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

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Even More Excitement

Don't quite know what's happening - but the stars must be aligning. First, I got offered a job yesterday, and today I got a call to appear as a panelist on Leading Innovation at an upcoming conference at The Banff Centre.

I'll be sure to frame whatever I talk about in the context of The Support Economy, Xpertweb, blogging, the battles over Digital Rights and Digital Identity, and so on.

Hmmm....lots of preparation and focus for what will probably be a 3-minute soundbite. What the hell.

Truly Exciting

I have posted several times on The Support Economy, in which Zuboff and Maxmin have stated that the digital infrastructure (is (or will be, eventually) in place to enable the "next episode of capitalism".

Now, some proactive deep thinkers are taking the next step. Britt Blaser has done some superb thinking through how buyers and sellers can interact based on need, expertise and reputation (maybe like eBay but for a wider range of needs and services ?). His proposal is called Xpertweb.

Xpertweb has attracted the interest and energy of Flemming Funch and Mitch Ratcliffe, and managed to attract the attention of Doc Searls, who thinks the architecture and the capability it implies are very significant.

It seems to me that if Xpertweb or its derivatives work, and if The Support Economy eventually becomes the next form of capitalism, the organizational forms that are spawned will not operate on hierarchical principles. This model will create an understanding of wirearchy, and how it operates. For now, the means to bring wirearchy into being are being explored, and the blueprints are being pored over by the architects, engineers and contractors.

posted by Jon  # 3:40 PM

Monday, March 17, 2003


New Aspen Institute Report Examines How Internet is Altering
Diplomacy and World Affairs

The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program (C&S) released a
report today on the impact of network structures and technologies on the
conduct of world affairs
. This timely report, The Rise of Netpolitik: How
the Internet Is Changing International Politics and Diplomacy, reflects the
insights of top-level leaders from the worlds of politics, diplomacy,
finance, high technology, academia, and philanthropy who met at the Aspen
Institute to consider new ways of understanding how information technology
is changing the powers of the nation-state, the conduct of international
relations, and the very definition of national security.

"Netpolitik is different from Realpolitik or global interdependence," said Charles M.
Firestone, executive director of the Communications and Society Program. "It
focuses on the primacy of the network structure as an organizing principle
for the conduct of world affairs
. In this complex world of blurring borders,
flattened hierarchies and heightened ambiguity, the new rules of diplomacy
involve the astute uses of social, media, financial and other international
networks. The US is, after all, at war with a network. How do we combat
terrorism and other modern degradations without using all of our various
network resources in this new environment?"

The Rise of Netpolitik also looks at the role of storytelling in a world where the Internet and other
technologies bring our competing stories into closer proximity with each
other, and where stories will be interpreted in different ways by different
cultures. In the way it distributes these myths and stories, the Internet is
changing the environment for understanding cultures throughout the world

posted by Jon  # 7:50 AM

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Duct !

At approximately 11.00 a.m. (PST), 2.00 p.m. (EST), Bush and Blair have declared the opening of World War III.

They're blaming France and The U.N. for not cooperating.

The debate is over.

posted by Jon  # 11:04 AM

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Courtesy of CNN, CNBC and George Bush et al

Via NY Times, Bob Herbert

I interviewed a number of people in the vicinity of Independence Mall about their views of a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. No one I spoke with was particularly well informed. But what struck me about those in favor of invading Iraq was the cavalier way in which they talked about it. Their message, essentially, was: "Saddam's a bad guy. It's time for him to go."

I got no sense that they thought of war as a horrible experience. No one mentioned the inevitable carnage. No one spoke as if they understood that war is always hideous, even if it's sometimes necessary.

How bad will things have to get before it becomes transparent that consent has been manufactured?

posted by Jon  # 11:25 AM

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

No Kidding !

Found at Always-On Network (Lose the pop-ads ! So clueless)

The Social Risks of New Technologies
It's becoming increasingly clear that a huge challenge faces the Always On world

posted by Jon  # 6:27 PM

For All Of Us - Not Just Korea's Cyberspace Generation

Why human discourse on the 'Net must thrive and evolve

posted by Jon  # 11:34 AM

If The World (Was/Could Be) Run By Software

Wonderful - Found on Joi Ito's Web

posted by Jon  # 10:55 AM

Control Versus An Open Society

Via Ming, John Perry Barlow on Digital Rights Management (DRM) and some key aspects of wirearchy:

"There are three things at stake. The first is, extending a monopoly to a few large organizations about what people can or cannot know and express. This is really about the control of information and it has the potential to become over time a kind of private totalitarianism. That is not an exaggeration since it has already happened in the United States. The reason that the U.S. is behaving in the completely irrational and dangerous way that it is, is because we have erected private totalitarianism and are suffering a reality distortion field that is as dangerous as the one erupted in Germany in the 1930s. But not being driven by the government, but being driven by the media. Being driven by ourselves. I fear erecting a system which highly advantages a very few corporate channels for human intellectual exchange.

