Tracing the shift from "command and control" to "champion and channel."

Thursday, October 31, 2002

An online conversation with David Gurteen on the roll of conversation in knowledge management. I personaly think that "knowledge management" is more of a tag to hang on a bunch of activities that people naturally do, and I don;t think there has been any more or less need for people to share knowledge with each other. However in the wirearchical world, HOW knowledge is shared matters and there are many more options to do so using interactive technologies.

An excerpt:

David Gurteen: good conversations often take place before, and after meetings and in the coffee breaks - this is often where the real decisions and insights are made

Ton Zijlstra: Would it be OK to bring a notepad to a conversation, or would that make it a meeting of sorts?

Peter Troxler: Ton: i very often bring a notepad to conversations ... it
ads another layer of communication - if you want so, can scribble etc.

Silverio Petruzzelli: so I think the key point is sharing...

Lilia Efimova: also trust

David Gurteen: Silverio - yes it is about sharing ... to have an open conversation you need bags of trust ...

Edna Pasher: it's all about trust and sharing, a conversation without mutual trust between all parties will not promote any added value

Lauri Gröhn: real sharing is not possible because every person has his/her own context.

David Gurteen: we all try to be so objective in our business lives but in reality we are not

Gurteen defines conversation by the way with a great quote from david Weinberger:

"Conversations occur between equals. The time your boss's boss asked you at a meeting about your project's deadline was not a conversation. The time you sat with your boss for an hour in the Polynesian-themed bar while on a business trip and you really talked, got past the corporate bullshit, told each other the truth about the dangers ahead, and ended up talking about your kids - that maybe was a conversation."
posted by Unknown  # 9:34 AM
David Reed (I think) writing about the fundamental aspects of why the Internet is changing "society" and will probably continue to do so. He explains clearly the End-to-End argument, which is central to the architecture and dynamis of the Inetrnet - and helps explain its disruptive potential. The full piece is at SATN.org

The key to the Internet lies in a simple idea -- giving those at the end points the ability to define services and to decide for themselves which ones are successful and which ones fail to meet their needs. This is generally called the End-to-End argument. Attempts to govern such a system by prejudging what are good and bad services violate this basic mechanism.

Parts of the article give clarity regarding why it seems likely that wirearchy will appear as an organizing principle.

Understanding the Internet requires rethinking basic assumptions about how to manage society and it is complicated because those who chose careers in setting policy are unlikely to presume that the policies have fundamental limits.

The Internet is an exciting idea and to those who feel that their common sense understanding is being undermined, it is also dangerous. Even as we address specific technical and policy issues we also need to be aware of the larger changes being wrought by the Internet.

Understanding the concepts behind the Internet as well as the concepts of computing is becoming a fundamental part of our literacy. As with evolution, over the next few generations the concepts will become the new accepted wisdom.

But first we need to try to understand the concepts ourselves. Trying to explain them to others is, in itself, a way to learn.

This is not a battle between clueless policymakers and aware technologists. Technologists can indeed be clueless and making policy doesn't require a lack of understanding. Understanding the concepts require recognizing the interplay of hard edged technology and inherent ambiguities.

Sure it will take generations but we must act as if it will only take the right explanation.

posted by Jon  # 6:54 AM

From the archives of hyperorg.com

Educational Leeway: A Personal Addendum

It's a bad thing when you come back from the feel-good Meet the Teachers night at the local, progressive public school and need a drink.

After six blissful years of grading nothing, the school has decided to grade everything in sixth grade in order to prepare the students for the "real world" ... of seventh grade. "When students know they're getting graded, their work just gets better," said the very fine teacher who educated our son's sisters. (No sarcasm: she's a terrific teacher.) How sad is that?

The culprits here are easy to identify since the staff of our local school is dedicated, loving, smart and thoughtful: It's raining stupidity from above. "Test and blame" is the message coming from the feds, the commonwealth and even the town.

On the positive side, this episode has solidified my sense of what education is: Learning to love more and more of the world.

Home schooling anyone?

posted by Jon  # 1:44 AM

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Blogging - wirearchy in action?

Blogging is a phenomenom creating, and being created by, rich networks of affinity, interest and knoweldge. It couldn't happen without the Internet and the snazzy sofwtare that powers blogs. The fact that it has developed and grown as quickly as it has is great evidence, as far as I'm concerned, that we humans are actively seeking ways to communicate knowledge, meaning and values that are less constricting than the confines and stripped-down efficiency (for many of us) of the modern workplace and modern life.

Seb Paquet, of Seb's Open Research, has done a great job of setting out the history, landscape and dynamics of blogging. Check it out.
posted by Jon  # 9:37 PM

From Mitch Ratcliffe - a commentary on the issue of decentralization written by Kevin Werbach, found by Chris and noted several posts ago:

Decentralization starts inside your head

Kevin Werbach has a very good column on the trend toward decentralization in computing. He makes many good points about the permeability of organizations and project teams. The issue, however, resolves at the fleshy person-to-person (the real P2P) level, where the very nature of companies, organization and employment will change for many people due to their ability to work on different projects with different teams and companies throughout their working life.

I've repeatedly seen the resistence to change in people and companies during my career, even though it becomes plainer every year that the typical information worker could perform most of their work without having to slog to an office every day. Granted, it is frightening to think of just walking away from a "secure" job, but I think the people who take those steps now will be in a better position to succeed in the future.

Check out the Chaordic Commons for one way of thinking about new legal and organizational frameworks for collaborative work and sharing resources.

posted by Jon  # 8:43 PM

Ray Ozzie, waxing practical on how wirearchy actually works. The last paragraph is especially important, IMO.

Effective leadership requires both a crisp vision as well as a personal commitment to communicate that vision. A rock may indeed be the best computing device in the universe, but so long as it has lousy I/O, we'll never know.

We in the technology industry are particularly challenged in this regard. I experienced it firsthand in attempting to define the category of 'groupware' with Lotus. It's easy and natural for technologists tend to get caught up in a "bottom-up" view of what they're building (e.g. product capabilities), leaving well-intentioned yet challenged marketing groups to reverse-engineer "top-down" messages that quite often don't come together.

The only solution is leadership. Centralized leadership around creation of vision and mission, and centralized delivery of that same message (starting even before creation of the product), is key to effective decentralized execution. And today, decentralized execution is what it's all about. Conversely, if a product or service is built from the bottom up as a collection of powerful technologies or features, and if the vision emerges in a decentralized manner (at worst, by individual sales people, by analysts or journalists, by the market), execution is destined to be chronically weak. The product won't be bought; it will need to be sold.

This is true in business, politics, defense, etc. And it's fractal: it applies at the "unit" level as well as at the "organization" level. Perhaps ours can indeed be derided as a "bumper sticker culture", but communications leadership, and personal mastery of communication channels and tools, is key.

No, Jeff Immelt and Karol Wojtyla and Trent Lott and Tom Ridge as leaders may never have direct personal conversations on the Internet, but they won't have to, and delivery of their messages won't just be outsourced. Their direct staffs and trusted advisors will grow to understand the power of emergent Internet-based communications channels. Publishing and broadcast will be used outward, transactions will be used inward for aggregated/quantitative feedback, and tiers of cellular "circles" of communications will be used to channel qualitative feedback inward.

posted by Jon  # 8:06 PM
From Jon's Radio, Jon Udell's blog. Is wirearchy what is helping create The Transparent Society?

