re: New book: The Social Atom

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Samuel Rose

May 22, 2007, 8:20:55 PM5/22/07

Although I can see what you are talking about, I also can tell you from first-hand experience that the internet, and digital media empower and amplify more than just vindictiveness and whigning. Take a look at:

Just a few of a growing list of examples of movements emerging on the internet


I could list examples all day. I could also list examples of negative, counter-productive communities online, hate communities, polarized political communities, sexist/misogynists, and even worse, all online. There are maybe 1 billion people online right now. Wait until there are 2 billion! :)

I do agree with you that some political discourse in relation to the US is really polarized, and largely broken. This is partially due to the nature of the way that people are using some of these tools, and the tone that tends to set, due to the way that networks tend to organize around these tools (particularly blogs). I wrote a little about this here:

Basically, stating:

"I think that the problem can be reflected in something like Schelling's Segregation model ( also: ). We can see in this model that: even a small amount of "%-SIMILAR-WANTED" in each agent can lead to near total polarization/segregation. If more communications connections mare made between the agents, polarization happens even faster. We can see this polarization in studies like The Political Blogosphere and the 2004 U.S. Election:Divided They Blog PDF (

The abstract states:

"In this paper, we study the linking patterns and discussion topics of political bloggers. Our aim is to measure the degree of interaction between liberal and conservative blogs, and to uncover any differences in the structure of the two communities. Specifically, we analyze the posts of 40 "A-list" blogs over the period of two months preceding the U.S. Presidential Election of 2004, to study how often they referred to one another and to quantify the overlap in the topics they discussed, both within the liberal and conservative communities, and also across communities. We also study a single day snapshot of over 1,000 political blogs. This snapshot captures blogrolls (the list of links to other blogs frequently found in sidebars), and presents a more static picture of a broader blogosphere. Most significantly, we find differences in the behavior of liberal and conservative blogs, with conservative blogs linking to each other more frequently and in a denser pattern."

Basically, people in the political blogosphere are linking mostly to people they agree with and generally reinforcing their agreements, and when they link to people they don't agree with, they are usually doing so in order to disparage the views of what they are linking to.

(as I mentioned on This is Polarization reinforced by Information Cascades. The political blogosphere becomes basically an echo chamber. And, deliberation within it seems to have the effect of more self-selected segregation/polarization by participants."

Now, if you also look at  you see maps of the blogosphere. A lot of online opinion about US politics is jacked-in to this network in one way or another. Part of the vindictiveness is the nature of the tools. The medium of blogging, email lists, forums, even YouTube, is design around back-and-forth exchanges. More "tit-for-tat", than creating a common understanding. The nature of these networks is also that they are an echo-chamber that radiates out from highly connected hubs, with not so much going in the other direction. That is changing with things like Wikipedia, "Congresspedia", other wiki knowledge commons sites, and other collective information processing sites, like   But, the non-holistic nature of the blogosphere is a big factor.

Also, let's not forget that traditional news media (broadcast, print) are still the primary source for news, and still are a huge factor in the divisiveness/polarization and narrow focus of the reporting of social events and political issues. Some vindictiveness very well may be the huge amount of people who are online, who are using the easiest to access tools, and are discovering that this new medium is dominated by the old mediums, and their voices are drowned out by the focus of the networks, which are on the "hubs", who in turn are varyingly focused on the traditional news and entertainment media. This is kind of the same social upheaval that spawned "punk rock" music in the 1970's. Marginalized people produce negative content. Negative content stands out, attracts attention. Pretty soon, more and more people are producing the negative-toned content, whether they are marginalized or not.

