Agnotology – it’s in all of us

From the article: “Perhaps the best single example of the power of sowing doubt was the decades-long campaign by US tobacco companies to fog the scientific consensus over the link between cigarettes and cancer. As one famous internal memo noted: “Doubt is our product.” Robert Proctor, the Stanford historian who studied the tobacco campaigns, created a new word to capture the tobacco companies’ beguiling success – agnotology, or the process by which ignorance is deliberately produced.”

https://m.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2154040/donald-trump-master-manipulator-bias-trouble-we-go-along-it

being on track with your life

(This is a cross post. Please comment on “being on track with your life” on the chron blog here.)

From a post on CNN about an unemployed iReporter:
schipulmug.jpg

“I’m still fortunate to have a roof over my head and make do with what I can but I miss having a decent job and being on track with my life.” – sbeasia

I don’t mean to sound jaded, but does “being on track with my life” qualify as expectation or entitlement? I hear that from many people, frequently they are employed but have some other expectation. They can’t articulate WHERE they are “supposed” to be. But they can complain they aren’t “there” and look at you solve it. Solve what?

Here’s the thing. Lament the loss of a job and work hard to find or create a new one. The CNN ireporter sbeasia is clearly doing that. But “being on track with my life” is an illusion. You might as well say “keeping up with the Joneses.” YOU CAN’T.

Reality is all of us with very rare exception are bumbling along and making due with circumstances. None of us are “on track with our life” as far as I can tell. And the few I have seen accomplish all of their “goals” are generally dissatisfied and hungry still. And someone somewhere is still richer, has a better job, has a beautiful house, has 2.5 kids, drives a Ferrari. Someone somewhere is more “on track with their life” because as humans our perception of what we want is always more than what we have.

I am not “on track with my life” and I’m OK with that. I’m in Texas because the Army stationed my Dad in San Antonio years ago. They left and I stayed. I went to a school mostly to play an obscure sport. I’m in Houston because I met a girl at school who was from Houston and we moved down here after college. That is all just bouncing around based on circumstance.

houston tunnels - curve in the roadI didn’t even intend to start a company. That was sort of an accident as well. Yes really. Oh, and the reality of running a company is NOTHING like the perception. Inspector Clouseau is one of my heroes because he embraces this reality. From wikipedia:

Regardless of his rather limited ability, he successfully solves his cases and finds the correct culprits, even if this success is achieved entirely by accident. As such, he is even promoted to Chief Inspector over the course of the series, and is regarded by many other characters who presumably have not met him as France‘s greatest detective; those characters he actually encounters, nevertheless, are quick to realise his incompetence and limitations. He is immensely egocentric and pompous; despite his many failings, he is seemingly convinced that he is a brilliant police officer destined to succeed and rise through the ranks of the Sûrete.”

That is completely me. If I solve a case half the time it’s just by luck. Or as the Inspector would say, “I knew that” after the house fell down around him. “That is not my dog” indeed!

None of us are entitled to a particular station in life any more than Clouseau was entitled to be a Chief Inspector. If you achieve some perceived “station”, or get lucky and win lotto, then good for you. But you aren’t entitled to it. And EVERYONE feels like they “aren’t far enough along.” Particularly during the Great Recession. You are not alone, although that doesn’t help much. Changing the toxic internal dialog however just might help.

The problem isn’t that things are tight and you need to cut back on cable and get a roommate. Or that you aren’t “on track with your life” and can’t afford $60 a month for cigarettes or a $500 car payment. The problem is entitlement. And it’s worse than that because it is entitlement that will forever be unrequited. It is entitlement to a carrot on a stick that will ALWAYS be held out in front of us.

I am definitely not “on track with my life” but at least I realize that is society creating false expectations. But I still work Saturday’s. Clouseau might not have the right theory, but he is present and solves the case anyway. So be present.

If you are thinking “I’m not on track with my  life” then go create something. And quit letting Mother Culture tell you how you should act and where you should “be”.

“(Mother Culture) is not a real entity, just as Mother Nature isn’t. I believe that’s why he chose the name. Mother culture refers to the voice in your head that tells you how to think and act ‘normal’ in your society. It is TV ads and movies and fairy tales and laws and school lessions that all are based on the same underlying values. It is reinforced by everybody around you buying into the program without ever really knowing there is a program.

Mother culture is a subtle influence and much of it is not explicitly said. It is a bias on how you observe the world, the tint in your ski goggles when the world looks slightly yellow.