The accountability matrix

Phil Windley is reading David Brin's amazing book, The Transparent Society. When I first read it a couple of years ago, I posted Brin's "accountability matrix" to my newsgroup for discussion. Phil had exactly the same reaction:

1. Tools that help me see what others are up to. 3. Tools that help others see what I am up to
2. Tools that prevent others from seeing what I am up to. . 4. Tools that prevent me from seeing what others are up to.

His contention is that people see boxes (1) and (2) as good and boxes (3) and (4) as bad. What what society needs is boxes (1) and (3) since that creates accountability. Further, society should eschew boxes (2) and (4) since that pits citizens against each other in "an arms race of masks, secrets, and indignation. [Windley's Enterprise Computing Weblog]

Back in February, Matthew Blair wrote:

There is tremendous power in his [Brin's] fundamental idea of 'freedom through accountability' instead of 'freedom through secrecy'...This is the most important idea I've come across so far this year. [Throb]

I think so too. It will be fascinating to see what such a prominent thinker and pragmatic doer as Phil Windley will make of it.

posted by Jon  # 7:44 PM

Via Flemming Funch's blog, a description of a fundamentally wirearchical project - Nooron

Long Term Goal
Create a secure, open-source, knowledge-based software package complete with criteria, evaluations, vantages, depictions and worldviews to facilitate large-scale collaborative intellectual work in both a workshop context as well as an even less synchronous web-based mode.

posted by Jon  # 6:22 PM
At mediachannel.org, there's an interesting section on "Communicating for Change" that unveils the polarities inherent in a world where it's clear that knowledge is power, and so using the media can be a powerful force for maintaining and reinforcing the status quo, or inspiring and enabling countless grass-roots movements to better inform, and thus empower, their constituents.

What a struggle - the nth sequel?
posted by Jon  # 6:12 PM

I've been reading Danny Schecter's stuff at www.mediachannel.org, and find myself increasingly wondering about....the dominance of big media combined with digital ID issues....will this end in wirearchy being the software and online version of hierarchy?

The powerful, well-connected and rich (read Bush et al, big oil, MicroSoft, CNN, Rupert Murdoch, and so on) ending up with control again, because everyone else just becomes a great tangled mass of chattering "voices"...is champion-and-channel a polite term for propaganda with the intensity of an open fire hose?
posted by Jon  # 5:57 PM

Monday, October 28, 2002

Again from hyperorg.com - the unintended consequences of collaborative technology - wirearchy at Timex. Gee, it appears that the work needs to be designed differently - less sequential (chronologically defined ??) than before !

Middle World Resources
Walking the Walk
Modern collaboration tools are changing the timing of Timex.

According to an article by Tony Kontzer in InformationWeek (Oct. 7), Timex has turned to online collaboration to speed up the product development cycle. The tools (from Framework Technologies) include simple document management, messaging, and workflow. It's worked: Cycles have been cut by 40%.

But, says the article, "For a company that's long depended on sequential product development, giving everyone access to the same information at the same time required a major shift in how people work." The unintended consequence has been that people want to be involved across disciplines. "You want the guy in manufacturing to have input into the design," said Timex's engineering systems manager. "That's the point of collaboration."

In fact, it's what distinguishes coordination from collaboration: the first establishes neat lines and the second smudges them.

posted by Jon  # 6:46 PM
Below, from David Weinberger at www.hyperorg.com. I couldn't agree with him more, and I would extend the argument further. There are, IMHO, many areas of daily life that are quickly having the slack, the leeway chopped out of them by the encoding of the process by software.

Reminds me of the day I went to a Banana Republic store to return something, because.... I bought it, didn't wear it, and then noticed that the price had been reduced. Well, under the rules ya gets to go back and get the price reduced, which is what I wanted to do when I went into the store.

So, in I went, and stated my case..."No problem, sir"...well, 35 minutes later, the sales clerk looked up at me with a vacant expression, after typing in what seemed to be interminable sequences of numbers (and maybe letters), and said to me...."It" isn't scanned into the computer...you can't return it today.

It was eventually returned that day, because I refused to go until they found someone that could carry out the simple transaction of reducing the price I had originally paid by 20% (which they could have done by noting my name, the date, the account number, my phone number and my address, and then processing the transaction later). All in all, an hour wasted, a sheepish clerk, and a resigned (and less impressed) customer.

At any rate, here's David's perspective on cutting some slack:

The Need for Leeway
Let's say you a sign a lease for an apartment. It stipulates that you are not to paint without explicit permission. But your dog scratches the bottom of the door, so you buy a pint of matching paint and touch up the dog's damage. You are technically in violation of the lease but no one cares.

Let's say you're a client of the Gartner Group. Their latest report says "Do not photocopy" at the bottom of every page. But it'd be really helpful if at an internal meeting you could distribute copies of page 212 because there's a complex chart on it. So you print up 12 copies and hand them out, warning the marketing guy that he's not to send it out to the press. If Gartner were to haul you into court, the judge would lecture the Gartner lawyer for wasting the court's time. In fact, by violating your license, you helped ensconce Gartner more firmly in your company.

You are standing on a street corner when a father takes his young daughter by the hand and jaywalks. You don't call the cops. You don't even lecture him about why jaywalking is bad. You don't do nothin'.

Leeway is the only way we manage to live together: We ignore what isn't our business. We cut one another some slack. We forgive one another when we transgress.

By bending the rules we're not violating fairness. The equal and blind application of rules is a bureaucracy's idea of fairness. Judiciously granting leeway is what fairness is all about. Fairness comes in dealing with the exceptions.

And there will always be exceptions because rules are imposed on an unruly reality. The analog world is continuous. It has no edges and barely has corners. Rules at best work pretty well. That's why in the analog world we have a variety of judges, arbiters, and referees to settle issues fairly when smudgy reality outstrips clear rules.

Matters are different in the digital world. Bits are all edges. Nothing is continuous. Everything is precise. Bits are uniform so no exceptions are required, no leeway is permitted.

Which brings us to "digital rights management" which implements in code a digital view of rights. Yes, vendors and users should have a wide variety of agreements possible, but the nature of those agreements is necessarily digital. If I agree to buy the report from Gartner with no right to print, the software won't be able to look the other way when I need print out page 212. The equivalent is not having a landlord install video cameras everywhere in your apartment. It's having him physically remove your mom when she takes ill because your lease says you can't have overnight guests.

If we build software that enables us to "negotiate" usage rules with content providers, the rules can be as favorable as we'd like but their enforcement will necessarily be strict, literal and unforgiving. Binary, not human.

Leeway with rights is how we live together. Leeway with ideas is how we progress our thinking. No leeway when it comes to rights about ideas is a bad, bad idea.

posted by Jon  # 6:26 PM

Here's an early salvo in the fight for democracy in the Age of the Wired Citizen. If this isn't wirearchy in action, I'm not sure what is:

Minutes-n-Motion™ is a comprehensive political accountability/eDemocracy application that provides unprecedented access to public records. The product name reflects the concept of reviewing the "minutes," or the written record, of local government meetings and evaluating the "motions," or actions, that take place in those meetings. It is designed to demystify government activities and empower citizens. This application was the genesis of eNeuralNet's artificial intelligence technology - it was originally designed to be an effective tool to go after a corrupt city council.........

Although there is a strong demand from the Media, Political Activists, the Legal community and businesses seeking to understand the inner workings of city government, it is targeted toward everyday citizens who care about their community. Minutes-n-Motion™ empowers people to clearly evaluate the actions of their elected officials.