I sincerely think that, for leaders who are willing to genuinely engage and open channels of communication, who are willing to devolve power back to people, that they will be able to weather and transcend vindictiveness. I think that current leaders are withering in the face of vindictive mobs because they are relying on old public relations, governing, and decision making mechanisms, that have marginalized the very people who are now biting at their ankles, empowered by the cheap technology you describe below. You can fight them, you can run and hide from them, or you can engage them. Help them turn their energies towards the problems they are complaining about in the first place. Problems they actually care about. The problem is that many of these leaders are focused on large corporations, and wealthy people at the expense of ordinary people who must also live with these leader's decisions. If the leaders turned some of this decisions making and governing over to these people, instead of hoarding it all, they'd have even more time for hob-knobbing and cavorting with other big-whigs :)


On May 14, 11:02 am, brian ohanlon <> wrote:
> There is something I wish to mention here Howard,
> and I think you should try and relate what I am about to say to
> your own understanding of Gregory Bateson, Norbert Weiner and
> cybernetics.
> I read a book review in paper today about crisis management.
> 'Everything you know about crisis management you taught was right is
> wrong',
> Or something like that.
> Basically it is describing how vindictive the public have become to
> leaders.
> That a strong counter reaction is needed today, rather than a weak
> attempt to educate people who are 'upset'.
> This was the main thrust of my point I wanted to make to you about you
> tube, blogging And combinations of these things.
> This is what I was talking about in relation to warren bennis's old
> book called 'Leaders'.
> You have to understand the context in which a leader is operating.
> This is very similar to Gregory Bateson's old cybernetic observation
> too, of the context - the horse and the grassland adjusting to each
> other.
> Thanks Howard for the Saxenian reference.
> I listened to AnnaLee Saxenian talking about her cross disiplinary web
> services course at stanford.
> We should be doing that sort of thing here in ireland more I think.
> I felt her points were like that of john thackara, in that john talks
> quite a lot in his
> Book too about services design, and how you inject people in the
> service concept,
> At 'human touch points'.
> Definitely there is a lack of human touch points, for many of these
> people who experience Politics now via the fibre optic cable, and find
> themselves becoming very 'reactionary' To much of what they perceive
> is 'going on' in the world around them.
> And because this medium is strongly dominated by Bush-ism issues these
> days,
> you have a growing population of non-US citizens around the globe
> today who believe Bush is
> their president and is lying to them directly. This is something that
> I personally find extremely repulsive about new formats of social
> gathering and meeting online.
> The lack of human touch points, and the newly evolved context in which
> leaders cannot survive the
> vindictiveness of the mobs for very long.
> The price of 'entry' to get on this vindictiveness bandwagon is too
> cheap by far,
> all you really need is a broadband connection and time to waste.
> Regards
> Brian O'Hanlon

Sam Rose
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Howard Rheingold

May 22, 2007, 10:49:07 PM5/22/07
I love your informed passion, Sam.

brian ohanlon

May 26, 2007, 5:56:21 PM5/26/07
to CooperationCommons

Sam, I didn't notice this post until now.
But yeah, this is something I have witnessed here a lot in Dublin city
in the past couple of years. We have recently changed from having a
culture here in Dublin, loosely focussed around mild alcoholism, to a
more 'information' based culture, for want of a better word.

But I have to get back to that talk that Alan Kay made to the
Film Institute.
I have friends here in Dublin who aren't enjoying hobbies or
anymore, but have become obsessed with the collapse of the twin
They watch this event at least a dozen times each day, and analyse it
from all different angles. As bad as the old news channels were,
at least they were like certain 'message boards' where old news was
pushed of the picture to make room for newer topics.

But with You Tube, I notice certain spectacles like 9/11 don't simply
disappear off the radar, but linger there much, much longer and
become the subject of a much more indepth analysis than things would
have been in the past.

Take the Vietnam war for instance, yeah it was the first war to
appear almost live on television. But 9/11 coincides with the
of these new media technology.

I am reminded of that Katie Hirst kidnapping in Los Angeles.
I saw a documentary about how she and her kidnappers were hiding
secretly around the campus in California, but what I found really
intriguing about that documentary, was how unaware the cops were
of the cameras and crews all around them at a shoot out.

