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strong ideas, loosely held

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strong ideas, loosely held

Blogging is a technique I make sense of the world. I’ve now written over 3,300 posts on numerous matters. My methods of seeing the world have modified over time and running a blog has helped to maintain my ideas in a state of perpetual beta — strong concepts, loosely held, with a purpose to take care of fixed change whereas nonetheless getting issues carried out. Today we’re in nice want of sensemaking between residents as we take care of the complexities of a pandemic, an financial recession, and rising violence in lots of components of the world.


One impact of the community period, and its pervasive digital connections, is that networks are changing or subverting extra conventional hierarchies of our establishments and markets. Three features of this impact are — 1) entry to virtually limitless info, 2) the flexibility for nearly anybody to self-publish, and three) limitless alternatives for “ridiculously easy group-forming” as Seb Paquet described the results of social media.

The want to narrate is what drives folks to help international social actions on one hand, and to take shelter in tribal id politics on the opposite. In politics, social media prolong participation but in addition make info manipulation by small motivated teams a lot simpler. Understanding this deep want to narrate to others must be foremost in thoughts in understanding human dynamics.

We won’t have organizational transformation, or political reformation, with out folks feeling like they belong. To counter Tribal populism, we additionally have to enchantment to feelings and our emotions of relatedness. The similar goes for training and studying.

Tribalism & Populism

If we need to keep away from a return to Tribal battle and a slender view of society, we have to construct and check different community fashions. We are in determined want of recent fashions for dwelling, working, and studying. The nice work of our time is to design, construct, and check new organizational fashions that replicate our democratic values and may operate in an interconnected world. Failure by present generations to take action will go away the subsequent ones to take care of the reactionary forces of tribalism, corporatism, and maybe even fascism.

Open info and entry to our widespread information belongings is required. We can solely take care of advanced methods and issues collectively. I used to suppose that the nice work to be carried out at first of this century was the democratization of the office. This is not sufficient. Our nice work right this moment is the re-democratization of society. Everything is now being communicated, and fragmented, at an electrical tempo. Change occurs rapidly in an electrical, and now digital, age.

Self-mastery of our personal pondering is important to counter the results of a networked world, the place phrases are electrically prolonged by social media. Information manipulation is turning into widespread, driving id politics. This in fact makes a fertile atmosphere for demagogues to wave the flag of populism.

In the community period, populism is the primary refuge of a scoundrel. A literate, engaged, and networked citizenry provides no such refuge.


“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it. ”
—Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

Democracy wants open and clear communications to exist. The historical Greeks had a type of democracy but it surely was restricted by oral discourse. Such a democracy couldn’t develop past its quick borders. The printing press enabled the French revolution and it was important for the American revolution. There is even a postal clause within the US structure. Communications applied sciences can allow in addition to disrupt democracy. We stay in a time the place know-how supplies immense potential for human communications however we lack the organizational constructions to make the most of this. Faith sooner or later is low, especially in democratic and developed countries.

We are caught in a interval much like the early period of the printing press. Printed books enabled the Protestant reformation which flamed conflicts just like the European wars of faith, and solely a few years later developed into the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment. Today we’re presumably shifting towards an age of Entanglement, however a reversion to tribalism in our instances might lead to a interval much like the tumultuous 16th and 17th centuries in Europe.

We don’t have to have closed borders and homogeneous nationalistic identities. It is time to develop international identities and organizations based mostly on our widespread humanity, enhanced by range, and enabled by digital communications applied sciences. If we construct organizations that allow this we simply may survive as a community society.

Here is our collective problem.

  1. Tribal values aren’t democratic.
  2. Institutions can not react quick sufficient as a result of their inherent hierarchies.
  3. Markets are centered on competitors, typically leaving establishments to scrub up their messes.

As our establishments aren’t set as much as take care of complexity, we now want new constructions that may counter the sick results of markets, particularly crony capitalism and platform monopolies. Changing the dominant insurance policies that information governments is the proper route to maneuver towards a community society and keep away from the reversals to inferior however comforting, tribal, institutional, or market types. This will take ‘group comprehension’.

“More and more, the unit of comprehension is going to be group comprehension, where you simply have to rely on a team of others because you can’t understand it all yourself. There was a time, oh, I would say as recently as, certainly as the 18th century, when really smart people could aspire to having a fairly good understanding of just about everything … Well that’s the fragility, the hyper-fragility of civilisation right there. We could all be bounced back into the 19th century.” 
—Daniel Dennett


As organizations get decentralized and work groups extra dynamic, people want a long-term method for his or her skilled growth and information sharing. They can not depend on the more and more short-term nature of firms. Today, all professionals want giant and numerous information networks. They even have to search out and have interaction with skilled communities of apply with a purpose to constantly change their apply to take care of a fluid exterior atmosphere. If not, they’ll fail to create worth.

As computer systems more and more take over routine work, we can not flip a blind eye to how they make selections. Not solely do we’ve to concentrate on human work, we’ve to maintain a cautious eye on what the machines are doing, why they’re doing it, and the way they’re making their selections.

For advanced work we want strong information networks, and free (short-term & negotiated) hierarchies. With the machines making so many selections right this moment, we can not management them with authoritarian organizational fashions. We ought to go away the hierarchies to the algorithms.
We can not depend upon conventional gatekeepers of knowledge and information.

Each of us should have interaction with others and develop our trusted information networks. None of us are sensible sufficient to deal with all of the connections in our digital lives on our personal. We want to make use of each our human networks and our machines in live performance. Our skilled connections, particularly these outdoors our present workplaces, are our safety. They will assist us be taught, discover work, and push our skilled boundaries. In the long term, the extra we contribute to our social networks and communities of apply, the extra resilient we’ll make them and in return will weave a stronger social security internet for ourselves.


Radical innovation solely comes from networks with giant structural holes, that are extra numerous. This is why our social networks can not even be our work groups, or they change into echo chambers. In our work groups we will concentrate on incremental innovation, to get higher at what we already do. Communities of apply then change into a bridge on this community continuum, being half particular person and half interactive.

My statement over the previous decade is that almost all organizations focus totally on incremental innovation and don’t enable time and assets to be expended on social networking actions which are formally perceived to be frivolous. This is a serious error in a time of fast technological, financial, and societal change.

Strong networks and short-term hierarchies must be related by studying whereas working, and sharing information freely.

Today, studying needs to be a part of work for everybody, and that needs to be the muse of any human group. The battle between growing a brand new society based mostly on the community type versus a retreat to the tribal type is simply starting.

It will solely be by way of our collective want to be taught with others and construct networked organizations that we will construct a greater world. It begins by every of us turning into higher networked learners. Our training methods haven’t ready us for this, however I place confidence in the ability of motivated, curious, and inventive international residents.

“If not us, then who?
 If not now, then when?”

This is a modified extract from the introduction to Life in Perpetual Beta

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