Check it out at www.minutesnmotion.com

posted by Jon  # 5:19 PM

More on decentralization - a conference with a lot of heavyweight speakers from the digerati - Doc Searls, Clay Shirky, Dave Winer, Howard Rheingold, etc. is coming up in about 6 weeks in Palo Alto - the SuperNova.

The promotional material states:

Supernova is a new conference exploring the distributed future. With the bursting of the Internet bubble, businesses, end-users, investors, and technology vendors face a bewildering array of challenges. Yet a common theme runs through the fundamental questions facing software, communications, and media. That theme is decentralization.

Intelligence is moving to the edges, through networked computers, empowered users, shifting partnerships, fluid digital content, distributed work teams, and powerful communications devices. Each industry sees only a small piece of the picture. Supernova is the first event to bring these threads together. Those who understand the business opportunities, technical underpinnings, and policy implications of decentralization will have a competitive advantage in any economy.

Decentralization ? Distributed Networks ? Wirearchy ?
posted by Jon  # 5:04 PM
Perspective: Tech's big challenge: Decentralization

The technology world gets wirearchy because it has been proven that decentralized systems are more stable, flexible and accommodating than centralized ones are. This means finding social and governance systems that accommodate the same values (which are shared by humans) thereby moving away from a system where knowledge and power is concentrated in the hands of the few and instead allowing it to naturally disperse among the many. This is the new definition of "free enterprise": changing it from a noun to a manifesto. Enterprise wants to be free. .

From Kevin Werbach:

In the coming decade, decentralization will be the critical challenge for the technology, media and telecommunications industries. Each has developed with the assumption that powerful central forces will manage development. Enterprise IT has "big iron" servers and monolithic software applications; communications has carriers investing in huge infrastructure build-outs; and media has content owners controlling distributions channels.

These approaches are under siege--and not because there's a New Economy, or because information deserves to be free, or because of any fluctuation in the stock market. Centralized systems are failing for two simple reasons: They can't scale, and they don't reflect the real world of people.

posted by Unknown  # 11:03 AM

Crossing another boundary:

Paul Martin leadership campaign makes use of private websites for
organizational purposes

The last line of the article:

Pierre Bourque, a renowned online publisher of Bourque Newswatch, said
websites these days are a very useful tool for politicians to convey their
messages to the general public directly and in this way they manage to avoid
the filters of the media.

posted by Jon  # 8:18 AM
Crossing Boundaries is a collaborative research project involving e-government leaders in Canada and around the world in setting and advancing the e-government agenda.

From www.crossingboundaries.ca
Governments are vast repositories of information. Increasingly, citizens are looking to governments to liberate these information holdings - to make them accessible in as seamless and convenient a way as they expect services to be available electronically. Many have suggested that the liberation of information is the next wave of the GOL revolution. As information holdings are made accessible through Internet portals, opportunities arise to engage citizens in discussions and dialogue.

At the same time, technology can provide the means whereby program information can be compiled, collected and organized in ways that will facilitate more effective evaluation of programs, better coordination of programs delivering related services, and a means of measuring program effectiveness as measured against societal objectives. It offers a different way of assessing results in an open and transparent way.

This kind of integration potential also holds promise for transforming the whole of government into a learning organization. It can bring departments together around common societal themes in ways not imagined possible a few years ago.

posted by Jon  # 8:06 AM

From a friend in Ottawa. I'm pretty sure that we'll see an avalanche of stories similar to this in the next year or two, as political battles rage and eGovernment becomes more and more pervasive.

Political websites will play a key part in the next federal Liberal
leadership race, says computer wizard and Grit MP Reg Alcock, who is a Paul
Martin backer.

Mr. Alcock (Winnipeg South, Man.), who is something of a computer guru on
Parliament Hill, said many of Mr. Martin's organizers, including himself,
already make use of private websites regularly to exchange information and
analysis about important issues with other organizers in their own campaign
throughout the country.

Moreover, Mr. Alcock said the use of websites in a leadership campaign is a
low cost and an efficient way to link "a whole bunch of people
organizationally" across the country.

"I am a supporter of Paul Martin (LaSalle-Émard, Que.) and organizing for
him. There is a site that you see [www.paulmartin.ca] but there are a couple
of other private websites that we use that are a very efficient way to link
up a bunch of people organizationally," said Mr. Alcock.

"The world is an information world and in politics in particular."

He said, for example, once the Liberals' National Executive have set the
date for the next leadership convention, it will kick off a whole bunch of
analysis of what that means in terms of the timing of delegate selection
meetings, cutoffs for memberships and all of these kinds of things.

"Somebody in the organization can do it within minutes of the decision being
taken and then we can all have it on our screens within a couple of hours
and that provides for consistency across the organization that I think is
enormously powerful."

posted by Jon  # 7:55 AM

Sunday, October 27, 2002

From www.fritjofcapra.net, a powerful basis for champion-and-channel - Captra's four lessons on how to develop adaptability:

In summary, the new understanding of life implies the following four lessons for the management of human organizations.

Lesson #1
A living social system is a self-generating network of communications. The aliveness of an organization resides in its informal networks, or communities of practice. Bringing life into human organizations means empowering their communities of practice.

Lesson #2
You can never direct a social system; you can only disturb it. A living network chooses which disturbances to notice and how to respond. A message will get through to people in a community of practice when it is meaningful to them.

Lesson #3
The creativity and adaptability of life expresses itself through the spontaneous emergence of novelty at critical points of instability. Every human organization contains both designed and emergent structures. The challenge is to find the right balance between the creativity of emergence and the stability of design.

Lesson #4
In addition to holding a clear vision, leadership involves facilitating the emergence of novelty by building and nurturing networks of communications; creating a learning culture in which questioning is encouraged and innovation is rewarded; creating a climate of trust and mutual support; and recognizing viable novelty when it emerges, while allowing the freedom to make mistakes.


posted by Jon  # 8:52 PM

Found on Ming the Mechanic:

On the nuts-and-bolts side of things - the granularity referred to here will probably have significant impact on the nature of work, in the medium to long-term. It is, I think, an important element of the Mass Customization of Work, in which individual workers are integrated with vast integrated information systems, but must use a wide range of bits and pieces of information that have meaning for them, in their context, in order for the work to happen.

EContent Magazine: The Siren Song of Structure: Heeding the Call of Reusability "Fusion executive editor Adam Gaffin is clear about the value of breaking down news stories into their atomic bits and sending those elements out to different places. He says, "Granularity is good; it helps us auto-generate syndication feeds, wireless editions, and email newsletters with embedded headlines." Granularity also enables you to put different elements of a page into separate workflows."

posted by Jon  # 6:08 PM

Margaret Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers on measurement and feedback

You have to "click" on articles once you get there, and then scroll down to this one on measurement
posted by Jon  # 5:51 PM

Last Tuesday - 5 days ago - I sat next to Fritjof Capra for an afternoon, at an OD conference in Montreal. Upon returning home, I pulled out his book "Uncommon Wisdom - Conversations with Remarkable People" and sifted through it. I found the section in which he describes meeting Hazel Henderson, and exploring her views on economics, ecology, patriarchy, command-and-control and evolution.

It's making me wonder....the book was written in 1986, and forewarned of the lack of effectiveness offered by the dominant world view, against which Henderson was speaking and writing. Here we are 15 years later, after significant booms, busts, arriving at the current state of suspended animation.

Arguably today there is greater volatility in our world system - on the less global level, there are crises in many regions, be they social, economic, environmental...and yet we keep lumbering forward, unable to pull back from our path forward. It seems that we want to keep testing the limits of our mindset.