The live footage of this shoot out went all across the country,
and the police spent most of their time trying to keep the dumb
out of the line of fire.

I thinking what has happened with 9/11 and you tube, is traditional
media and new media are battling it out on this playing pitch.
With the old media supposedly used as a weapon by the Bush
to manipulate reality. And the 'truth' is supposed to lie in what
You Tube can offer up.

It has really made me wonder what is truth at all, and I guess this
is Alan Kay's observation in that address to the American Film
Once we understand our 'reality' is as much a part of how we see
as what is happening externally, then we really know something.

You know, it is no wonder that old media is being 'attacked'
via the battleground of the 9/11 conspiracy theorists. Because it
was only yesterday that another great industrial information age
that of accounting came under attack as a result of the Enron scandal

I am using some of Drucker's and some of Benkler's ideas here,
about old media versus new media.

I am reading Drucker's 2002 book, managing in a new society.
Drucker mentions about the demise of the large department store.
How the department store retailer ended up knowing more and more
about less and less.

This is largely happening to traditional television and movies too.
We have really no way of thinking about these 'non-customers',
they simply do not show up on traditional means of accounting.

Damage Control, I think was the name of that recent book I saw
reviewed in a newspaper.

Sam, when you speak about 'helping them to turn their energies
towards the problems', I really cannot even begin to describe to
you what is going on out there. I have been hammering at Howard
to go and observe this, but I don't think many people realise
the serious-ness of the situation we find ourselves in now.

What I am seeing is people who are losing all sense of their own
of being. Michael Warren, a sculptor here in Ireland spoke recently
about a Chinesse poem, which had a line that said: 'Existence is a
Being is a line'.

What I am seeing nowadays, is people who exist rather than being.

While Howard commends the new technology for offering more than
a remote control. I would argue that people are not being offered
even different channels anymore in this new technology. Rather they
subjecting themselves to the same programme over and over again,
just slightly dressing up in different clothes, but the same

What I am saying, is while the new media gives you great freedom,
people haven't learned fully how to cope with that choice, that
gush. Simply because their minds have been formed by the channel
for so long. There is something like Peter M. Senge's chemical to
on the corn field happening here. The human race, having being
raised on so much traditional media, doesn't have the capacity to cope
the new media like it should.

I am watching the Matrix movie series a bit of late. There are some
wonderful scenes in those movies, which illustrate a bit, what I am
talking about, in terms of people fighting to deal with information
that is becoming more and more part of their environment.

When I see guys who sit in front of you tube and watch the twin
collapse a dozen times a day - and that is their 'reality', I would
have to agree largely with McLuhan's point, that the media does
create your environment. And from that point, it brings in all of
Gregory Bateson's Ecology of a Mind stuff also, about horses and the
co-evolution and so on.

I certainly liked Bob Glushko's talking about institutions on
IT Conversations. I am reading several others talk about institutions
I have come to realise those institutions aren't there in the new
environment. And I have come to realise that some people aren't able
to cope in an environment, which doesn't give them some pointers or
which those early industrial information age institutions would have
provided people with.

I have been hammering Howard about this for some time now.
The best reference I have come across in printed word of late,
was Warren Bennis Leaders book. I haven't been able to articulate
exactly what I like in his book, but the book, though old now,
does resonate with me. In terms of thinking about the new culture
growing up around You Tube, hate and conspiracy theorism.