Secondly, I fear that Digital Rights Management today is Political Rights Management tomorrow. That embedding these kinds of technological controls into the very architecture of computing has the capacity to become a form of political control in the not so distant future. Because you're putting at a very basic level surveillance capacity, control over what information may or may not travel, and a whole range of things in the architecture that can be very easily used to suppress dissent.

Third, I am very afraid, that by wrapping a large amount of human knowledge up into bottles that can no longer be opened except at a price, much of it will be wrapped up in crypto bottles that in a very fairly short time cannot be opened even at a price. A huge amount of human creativity will simply be lost for future generations."

posted by Jon  # 6:50 AM

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Conversations That Work


Cliff Figallo talks about "Putting conversation to work." He's one of the founders of The Well.

"Attention is energy," he says: the person being attended to gets energy from it, including people who are being jerks.

Conversations that work, he says, are different than ones where people connect for enjoyment. He's thinking of conversations as something that organizations do to get their jobs done. "Power imbalances destabilize conversations." In business conversations, there's often an imbalance. Thus a "subtext" develops in which you can read the disenfranchisement. To keep a business conversation going, the business has to evolve into something more egalitarian. But within the conversation, first you have to acknowledge the power imbalance. Second, you should have a "full value contract": everyone agrees that they're going to listen to one another, respect one another, and do what they can to encourage one another speak.

posted by Jon  # 1:26 PM

Mitch Is Not Into THAT Groove

From the NY Times (again)

Software Pioneer Quits Board of Groove

Mitchell D. Kapor, a software pioneer, resigned from the board of Groove Networks after learning the company's software was being used by the Pentagon for surveillance.

posted by Jon  # 6:36 AM

I M, U Am, We Is

From the NY Times, an article about the rapidly-growing pemetration of Instant Messaging into the workplace

Clique of Instant Messagers Expands Into the Workplace, By AMY HARMON
Instant messaging, long used by teenagers, is moving into the workplace with an impact that is rivaling rival e-mail and the cellphone.

posted by Jon  # 6:09 AM

Monday, March 10, 2003

Only The Agreement(s) Matter

From Britt Blaser's Escapable Logic, a post titled "Only the Schema Matters" contains this:

The reason the schema is the big deal is that it does for economics what all the Internet's equipment does for electronic transmissions—enforce an agreement on how to play nice with each other. That's a bracing thought: unlike anyone else, Xpertweb people are subject to an overarching economic agreement enforced by forms and scripts conforming to their agreement

The previous set of agreements we had about how to govern, how to exchange value with each other - didn't foresee the 'Net. Hierarchy was the dominant form of structure, because there were no easy mechanisms (physical or social) to share a wide range of information. Sure, you could whisper and gossip, but the main forms of distributing information favored the rich and powerful - and our laws have reinforced this.

In the 'Net Age, our agreements will become our structures.

posted by Jon  # 6:52 PM

Sunday, March 09, 2003

The Way The Words Blog Together Makes The Mind Whisper

Very interesting - Joi Ito sent his paper on Emergent Democracy to Dee Hock.

Dee replied. An excerpt below

It is futile to directly challenge such institutions, political or commercial, for they have an oligopoly on power, money and instruments of compulsion. Nor do they hesitate to use them if threatened. However, they will prove to be vulnerable, rusted out hulks if confronted with new and better ideas of organization which transcend and enfold them. Ideas that excite the very people they expect to remain passive.

What they cannot resist is the searchlight of informed public opinion. Once the public begins to withdraw relevance from them they are helpless, as Gandhi so ably demonstrated in India. While I don't begin to understand Blogging, your paper set something turning in the back of my mind that whispers it may be one of the keys to the puzzle.

At the end of his reply, he added a "PS", in which he suggests that the organizational structure and dynamic of Visa - The Organization is not unlike blogging, hence chaordic, embracing both chaos and order, and designed to support emergent behaviour.

Blogging today is maybe a Flashlight, on its way to growing up - into a big Searchlight.

posted by Jon  # 7:36 PM
Now the Cracks Are Beginning to Show

From Leonard Cohen's CD "The Future" , and the song of the same name :

Give me back my broken night
my secret room, my secret life
it's lonely here,
there's no one left to torture
Give me absolute control
over every living soul
and lie beside me, baby
that's an order !

Give me crack and anal sex
Take the only tree that's left
and stuff it up the hole
in your culture
Give me back the Berlin Wall
Give me back Stalin and St. Paul
I've seen the future, brother:
it is murder

Things are going to slide in all directions
Won't be nothing you can measure anymore
The blizzard of the world
has crossed the threshold
and it has overturned the order of the soul
When they said REPENT
I wonder what they meant (refrain)....