At the same time, many would argue - and be right - that there has been astounding progress on many fronts, in many areas. But it's in social, cultural and spiritual evolution, stemming from our world view(s) that we must make progress, or we will be forever pitted against each other.

It's within this opportunity that perhaps the Internet will make its best contribution - by showing us ourselves. It will show us our drive for community - it already has, and has introduced the notion of communities to marketing planners and a range of commercial forces. It can - and is beginning to - show us how to reform the public structures and workplaces in which we live - terms like eGovernment, eLearning, communities of practice - all of them recent in our lexicons, and even more recent to be integrated into how we work and live.

It's hard not to imagine that the level of complexity has increased substantially during 5 years, and that we are living the current turbulence as part of a necessary and inevitable shift towards the paradigm Henderson, Capra and many others have been testifying to for years.

In addition, on the Internet our shadow has its demonstration area. It may be by externalizing it, collectively, in cyberspace that it becomes manageable within and by societies. Open question.
posted by Jon  # 5:43 PM

Orbitz, by having superior search technology and putting "Web Fares" up on a site and available to purchasers for a low fee, has created a significant problem for the airline and travel agent industries.

If we believe that "knowledge is power", this is a clear example of a shift in power. The logical extensions of this example are playing themselves out in other industries - financial services, entertainment (movies and music), education, and journalism.

If we keep going with the logic....either industries end up receiving some form of protection, and create oligarchies that rule specific territories, or the ongoing evolution of new business models will force the acceptance of true "market" conditions.

What a conundrum...in North America, where free enterprise is dogma, the contradictions created by interconnected transparency will continue to have impact until it may become necessary to redefine "free enterprise" and "markets".
posted by Jon  # 9:59 AM

From the NY Times, here's a wee bit of practicality...putting information on the Web continues to have impact on business:

Fare Idea Returns to Haunt Airlines
By disseminating their Web fares so widely on Orbitz, the airlines have created another way to ratchet fares even lower when they can least afford it.

A snippet from the article:

"Orbitz accelerates the difficulties that the airlines have with the Internet" because it provides such complete pricing information, said Jamie N. Baker, an airline analyst at J. P. Morgan.

posted by Jon  # 9:43 AM

Saturday, October 26, 2002

From Today's Globe and Mail (the links die in a week, so apologies for posting the whole thing here):

Oblivion awaits
Globe and Mail Update

It's easy to fail in e-business; what's hard is failing magnificently. The Big Five music-recording companies have been transcendent in this respect. Their combined efforts have gone beyond killing their e-businesses and are close to destroying an entire industry.

Following are 10 rules of e-business failure, a list inspired by the recording industry's imaginative approach.

Refuse to change: Computers are just tools, and useful only in making your existing marketing model more efficient. Give word-processors to your secretaries and install computerized stock-tracking systems so you can lay off staff. Declare the future to have arrived. Collect your performance bonus.

Ignore the Internet: If you can't imagine any way of making money on-line, then no one else can either. Act surprised when the Internet starts to carry multimedia. Cry, "Who knew?" and insist the whole multimedia thing was invented only to ruin your business.

Be sanctimonious: Claim to be more concerned about the artists than about your profits. You are selfless; your only interest is paying the musicians, without whom you would be nothing. Pray that nobody remembers countless rockers who signed away their souls on recording contracts and were dumped the moment their sales started slipping.

Misunderstand your market: When you count the songs being swapped on peer-to-peer networks, do not notice that most are moldy oldies. It's still theft, you argue, even if you yourself stopped paying royalties for those songs in 1961. Blame piracy, not taste, for your inability to sell new songs that no radio station will play.

Lie: Go on Kazaa, count the MP3 versions of songs you produced, old and new, and multiply that number by the current retail price of a CD; howl that you are losing a fortune. Forget that a Buddy Holly album sold for $2.95 in 1958; you sell records for much more now, and that's the price you use when calculating your losses — it's more impressive.

Kill it: Hollywood failed to make the VCR illegal, but you're going to succeed with peer-to-peer technology. Spend millions on lawyers to sue Napster and Scour into oblivion. Sure, paying lawyers has suddenly become more important than paying your artists, but so what? Hedge your bets by setting up your own Web site, offering songs that aren't selling well in stores. When your e-business proves to be less than a thundering success, blame it on the pirates — meaning all your customers.

Pray it will all go away: Your noble efforts to shut down Napster and Scour will so terrify pirates that they will decamp immediately and other industries will lose all interest in P2P. Act as though U.S. court rulings in your favour apply to all other countries in the world, regardless of their different legal principles. Do not make contingency plans.

Insult your market: After calling your customers "pirates," antagonize them further by threatening to release a flood of "empty" MP3 files to frustrate swapping. Do not understand the technical reasons why this won't work. Threaten to hack into the P2P networks, like real criminals. Forget that some of these networks are based in foreign countries, which (for reasons you also cannot understand) do not subscribe to your system of justice. Then say you will launch denial-of-service attacks on pimply-faced file-swappers, even if they live in those other countries.

Make government your accomplice
: Demand exemptions from criminal prosecution by the U.S. government for your hacking and denial-of-service attacks. You're doing this for a Higher Cause, after all, which is paying royalties to your artists (remember them?). Drag Verizon Communications, an Internet provider, into court demanding it surrender the name of one of its subscribers allegedly sharing 600 music files, so your expensive lawyers can crush this kid's little skull. Then get the Canadian government to impose a levy on all recordable media sold here, whether it's used for burning pirated music or archiving corporate data or storing pictures of the kids. Make mortal enemies of Apple and Sony because the levy adds something like 20 per cent to the retail price of their portable jukeboxes, pricing them out of the market. Collect more than $30-million without disbursing a single cent to your artists — after all, you're Fighting the Good Fight, and you're going to have to tighten the artists' belts for them if you hope to win.

Go back to giving it away: Organize British record companies for a Digital Download Day. Charge £5 ($12.50 Canadian), claim it's "free," and reason that people would rather pay for music than get it for nothing on Morpheus. The "free" fee entitles people to listen to 500 streamed songs, to download 50 songs or to get five songs that can be burned on a CD. Ignore the math, which shows your £1 price for every burnable song is higher than the retail price per song on a British CD. Pretend you haven't noticed that your "day" is actually a week (Oct. 3 to 9), further proof that you can't count. Act surprised when your music servers can't handle the traffic and grind to a halt; blame the technology that put you on this awful road in the first place. Angrily dismiss anyone who says that what you're doing is something you once told a judge is sheer piracy.

Got it? Now get out there and fail. Oblivion awaits.

posted by Unknown  # 12:17 AM

Friday, October 25, 2002

In the same sense, I imagine the name "Groove" was chosen with care.

The case for the application is easy to make - it's peoples' work habits and the design of their work that gets in the way.

How long can it be, and how much change is necessary, before P2P work flows become the norm? 5 years ? 10 years? More ?

posted by Jon  # 3:43 PM

This from Sherry Turkle:

"Windows is a powerful metaphor for the distributed self"

More on her presentation at PopTech here - two-thirds of the way down the entries of Sunday, October 20.

posted by Jon  # 3:31 PM

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Hmm...from today's NY Times

Shareholders Rise Up (In Wild West Fashion)
Angry about their losses, some big investors are offering their lawyers Wild West-style "bounties" to go after the lavish personal wealth of some corporate executives.

