Why Self-Organized Networks Will Destroy Hierarchies

The people in authority who make the rules interfere with the people who know how to do the job and are in direct contact with the situation. The people who make the rules know nothing about the work they’re interfering with.

-Kevin Carson, Why Self-Organized Networks Will Destroy Hierarchies

Kevin’s post give me food for thought. It’s my preference not to abstract the hierarchy / network thing into information but view it as people problems or challenges. Tummeling is a kind of human self-networking that happens even within hierarchies. Many corporations function because there are individuals who take it upon themselves to make connections and bring people together across “silos” (man I hate that word). Sometimes it’s an admin assistant or project manager or someone with low “authority status” (something else Carson’s post critiques, the mistake hierarchy managers make when they look to what they see as authority rather than actual experience).

What’s most important to me about what Carson refers to as “people who know how to do the work” is not their abstract knowledge but what is experiential. Experience happens in the present. It’s where all real authority and creativity emerges.

-cross-posted at TummelVision.tv check out our podcast there with some of the most humanizing folks in tech, biz and culture.

Posted via email from subvert with heather gold

“The big breakthrough will come…when we are able to handle the truth about people.” Van Jones

“The big breakthrough will come…when we are able to handle the truth about people.”

-Van Jones, Shirley Sherrod and me, NYTimes op-ed
Van’s entire piece is worth reading about what it feels like to be caught in Washington DC doing politics in real-time right now via the web.
I’ve been exploring the process what it means to be “Private” (aka yourself) in Public for some time now. It’s what solo performer, comedians, performance artists and many performers do. When it’s chosen an you provide the context it can be very powerful. Of course the latest political episode is particular poignant because Shirley Sherrod spoke in public on behaviour of her government employer but apparently of her own choosing and gave plenty of context which made her story about race and class understanding really powerful. And it’s that context which was taken away by Breitbart’s selective editing and the ensuing political playout of anxious reactions.
And I still believe that it is this act that makes the world safe for you as I said during my 20009 SXSW panel Everything I Need to Know About the Web I Learned From Feminism. But the always brilliant and challenging danah boyd noted that it’s a privilege to be yourself in public. And of course people behave differently in different publics.
The “public” of the media and the blogosphere and political DC are all different. Of course our political “public” is theoretically supposed to be the place in which we solve common problems but this kind of judgemental-ness and harsh manipulation which serves political and media business ends isn’t always in the interests of our common good.
This rend is an old media and political one. It’s not new. The fact that the real-time web is speeding it up is a little bit new. What will be new and is necessary is what Van Jones mentions: not the truth about how people are or what they’ve said but when we can handle it.
An individual matures when they can handle difference. It’s called differentiation ( “the ability to separate one’s own intellectual and emotional functioning from that of the family”). An individual heals from depression or trauma when they get to a point when they feel they can handle their feelings. Our body politic and publics seem to me to operate just like a person.  And I think Van is right, the key word is handle.

As an individual you can’t control the world, you can only get better at feeling you can handle it and the change and challenges it presents you with. It’s the same thing for the media and our politics. And sometimes you have to bottom out before you are motivated to change. And it looks like our politics are heading there.

The Net provides a place to attack each other better and I wager it’s connectedness (and our real-life connectedness with each other and our selves) could also help us get better at handling once we decide that’s what we need to work on.

Fun video link: danah boyd’s comments on how gendered behaviour plays out in social networks (thx @allaboutgeorge)

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Baby Book 2.0: My Long Talk with Leo LaPorte

I had a lovely time guesting on This Week In Google recently and afterwards Leo and I chatted. It turned into a kind of spontaneous broadcasting marathon with about 8,000 folks tuning in live. I had just inseminated for the first time that morning and we talk about that and all the tech and absurdity involved. If I am pregnant (fingers crossed) then this would be a heck of a way to start the baby book memories.

Leo and I talked about a lot of things, among them: his years in radio, people he’s interviewed like Jimmy Stewart and Adam West, his weekend with Steve Jobs, comedy, why talk radio is so emotionally melodramatic and how to do independent content online and make it work financially.

It’s been said many times but I’ll say it again: Leo is a total mensch and maybe one of the nicest people in broadcasting. You know how Conan said work hard and be kind to people and good things will happen? Leo deserves to receive an endless supply of good things.

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To become a better judge of character…

Congratulations. This means you’ve decided to change you instead of pretending others will change. You have no control over others.
1. Listen to what you’ve noticed and add a delay to your major decisions about people. This will *not* feel natural. It will feel intellectual and not like a gut choice. You might feel guilty. You might feel like you have to resist something you feel you want to do. That’s good because you’ve already decided that you are not a great judge of character. You’re changing that.