You don't know me from the wind
you never will, you never did
I'm the little jew
who wrote the bible
I've seen nations rise and fall
I've heard their stories, heard them all
but love's the only engine of survival
Your servant here, he has been told
to say it clear, to say it cold
It's over, it ain't going any further
And now the wheels of heaven stop
you feel the devil's riding crop
Get ready for the future:
it is murder

Things are going to slide in all directions.....

There'll be the breaking of the ancient western code
Your private life will suddenly explode
There'll be phantoms
There'll be fires on the road
and the white man dancing
You'll see the woman hanging upside down
her features covered by her fallen gown
and all the lousy little poets
coming round
trying to sound like Charley Manson

Give me back the Berlin Wall
give me Stalin and St. Paul
Give me Christ
or give me Hiroshima
Destroy another fetus now
We don't like children anyhow
I've seen the future, baby:
it is murder.

Things are going to slide in all directions...

posted by Jon  # 7:03 PM
I've Got A(nother) Theory About Blogging

Via "TheObvious ?" blog:

Who will bring the news to an American public that has been in a torpor of consumerist feeding, with the media peddling an exceedingly vacuous and disconnected "good life." While we've slept, we've crept down this path, since WWII, ever rightward through Democratic and Republican administrations. We have been so enthralled with the latest toys and technology - so jazzed by our bank accounts and BMWs -- that we've never stopped to consider the undercurrents, the fact that our rich and pampered life has been purchased at gunpoint.

Now the cracks are beginning to show, as we push the agenda to the extremes. The breakdown of the community of the American people, the increased militarism, has reached full flower. Community, democracy, humanity, hope - call it what you will - is being bombed and murdered as surely as thousands of innocents have been and will be with America's military hardware.

It's so hard, in today's polarised society, to have a conversation in real-time 3D about big issues - issues that demand context and involve philosophy or ideology. The evdence that large change has happened and is continuing to happen is all around, but don't dare engage in deep conversation about it.

The positions come out, the beliefs show up, and before you know it - it's one position "shouting" at the other, and vice versa - and everybody goes away feeling "righteous", but de-energized. How will we all get along? How can we grow better and new .......?

I think blogging lets hordes of people who don't necessarily fit into the mainstream have a place where they can exchange ideas, dialogue, find friends and foes, argue without the need to feel "real-time righteous". This then allows for the building of points ofv view, whether held in common or divergent and opposed - but shared nevertheless.

This, done widely and over time, can only be good - particularly in societies where the mainstream, which has control of the publicly-sanctioned ideology, shouts down the other points of view.

Maybe a historical view from 10 years hence will show blogging to be the 00's version of the '60's "Power to the People" dynamics?

posted by Jon  # 6:47 PM

Mmmmm - Tasty - But What Was That Last One ?

From G ! - the blog

An example of the Napster Generation's corporate humor:

Management First

Several cannibals were recently hired by a big corporation. "You are all part of our team now," said the HR rep during the welcoming briefing. "You get all the usual benefits and you can go to the cafeteria for something to eat, but please don't eat any of the other employees." The cannibals promised.

Four weeks later their boss remarked, "You're all working very hard, and I'm satisfied with you. However, one of our secretaries has disappeared. Do any of you know what happened to her?" The cannibals all shook their heads no.

After the boss had left, the leader of the cannibals said to the others, "Which one of you idiots ate the secretary?" A hand rose hesitantly, to which the leader of the cannibals continued, "You fool! For four weeks we've been eating Managers and no one noticed anything, but noooooo, you had to go and eat the secretary!"

posted by Jon  # 6:20 PM

Saturday, March 08, 2003

Influential Words Burst, by John Patrick

The "mainstream" is indeed coming along. When I read this, I didn't expect the date to be as recent.

John Patrick is just catching up with the world of "blogging" - and this from a guy with Net Attitude ??
posted by Jon  # 7:50 PM

Moving Into The Mainstream

Here's an example of a blog that's building a new business model. Note the first line of "About Always-On Network".

"The AO Proposition
In the next wave, media companies will have to share control with the audience they serve. eBay taught us the power and profitability of that idea in the first wave. But giving up control is a huge challenge for an old, crusty and entrenched industry. At AlwaysOn, we invite some of the smartest chiefs, geeks, investors, boosters and wonks to come play in our spontaneous and uncensored arena."

Oh yeah !

posted by Jon  # 1:57 PM

Friday, March 07, 2003

In These Troubled Times

"When in despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won; there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall."

-- M.K. Gandhi

posted by Jon  # 12:25 PM

Bye-Bye Pension

Soon hundreds of corporations may slash pensions by as much as half.

This article on Fortune.com outlines new changes that will be coming soon to a corporation near you.

