the education system? Is the kibbutz a better environment for learning, or does it merely invoke and reinforce social tyranny, conventional wisdom, short-term, uncreative thinking and industrial-economy action without allowing time for research, imagination and reflection?

What Do We Do With Old Social Network Content?: When MySpace was succeeded by FaceBook, what happened to all the old MySpace stuff? Perhaps old blog posts are like old newspapers, of no use to anyone except historians. If our posts are essentially ‘forgotten’ once they slide off the home page into the archives, perhaps we should just delete them and, if they become important again, resurrect and update them. This ‘loss’ of thousands of terabytes of ‘information’ into forgotten archives may be just a reflection of its conversational, transient nature, rather than a catastrophe of unprecedented loss of collective memory.

A Coming Class/Generational War?: Exploding economic disparity, and the widening wealth and opportunity gap between the old and the young, may be sowing the seeds for a class war between the old & wealthy, and the young & poor, that could transcend geographic borders.

Second Life as a Platform for Videoconferencing and Distance Learning: I’m part of an upcoming forum on the future of education — the forum is being held in the virtual reality environment Second Life. After just an hour there, I can already appreciate why it has such enthusiasts, and how it might revolutionize videoconferencing and distance learning.

Why We Handle Risks So Badly: In our failure to prepare for and mitigate risk, as decision-makers, citizens and investors, we play out our essential human nature.

Why We Need a Public Persona: The journey to know yourself is the first step towards understanding how the world works and becoming truly yourself, which is necessary before you can make the world a little better. As de Mello said, this journey is mostly about getting rid of the everybody-else stuff that has become attached to us as part of our social conditioning, and getting rid of this stuff is perhaps what ee cummings meant when he said the hardest thing is to be nobody-but-yourself when the world is relentlessly trying to make you everybody-else. From birth, we pick up all this everybody-else stuff that clings to us and changes us, muddies us. We are rewarded by society for doing so. I find the ‘figments of reality’ thesis helpful in this hard work — realizing that our minds are nothing more than problem-detection systems evolved by the organs of our bodies for their purposes, not ‘ours’. That ‘we’ are, each ‘one’ of us, a collective, a complicity. What makes it so hard is that becoming nobody-but-yourself opens you up to accusations of being anti-social, weird, self-preoccupied, arrogant etc. So we end up, I think, having to adopt a public persona that is, to some extent, not genuine, not ‘us’ at all. That’s hard. How can we make this public persona as thin and transparent as possible?

Why are Gas Prices So Low?: Delayed until I have some clue as to what the answer might be. This has got me stumped.

Vignette #6

Blog-Hosted Conversation #2: This week I’ll be publishing my narrated, edited interview of Jon Husband, which I recorded earlier this week, on hierarchy, community and education, and recording a third interview.

Possible Open Thread Question:

What would happen if we just abolished the education system, and in its place allowed communities to create their own sets of learning objectives, programs and assignments, which would be done hands-on, collaboratively with others of the student’s choice, mostly involving research and practice out in the community, and completion of which (at the student’s own pace, their own way, self-managed) would entitle themto claim certain credentials, apprenticeship-style?

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6 Responses to Sunday Open Thread — October 7, 2007

  1. Dale Asberry says:

    As for gas prices, follow who stands to benefit, or more likely, who has the most to lose if gas prices spiked to where they belong. Think about those with interests in both the oil industry and the financial markets. Not really a conspiracy, more like directed self-interest.

  2. Vish Goda says:

    Dave,There will always be objections for every system or model – no matter how well thought they may be. I believe that our current education system has evolved to its current state over a long period of time. What is wrong with it is not what the system is delivering – but what our expectations are from it. More and more people are expecting the system to take care of their problems. There is an attitude of handing over the control to any entity that proclaims expertise and is willing to take the lead. No matter what system we are talking about – political, social, education or market – constant community and personal involvement is neccessary to keep it going and steering it right. We dont need to abolish any system or reinvent new system – if only we had every participant of the current systems actively demanding what is best for them and fine tuning and configuring their own little sub-systems work for their individual requirements.Trouble is that many do not even want to know what their individual requirements are. They do not mind others defining it for them. Another problem is that it is very difficult and impractical to expect each and every member of the community to remain engaged 100% of the time. Activism is a pipeline that is constantly changing its contents – ever replacing old members with new ones – each with a different cause.The solution is in leveraging technology to get these communities to collaborate better and allowing active members to champion their individual causes and enabling other members to easily participate by inputting their feedback and requirements. Such a collaboration will help evolve and mature each and every sub-system – tailoring them individually for different communities. What I mean by this is that there will always be a few communities still subscribing to the current way of life and education and we have to provide a place for those as well. Abolishing one or the other will only alienate different groups. Vish Goda

  3. Vish Goda says:

    Sorry, I wanted to conclude my previous response by pointing out that the only solution that will work – is one in which – global collaboration and participation becomes a way of life – it should be simple, easy, intuitive and rewarding with tangible outcomes.

  4. lugon says:

    Abolishing the current education system is a nice thought experiment today, and would happen all by itself in specific future scenarios.Allowing communities to create replacements? Where are those communities? In a globalised world, the feeling of belonging to wherever one happens to live is, erm, not specially intense in quite a few places.I love thought experiments, but I honestly feel frustrated at this one. Ah, well! :-)Maybe we could have 1 year of that for each person? Three months? A learn-locally month?

  5. Dave Pollard says:

    Lugon:Thanks for saying what I was afraid to say. My argument is that education system reform is needed for us to unlearn all the dangerous lies and manipulations society has indoctrinated us with, in order to create intentional (natural) communities and natural enterprises. But if that education reform *requires* functional natural communities to occur (and I think it does) then we’re into a catch-22, a vicious cycle. It’s another complex system phenomenon. So to make the vicious cycle into a virtuous one we need to *simultaneously* create natural communities, natural enterprises, and natural education. Iteratively, a bit at a time, each creation making the creation of the others easier.

  6. lugon says:

    (I replied by email but it was a confused, confusing reply. Sorry about that, Dave!)Re “education system reform” … do we have any power to change such a beast? I think not. I believe we can only have an influence in much smaller places. Cooperative thinking might get us to realise just what those smaller places are, so that we can be more effective. So where does learning and relearning take place? Who is more “tuned in” and able to relearn? How do we facilitate that?Or maybe it is that we don’t want an “education system reform” at all? Could we imagine the vision in great detail and then work backwards? Maybe some elements of that vision exist already, and others are within easy reach?It’s interesting to look at flu and natural communities. Mathematical models suggest a flu pandemic would spread like wildfire in today’s world. Simply stated, transmission depends on number of respiratory contacts, and we have more today than we did in previous times. Everytime I hop on the bus, I get into respiratory contact with many people that are not in my natural community at all? Yet my natural community is smaller, because the rest of my family is far away from me for most of the day. It’s a kind of micro-globalisation: we move several miles away from “our people” to work, shop and “education”. A flu pandemic would require us to live, abruptly, in smaller and more stable groups: not 20-30 students in a classroom, mixing with many other such groups in buses and at meals … but 3-6 children in a few rooms, in stable groups.Can we make that posible in the short run, and desirable in the longer run? Create or, less energy consuming, find a model that works, and make it easy to replicate?

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