brian ohanlon

May 26, 2007, 6:04:27 PM5/26/07
to CooperationCommons
My above post also relates alot to Steve Weber's point made in his
Cooperation Commons lecture.
Weber criticised what he saw in Larry Lessig's argument.
That Lessig is in effect representing what he sees around him, as an
epic battle between
two strongly opposed sides.
I think that is what has gone wrong with You Tube.
As a platform it has been adopted by nut cases.
Who see themselves at the centre of this epic battle between new and
old media.
Many of them I should include are failed music artists or failed
'creative' people in some shape or form.
Who have an axe to grind with the older industrial information age
music industry or something.
The very same thing happened to Apple computers you will notice, where
the Apple computer
became the obsession of a loyal band of nut case followers who wanted
to create this illusion
of the epic battle between good Apple and evil Microsoft.
To a large extent You Tube is being pushed down the same road as Apple
was being pushed,
all through the 1990s. You Tube should really try to drop this
following in my opinion.


brian ohanlon

May 26, 2007, 6:12:47 PM5/26/07
to CooperationCommons
This might even account for some of the problems now with wikipedia.
So what I am talking about and peoples' inability to cope with this
information environment, would have to be pertinent to the issue of
the commons.

>From my point of view, the problems associated with wikipedia have
been poorly analysed, by people who don't have the right tools to
what is actually happening.

The problems at wikipedia simply haven't been looked at through the
that I am looking through. This is why I really, really wished that
would direct his groups and theirs energies to look at the problem
the logic I describe above.


Howard Rheingold

May 26, 2007, 7:03:40 PM5/26/07
I don't know whether I can direct anybody, Brian. I'm only very partially successfully at requesting anything of people. ;-)

May 26, 2007, 7:30:27 PM5/26/07


I think we are dealing with a cognitive problem.

The dilemma is that the quest needs to be for a theory that reliably brings about cooperation and breakthrough substantive results. The problem is that most ommons participants seem inclined to an academic/informational point of view or an applied point of view....and never the twain shall meet. The quest needs to be for a solution that addresses both paradoxically.This calls for us/me to be able to transcend the structure of their point of view.

Not a likely prospect.

Charlie Smith

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Howard Rheingold

May 26, 2007, 8:20:02 PM5/26/07
Human social behavior is a complex adaptive system that we understand relatively shallowly. We certainly know a great deal more about how cells and ecosystems, stars, galaxies, atoms and molecules operate, undoubtedly because they can be predicted and controlled in ways that humans cannot and should not. But it seems to me obviously inadequate to try to shape policies around governance of electromagnetic spectrum, individual and international atmospheric carbon emissions, peace treaties between warring parties in the absence of much systematic, empirical knowledge. Barbers did more harm than good when they bled people for diseases that were caused by microorganisms.

All I've ever said about this myself is that we know little and that although knowing more certainly doesn't guarantee a magical formula for cooperation, failing to understand how humans cooperate and fail to cooperate is not a formula for successful action, either. Maybe when we know more, we can reasonably conclude that there are limits to attempts to govern commons, ameliorate conflict, create wealth collectively -- just as Turing and Godel demonstrated that there are limits to mathematics and logic. But we don't know more.

Some people know something, though. is an attempt to get a start on putting together some fragments of knowledge, thus perhaps enabling others to devise observations and experiments that could lead to knowing more. And perhaps shedding some light on practical problems such as commons governance and conflict resolution.

brian ohanlon

May 27, 2007, 4:32:05 AM5/27/07
to CooperationCommons

a lot of my formal instruction in cooperation would have come from
parents and the culture that I grew up in. Rather like that movie
about Sparta I saw recently, we were trained from a young age
as I recall to cooperate as teams just like the ancient spartans did.
I recall winning many a football trophy having defeated opposition
who were 10 times stronger and better than ourselves.
But as we learned something about cooperation and winning,
we also learned something about leadership.
This is something many kinds don't appreciate anymore.
The kids who coalesce around You Tube and google these days are the
kinds of
kids as I understand it, who missed out on this learning.
The are really impoverished kids - me, me, me kinds of people.
Who really aren't the kinds of people you want to try to cooperate
with in the first place.