I don't have a pension anyway.

posted by Jon  # 12:04 PM

Ceci Est Tres Cool (This Is Waay Cool)

A map of blogs in France

I wonder what such a map would look like for North America, and for the world. An interesting visual exercise, no doubt.

posted by Jon  # 11:11 AM

When Calling Americans Names, Canadian Elected Officials Influenced By God

Once upon a time in the Kingdom of Heaven, God went missing for six days. Eventually, Michael the archangel found him, resting on the seventh day.

He inquired of God, "Where have you been?"

God sighed a deep sigh of satisfaction and proudly pointed downwards through the clouds, "Look Michael, look what I've made."

Archangel Michael looked puzzled and said, "What is it?"

"It's a planet," replied God, "and I've put LIFE on it. I'm going to call it Earth and it's going to be a place of great balance."

"Balance?" inquired Michael, still confused.

God explained, pointing to different parts of Earth, "For example, Northern Europe will be a place of great opportunity and wealth while Southern
Europe is going to be poor; the Middle East over there will be a hot spot. Over there I've placed a continent of white people and over there is a continent of black people," God continued, pointing to different countries. "This one will be extremely hot and arid while this one will be very cold and covered in ice."

The Archangel, impressed by Gods work, then pointed to a large landmass in the top corner and asked, "What's that one?"

"Ah," said God. "That's Canada, the most glorious place on Earth. There are beautiful mountains, lakes, rivers, streams and an exquisite coastline. The people from Canada are going to be modest, intelligent and humorous and they're going to be found travelling the world. They'll be extremely sociable, hard working and high achieving, and they will be known throughout the world as diplomats and carriers of peace. I'm also going to give them super-human, undefeatable ice hockey players who will be admired and feared by all who come across them."

Michael gasped in wonder and admiration but then proclaimed; "What about balance, God? You said there will be BALANCE!"

God replied wisely. "Wait until you see the loud-mouth bastards I'm putting next to them...."

posted by Jon  # 9:39 AM
Why The Internet Will Change (Even More) The World We Know

David Weinberger and Doc Searls have just published a site (World of Ends) that I think might become a sequel to The Cluetrain Manifesto, in that it will probably be widely read and widely forwarded/cited.

And, as interconnectedness approaches ubiquity and everyone uses the 'Net to communicate, the impacts will accumulate - the impacts due to the fact that there are individual humans at the end of each connection.
Check it out.

posted by Jon  # 7:03 AM

Blogging Is Mass Customization In Action

Sorry to get all jargon-y here. About 15 years ago, Stan Davis (among others) identified the principle of Mass Customization as the long-term result of applying information technology's capabilities to human activities - work processes, learning, and so on.

In simple terms, mass customization means taking something that is done en masse, and making it able to be customized a la individual. So it is with Personal Web Publishing - it is a "mass production" activity, but it now can be done easily, cheaply and in infinite variation according to the philosophy, aesthetic and drive of an individual.

As blogging begins to make its way into the corporate world, or the education world, and is used by organized groups of people in many (all) arenas to reflect a wide range of voices, mass customization will have arrived as one more component principle of a world organized for wirearchy.

posted by Jon  # 6:44 AM

Let Them Hate As Long As They Fear

Thomas Krugman, in today's NY Times, interpreting the Bush Administration's stand on Mexico (and the rest of the world. It's becoming clearer and clearer that John Perry Barlow's suggestion is correct - that Cheney's Pax Americana is the strategic thinking driving the Bush initiative to "transform the world":

So oderint dum metuant it is. I could talk about the foolishness of such blatant bullying — or about the incredible risks, in a multiethnic, multiracial society, of even hinting that one might encourage a backlash against Hispanics. And yes, I mean Hispanics, not Mexicans: once feelings are running high, do you really think people will politely ask a brown-skinned guy with an accent whether he is a citizen or, if not, which country he comes from?

But my most intense reaction to this story isn't anger over the administration's stupidity and irresponsibility, or even dismay over the casual destruction of hard-won friendships. No, when I read an interview in which the U.S. president sounds for all the world like a B-movie villain — "You have relatives in Texas, yes?" — what I feel, above all, is shame.

posted by Jon  # 6:32 AM

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Future Perfect, Revisited

Stan Davis wrote, in 1987, an important book titled Future Perfect in which he accurately forecast much of what has come to pass in the world of organizations invaded by information systems.

From the book:

"Electronic information systems enable parts of the whole organization to communicate directly with each other, where the hierarchy wouldn't otherwise permit it. What the hierarchy proscribes, the network facilitates: each part in simultaneous contact with all the other parts and with the company as a whole. The organization can be centralized and decentralized simultaneously: the centralizing mechanism in the structure, and the coordinating mechanism in the systems.

Networks will not replace or supplement hierarchies; rather the two will be encompassed within a broader conception that embraces both. We are still a long way from figuring out the appropriate and encompassing organization models for the economy we are now in. At the very least, it is clear that we will have to reconceptualize space, transforming it by technology from an impediment to an asset." (pp 88-89)

posted by Jon  # 3:07 PM

Blogs Help The Answers Find Us

I love this phrase, found on tins:::Rick Klau's Web Log - a blog about blogging in the legal field.

