Updated: 04/06/2003; 11:13:53 PM.
The Work Place
What is it about traditional work places that is so stifling to the creative? Is reform possible? What are the alternatives?

Friday, May 30, 2003

Chapter 1 - The Gift

Here, in the 12th Chapter of the Gospel of Luke, beginning at the 22nd verse:

"Jesus said to his disciples, 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies: they neither dye their hair nor inject Botox between their eyebrows, ( a great sermon) yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not adorned like one of these.'"

In tribal society there might be periodic shortages, even famine, but the overarching mindset is of a world filled with opportunity for the skilled hunter and gatherer. With no property as a core idea, I cannot fear that you might take my property away from me. In the tribal world, nature is brimming with stuff.

Let's explore this for a while and then look at how these tribal views fit into how modern science now sees the world and how the emerging new economy also fits the tribal model of the Gift.

Tribal people inhabit a world of relationships and energy. With few possessions, things are of little value. Tribal people know that everything that they think or do has an effect on the universe itself! They know that they are integrated into the world.

So every thought and act ripples out every where and has the potential to effect everything and everyone. When a hunter kills an animal for food, he sees the act as a "gift". In his mind, the animal allows itself to be killed by him. No matter what his skill - the hunter works hard to be grateful. The act of killing for food is a sacred ritual. The animals must be propitiated before, during and after the hunt.He knows that his energy and his relationship to the animal are critical to his success and hence to the survival of his tribe.

In a tribal setting, the bottom line for the survival of the individual is the survival of the tribe. This is why hunters and gatherers share what they hunt and find. Your reputation as hunter is dependent on two aspects: your success in hunting and your generosity in sharing. As a gatherer you share your wisdom about where food may be found and how all material brought into the camp can be converted into food, tools and clothing. Women in tribal life are responsible for the manufacturing side of the economy. Men for tools, for protein and for defence. The survival of the tribe depends on the skills being passed on well to the next generation.

So, at the heart of tribal life then is the social interaction that transfers all this knowledge into doctrine and onto the next generation.  tribal survival depends as much on the sharing of knowledge as in the sharing of food. Sharing is not a fantasy about being nice, as we teach kids in kindergarten to share their toys, but is a survival strategy enabling a small and physically weak primate compete with all other animals and all the varied environmental conditions that nature can inflict. TBA

12:49:59 PM    comment []

In my first scan of the book (Rob) The essence of the book is the idea that only when the deep structure changes do we have a true revolution. Until now we have been rearranging the deckchairs.

Their perception is a shift from the value being in the transaction (therefore inside the organization who has by definition an adversarial relationship with the consumer - think of buying a car! )to the value being in the relationship embedded in the individual 

A review from Amazon

5 out of 5 stars A New Framework for Business, December 31, 2002
Reviewer: harry wedstrone from new haven conn
This is a book of two parts. The first is a detailed examination of why managerial capitalism has reached the end of its useful life. Zuboff and Maxmin say that because the system is out of date it cannot serve the needs of todays consumers. They also say that its inward focus results in scandals like Enron because managers think the company is there to serve their needs, Managers are at the center of the system and value is inside the company. All of this was ok for making things but failed to deliver good service because it was not designed to do this. It used technology to reduce cost and depressed the impact of the internet. The net result is that we as consumers have changed, management has not and we suffer. WE seek help and only get a bloody nose.. The second part of the book follows the logic of the demise the management system Here value goes outside the company and rests with individuals ( it is distributed) To achieve alignment everything else ( control systems, ownership etc ) becomes distributed and wealth is realized by allowing people to live life on their own terms- by providing them with ' deep support" Here the technological and organisational vision is revolutionary. You need to forget all you have learned and think about capitalism from the ground up. The authors envision using digital platforms to provide common data and service. They suggest this will take 30% plus out of todays cost. These platforms will be base for new services and levels of support ranging from the fully automated to the personal. Here are advocates who navigate the world on your behalf. This is a whole new function ... they provide the ultimate range of support . They represent federations whose sole purpose is to provide different levels of support leveraging off the digital platforms. Federations obtain products and service from enterprises which come together and break apart .The whole concept is unique and extremely challenging. The idea is to create debate not to be proscriptive. The story of the family used to illustrate the meta-principles of distributed capitalism is great. It makes you understand how different things can be and need to be. Zuboof and Maxmin have convinced me not only that change is necessary and inevitable but there is a new future to write. Some people may dismiss their ideas as too radical but look at their track records- they know what they are talking about. The world needs more creative and visionary thinkers like this-people who are not afraid to embrace the future and challenge the status quo-- we should all applaud them