You aren’t a puppet. You are a free man. And freedom doesn’t look like the beautiful people on TV. You aren’t at your “proper” “station in life” because it is an illusion. Be present.

(This is a cross post. Please comment on “being on track with your life” on the chron blog here.)

those who remain determined “mouse-avores“ starve

“IV. At the same time, living systems adapt themselves to changes in their environment they learn, grow, develop, evolve. When the mouse population in a region suddenly declines because of an epidemic, the predators who adapt to a new prey survive; those who remain determined snake bit“mouse-avores“ starve. Life events affect us and change us, and we can see these changes reflected in the nevertheless familiar faces of our friends. The ability of living systems to adapt and self-organize allows them to defy the second law of thermodynamics, which insists that everything runs down and returns to a state of disorganization and homogeneity. Not so for living systems! They continuously reorganize themselves into ever more complex patterns and interrelationships.”

Molly Young Brown, Patterns, Flows and Interrelationships

representation of millennials versus the reality

When you encounter a millennial job applicant who is right out of school looking for the “perfect job“, as an older person, you think thoughts like “Hey kid, I was just served a $3 coffee by a 50 year old working a split shift of 5AM to 9AM and then 3PM to 7PM at Starbucks! There is no perfect job, so get over it.“

There are two issues with this. The first is that the young person has been taught by our school systems that if they follow the rules, get a degree, they are entitled to a “perfect job.“ Nobody ever mentions that there is no such thing. That they will 99% quit their first job within two years (or so it seems to me) regardless of how “perfect“ it is because they assume the grass is greener. And in fact it IS greener when they talk to their friends because people only talk about the good stuff. Talk to someone working for big oil and it’s all about the salary and benefits. Talk to someone in entertainment and it’s all about hanging out with rock stars at the House of Blues.

The second issue with the example in the first paragraph is the subtle judgment by ME that the job at Starbucks is necessarily a sacrifice on the part of the 50 year old. That presumption that they aren’t enjoying their work, that it might be perfect for their lifestyle and benefit needs, is flat out wrong on my part. It hints at the subtle prejudice in our society against non-college-prep types of jobs. If you are managing a restaurant it must be because you couldn’t get a job in a cube at the local insurance branch. Baroo? I’d MUCH rather run a hoping restaurant than work in a cube. Yet I too fall into this trap of incorrectly judging other people’s jobs.

Further Reading:

this profound disconnect

millennials redefining

Notes on Social Objects

If you haven’t read the story of the Microsoft Blue Monster, and Hugh’s thoughts on social objects, I highly recommend it. The full blue monster story is here on Hugh’s blog. I was just rereading it for an upcoming talk that discusses Social Objects.

And of course I would be remiss if I did not embed the video of Jyri Engstrom talking about social objects from 2006.

From Jyri’s talk on strategy when you are building a web site around a social object:

  1. Define your object
  2. Define your verbs
  3. Make those objects shareable
  4. Turn invitations to gifts
  5. Charge the publishers not the spectators

Rephrased as a question checklist (from 22:21 in the video)

  1. What is your object?
  2. What are your verbs?
  3. How can people share the object?
  4. What is the gift in the invitation?
  5. Are you charging the publishers or the spectators?

Great notes from the video are posted here.

Along a similar line of research I was reminded of Activity Theory as it relates to Social Objects. From slide 12:

  1. Actors have Agency
    1. Power over objects
    2. Attraction to objects
  2. Objects have a lifecycle
    1. Construction
    2. Instantiation
    3. Linking

One of those posts that are mostly for me. But if you read this blog, you already know that. #peace

The sole object is to hold attention and satisfy an audience

“Those who manipulate the shadows that dominate our lives are the agents, publicists, marketing departments, promoters, script writers, television and movie producers, advertisers, video technicians, photographers, bodyguards, wardrobe consultants, fitness trainers, pollsters, public announcers, and television news personalities who create the vast stage for illusion. They are the puppet masters. No one achieves celebrity status, no cultural illusion is swallowed as reality, without these armies of cultural enablers and intermediaries. The sole object is to hold attention and satisfy an audience.”

– Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion, Pg 15-16

“NOT JUST A TOASTER WITH PICTURES“

“Since 1950 there has been a total of more than 3,500 research studies conducted in America on the effects of media violence on the population. One random analysis of almost 1,000 studies found to demonstrate there is a tangible correlation between violent entertainment and violent behavior.”