Here's the inspiration for the phrase.

posted by Jon  # 12:58 PM

Voice of the dark corners

We talk a lot, in the blogosphere, about voices. It's never more important to hear a wide range of voices than when staring a major crisis - that might yet be prevented - in the face.

From the Guardian, in Tony Blair's Britain, is commentary by Fidel Castro on the current situation. He uses George Bush's own words to offer readers another perspective on how Dubya sees the world.

That is what we are: dark corners of the world. That is the perception some have of the third world nations. Never before had anyone offered a better definition; no one had shown such contempt. The former colonies of powers that divided the world among them and plundered it for centuries today make up the group of underdeveloped countries.

There is nothing like full independence, fair treatment on an equal footing or national security for any of us; none is a permanent member of the UN security council with a veto right; none has any possibility of being involved in the decisions of the international financial institutions; none can keep its best talents; none can protect itself from capital flight or the destruction of nature and the environment caused by the squandering, selfish and insatiable consumerism of the economically developed countries.

After the last global carnage in the 1940s, we were promised a world of peace, a reduction of the gap between the rich and poor and the assistance of the highly developed to the less developed countries. It was all a huge lie. We had imposed on us an unsustainable and unbearable world order.

Right next to this article is a piece in which Blair, parroting Bush, announces that they don't need to respect the vetoes of the UN. Today China said it's siding with France, Germany and Russia.

How can we possibly expect things to get better if the US invades Iraq ? Is saving face that important, for George and Tony ?

I don't care what anyone else thinks - I'm naming it. World War 3

posted by Jon  # 11:08 AM

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Hey - There !

Shoshana Zuboff and James Maxim recently published a book title "The Support Economy - Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and the Next Episode of Capitalism"

In it they call for a new enterprise logic, and new business models, that will provide support and help for individuals, who are the triggers that release the cash. As soon as new ways of obtaining what they want or need are available, in thoery individuals will flock to use them, as the current corporate models are adversarial to consumers and often painful for them to use (see The Cluetrain Manifesto for a summary).

An article in the just-out Business 2.0 titled " Your Next Customer Is Virtual, But His Money Is Real" offers us a glimpse of the emerging possibility offered by a new startup, There Inc.. The premise is, I think, to make it easier for consumers to get what they want and/or need.

My sense is that There Inc. might be an early signpost of a metaverse in which consumers do indeed find it easier and more fun to get what they want or need. If the model works, look for many more versions in many more sectors over time.

posted by Jon  # 5:08 PM

Thumb Screws, Water or Bright Lights ?

Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard Law School professor, has stopped just short of proposing that the recently captured Al-Qaeda mastermind should be tortured.

The story is here

Some people might suggest that the policy structure of the global economy is a form of torture already, and a core component of the ongoing rise in terrorism. Others will argue, even while the thumb screws are being tightened, that "free-enterprise market capitalism" is the only permissible way to go.

posted by Jon  # 4:54 PM

Blogging, Clueing In And Evolution

This feels to me like what I feverishly imagined when I started thinking about how the interconnectivity afforded by the 'Net would cause fundamental change to our human structures and dynamics.

From Stir, the blog:

nobodies, really

Jeneane is looking for a way to sum Blogging. She writes in the comments on this entry on Allied:

I have promised to make some VIPS a list of articles and blogs that will somehow wrap the largeness of all of this into a single email. So far I haven't been able to do it. The importance of it, really, is that human voices--nobodies, really--are resonating farther and longer through this medium than the power structures of institutions like corporations, big media, government, religion... It's the bottom up thing that's important. I'm not saying we'll TAKE OVER any of those institutions, but we will penetrate and change them.

try explaining that to someone who wants to know what a blog is. yeh.

I dunno, I think you just did...

Blogging is undoubtedly in its infancy. And it's already had some amazing impact.

Let's put that together with...the continued evolution of information systems, upcoming generations who are learning to cognate very differently than those of us over 35 or 40 years old, increasing bandwidth, the "Save" button and archiving, the permanent loss of employment security, wearable and embedded computing, mobile computing and smart mobs, and what will we get ?

More penetration and change than we can imagine. And a real need for principles that will help us all live and work together effectively, such as ...the ability to truly listen to each other, the essential need to collaborate in constructive ways to deal with the sure-to-continue issues of power and control.

We will need a give-and-take flow of power and authority. Top-down, centralized authority alone won't be able to carry the day. It's not inclusive enough, and won't be able to cope with the need to honour the diversity of human need and human ability.

posted by Jon  # 1:38 PM

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Lost And Forgotten

Another thing I could rant about...