For the Web Generation, Travel Is Self-ServiceAn army of bargain hunters, booking at the 11th hour, is changing the travel industry.

posted by Jon  # 10:51 AM

This seems pretty interesting - particularly the part about artists bypassing programmers, and going directly to the VR "product":

Pittsburgh (PA) --The Xavier Group, Ltd., a 21 year-old educational
consulting and systems integration corporation based here, announced today
that it has recently entered into an agreement with St. Bonaventure Parish
Parochial School, Glenshaw, to introduce St. Bonaventure preK-8 students
to the "root concepts" of computing and virtual reality concepts (3D

St. Bonaventure School, a part of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh
schools, has been selected a number of times as one of the top Catholic
Schools in the country, and is one of the only public or private
elementary schools in Shaler fully accredited by the Middle States
Consortium. It has been recognized in the past for some of its more
innovative science programs such as the launch of the space shuttle and
Apollo missions.

Under this contract, The Xavier Group will provide: 1) Ongoing support and
maintenance of the existing Windows and Macintosh computer network, 2)
upgrading of the network to extend to the whole school, 3) Assistance in
training the faculty and staff on the latest methods in using “technology”
in the classroom 4) a method to increase "technology literacy" among
faculty, staff, students and the Shaler community at large. 5) a new
Technology Plan based on meeting the the latest statewide technology
standards. 6) The implementation, training, and adoption of the
FirstClass® computer groupware collaboration system. 6) a schoolwide
preK-8 student project using computer technology and virtual reality (VR)
to further advance their technology aptitude and literacy.

The VR concepts used in this project were developed by PMS Microdesign
Inc. over the past 20 years as creative solutions for customers. Some of
those customers have included Giltspur Exhibits, Bayer, the Carnegie
Museum, the Carnegie Science Center, and the Helen Keller Museum in New

At St. Bonaventure, the VR project will focus on computer-based,
Nintendo-based, and VR-based children’s games of which most students are
very familiar, but few know how such games come into being. Most never
have given much thought into how they are developed. Most require advanced
programming skills taught only in higher education computer programming

The main reason that children do not get too involved in understanding the
creation of the game, is that educators feel correctly that they are too
young to master the programming and art skills required. The concepts are
difficult to master.

What if such games could be developed using tools that required no
programming? What if such games could be created using primitive art forms
(the kinds that are rendered in Kid Pix)? What if you could develop the
entire concept of a game on a sheet of paper (draw it out like Walt Disney
and Thomas Edison did to create moving pictures and animated cartoons)
never making a computer keystroke? What if elementary school students
beginning with kindergarteners could draw squares, circles, and other
primitive shapes and in doing so create a computer game? The Xavier Group
and PMS Microdesign have developed their own proprietary approach and
custom software to deliver this.

The importance here is developing the technology literacy and true
knowledge (as opposed to job-related “skill-sets” like using computer
applications) to understand the inner-workings of an electronic game. With
an understanding of today’s technology this is really the key “process”
that students need to learn.

New technologies are already making it possible for the artist to go
directly to the finished product bypassing the programmer entirely. Given
the last 30 years in computers, how much more likely will elemetary-aged
students find they need different skill-sets than those being taught today
when they leave school for the job market? This educational program would
prepare students for that possibility.

St. Bonaventure students will be properly trained to work together as a VR
development team, and then be given six-months to come up with their own
creations. Teachers and The Xavier Group will be available for assistance.
In the process, the older students will learn how to master FirstClass
e-mail, groupware, and electronic collaboration as put forth by the
Pennsylvania Department of Education's technology standards. They will use
FirstClass to get access to their VR projects during school and to work as
teams remotely from their homes or the public library after school.

The Xavier Group provides K-16 educators with professional development and
training, grant writing, curriculum and classroom development, Internet
and systems integration for learner collaboration, systems engineering,
computer lab set-up, hardware and software assistance and troubleshooting,
and wired and wireless cabling solutions.

posted by Jon  # 9:49 AM

Saturday, October 19, 2002

I've just met a law prof from University of New Mexico - we've just been turned on by a Dutch futurist regarding the coming generation of Homo Zappiens.

Homo Zappiens is another name for the rapidly-advancing new species in the workplace, more commonly known as the Digital Generation. The Dutch futurist notes that this generation has multi-tasking and non-linear thinking down pat. Their modes of learning and working are making it quite clear that the human brain is non-linear, adaptive and self-organizing - and so, work, workplaces and learning will have to develop new ways of engaging this species.

High-tech - high-touch?

I think that it will become clearer and clearer that the ways to ensure flexibility and adaptability will be found in the combinations of people-centered processes like Open Space, Future Search, self-directed learning, and so on.

I also think we will see the emergence of terms like the Mass Customization of Work, and the Mass Customization of Learning.

While I'm here at the eLearn 2002 Conference, there's another conference happening not too far away (in Maine) called Pop Tech, where a lot of the digerati are hanging and talking to each other. Dan Gillmor of Siliconvalley.com is providing running notes on his blog.

posted by Jon  # 8:39 AM

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Chris Corrigan, the blogspirator who's co-authoring this blog, points us to a fascinating example of wirearchy in action, here.
posted by Jon  # 9:23 AM
I am at an eLearning Conference in Montreal - people from universities, schools and corporations around the world. Lots of wiring up going on.

Noticed a piece in the Montreal Gazette this morning - Joni Mitchell is quoted as saying that she will not record for a major recording studio ever again -``If I can find a way to sell my music over the Internet, maybe, then maybe I will record again. The studios take too much from artists``.

I will find the full quote later today and post it.

posted by Jon  # 8:54 AM

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

The Village Voice: Features: The Blessed Version by Peter Rojas

The struggle between consumers and producers is a symptom of the struggle between hierarchy and wirearchy. And so with artistic products, the crux of "open source" comes to the fore. One question to ask is do consumers have the right to alter art to suit their needs? Another way of putting it is to ask whether command and control over the modes of production of film and music works in a wirearchy?

While directors and film studios have wrangled for decades over final cut, the advent of cheap and easy video editing technology may just wrest control from both parties and place it firmly in the hands of consumers. (more)

posted by Unknown  # 10:00 AM

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Another step on the path to transparency and trust - Peter Cheales asks us to "Tell Someone Who Cares" at www.hellopeter.com, a South African website that offers customers a public space to offer feedback about customer service.
posted by Jon  # 4:03 PM

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Ray Ozzie, whose company builds a major wirearchy enabler, the Groove Workspace from Groove Networks - on real-time transparency and privacy
posted by Jon  # 11:51 PM

Flemming Funch, on the conditions and effects of the environment in which wirearchy is emerging.

The thing is also that we all already live in a much more multi-dimensional world than we did just a few years ago. But we still act in many ways as if we're living in the same old 3 or 4 dimensional world. Our organizational structure isn't really supporting the world we actually live in......

A lot of people walk around being rather overwhelmed by their lives, unable to keep track of even the things that are important to them. Most of us exhibit something like Attention Deficit Disorder. Things we know and feel strongly about one day can easily be forgotten the next day, just because a new load of information gets dumped on us, and we don't know what to do with all of it, we keep a rather short attention span.

I assume our minds and our brains will evolve, so that we're more able to deal with the world. But it seems like that's going to take some time before we catch up. If we do. The world is accelerating. Anyway, in the meantime, until we're able to think holographically in 16 dimensions, and be quite calm about it, or until we have universal telepathy, we could use some assistance in organizing our information. Computers are obvious tools for that. They just need some much better underlying metaphors than those of file folders and desktops and windows.

posted by Jon  # 11:16 PM

This, too, from Bryan's blog.