I was really reminded of some You Tube addicts when I watched that
about the Zodiac killer recently. What we are seeing these days is not
a surge
in cooperation at all. What we are really seeing is a surge in
broadband usage
of people who want to do everything else except cooperate.
What we are seeing in plain terms is a massive influx of 'cartoonist'
types of
characters as seen in the movie Zodiac. These fellows are doing
which the traditional journalists and police do not understand or even
want to acknowledge.
You could say the cartoonist in the movie was the 'non-consumer', the
Long Tail so to speak.
I am seeing plenty of folks here in Ireland, whose lives have been
swallowed up,
to use your phaseology Howard, not by something they enjoy doing, but
something they have stopped enjoying ages ago, but feel, because of
this You Tube
'Free Information environment', they are forced to continue this
search for the truth.
These are the people who aren't suited to cooperation, but are forced
into some kind
of massive online collaborative cooperation effort to find some
fantastic truth about everything.
This is why I would use Isaiah Berlin's book 'The Crooked Timber of
Humanity' as a reference.
Not only does Isaiah Berlin deal with the whole issue of communities,
but he also deals
with this notion of a search for an eternal truth.

I urge you to try and invite David Crompton of Archigram over to
give a Long Now Founcation lecture on cities and populations.
David is an example of someone who grew up in the city of Blackpool
in England. It was an odd sort of a city to grow up in, because
we from the outside saw in the sea side resort town of Blackpool,
David from the inside only saw as normal.
So, when you began in the Well Howard, with others that formed
the basis for your understanding of how things should operate.
Fred Turner makes some poignant observations about the early Well
in his MIT discussion I noticed, you can listen to it on You Tube.
To outsiders, Blackpool was a spectacle, an illusion, a kind of Las
of its era, but to the young David growing up, he imagined every town
was like this. So how we cooperate has alot to do with the town's and
we grow up in.

In a similar way, on the internet, the settlements we create for
ourselves there
give people different first experiences of what a settlement on the
internet should
or should not be like.
That is why I posted up my account of Herman Hertzberger here,
Herman has been in the business of building working and learning
for societies for a few decades now.
I think if you were at least to track down speakers like these guys,
to at least
give a lecture, it would be a great starting point. I know they are
working in the
atomic world Howard, but still, they have been in the business of
societies and atoms together for a very long time.
As world builders in the bit based space, we are still trying to
how societies and bits should co-habitate.


brian ohanlon

May 27, 2007, 4:41:36 AM5/27/07
to CooperationCommons
My point Howard, is that maybe online My Space will not be the answer
to everything.
Maybe online, we will have the Sparta's who train their young to be
Maybe online, we will have places like Herman Hertzberger's schools,
where young immigrant
children and their parents can learn to integrate better into their
new society.
Maybe we will have the Blackpools, of David Crompton's youth, where
seeing elephants walking
along the beach is a normal everyday event. And the population
increases in the summer time
by a half a million and that half a million visitors turns over each
weekend to make room for
the latest batch. All I am saying, is that by looking at the diversity
of environments in the
atomic based world, it might give us some idea of the diversity
appropriate in a bit based world.

What I am saying is close in some ways to Larry Lessig's writings. But
in other ways, it is
closer to what Danah Boyd is talking about too.

What I have noticed really, is that the Smart Mobs conceptual model
has a lot broken in it,
some huge chunks missing, and I am wondering if it is time for the
Smart Mobs 2.0 revision?
Similar to what Lessig did with his code, using the wikipedia
contributions to flesh out the
original text?


brian ohanlon

May 27, 2007, 5:02:13 AM5/27/07
to CooperationCommons
As a part of the David Crompton Archigram point above, about
perceptions of your world from the inside and outside, I would have to
include Peter F. Drucker's comments in his 2002 book, Managing in a
New Society. Peter talked a lot about information systems built to
capture knowledge of what is inside an organisation and what is
outside. He cites the example of the large Japanesse trading houses
who amassed huge amounts of information about a country like Brazil.
It took them huge amount of investment and hard work to assemble this
together over decades.