2. Make sure you spend some time away from the person you’re making the decision about while you make the decision.

3. Watch your cynicism. Never trusting isn’t any more accurate or worthwhile than overtrusting. Just take more time.

4. Notice peoples’ actions. Do they walk their talk? Do they follow through? Do they at least verbally acknowledge responsibility and mistakes when they were unable to follow through?
5. If someone’s talking smack about others to you, they’re probably doing the same to you.

7. If someone’s cheating on someone else with you, the odds are higher they’ll cheat on you (this one never ceases to amaze me).

8. Is the relationship mutually beneficial?

9. Practice telling someone directly what you need from them or what your concern is if you have one. They might not be able to meet your need but should be able to handle relaxed, direct communication. If they can’t handle direct eye contact that’s worth trying to understand.

10. Are you a bad judge of character or are your expectations based on your own needs and not on the reality of what this person can or has committed to deliver?

11. Watch someone in action: playing a sport, under pressure or in some other flow activity. It’s easier to see more of what they’re really about.

12. Notice how people treat their friends, co-workers, family and especially how they treat people in different “status” positions and people who are of no apparent “use” to them. Does their behaviour change? 13. If you expect relationships (personal, work or otherwise) to always fail or be unreliable then you might have learned to read your dysfunctional family experience as a truth about everyone. There’s plenty of self-help literature, 12 step groups like Al Anon and counseling to help deal with this.

14. Believe what you see.
Inspired by a @ryanomics tweet.

Posted via email from subvert with heather gold

Stephen Hawking: Evolution? You’re soaking in it..Info ‘R Us.

We are evolving through “self-defined evolution.”
“I think it is legitimate to take a broader view, and include externally transmitted information, as well as DNA, in the evolution of the human race.”

-Stephen Hawking
This top 2009 post of Daily Galaxy is worth reading. I especially like this comment from Ionut: “We should be carefull because if this technology will be very efficient we will have humans that act like machines before we manage to create machines that act “human-like.” Sadly, I think we’ve already made a lot of progress toward making humans more machine-like and that we’re in a moment of negotiating a return to our human-ness.

(via AndrewSullivan)

RIP social space of indie bookstores – Toronto’s Pages closes

photo by Matthew Kim

I just got back from Toronto. It was my first summer visit there since the summers when I came out there..at 19 and 20. It’s been a long time.  A lot has changed. There are lots of new museums and buildings and lofts but as I strolled down Queen Street West, where I used to hang out back when it was far grittier, I noticed that Pages bookstore is just about to close.

Pages was a beautiful indie bookstore with lots of large coffee table books in the window and a mix of academic, indie and arty stuff. There were more magazines than I’d ever seen and more gay, lesbian and generally sexy material than I’d ever seen outside of the porn section of the family corner store where I sometimes worked. There was nothing about those magazines that was for me.

It was a clean, well lit place for cruising. I was terrified coming out back then. It was 1986 and there was nothing generally acceptable about being attracted romantically or physically to someone of the same-sex.

There was one lesbian bar and a feminist book store that carried ear cuffs, women symbol earrings and cassette tapes full of songs about spilling up and over like a waterfall. I tried all of these. I admit it. But how else were you supposed to meet women or more specifically womyn? How would you know thy were gay?  How did you even know what it was that you felt inside? Until our feelings are mirrored, we aren’t sure it’s ok to have them.

I didn’t like to drink and I wasn’t going to the Michigan Womyns Music Festival (one woman I met gushed about how people there braided their armpit hair). Pages was much more my speed. Dorky and thinky, it was a place where stylish, chunky glasses and footwear prevailed. It had gay stuff but it wasn’t only gay. It was maybe the first space I was even in that had room to be gay and not gay together. I could try it out without having to give myself entirely over to it. At Pages I could stand somewhere and be excited about ideas and cute women.

Richard Nash is right that books are social objects, social glue (as are all artists and our work…especially performances..more on that to come). But bookstores are social spaces. And Pages was a great one. I never did meet anyone in its aisles. But I could have. Just being in there meant a lot to me. There was some place that felt right. Some place I belonged.

Goodbye Pages. Many thanks.

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My piece on vlogging airs on CBC’s Spark today

I spend a lot of time going between coasts and between the online and offline “real” world. In order to bridging the geek/non-geek divide, I went to Port Jefferson Long Island to explain vlogging.

Listen 20 minutes in.

This is a short, This American Life-ish piece. And I stand by my assertion that within 5 years, so vlogging will be so commonplace, we probably won’t use that term for it anymore.