Terrorism and Broadband Internet

Robert Wright, author of several books and writer for Slate, is always on my radar because he writes so well about (you guesed it) Evolutionary Psychology.

Today, for Slate, he writes an article describing the tendency of individuals on the net to naturally gravitate towards "tribes" which reinforce their existing biases. This of course is an obvious and familiar conclusion to reach for those of us who have been on the net for a while. But in this article, Wright connects this idea to the widespread availability of compelling digital editing tools (such as that which produced the Al Qaeda recruiting videos), and lastly, to the ease of distribution afforded by worldwide adoption of broadband internet.

To sum up his conclusion: We (the digerati) are fast building a world in which the slightly discontented can easily discover, be hooked by, and be drawn into violently extremist movements. And that is what constitutes the real long-term threat from terrorism (rather than any particular religious or political ideology).

I agree, but...is it appropriate to call the networks of vicious terrorists "slightly discontented"?

I agree, and...I think political ideology has a part to play here. Notwithstanding the violent history of humanity, I regularly find myself wondering whether or not the collective overweening arrogance of the USA shouldn't be more rigorously examined, rather than just reported on. I mean, there's been lots of airplay about the USA's contradictory policy and actions over the years in Argentina, Chile, Iran, Iraq, and other places I don't know that much about. Reporters and journalists write about it regularly, but absent the populace holding the politicians to accountability, it begins to resemble the play-by-play from a gigantic game of Risk (the world-conquest strategy board game) being held in a huge outdoor stadium, rather than in a dorm room.

It's a tough world out there, and gonna get tougher, when Father (Doesn't) Know Best. Damn those pesky terrorists - they keep finding difficult, disturbing and misanthropic ways of reminding everyone that there other points of view and ways of life out there on the planet. And surprise - they're going to use the Internet and webs of connected-ness to enable vicious, evil strikes at innocent people. This is, of course, more than despicable - it's inhuman. But to suggest that it's occurring in a vacuum, only because people who carry out terrorism are evil, strikes me as uninformed and just plain wrong.
posted by Jon  # 1:23 PM

Bryan Field-Eliot of netmeme.org provides a recap of Digital ID World . He suggests another important issue is moving forward rapidly, in the struggle between command-and-control and champion-and-channel. He notes:

In the middle of all of this was the human concern over Digital Identity. The long-time industry observers and commentators all voiced concern at one time or another (if not continuously throughout the show), that the Digital ID debate was dominated by corporate/government interests in maintaining customer/citizen information (top-down), and not enough by the humans whom the ID's represent (bottom-up). Doc Searls, in particular, delivered a particularly moving talk on the final day, making a clear case for someone to build the wildfire, human-centric killer Digital ID application. One which is framed in purely human terms, one which will create its own infrastructure (in the same way that the web and blogs did), and one which will ultimately force corporate interests to kowtow to its infrastructure and protocols, rather than vice versa. I agree with this completely, even though (and I find no conflict with this fact) I am partner and CTO of PingID, which intends to sell services and software into this emerging market, whichever direction it takes.

posted by Jon  # 12:56 PM

From today's New York Times, an article outlining the privacy issues being debated regarding access to public records online.

"I'm deeply suspicious of anyone tinkering with open records laws because they're usually doing it for a specific self-serving reason," said Timothy Smith, director for the Ohio Center for Privacy and the First Amendment at Kent State University. The better solution, he said, would be to limit the amount of personal information that many public documents require.

posted by Jon  # 10:16 AM

Saturday, October 12, 2002

Has anyone else noticed the rapidly growing tendency for the need to be very specific about what you do, and the added need to have that be of perceived value? We're all, each and everyone of us, being turned into small pieces, loosely joined (the title of David Weinberger's new book).

A novel that became a best-seller in France about two years ago addresses the same subject, but in a very different way. The translated title is "Atomised" (in French the title is Particules Elementaires), by Michel Hoellebecq.

A combination of the pervasiveness of the market ideology with the real-time dynamics of software and connectivity is likeley to continue exerting this force, turning us into transactional beings. Lucky people, those who have jobs that stay interesting and stay more-or-less the same, and who don't have to re-prove the value of who they are on a daily basis.
posted by Jon  # 4:35 PM

There was an interesting article in yesterday's Vancouver Sun, skimming the surface of the growing awareness of the Internet's effect on citizenship and democracy. It's titled "Internet Promoted as a Tech Version of Ancient Athens". Here's an excerpt - the article's not online yet.

At U of T, political scientist Ron Deibert offers the rapid growth and influence of the anti-globalization movement as a perfect example of the 'Net's ability to empower people who are interested enough. Deibert runs a research unit called the Citizen Lab, which studies the impact of the digital world on activism. He says bureaucrats have marked the transformation of activists from worriers to thoughtful experts on detailed data and policy gleaned from the Web.

A colleague, Sanford Borins, says the new technology is also changing how governments function. A professor of public management at the University of Toronto, he says the ability to deliver service via the Internet is making people re-think departmental structure in favour of one-stop groupings for, say, seniors.

This increase of online information access isn't automatic...but leaves in place the vast bulk of astonishing progress - for those among the 50-odd percent of Candians at least occasionally online. An interested citizen can lay hands on courtdecisions, Parliamentary debates, and the reports that all levels of government produce.

Today it is virtually an afternoon of child's play to find, read and compare provincial budgets across the country, to examine internal audit reports of the controversial human resources department in Ottawa, and to review the most startling statistics on global energy consumption.

Access to information is not, of course, what excites - or frightens - people most about the Internet's impact on the democratic process. It is two other ingredients of ancient Athenian direct democracy that it promises to resurrect: guidance or orders to leaders between elections, and a more interactive direct debate between voters

posted by Jon  # 12:20 PM

From today's New York Times - how will this all end?

The passion of fans is unstoppable — and technology will make it only more so. Listeners, readers and watchers now have the means to do chores that companies themselves used to have to do. Yet instead of seeing this new force as a positive development, corporate copyright holders view it as something that must be quashed. While reformatting an old film is more trouble than slipping a CD into a personal computer, as bandwidth and storage continue to drop in price, more movie fans will have the means to convert old films. Given the benefits of digitized films, there is little question that film buffs, powered only by passion, would rush to convert the 500 to 1,000 films that fall out of copyright each year — if the copyright period is not extended.

All that is keeping fans from this work is the steady erosion of the public domain by corporate copyright holders. Copyright extension serves only to keep everyone — fans and corporations — away from old masterpieces. If the Supreme Court upholds the current law, some old works of uncertain ownership, which would normally be allowed to come into the public domain, will now be locked up for another couple of decades. For some films on old stock, this could be their death.

Under the current copyright regime, short-term profit outweighs long-term value. As copyright protection lurches toward perpetuity, America's cultural heritage — in whatever media — is increasingly becoming the property of corporate copyright holders. But it belongs to all of us. Technology has given fans the means to enhance and protect this common heritage. The law should give them the right.

Kevin Kelly is editor at large of Wired magazine and author of "New Rules for the New Economy."

posted by Jon  # 9:28 AM

Friday, October 11, 2002

From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia, a definition of hierarchy
posted by Jon  # 7:11 PM

The DNA of Hierarchy

Org charts began appearing in the 50's, as organizations began growing in size and complexity to the point where ordering of work, in the form of division of labor, began to be strategically important. In order to have the organization charts make sense, the discipline of job evaluation was invented.