10:50:59 AM    comment []

George Por's excellent diagram of the evolution of our economy from things to experience
10:45:12 AM    comment []

Are Wikis Knowledge Managment or Content Managment?. Getting up to speed on wikis. Wikis are now on the radar screens of many of us grappling with using technology effectively in knowledge work. Ward Cunningham's book,The Wiki Way:Quick Collaboration on the Web, has been on my bookshelf for some time now and I've visited a handful of public wikis. Lately there's been a spate of posts in the blog world about wikis. I've gathered up and made a first pass at organizing the ones I've encountered into what might be a reasonable order (based on my current level of ignorance).

One thing that did help me get a better grasp on wikis was listening to David Weinberger's talk at Seabury Western two weeks ago. David was drawing attention to the collaborative effort to produce the Wikipedia, which is essentially an open source model effort at creating an online encyclopedia. I had always been puzzled by the free-for-all editing capability inherent in the wiki technology. The analogy that finally made it clear for me was to a whiteboard in a conference room. Those frequently become shared design spaces as markers change hands. Wikis are the same idea moved to the web, which suggests to me that they are likely to be more useful inside organizations than elsewhere.

  • Why Wiki Works - [link courtesy of Corante: Social Software, which has been following the Wiki discussion in depth]
  • Why Wike Works/Not
  • Why I Don't Like Wikis Email - [Also from Corante: Social Software] - Some interesting observations about visual presentation in wikis and email vs. better laid out web pages and how this interferes with the usefulness of wikis (at least on the public web).
  • Email Doesn't Self-Organize - [from Ross Mayfield] - quoting Ward Cunningham
    Cunningham also points out that you can go away from a wiki and come back at any time to pick up a conversation without much inconvenience, which isn't the case with e-mail-centric group discussions. "E-mail doesn't self-organize," he emphasizes.
  • The Cunningham quote comes from What's a Wiki? an overview article by Sebastian Rupley at Extreme Tech.
  • Wiki as a PIM and Collaborative Content Tool [via Sebastian Fiedler] - which appears to be a good overview with lots of links.
  • From the other Seb in my aggregator (Sebastien Paquet at Seb's Open Research) comes Why Meatball Matters.
    Meatball Wiki is a little-known gem in the jungle of online community-related material on the Web. What is it about? A whole lot of fascinating stuff - in founder Sunir Shah's words:

    It philosophizes about the nature of hypertext, government, and identity. It talks about user interfaces, community building, and conflict resolution. But it also contains technical analyses of indexing schemes, wiki architecture, and inter-wiki protocol design.
    Sunir has recently been busy writing up a nice summary of what's significant about Meatball, as part of a work portfolio he's preparing to get into the Knowledge Media Design Institute at the University of Toronto.

    I believe Sunir understands Wiki philosophy better than anyone else I know. His contributions to framing the concept and patterns of soft security that underlie the social architecture of Wikis are what made me an early convert to Meatball. If only Sunir had kept a blog instead of a home-brewed diary page, he'd surely be well-known in social software circles today.

    Hopefully, as the Wiki way slowly seeps into the mainstream Internet mentality, its perceived weirdness will subside and collaborative hypermedia communities like this one will get the recognition (and linkage) they deserve.

[McGee's Musings] [Blogging Alone]
10:29:39 AM    comment []

Improving the interaction between individual and organizational intelligence.

Collective intellect augments individual. Scott Leslie wrote in his EdTechPost blog: "Don't you just love when, in the process of thinking about an issue,... [Blog of Collective Intelligence]

George Por began thinking about organizations and knowledge management long before most of us. It's good to see him sticking a toe into the blogging waters. There is particularly thought provoking diagram in his post here that is worth a look at and is worth spending some time thinking about. He's trying to get at how individual and organizational knowledge might interact to their mutual advantage. That leads to the question of how you might design things to make this interaction more effective.

[McGee's Musings]

George Por is an iconic thinker about this - if you are interested in how he thinks here is a link to his wonderful round up on Communities of Practice which I keep in my Stories section to go back to often

10:12:36 AM    comment []

© Copyright 2003 Robert Paterson.
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