Links of the Week — February 21, 2009

BLOG Links of the Week — February 21, 2009

fuel efficiency from Good Magazine
Good Magazine charts fuel efficiency (gallons of fuel per passenger to travel 350 miles) under different capacity situations for different means of travel. Thanks to Craig De Ruisseau for the link.

Northern Voice ’09: I’ve been at Northern Voice this weekend — the annual self-managed conference of social networkers held in Vancouver. The theme that emerged this year was identity:

  • how we have different identities in our real-world and online communities, 
  • how they’re evolving as the web moves from a “producer selling to consumer” experience to an “everyone is producer, participant and consumer” experience, and most importantly 
  • how our greater affinity to online communities (where we pick which to belong to, based often on who else is in those communities) jeopardizes our attention and responsibility to local real-life communities (where we usually have no say in who the ‘members’ are) just at the time our collapsing economy and climate change need us to be refocusing on and rebuilding those local real-life communities. 

Had a wonderful dinner while I was there with Nancy White and Sue Wolff, and even ran an impromptu session myself on “explaining social media to people over 30” (later changed to “over 50”). I’ll put my slides from that up on slideshare soon, along with Nancy White’s graphic recording of the session. Thanks to all the organizers and attendees!

Fearless, Important Questions: Chris Corrigan riffs off Margaret Wheatley’s Eight Fearless Questions at a world cafe and adds three more. Here’s the whole set:

  1. What is the name that is big enough to hold your life? [I really like this, as Chris restates it. It’s all about self-identity, and authenticity, and declaring a role for yourself that is beyond a title, a job description, and is bold and fearless, what Chris calls “a name we tremble to live into”]
  2. What’s so bad about fear?
  3. Does the world (now) need us to be fearless?
  4. What if we can’t save the world? How can we do our work without (needing) hope that we will succeed? [I really like this one too! It’s about giving up our focus on outcomes and just doing the work, in a caring way, for and with those we love, in community]
  5. What is it like to live in the future now?
  6. Why do we imprison ourselves? Why are we so afraid?
  7. Can we work beyond hope and fear? Can we find a way to be motivated, to be energetic, to be happy; to take delight in the work that we’re doing that isn’t based on outcomes, that isn’t based on needing to see a particular result? What if we could offer our work as a gift so lightly, and with so much love, that that’s really the source of fearlessness?
  8. What would it take for us to just deal with what is? To not need to be always engaged in changing the world?
  9. When have I been fearless in my life?
  10. Who am I called to be for these times?
  11. What is the question that you could live into for the next 30 days that would keep these insights alive as (an enduring) learning journey for you?

How to Cope With Complex Crises: The key to resilience is not to get locked into plans, and instead to do scenario analysis, simulations and other adaptation-response techniques and to learn to improvise quickly so you’re ready no matter what unexpected events occur. Rob Poynton, Mark Earls and Johnnie Moore explain in an improvisational podcast. Thanks to Geoff Brown for the link.

The Financial Crisis and The Recession: Why We’ve Left Ourselves No Way Out: Rob Paterson links to two excellent presentations on the current crises, one an interview of Simon Johnson by Bill Moyers (with a full transcript) that shows how the old-line financial services oligopoly is robbing the US taxpayer blind, and the second a visualization of the credit crisis by Jon Jarvis. This suggests Obama might meet his Waterloo early, and plunge his country into bankruptcy and the world into depression before his first term ends. Johnson also has an excellent blog. On the same subject, two economists say we have seen this all five times before and are making the same mistakes.

Business Still Has No Clue About Pandemic Risks: A new study recommends corporations use “physical distancing” techniques to reduce infections during a pandemic, even though this is highly stressful and disorienting, and suggests such techniques will let businesses “work through” pandemics. This is absurd. Simulations compellingly and consistently demonstrate that 40% of workers will refuse to show up for work when a pandemic hits, and that the global disruptions could easily reduce productivity by 26% (many times what the current recession has wrought) and bring the entire interdependent economy to a grinding halt. But then, business still wildly underestimates the probability of a pandemic in the first place. It’s a pure “head in the sand” strategy, and it’s going to create yet another crisis.

The Alberta Tar Sand Trap: Both NASA climate science expert James Hansen and Heat author George Monbiot agree. We must stop the bitumen sludge mining (“oil sands”) ecological holocaust now. Hansen also warns about the insoluble problems of coal (thanks to Graham Clark for the link).

Canada/US “Longest Undefended Border in the World”: Not any more.

Just for Fun:

Joe Bageant reminisces about the 1960s and 1970s, and explains why that was such a pivotal and transformative time in so many of our lives.

Amy Lenzo shows us a wonderful Nancy Margulies explanation of quantum theory, Dr Seuss style.

Tree points us to a heartwarming story about how a horse reconnected a man and his autistic son.

Amazing bird-in-motion pictures from Aullori.

Thought for the Week: On “Wisdom Councils” by John Jordan in a letter to Rebecca Solnit (thanks to Tree for the link). This kind of resonates with what Meg and Chris are saying, above:

Our movements are trying to create a politics that challenges all the certainties of traditional leftist politics, not by replacing them with new ones, but by dissolving any notion that we have answers, plans or strategies that are watertight or universal. In fact our strategies must be more like water itself, undermining everything that is fixed, hard and rigid with fluidity, constant movement and evolution.

We are trying to build a politics of process, where the only certainty is doing what feels right at the right time and in the right place… When we are asked how are we going to build a new world, our answer is, ‘We don’t know, but let’s build it together.’ In effect we are saying the end is not as important as the means, we are turning hundreds of years of political form and content on its head by putting the means before the ends, by putting context in front of ideology, by rejecting purity and perfection, in fact, we are turning our backs on the future…

Taking power has been the goal at the end of the very straight and narrow road of most political movements of the past. Taking control of the future lies at the root of nearly every historical social change strategy, and yet we are building movements which believe that to ‘let go’ is the most powerful thing we can do—to let go, walk away from power and find freedom.

Giving people back their creative agency, reactivating their potential for a direct intervention into the world is at the heart of the process. With agency and meaning reclaimed, perhaps it is possible to imagine tomorrow today and to be wary of desires that can only be fulfilled by the future. In that moment of creation, the need for certainty is subsumed by the joy of doing, and the doing is filled with meaning.

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2 Responses to Links of the Week — February 21, 2009

  1. Paris says:

    “how our greater affinity to online communities (where we pick which to belong to, based often on who else is in those communities) jeopardizes our attention and responsibility to local real-life communities (where we usually have no say in who the ‘members’ are) just at the time our collapsing economy and climate change need us to be refocusing on and rebuilding those local real-life communities. “Sounds familiar to me, I wrote it was your problem in a previous comment.

  2. Ria Baeck says:

    Hello Dave, I read your blog regurlarly – it is sometimes my way to get some news from the world ‘out there’. Thanks for that!Can’t you find a better description for ‘Just for fun’… it seems to me they are really about what life is about; and not about the ‘things’ we have done with it.Ria

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