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Thursday, April 15, 2004

"Make me one with everything."
- Buddhist to hot-dog vendor

(The hot dog vendor prepares the hot dog and gives it to the monk. The monk pays him and asks for the change. The hot dog vendor says: "Change comes from within".)

What do you think? []  links to this post    7:15:56 PM  
BlogsCanada gets DOJ nastygram

Well, I reckon Jim Elvé's BlogsCanada site (and Canadian blogs in general) can expect a boost in visibility from the cease-and-desist letter that BlogsCanada has just received from the Canadian Department of Justice for alleged copyright violation. Reminds me of the lawsuit threat back around Christmas. The parodists ended up making minor changes to the site but that was it. Enjoy the traffic, Jim!

More commentary: Gary; James Bow.

What do you think? []  links to this post    2:26:50 PM  
Squashing consensus

Could it be? Pejman Yousefzadeh on the blogosphere as a self-correcting system:
"beyond the ability to make cogent and effective critiques of more established and influential institutions and individuals like Big Media and powerful politicians, the Blogosphere is able to do something that is at times far more difficult -- criticize itself. [...] While Big Media consolidates its various outlets -- promoting too much of a "get along, go along" philosophy that is oftentimes not consistent with the need for self-correction -- the Blogosphere is made up of so many different blogs with different outlooks that the ability for self-correction is built into the practice and system of blogging."
I think the blogosphere is a rare example of a large-scale "organism" that is rich in connectivity but whose pieces are largely independent - as opposed to, say, a large corporation. Observe that it does not need to be "of one mind" in order to thrive. Are there other examples of this?

(link via Kairosnews)

What do you think? []  links to this post    12:38:11 PM  
John Seely Brown on stories and knowledge flows

Jay Cross points to a terrific Seth Kahan interview with John Seely Brown, touching on storytelling, innovation, creative abrasion, and the dissemination of ideas. He quotes this incredibly clear paragraph on the connection between stories, emotion, and personal change:
"Why storytelling? Well, the simplest answer to your question is that stories talk to the gut, while information talks to the mind. You can't talk a person through a change in religion or a change in a basic mental model. There has to be an emotional component in what you are doing. That is to say, you use a connotative component (what the thing means) rather than a denotative component (what it represents). First, you grab them in the gut and then you start to construct (or re-construct) a mental model. If you try to do this in an intellectual or abstract way, you find that it's very hard, if not impossible, to talk somebody into changing their mental models. But if you can get to them emotionally, either through rhetoric or dramatic means (not overly dramatic!), then you can create some scaffolding that effectively allows them to construct a new model for themselves. You provide the scaffolding and they construct something new. It doesn't seem to work if you just try to tell them what to think. They have to internalize it. They have to own it. So the question is: what are the techniques for creating scaffolding that facilitate the rich internalization and re-conceptualization and re-contextualization of their own thinking relative to the experience that you're providing them? Put more simply: how do you get them to live the idea?"
On why, somewhat counterintuitively, strong internal social capital in a group is not always all good because it can result in the buildup of a membrane around that group and push members into "us vs. them" thinking:
"We all talk about social capital, but some of the worst labs that I've ever been in had extraordinarily high social capital within the lab. But social capital can create the feeling, "I'm better than anybody else," and this creates dysfunctional work relationships. It creates the idea that "you're a bad guy." One of the best ways to build social capital is to have a common enemy. If that enemy is in the outside world, then guess what? You'll have a very hard time transferring ideas from the inside to the outside. So, social capital can work against you. Communities of practice are not necessarily very open. They can become very rigid structures, just as rigid as hierarchies. Look at the guilds in medieval times, like the stonecutters. They were very exclusionary. They were seats of absolute power. They were evenable to challenge the church!"
Speaking of JSB and stories, there's a page I've been meaning to link for months now. I figure if I don't do it now I'll never get around to doing it. It's a great bike-riding story he told that illustrates tacit knowledge. Read it - I promise that you'll be surprised.

What do you think? []  links to this post    11:36:15 AM  
Is Google a search engine?

Funny that Google itself (currently) does not show up in the top 5 results for the query "Search engine" in Google.

What do you think? []  links to this post    11:09:57 AM  
Two cornucopias

I had read Dan Bricklin's illuminating essay "The Cornucopia of the Commons" (key quote: "increasing the value of the database by adding more information is a natural by-product of using the tool for your own benefit"), but just discovered another one by David Bollier with the same title that is equally interesting. It draws parallels between the gift economies of the NYC community gardens that sprang up in abandoned lots in recent decades, of the hacker and science communities, and of blood donation. The self-interest angle is in there as well - here's a quote from the conclusion:
It is a mistake, also, to regard the gift economy simply as a high-minded preserve for altruism. It is, rather, a different way of pursuing self-interest. In a gift economy, one’s “self-interest” has a much broader, more humanistic feel than the utilitarian rationalism of economic theory.

What do you think? []  links to this post    9:29:54 AM  

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