Stephen Dulaney, Of Social Dynamix fame (FM Radio) and I have been talking by email about Social Capital. He asked me today what my interst has been and here is my reply. Isn't it great to have people in your life you ask you to dif deeper. Thank you Stephen
Thank you for your kind note.
My interest in Social Capital is that I am writing a book - on my blog -
about the possibility of a return to a more tribal hunter gatherer set of
I think we lost these when we took up settled living and agriculture. They
were lost even further when our machines shifted from those that were direct
extensions of the human body to those that had a life of their own. We like
the Matrix became machines as well. But 4 million years of living in tribal
settings is pulling us back to our more "natural" set of relationships where
we feel most comfortable.
The industrial revolution made us into cogs of the machine. Our Matrix. We
can only imagine institutional and power relationships now. We have
introduced these into every aspect of life including schools and now child
rearing where most kids are raised in daycare. Going out away from home to
work is a critical part of the deep separation that we are suffering from
ourselves and the natural world.
Erik Erikson puts it this way:
"Primitive tribes have a direct relation to the sources and means of
production. Their tools are extensions of the human body. Children in these
groups participate in technical and in magic pursuits. To them, body,
environment , childhood and culture may be full of dangers, but they are all
In our world, machines, far from remaining extensions of the human body,
destine whole human organizations to be extensions of machinery; magic
serves intermediate links only and childhood becomes a separate segment of
life with its own folklore.
The expansiveness of civilization, together with its stratification and
specialization force children to base their ego models on shifting,
sectional and contradictory prototypes"
Ironically it is the new technology that may help to pull us back. The PC is
bringing back the tools of the economy to the home. The PC is an extension
of my mind - my principal hunting tool.
What I am seeing is that millions of us are in effect "hunting" again. I
bet that you are really. We are using our symbolic skills to go out there
with a small band of intimate associates who could not really be described
as employees. Look at Matt Mower and Paolo. We, as in hunting bands live or die together. Our hunting
grounds are not a sure thing, but we have enough skill and we have enough
collective skill in our band to cope with most problems and threats.
Our work and our play blend into each other. Our work and our family blend
once again into each other. Most 2 year olds can access our primary tool.
Many 8 years olds are expert. The child and the adult are reconnected with the PC..
We are also friends and co workers. The family is no longer separated from
resource gathering. In my case my children are involved as is my wife. We
are a true band in that we are a combination of social and economic unit.
New members earn their place as a result of finding us and us them via tools
New tools such Groove and Blogs keep us attached over distance. The PC and
the Net enable us to form tribes through time and space based on mutual
trust and shred values. Most of us could never be farmers again.
Social Capital is I think at its heart all about these types of horizontal
relationships. People like Putnam are beginning to be able to measure it and
show how it affects all sorts of outcome. Bottom line where the
relationships are most non tribal (read most broken by industrial models)
i.e. top down such as in the South of Italy or the deep south in the US, all
outcomes are worst - health, crime , learning etc.
I can link you to Doug Wilms work here who is looking at family functioning.
Families with authoritarian and with permissive cultures have poor
behavioural and learning outcomes. Families with authoritative cultures (
who have rules but who also listen and empathically react) do very well.
This is true in the workplace as well. Marmot's work on organizations shows
the same. Nearly 20% of the payroll costs of a traditional organization are
now lost to health and absence costs driven by misery. Organizations with
managers who listen and support do much better.I am finding a large body of
scientific evidence for our worldview being at the heart of most of our
This is why I have such hope for Groove and for making blogging simpler - we
are desperate for real human relationships. These tools encourage this.
Too much to say in an email. I will put some more links to the research on
Please also keep up your great work of enabling these links for all the
muggins like me who need simple tools. The big breakthrough will come when
the most techno illiterate can do a lot easily.
You ask what would be some new things. I struggle to customize my home page.
I fiddle with code to add a blogroll and to add categories. I would love to
add my picture and to do these types of things without using code as I can
do with picture on FM but not with Radio itself.
I don't need you to do these things for me but for you to have a strategy to
make radio really easy for the dweeb would bring you lots of customers I