In the midst of the American preoccupation with Iraq, and to a lesser degree North Korea, I think most of us tend to forget about the state of affairs elsewhere - Afghanistan, Venezuela, Argentina, the continent of Africa, Brazil, and....

It's kinda like a drift drive (in scuba diving). They plop you in the ocean in a spot where a strong current is flowing past a beautiful, teeming-with-life coral reef and pick you up a couple of miles down-current. If we consider the continual flow of propaganda, news, opinions, lies, half-truths and images as the current we all drift in, and our world as the coral reef....well, you get the analogy.

Greg Palast is an award-winning journalist who has just published a new book, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy", and he's hosting a conversation on Salon's Table Talk. Here's a snippet:

You're not stupid, they just talk to you that way.

I'm amazed about the number of intelligent questions about Venezuela. I'm sitting here with Linda and with Phil Frazer, co-editor of the Hightower Lowdown. We are killing some cheap-o vodka amid the wreckage of the twins' birthday party and grousing about Iraq, the Weapon of Mass Distraction -- no one seems to care about Venezuela, the IMF and Argentina . . . then here you are on Table Talk getting right to the good stuff.

Venezuela - Just four days ago, the New York Times ran a photo of "thousands of marchers protesting Hugo Chavez." Yes, indeed - when I was in Caracas, I saw those thousands -- rich white folk in a huff. What they don't tell you is that every day the anti-Chavez group marches, the pro-Chavez marchers outnumber them two to one. And their color is brown.

The best way to understand Chavez is as the Nelson Mandela of Venezuela -- evening up the score of 500 years of economic apartheid imposed by the 20% of the population which is white and privileged.

Of course, it's Chavez' curse to face the rage of the oligarchs while he sits on top of Exxon's oil. They are going to kill him. You read it here. That concerns me because he was supposed to write the intro to the Spanish edition of my book. Talk about a "dead line...."

Argentina The new book has all new stuff on both Venezuela and Argentina's defenistration by the World Bank and IMF. Not surprisingly, my writings on the are front page news in South America - no page news in the USA. Yep, there's my article in Harper's, if anyone noticed.

What a crazy world ! Not likely to smoothen out any time soon.

posted by Jon  # 7:13 PM

Straight To The Heart Of The Matter

As much as I like to complain about American hegemony, and so as painful as it is for me to admit this - I think Britt Blaser's point of view regarding the inevitable necessary of creating closure in the current "street fight" is correct.

As I read it, it brought to mind a book I read several years ago titled "The Fourth Turning - An American Prophecy". The authors suggested that we were on the path to a monumental crisis which would force the creation of their (early) version of The Obvious Society, with the attendant strict moral codes, regulation of behaviour, and so on - necessary to "manage" the complexity of the new world order in which we found ourselves.

They carried out painstaking research which showed that history has unfolded in cycles, and that once every 105 years or so (if my memory serves) there is a saeculum (a major turning, from Awakening to a High, through an Unraveling, into Crisis). They suggested (in 1998/99) that we were in the late stages of Unraveling.

Place your bets.

posted by Jon  # 6:42 PM

Courtesy of Ming - pointing us to a nifty, improved application that meets the main criteria for "future-friendly" - open source based Zope.

For me, this statement of capability:

"Zope enables teams to collaborate in the creation and management of dynamic web-based business applications such as intranets and portals."

which connects with a snippet offered in today's Gurteen Knowledge Newsletter. He dusts off a 1998 (!!!) piece by David Weinberger titled "The Death of Documents and the End of Done-ness"

" We are seeing a massive cultural shift away from the concept of done-ness. The Web allows for constant process and enables open-ended groups of people to be
invited into the process. Things on the Web are never done, and the damn "under construction" sign is implicit at every site. Why should anything be declared "done" when that means taking responsibility and arbitrarily picking a place to freeze a process in a context that is always always always changing"?

I've always wondered about this. Nothing is ever "done", really - just on the way to somewhere else. However, for some reason lots of people don't think this way. They look for and believe in completion, finality, close that one and move on. Years ago, as an organizational design and strategy consultant, I always wondered why businesses I worked with thought "this next re-structuring we'll finally get it right" as if they weren't going to do another one 12 or 16 months down the road.

The Web, of course, changes this big time. It's a flow - life is a blogaret, my friends - and it looks like Zope could be pretty cool. Look at the words in the one sentence above:

Teams ..... collaborate ..... dynamic ..... web-based ..... intranets ..... portals

All that and open source to boot - what's in it's way, and how can we help remove whatever obstacles there are ?

posted by Jon  # 3:40 PM

A Different Take On Advertising

If we will always be subjected to advertising and marketing....I like what St.Luke's stands for, and how they do it.