Job evaluation - the rank ordering of jobs according to certain factors - grew like wildfire from the mid-50's through to the early '90's. It has begun to become less effective, and less important, as reengineering has taken over the design of work - although Equal Pay For Work Of Equal Value legislation has kept it going through the '90's.

If "language creates reality" ...

job evaluation methodologies rely exclusively on "factors", which are definitions applied to a constellation of responsibilities, duties and skills that are expressed in the social construct we know as a "job". The factors that are still commonly used are as follows (I would argue that they're rapidly becoming obsolete, if they aren't already, in the wired and interconnected workplace):

1. Know-How, consisting of:

- Technical Know-How
- Breadth of Management
- Human relations Skills

2. Problem-Solving, consisting of:

- Thinking Complexity
- Thinking Challenge

3. Accountability, consisting of:

- Freedom to Act
- Magnitude (of budget, usually - some aspect of the financial measures associated with the job's responsibilities)
- Impact (whether the job controls, or contributes, or simply is an information relay)

On the face of it, these look reasonable enough. However, the fundamental assumptions, and the rules with which they are used, bear closer examination.

The factors imply the stability and predictability of an organization's activities and structure - or, in other words, that the markets and customers don't change too much and that therefore the work doesn't change too much. Many of us know that's not the way it goes these days.

Secondly, these factors (and their derivatives) simply did not account for cross-functionality (in the language of organizational consultants) the across-the silos communications and coordination needed for flexibility in a rapidly-moving business and organizational environment. And more importantly, these factors did not even faintly foresee the interconnectedness of the Internet, nor the wholesale and large -scale penetration of integrated ERP systems like SAP into the modern workplace.

Remember, the factors and their application to work and organizational design were invented in the mid 1950's, and were designed to mirror and reinforce structures that were growing at that time, while mass production and control of quality and cost where the fundamental drivers of economic growth.

Let's go a bit deeper.

The Technical Know-How factor carries quite a bit of weight (usually 40% to 45% of a job's size), and the rules for its use are that the superior position (on an org chart) always carries several orders of magnitude more Know-How. Hmmm.... wonder if that's really the case today? How many young and highly-eductade knowledge workers actually "know more" than many bosses? Just one of many possibilities.

Breadth of Management - what does that mean, in an age of outsourcing, partnerships, teams, and so on. Again, we encounter possible dissonance, given the way things really work today.

Human Relations Skills - this factor has always been treated as a "gimme". If a job supervises one or two people, or 300 people, you still get the same score - a "3", for the requirement to motivate and lead. Again, hmmm.... in an Age of Relationships, I wonder if this shouldn't somehow be differently defined and applied?

Thinking Complexity - this factor assumes stability and predictability, again. And even more reinforcing of hierarchy, it assumes that the superior jobs (on the org chart) carry a greater capability to understand and resolve the complexity of problems that are less clearly defined, or haven't been seen before. Very hierarchical, no?

Thinking Challenge - similar to the above factor, but assumes guidance for an incumbent through the use of practices, policies and procedures. The lower down you are, the more the jobs are rote, dictated by standard procedures that don't vary.

Freedom to Act - this factor is the one that always bothered me the most. The definition of the factor was polite language for "you do as I say", in the interaction between a boss and a subordinate. This is the dominant (most highly-weighted) sub-fator of the Accountability cluster. It's not the most facilitative environment for dialogue, or constructive discourse in the workplace.

Magnitude and Impact - the bigger the budget, the more clout and size - forget about influence, forget about creativity, just manage and control that budget.

So....it's my fervent belief that 50 years of applying these rules to the defining of jobs has helped to create organizational structures that are rigid, difficult to make adaptable and responsive, and slow to change. The factors are encoded into peoples' mindsets about their jobs, their bosses' jobs and their peers' jobs. They do not encourage or facilitate creativity or innovation.

The factors were designed for the ways organizations were built 50 years ago. They are not particularly relevant to much of the work that is required or emerging in the modern workplace. But nothing substantial has replaced it - other "designs" like teamwork and project management, were layered on top of this fundamental structure.

As customers interact with organizations via connected software, and while peers collaborate using e-mail and on integrated systems, and can find knowledge quicly in databases or on the Web, is it any wonder that these fundamental assumptions aren't up to the job of designing work?

In a world of work that is evolving towards wirearchy, we need factors that create the reality of responsiveness, flexibility, creativity, innovation - that allow for authentic human voices to connect and communicate, not command and control.

We'll explore the DNA of wirearchy in the near future.

posted by Jon  # 12:51 PM
More from AKMA - this guy's all over the digital ID issue, and he's on fire ! Read it all

Doc suggests a conflict of metaphor between commerce (which views the Net as a pipeline) and technologists (who view the Net as a space). The software industry is like the construction industry; it belongs to project-oriented builers, designers, architects.

"We need to get past the conflicting metaphors. Commerce doesn’t recognize the elements of infrastructure, and the free-software and technologists don’t see the creative power of commerce [on this I’d want to push Doc further.]

Web services are the result of infrastructural chaos. In the chaos, no pre-existing rule governs behavior. A chaos-adopting something will drive a standard to ubiquity. How do you create ubiquitous infrastructure and make money at the same time? By causing chaos, then taking advantage of it.

Infrastructure supports commerce; commerce contributes to infrastructure.

But Hollywood’s efforts will fail; we are the Web, and we will not conform to that model. DigID will be built around fully sovereign individual IDs (so that we become customers rather than consumers [I’d rather be “AKMA” than a customer, too]). Doc wants DigID to be part of relationships. Markets are relationships.

When Doc or AKMA can come to businesses as participants in relationships rather than as generic consumers [and Margaret and I are shopping for a used car now, so we are especially attuned to the perils of being just generic consumers], then DigID will catch fire."

The most common metaphors that have been tried out to date are: markets, commons, space. Unfortunately, commerce in the Industrial Age moved away from the long-standing structure of markets, as brands and branding strategies (and therefore their potency) were aided and abetted by distributive media and industry regulation. Markets stopped being conversations and relationships, for a while there.

Now the people are back into the fray, thanks to the Web. And branding is of course a big issue on the Web, as markets and commons duke it out.

Is it a "both/and" thing? And what's a metaphor that contains both - maybe a force field, or a dimensional plane of activities? Is that what's being hinted at by those who are exploring whether the evolution of the Web's use will eventually usher in a requisite level of connected consciousness? Or can that only be wishful thinking 'cause the money guys will always win?

posted by Jon  # 11:19 AM
Heard on a blog - at Digital IDWorld, Esther Dyson is really focused on the issue of transparency. As AKMA reports:

Esther keeps hammering away on the necessity of transparency; she’s right, she’s right. The way to short-circuit fears about privacy involves living in ways that don’t suffer from public exposure.

Esther offers a free white paper on Digital Identity Management - it promises to help us understand "how both industry heavyweights and start-up companies are transforming their businesses and developing products to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by this technology. She then covers the innovative applications being developed on top of that infrastructure – and the intriguing business models that have emerged as a result."

Innovative applications, intriguing business models - from hierarchy to wirearchy?

posted by Jon  # 11:05 AM
There's an interesting story unfolding on JOHO the blog regarding the issue of digital identity, where the author of Small Pieces, Loosely Joined is rummaging through "Federated ID's" and XNS ( protocol for expressing identity in XML). First thoughts - that damn issue of privacy - how will we be able to preserve anything remotely resembling free speech in the current environment of fear and suspicion unless we all pretend to be someone other than who we are, online? Hey, and what about "freedom of assembly", online?