Now what google and wikipedia are hoping is that information will be
given to them for free practically, by providing this supposed 'safe
zone' for online contributors. It is very like the movie '28 days
later', where a virus struck Britain and afterwards the US Army
created a safe zone on an island in the middle of London, from where
the re-population was to begin. But it didn't work out and all these
people became 'targets', for the sniper units operating from rooftops.
I think the situation described in that movie '28 days later' is an
interesting 'social experiment', and helps to give you some idea of
the scale and ridiculous-ness of recent online experiments such as My
Space, wikipedia and google. I believe most of these participants are
like those naieve sitting ducks in the movie, who spend most of their
lifes either running from the snipers or being struck by the deadly

The kinds of things that google or yahoo experts such as Danah Boyd
refer to as social networks, are no more than the 'Isle of Dogs' type
situation in London, with the snipers on the roof. Google is supposed
working on saving all your email data etc. Huh? What we have online,
is a situation rather like the movie '28 days later', with a vast
country which isn't inhabited with any people, that isn't safe. So we
need to create these restricted areas, which are guarded. The guys who
hang around You Tube are a little more like the guys who get the
virus. They end up running into the underground.

I don't like the current online environment much myself, because it
forces too many inhabitants to make this very starck decision between
the safe zone or the dead zone. The safe zones are interesting to a
company such as google because the inhabitants are expendable but the
experiment allows them to gather information about societies. The dead
zones are inhabited by people who live in this McLuhan kind of You
Tube environment. I believe more in Drucker's point, about information
systems gathering stuff about inside and outside.


brian ohanlon

May 27, 2007, 5:12:17 AM5/27/07
to CooperationCommons
So if you take those couple of architypes Howard,
The controlled Isle of Dogs, The Spartan village settlement pattern,
The Blackpool seaside resort, The Herman Hertzberger office or
And I think, that Isaiah Berlin's issue of searching for eternal
truths deserves a place.
Do you see what I am doing Howard? I am trying to describe alternative
settlement patterns.

As Isaiah Berlin would say, these alternative settlement patterns are
never going to be quite compatible with one another.
Jane Jacobs is very good at talking about the edge conditions between
these various environments too.
How that is a part of the world we live in.
At the end of the day, Isaiah Berlin is talking about the Mirror and
the Lamp - those who want a central idea and those who want diversity
of ideas.
Those people who are Hedgehogs and those who are foxes.

Who is going to look at what is happening online from this point of
view, to illustrate all of the possibilities, rather than talk about
just one.
My notion is of a book with maybe twelve or so chapters, that paints
various different pictures of how societies could develop.
Drawing on the wealth of material we have about the physical,
geographical world it could provide a useful reference for scholars
who are
trying to expand their awareness to encapsulate as many possible
alternative for the online world as possible.
Who is going to write this book Howard? Does it happen like, one
author writes it all? Or maybe could several people cooperate
to write a chapter, or couple of chapters?


brian ohanlon

May 27, 2007, 5:26:10 AM5/27/07
to CooperationCommons
Remember in ancient Greece, it was composed of various islands of
different culture. The Spartan culture was not compatible with other
cultures in the same country.
So what I think, you will see happen online, if you take it we are at
the beginning of the story of civilisation and settlement patterns
online - we will see the emergence of strong tribal identities founded
around strong driving principles. The kind of tribe you seem to want
Howard, is the Spartan kind. But you must realise that while a certain
small network of valleys and villages will develop this strong
cooperative instinct, it may not take hold in other regions which will
be stronger in pottery or art. There is one very brilliant scene in
the movie Sparta, where the leader of the 300 men meet with the
thousand men from another district. And they have an argument over who
brought with them the most warriors. It turns out that not one amongst
the thousand were real warriors.