Under "Who We Are", check out their Story and their Social Philosophy. From their Story:

"From the beginning, it's focus has been on the personal growth and development of it's co-owners and a burning desire to change the DNA of business"

I've followed this company for five years now - great to see that they haven't faltered, and are growing. And I like their web site a lot.

posted by Jon  # 10:52 AM

USA, France and Canada - 3 Different Perspectives

Maybe inappropriate (if you're easily offended) and not pertinent (as opposed to impertinent), but kinda funny depending on what kind of mood you're in:

The Penis Study

In 1993, the American Government funded a study to see why the head of a man's penis was larger than the shaft. After one year and $180,000.00, they concluded that the reason the head was larger than the shaft was to give the man more pleasure during sex.

After the US published the study, France decided to do their own study. After $250,000.00, and 3 years of research, they concluded that the reason was to give the woman more pleasure during sex.

Canada, unsatisfied with these findings, conducted their own study. After 2 weeks and a cost of around $75.46, and 2 cases of beer, they concluded that it was to keep a man's hand from flying off and hitting him in the forehead.

posted by Jon  # 10:19 AM

Monday, March 03, 2003

A Moving Reality

Anyone besides me worried about how the "official" conversation is what is creating reality? From disarmament to regime change to post-Saddam Iraq?

In the words of our estimable Prime Minister, "who's next" ? Or "what's next" ?

As I posted several days ago, looking more and more like a large-scale 3D version of the board game Risk. Life imitates games.
posted by Jon  # 7:09 PM

Tribalization, De-tribalization, Re-tribalization

Much back-and-forth on several A-list blogs about Identity and Anonymity, transparency and the obvious society.

Well, of course. I think that Eric Norlin's point is a good one:

"Namely, I see a shift occurring --- our Networks of Anonymity are inexorably moving (like tectonic plates) toward being Networks of Identity. Furthermore, this movement is actually a result of one of the initial conditions of the Net -- the fact that it moves everything toward the public domain."

It brings to mind one of Marshall McLuhan's key points: the oral tradition of communicating information begets tribalization, the literary tradition de-tribalization, and the electronic form re-tribalization.

Networks of Identity seem like tribes to me. On the 'Net, if you let someone know who you are, for whatever reason, you are accepting them enough to grant them virtual membership to the tribe you are travelling with through cyberspace. Absent the connection afforded by the 'Net, communicating information via the literary tradition - magazine, book, newspaper, flyer, speeding ticket - there is a degree of materiality that separates reader from author, that de-tribalizes. You can consider yourself part of "the tribe", in your own head, but you have to seek out some other physical means - fan club, phone call, letter - to express your relatedness, and make your identity known, to the author and other interested parties.

IMO, the public domain was fundamentally different, pre-Internet.

posted by Jon  # 6:16 PM

Obviously, We Will Act Like Humans ?

Britt Blaser's Obvious Society offers us a glimpse of what we're heading for - unless we want corporations and the software and integrated systems they use to streamline and homogenize our collective and individual behaviour. Mitch Ratcliffe is involved, he being another individual who saw this coming a long way off.

From Ratcliffe Blog:

The nature of collaboration, whether for political, social or economic goals, is one of constant dynamism--our relationships evolve over time, so our tools cannot lock us into a mode of interaction and leave us there.

Hierarchy is often one way we "default" on responsibility. Let's not let wirearchy become a default setting for our social behaviour in the wired world, by letting corporate systems architecture and code over-control how we interact and live.

posted by Jon  # 4:52 PM

Sunday, March 02, 2003

When Will The Tsunami Arrive?

This opened my eyes! Up till now, it has just seemed logical, and it was also a felt sense - mostly a feeling of banging my head against a very sturdy brick wall. The people I try to convince about networks and network dynamics, in order to get consulting work, are usually around my age or older.

I have consistently said that the digital generations will change the workplace more in the next ten years than it has changed in the last twenty.

Take a look at the age distribution curve for people involved in blogging, the best knowledge-creation tool going.

posted by Jon  # 6:36 PM

Mr. Intellectual Capital Says...

How is interconnectedness changing hierarchical structures and dynamics?

From JOHO, a report on Tom Stewart's point of view:

Tom Stewart — the intellectual capital guy and editor of HBR — is giving the keynote at the DigitalNow conference. He says that although the Internet bubble has burst, the Net has indeed changed everything. He backs it up with examples from the business mainstream. Cool.

Tom points to four transformations:

1. Speed. We can buy whenever we want. We can communicate whenever we want. A faster economy challenges executives who have to make faster decisions.

2. "There's no commerce like ecommerce." E.g., Wyeth is saving 25% by buying electronically.

3. King Customer. A substantial shift in power from sellers to buyers largely because of the Internet.

4. Loosely Coupled organization. (This is what I call The Hyperlinked Organization.) The line between inside and outside is no longer clear. E.g., 90% oF products with Cisco's name on it have never been touched by someone whose paycheck comes from Cisco.

