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
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.
>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.
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
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
in cooperation at all. What we are really seeing is a surge in
of people who want to do everything else except cooperate.
What we are seeing in plain terms is a massive influx of 'cartoonist'
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
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
give people different first experiences of what a settlement on the
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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?
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.
'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.
http://www.cooperationcommons.com/Documents 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.
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.
Sites like this one: http://www.designinginteractions.com/
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.
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.