Please note Peter F. Drucker's point in the 2002 book, that the
military is the only organisation we see today who is using both the
data stream and accounting information together. If we decide to look
back in our history to ancient Sparta, it would appear that the
strenghts and merits of cooperation we first expounded by a tribe
whose economy was based around warfare. Please also see Malcolm
Gladwell's book, Blink for an interesting discussion about information
and warfare also.

But this gets back to my whole point, that we will see many tribes
develope online, who want to try many different ideas. One of them
will build strongly around cooperation. No doubt as Sparta left its
impression on history, and on our minds, so will the online
equivalent. But that is the way crowds operate - it is from the
diversity of ideas, that the reliable answers appear. Noone yet has
seriously looked at Karl Popper and how his point of view relates to
the online space. Sure they talk about the open source community as if
it were an open society. But to my mind open source is another tribe,
within the entire open society. That is what was interesting about
John Markoff's and Fred Turner's point of view I think. That the
initial culture around computing was what the early computing ideas
grafted on to. This is very like Alan Kay's point about the Ecology of
the Mind. About the environment in which an idea takes hold being
important in how the idea is first developed.


brian ohanlon

May 27, 2007, 5:27:22 AM5/27/07
to CooperationCommons
The ideas are probably few and very similar, but what will happen is
when many tribes develop online, they will provide the necessary
diversity of environment from which the same ideas can be developed


brian ohanlon

May 27, 2007, 5:32:01 AM5/27/07
to CooperationCommons
My impression too, is that Sparta as a civilisation in itself drew on
some much earlier mythology about a tiny tribe of warriors on the
ancient greek coast from which the warrior Achilles sprang up and rose
to develop the greatest reputations of all warriors in time. This idea
was traced a little bit in the movie Troy. So I guess that is how
'civilisations' begin, they boot strap themselves up from mere
individuals. This is where it really gets interesting, in a manner of
speaking, as in Bateson's great notion of an Ecology of the Mind. Even
today, we still have the debate echo-ing. As Oliver Stone says about
his movie on Alexander, 'It will be everything that Troy wasn't'.


brian ohanlon

May 27, 2007, 5:51:30 AM5/27/07
to CooperationCommons
To get back to the Matrix movie too, it has a similar idea in it.
About how the humans produced a 'Neo' every generation. An individual
who would reject the system. The oracle was the programme who designed
the system to be imperfect. As she said about the fifth or sixth
generation 'Neo':

'For what its worth boy, you've made a believer out of me'.

It is funny how the idea of a new civilisation in that movie too,
began with a certain individual, like an Achilles as in ancient
Greece, the supreme warrior and the supreme cooperation idealist.

I urge people here to watch that movie '28 days later'. Robert
Carlisle is wonderful 'scared and vulnerable' for once in that movie,
he really is a wonderful acting talent. The movie soundtrack is
perfect too, adding to the sense of vulnerabilities and helplessness
of survivors situation. I cannot but be reminded of wikipedia when the
'Code Red' happens and the snippers instructions alternate between
shoot the infected, then shoot on sight, then all are targets. I
cannot but be reminded of the wikipedia format of reputation point
scoring etc, etc.


brian ohanlon

May 27, 2007, 6:12:31 AM5/27/07
to CooperationCommons
There was one little book I recall was a reference in my university
days. It was Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. As a format it was a
slim volume and provided discussion on the several forms of city or
settlement that can happen. It was a clever way to organise thoughts
about cities and their inhabitants I think. I is worth checking out.


May 27, 2007, 9:05:00 AM5/27/07

Thanks for this. It will help me and many of the proessionals I know.

Charlie is an attempt to get a start on putting together some fragments of knowledge, thus perhaps enabling others to devise observations and experiments that could lead to knowing more. And perhaps shedding some light on practical problems such as commons governance and conflict resolution.

brian ohanlon

May 27, 2007, 3:18:12 PM5/27/07
to CooperationCommons
Some interesting thoughts expressed in NextD interview.