The audience — heads of associations — absolutely needed to hear this message and responded to it enthusiastically.

posted by Jon  # 10:36 AM

Watching A Cat Play, As The World Prepares To Watch A Large-Scale 3D War Video Game

Scrolling throught the Topica.com psychohistory posting list, I came across this - it caught my eye, and this person's style of writing (slightly plaintive, worried, very human/humble and enquiring), made me read further.

How much have "we" forgotten that Dubya probably should not have been elected? I wonder if "the terrorists" would have attacked NY and the financial center in the same way had Al Gore been elected President - and the wonderings go on and on.

Here's some of what this lady, who admits she's concerned and confused, had to say. To me, it feels like it could touch a spot in many of our psyches. It's the last paragraph that suggests to me that this is how many of us are dealing with the impending enactment of a made-up horror - we watch our cat attack a cactus plant.

And last, a few thoughts about George W. Bush. To me, I can't think of
a more dangerous person at this moment, given the circumstances and what
I've read in the list and in the paper. Mainly, it frightens me to
think of this man in this position of power, delagate for the group and
its fantasies. It is still very debatable if he was in fact "elected."
My own opinion is that if the vote-counting could have been sorted out
and finished in a fair and legal manner, Gore would have won the
electoral vote, as well as the popular vote, but by a very tiny margin.
Still, that the vote was SO close and contested, that leads me to
believe that there is no real majority of a group or psychoclass. If
there is, I think growth panic/response to the indulgences and expansion
of the '90s ("too much wealth and freedom") have leveled out any
differences somewhat.

President Bush has fewer real credentials to hold office, or any
important job, than many people I know. My impression is that he is a
man of not-so-great intelligence, perhaps with a learning disorder, who
has never really achieved or done anything on his own, and failed at
many of his ventures. Following in his father's footsteps is likely to
amplify any sense of self that he has, be it grandiosity or shame or
whatever he harbors in his heart and emotional universe. What does that
say about America? Where can this all lead? I dread my own feeling
that Mr. Bush (I still hesitate to call him President, as I don't
believe he won fairly, and doesn't quite deserve that appellation)
simply cannot contemplate anything other that his war, since a peaceful
resolution by diplomacy or otherwise will seem overall like a loss of
face, another failure, and that would be intolerable. And, there are
still, as often written on this list, plenty of people in the U.S. (and
vicariously in the rest of the world) who have a profound emotional need
for war at this time.

Sorry to be so bleak. As a friend said, "Reading this list can really
drag you down."
So I shall end by saying that here, my crocuses are starting to bloom
and my cat just attacked my husband's cactus plant, Mr. Chubby, for his
own catty, inscrutable reasons. Silly thing.

posted by Jon  # 10:21 AM

A New Organizing Principle ?

On Doc Searl's weblog, he quotes John Udell. editor at Byte magazine:

The connected computer is fast approaching ubiquity. We've created cyberspace, but we haven't yet really colonized it because we lack the organizing principle to do so. Having abolished time and space, nothing remains but identity. How we project our identities into cyberspace is the central riddle. Until we solve that, we can't move on.

Project is the right word, not protect.

How about:

Wirearchy - a dynamic two-way flow of power and authority, based on knowledge, credibility, trust and a focus on results, enabled by interconnected people and technology.

1. A two-way flow of power and authority - seems obvious that this is happening, in ways big and small, every day - a blog here, an uncovered e-mail there, and new source of information on a web site, a distribution capability that opens up due to the Net.

Millions of words have been written about how the "customer", now connected ubiquitously to other customers, has gained considerable power - no doubt there's more to come?

2. Knowledge, trust, credibility and a focus on results - We are all exchanging information of some sort or other, which can lead to the creation of knowledge. The Web makes things transparent, but it insists (eventually - someone WILL check it out) on credibility. The Web demands trust, because the transparency makes the absence of trust both malevolent and dangerous. And there must be a focus on "results" - beyond just conversation, exchanges of information, opinion and desire create...friendships, new opportunities, new ways of getting things done, access to energy and resources that plainly would have been unthinkable in pre-Web days. Examples abound.

3. Enabled by interconnected people and technology - What can I say? It's happening, it's there and it will keep growing. More networks, faster transmission, more bandwidth, Google + Blogger, and so on.

posted by Jon  # 8:48 AM

Get Smart - Update 2003

Will phones in the heels of their shoes be next ?

OK - when, but when will it become obvious to the great silent majority in the US that their current government is just plain over-the-top? This is a complex world, there were (and are) some reasons other than pure evil on the part of some Islamic fanaticists that something like 9/11 happened - and yes, the world has not and will not be hte same.

But, really ...

From the Manchester Guardian

Revealed: US dirty tricks to win vote
Secret document details American plan to bug phones and emails of key Security Council members ahead of crucial vote over war on Iraq.

posted by Jon  # 12:34 AM


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