AKMA notes here, from Digital IDWorld, that we need new ideas, rather than extension of an obsolete industrial model. See the section that's headed "What He Said".
posted by Jon  # 10:52 AM
An article in today's New York Times sets out the difficulties we'll keep encountering with hierarchy. Don't threaten the status quo too much, in case they change the rules of the game enough to level the playing field abit.

The article spells out how the Bush administration has effectively undone the possibilities for real corporate reform. In the words of Paul Krugman, "What we've learned over the past year is the extent to which the modern business game is rigged in favor of insiders".
posted by Jon  # 9:34 AM
The Programming Gene

Following recent conversations about the DNA of wirearchy, comes this piece on how programming is stealing ideas from biology. Part of what this means is that programmers realize that dealing with large, complex tasks requires a new way of organizing information and code. So genetic programming, which includes approaches like aspect-oriented programming, seems to be the future.

Words to live by:

Aspect-oriented programming is a cutting-edge tool just entering commercial use in complex financial-transaction software. In essence, aspect-oriented programming is a refinement of object technology, in which programming objects are classified and arranged into hierarchies. Object-oriented programming is powerful, but in the words of Gregor Kiczales, a computer scientist at the University of British Columbia and an aspect-oriented programming expert, "You can't put a complex thing into a hierarchy; some things don't fit."

Emphasis added, of course.

posted by Unknown  # 3:21 AM
My most recent definition of wirearchy goes something like "a dynamic two-way flow of power and authority, based on knowledge, trust, credibility and a focus on results, enabled by inetrconnected technology and people".

From my current vantage point, it looks to me like the keepers of the keys of hierarchy are doing everything they can to hang on to the illusion of control they want to believe in, while forces like blogging, downloading MP3's, and e-mails in the bowels of big corporations like Merrill Lynch, salomon Smith Barney, Enron, et al keep knocking at the gate.

Transparency (and thus honesty) would go a long way to creating a healthier situation for all of us. Less lies, less anger, less anxiety, more humanity (wasn't it John Lennon - or was it Frank Zappa - that said "we're all bozos on the same bus").

Jerry Michalski has a nice little piece on transparency here (point 4 in Jerry's Dogma).
posted by Jon  # 2:40 AM

Thursday, October 10, 2002

A posting from my Open Space blog on the war between al Qaeda and the US military. Another front line in the struggle between hierarchy and wirearchy. Command and control fights champion and channel, and the dark sides of both concepts are now engaged in a title fight of global proportions (and implications).

posted by Unknown  # 4:21 PM
In searching for the frontlines of the war between command and control versus champion and channel, one very quickly comes to the massive clash of worldviews between advocates of free music and the Recording Industry Association of America. It is simply a case of the hierarchy trying to enforce compliance on the wirearchy and it is like trying to hold soap. Big nodes like Napster and mp3.com get targetted, and little nodes keep going. Below the radar, peer to peer and small pieces, are the strategies for continuing to share, create value and wealth and channel proceeds directly to artists rather than through a massive distribution infrastructure.

In this article, musician Janis Ian plays the devil's advocate, saying that free is good, and these are the results:

Who gets hurt by free downloads? Save a handful of super-successes like Celine Dion, none of us. We only get helped.

But not to hear Congress tell it. Senator Fritz Hollings, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee studying this, said "When Congress sits idly by in the face of these [file-sharing] activities, we essentially sanction the Internet as a haven for thievery", then went on to charge "over 10 million people" with stealing. [Steven Levy, Newsweek 3/11/02]. That's what we think of consumers - they're thieves, out to get something for nothing.


It's absurd for us, as artists, to sanction - or countenance - the shutting down of something like this. It's sheer stupidity to rejoice at the Napster decision. Short-sighted, and ignorant.

Free exposure is practically a thing of the past for entertainers. Getting your record played at radio costs more money than most of us dream of ever earning. Free downloading gives a chance to every do-it-yourselfer out there. Every act that can't get signed to a major, for whatever reason, can reach literally millions of new listeners, enticing them to buy the CD and come to the concerts. Where else can a new act, or one that doesn't have a label deal, get that kind of exposure?

Please note that I am not advocating indiscriminate downloading without the artist's permission. I am not saying copyrights are meaningless. I am objecting to the RIAA spin that they are doing this to protect "the artists", and make us more money. I am annoyed that so many records I once owned are out of print, and the only place I could find them was Napster. Most of all, I'd like to see an end to the hysteria that causes a group like RIAA to spend over 45 million dollars in 2001 lobbying "on our behalf", when every record company out there is complaining that they have no money.

posted by Unknown  # 3:51 PM
The 101 Dumbest Moments in Business

From Business 2.0 Magazine, this article could be called an elegant treatise on the demise of hierarchy. Take note especially of these stories:

7. Last May, Citizens Against Government Waste, a group that received funding from Microsoft (MSFT), is caught simulating a "grassroots" campaign to get state attorneys general to drop their antitrust suit against the software giant. One detail that gives the scheme away: Some of the letters supporting Microsoft are from people who have long since died.

13. Having earned the enmity of the five major record labels as CEO of MP3.com, Michael Robertson takes on Microsoft by launching Lindows, a Linux-based operating system that runs Windows programs. Robertson says he isn't afraid of going up against the world's most notoriously competitive company. "There were five major record labels, and there's only one Microsoft," he says. "That's an 80 percent reduction."

25. Houston, We Have a Problem, Part 4: As questions swirl around Enron's finances in mid-November, CEO Kenneth Lay reassures investors, "Everything we know, you know."

28, 29, 30. Great Moments in Privacy

Part 1: In June 2001, the Georgia Student Finance Commission accidentally allows more than 18,000 scholarship applicants' personal information to be released onto the Internet.

Part 2: Not to be outdone, Eli Lilly sends a mass e-mail in July to users of its antidepressant Prozac but neglects to use the "bcc" header, further depressing its customers by disclosing their online identities to one another.

Part 3: Trumping Eli Lilly, in October a graduate student at the University of Montana accidentally posts to the school's website more than 400 documents relating to the psychiatric treatment of 62 children, including names, addresses, descriptions of sessions, and diagnoses.

71. Why You Still Don't Have Broadband, Part 3: "There will always be crybaby boobies who are unhappy with any company." -- Martha Sessums, spokeswoman for DSL provider Covad, illustrating in an interview with News.com the customer-service strategy that helped her company plummet into bankruptcy

77. Houston, We Have a Problem, Part 11: In late January 2002 -- well after the government has instructed Enron to stop shredding accounting documents -- Maureen Castaneda, a recently laid-off Enron employee, reveals that the shredding has continued. The tip-off: In boxing up her belongings, Castaneda finds a stash of shredded paper to use as packing material. Because the paper has been shredded horizontally instead of vertically, Castaneda can see that it consists of accounting documents.

87. Apparently unaware of the group's enmity for the corporate world, GM (GM) pays the British pop band Chumbawamba $100,000 for the rights to use the song "Pass It Along" in a Pontiac ad campaign. The band promptly passes along the money to a pair of advocacy groups, including one, CorpWatch, that intends to spend some of the money looking into GM's social and environmental track record.

97. Disney forces its theme-park workers to wear company-issued and -laundered undergarments beneath their costumes, despite complaints that the skivvies contain scabies and lice. Finally, it relents: Employees must still wear company-issued undergarments, but can now take them home to wash them.

posted by Unknown  # 3:00 PM


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