Dr. Jeff Conklin and Dr. Min Basadur try to put the work of Horst
Rittel and Melvin Webber into some context.

I didn't realise Howard, did you know that Mitchell author of city of
bits, and Donald A. Schon, a friend of Fred Brooks and Herb Simon,
wrote a book together. I am very interested in this relationship
between architecture, urban planning and information.

You have probably gathered that much by now. That is what really draws
me back to find out what Howard, Kelly or Brand are thinking or
I think it is an area with vast room for exploration, and I will
always encourage you Howard to cross those boundaries.

Yeah, Tom Kelley at Stanford, and people such as Bob Glushko, AnnaLee
Saxenian are all looking into what 'multi-disiplinary' could mean.
Even in Bateson's book on the Ecology of the Mind, he does offer his
own thoughts on this 'post WII' fascination with multi-disiplinary

In a way Howard, I do envy you and where you are at the moment.
Certainly, I feel that what has happened lately around Stanford has
capability to be much more interesting than most of what was done by
Negroponte or Gershenfeld at MIT. Not to discount the ground breaking
work they did there, but I still feel the Stanford developments are a
part of a new chapter, and you should try to be a part of it.


brian ohanlon

May 27, 2007, 3:27:40 PM5/27/07
to CooperationCommons
For what it is worth Howard, you have certainly been responsible for
implanting a lot of new ideas and approaches to design in a place here
on a little island on the coast of Europe. There is a growing number
of youngsters here, who after my prodding and encouragement are
starting to tackle authors such as John Thackara, Bruce Mau, Tom
Kelley etc. Hopefully, in times to come this influence will affect the
syllabus and education here. I can only hope.

Sites like this one:

This is the kind of thing I never looked at before. It was finding a
crumpled up paperback edition of Howard Rheingold's Virtual Reality in
a bookstore bargain section, and a train of events like that, that
certainly turned me around to face new design responsibilities. So I
would not underestimate your contributions Howard. But as Drucker
would say in his book, take the zipper in your trousers, it was
designed originally for use on the docks for wrapping things like
bails of wool. They didn't think of it in terms of clothing at all. In
a similar vein, your contributions possibly haven't had the effects
that you intended.


brian ohanlon

May 27, 2007, 3:33:48 PM5/27/07
to CooperationCommons
But the main point I wanted to make was on Horst Rittel and Melvin
Webber and their investigation of wicked problems. It seems there were
never more educated people on the planet, and at the same time, there
was never more complex and wicked problems to solve. It seems to me,
that what we are talking here about is wicked problems. Problems like
cooperation are funny, in than one solution can result in an even
worse problem. For me, that is what has happened. You put on something
like You Tube, and the result is a worse problem than before, because
it attracts too many of the wrong type. That NextD interview has a
list of very good references. It kinda ties up with Neil Gershenfeld's
work too, that of personal fabrication and cooperation on the
manufacture of useful items or services.


Howard Rheingold

May 27, 2007, 3:36:13 PM5/27/07
Very astute and encouraging, Brian. I am glad to know that my work has had some influence. I'm certainly not in it for the money. I didn't know that about zippers.

brian ohanlon

May 27, 2007, 3:43:02 PM5/27/07
to CooperationCommons
Oh, I am sure you are in the middle of something quite significant
over there. In the middle of it, and so close up to it, you probably
don't even realise. I mean, having spent most of your life travelling
to find locations where it was happening, it would be quite ironic now
to find yourself right in the middle of it again. My only advice is to
keep it up, and it will be sure to amount to something. The key though
is linking up with different disiplines. If you read that Tom Kelley
interview at NextD website, he is saying a lot of the right things.
Design as Glue.

The key for you I feel is to take what Stewart Brand is doing, what
Kelly is doing, what you are doing and look at what is happening in
other disiplines who work in the world of atoms. My references above
are my personal favourites in architecture and urban design. The ones
I feel could join up best with what you are doing yourself.


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