Research question to save humanity

How can we best study and improve how human behavior and tool systems co-evlove to raise the collective capability.


Program for the Future Notes from the Lunatic Fringe

Ten Top Take-a-ways from The Program for the Future
The Program for the Future met March 3, 2010 for a CoLABoration.

Note: The tables at CoLAB had various affinity groups — education, government, health care, communications, business, technology — I asked to label a table “lunatic fringe.” Eileen Clegg describes it “as a popular if amorphous concept, and another table with the same name popped up. The focus turned out to be people doing leading edge work, often as sole proprietors or small businesses — thinking differently about traditional organizational assumptions.”

The group engaged in a BRAINSTORMING activity about what was necessary to augment Collective IQ through collaboration.
Valerie’s Top Ten Questions for Innovation:

10. How do we orchestrate “Constructive Cacophony?” Taking a whole bunch of mismatched ideas and making them work together.

9. How can we separate message from the messenger so good ideas are taken seriously no matter who thought of them?

8. How do we create structures to include “people on the lunatic fringe” who love change but are usually so often rock the boat they they are thrown overboard?

7, How do we communicate that Architecture is important?

6. What can we learn about power sharing, structures and collaboration from old earth practices?

5. How do we keep a repository where we can tag and find “Reusable Ideas”?

4. How can we make World Cafe a “life style”? How can we engage in small diverse groups and mix them?

3. How do we create a culture where we build prototypes, then, throw every thing away and reuse only what we learned.

2. How do we design a structure where your failing and what you learned from it is rewarded?
Rewards for failures – how do we build systems that reward the sharing of failure? It is just not the failure but the process that led to failure. A major failure may be made up of hundreds of successes.

1. Why is scale important?

Can this poodle wearing a tinfoil hat get more fans than Glenn Beck?

Can this poodle wearing a tinfoil hat get more fans than Glenn Beck? Facebook Fan Page

This facebook campaign really caught my attention, (and the attention of another 197,773 people) but I wonder, how we harness this mass frustration against Glenn Beck and convert it into a social/political movement towards change?

Or is knowing we are not alone in our opinions a viable first step?

Why are we laboring in this guy’s vinyard?- Facebook owned by Murdock

Bruce Sterling interview

Turns out that Bruce Sterling quote is only a metaphor, really it’s MySpace that is owned by Murdock.

Fascinating. He equates the US to the Soviet Union in 1981-with a broken social contract… “Trapped between a collapsing previous order and an extremely unsettled…new order.”

…Knowing that our societies have become provisional…
“The Balkans is where empires go to die.
Q: “But you twitter”
A: “I am a big fan of watching the parade there.”
Sent to me by Joy Tang

It’s about the journey

Engelbart Quote from 2004…

The paradigm is kind of like the ability to see what’s really feasible..and would be well worth while. It’s going to be a different world, we are going to have different customs, different skills, a whole bunch of things, and no one thing is going to fix it. It’s going to be a concurrent evolution that has got to progress. The best thing we could possibly do is not think that somebody is going to tell you what “the answer” is but somebody that says, “Here is a process that will help facilitate optimally that evolution.”

Quote from Cringely interview in 2004

New paradigm for the new year

My goal is to help Web 2.0 move away from tiny tweets to slow dialog.

May we use our collective intelligence to engage in meaningful dialog about the complex issues we face.

May we use collective IQ to:

  • improve our capability to portray accurate pictures of our current paradigm
  • to produce a result that is more intelligent than any individual or committee could have developed
  • May we develop a structure that helps level the playing field
  • helps strip the message from the messenger
  • and develop a NEW Robert’s Rules of Order for digital discussion that frees us from GROUP THINK into increase collective IQ


  • improve our collective capability to find effective solutions

Don’t believe everything you think

When you believe something all evidence points to the truth of your point of view. To get people to change their beliefs is very difficult.

When we watch films we “suspend our disbelief.” We don’t sit in the dark theater watching a thriller, animation, or even romantic comedy saying, “That is not possible.” If the movie is engaging we sit back with our $4 popcorn and $3 soda and watch the story unfold. We identify with the characters and are engaged in their plight whether they are a dancing toaster, a super hero, or a mafia don.

So, one technique for getting people to change their belief is to ask them to “suspend their belief” just for a short time, an hour or two, and then have them write down the facts, preferable on manipulabile, like different shaped blocks, and then reconstruct the evidence to prove a different point of view or belief.

It’s probably best to start with something they don’t have a big stake in and then recreate the exercise with something they do have a big stake in. For instance, if you are going to try and have pro-Israeli Jews try understand the Palestinian position or visa-versa, the invasion of Lebanon might not be the best place to start. It’s too raw.

Anyway, at some point, the light bulb has to want to change, so this is best done with people who are serious about solving a particular problem, need to change their attitude, perspective or belief.

This exercise may not make them change a person change their behavior right away but it will often cause them to consider another position. Some ignored the process and continued down their usual path ignoring any deep lessons. The students who gained the most from this process often became quite angry with me as they began to question their beliefs.

As they began to expand their view and expectations about a subject, it caused them to question other areas of their lives and caused a cognitive dissonance and discomfort. The solution they originally had intended suddenly became more complex, more risky, and in all ways, more challenging. Gone was the comfort of the familiar. Suddenly, I had made their task and their life more difficult. Worst of all, I did not provide answers to their questions, but instead, helped them on their path of finding their own solutions.

Over time, as they began to construct something positive in the new paradigm, they sometimes experienced a catharsis and found it life changing. The groups of students who went through it together formed deep bonds that spanned traditional demographic boundaries that normally kept them distant.

One student describes it as: “At school and at work, I looked for new ways to approach problems and solutions… I wanted to view situations from different perspectives…. I am now always looking in different directions and accepting different views.”

You can go to the same stream but you can never walk in the same stream water twice

Yesterday, I walked from the Powel Street Bart Station in San Francisco to 5th and Townsend at 5:30 in the afternoon. I grew up in San Francisco and had walked those same streets many times, but the flavor of the city has changed. It’s younger and cleaner–the contrasts more striking. Black men in their 30’s selling drugs on the corner of the alleys, highly educated young white men working from home out to walk their dogs in long baggy cut offs promoting their calf tattoos, Central America men congregating under the freeway, and a twenty sophisticated black woman in moonstone earrings and I walking towards the train station.

I arrived at Betsy Burrough’s Future Catalyst Brainstorming Salon, a monthly event where people mingle and share hors d’oeuvre and wine and post ideas for brainstorming that others respond to. Once inside the memory of the walk vanishes. I’m in a world of accomplished professionals with a social conscious. My thoughts turn to brainstorming. I’m engrossed in a world of new ideas.

On the BART ride home an elderly man walks through the train stinking with his hat in his hand saying, “Help me” “Please help me”. Like all the other passengers I pretend not to notice. I’m too busy writing in my notebook, plus, I can’t stand the idea of fumbling through my purse, finding my wallet and pulling out money on the crowded BART train. It makes me feel to vulnerable. He stops next to me and again says, “Please help me.” The man in front of me turns and glares at me as if to say, “Don’t even think about giving him money.” I am consumed with guilt and at the same time the pressure to conform and pretend it is not happening. The woman behind breaks the unbearable guilt and tension. She says, “I’ll help you. I’ll pray for you.” He leaves defeated and moves on to the next train.

As I add fare to my ticket at the other end two teen age girls ask for fifty cents to get out of the station. I hand two quarters I find in my open change purse, the trying to reconcile my feelings. I still feel bad for not helping the old stinky man. Lost in my thought and the darkness on the way to my car a young Central American woman pushing two large rolling suitcases and laundry bag startles me. In the saddest most vulnerable voice she and asks for money. I say, “sorry” and walk on. Again, I feel bad.

I think next time I attend Betsy’s salon, I’ll keep a few dollars in my coat pocket to help the needy and spend my blog time writing about the great contacts and breakthroughs I made while talking to people at the salon.