“In the realm of media violence research scientists over five decades have been able to repeatedly demonstrate both short term and long term increases of violent behavior as the result of short term and long term exposure of manufactured horror.”

Stop Teaching Our Kids To Kill – Dave Grossman and Gloria DeGaetano

don’t seek happiness, seek meaning

ARCHIVE POST. PLEASE COMMENT ON THE ORIGINAL ON CHRON.

Several friends of mine over the last few years have talked a lot about “seeking happiness” and the goal of “being happy”. Some even have “happiness projects.” I am reminded that America’s liberties include the right to “the pursuit of happiness.”

Yet there is something about the pursuit of happiness as an end goal that bothers me. I find the pursuit of happiness alone to be shallow — I don’t think it makes you happy long term.

Money doesn’t bring happiness. Tiger Woods is worth close to a billion dollars, is married to a Scandinavian swimsuit model, and yet he still felt the need to sleep with an assortment of cocktail waitresses so that he could feel better about himself.

Yes we all need money. We are capitalists as a country. We earn money. Is money the motivator? Not for me beyond a certain point. It’s this internal drive. I don’t think I will ever show up at work without a fire in my belly and a drive to accomplish MORE. You take risks so you sometimes fail. When you fail you are unhappy. You get back up. That’s how it works.

I can’t be described as walking around in “a state of happiness.” I am much more wound up than that. But my life has meaning because I take care of my family, which in turn makes me feel happy. I have surrounded myself with intriguing people who I deeply care about. My relationship with God is conflicted, but that is hardly surprising for a Catholic Army Brat. My relationship with my kids could be better, but in my defense they are called teenagers for a reason. I am approaching my 20th wedding anniversary which we will celebrate in style. I could work out more, but I do work out. I am working on all of those things. They are meaningful and they require hard work. I have a damn good life, but what I am not is running around completely happy all of the time.

My real issue is that I believe “the pursuit of happiness” is misguided and superficial as an goal.

Yes I said it. It’s shallow, people. We should seek meaning. If you seek meaning then happiness may, or may not, follow. There are no guarantees. But to flip it around and seek happiness first simply doesn’t work. Without first forming a clear idea of what you find meaningful and worthwhile, chasing “happiness” is like chasing a figment of your imagination.  You will find the proverbial cart, and then abandon it after a day or two when you realize there is no horse attached and it’s useless.

Seeking happiness as the end goal leads you to wander the desert until you find the NEXT bright shiny object. This again makes you happy. Briefly. But unless you load it up with pirated Plato and talk about it, it won’t bring happiness either, as the it is just a thing.

How many marriages fail because someone says “I am just not happy” as if marriage is supposed to be 100% happy? And are these folks reading interesting books, talking about them, and seeking the meaning in life?

Yes clean out your closet if that makes you happy. But please let us not discuss your closet cleaning as meaningful conversation or life changing. Particularly lets not talk about the closet when our education system has eliminated shop class and our partisan politicians on both sides are putting their political parties over the people they represent. There are meaningful big questions to consider.

It turns out I am not alone that meaning is more important than happiness alone. Sunday’s Chronicle has a post titled Seeking happiness? Think big thoughts by Robert Zaretsky. It begins:

A recent study finds what we all once knew before our hectic lives made us forget: that like good barbecue or prime crude, the making of happiness takes time. Time enough, and world enough with others.

According to Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University of Arizona, individuals who spend more of their time wondering about big questions, and doing so in the company of others, are happierthan those who wonder about the weather or John Edwards’ love child.

Don’t worry, be happy. I have nothing against happy LOLcats and sports talk. They are great conversation starters. Deep meaningful questions can be derived from them. I enjoy these diversions. But they don’t bring happiness in and of themselves. Fewer hours at work to give me more time to read LOLCats will not in fact make me happier. Yet contemplating with friends what deep psychological need is met by Internet memes may in fact make us happier. Meaning may help you avoid the quarter-life-crisis.

Others are free to seek happiness as a goal even if I don’t think that is a worthy goal in and of itself. As for me I will continue to seek meaning with my family and friends. I may not get there, I may not find the meaning of life, but it takes time, and seeking meaning is proven a better path than seeking happiness alone. And I intend to enjoy the thoughts and the journey of life.

I’ll leave you with a video from my friend Aaron who had it posted on his blog after Hurricane Ike. It’s his girls at the beach at his parents old beach house on bolivar. The video has meaning. And it makes you happy too.

pseudo friendliness and overt joviality

“When one is acting under the rule of dissociated impulses, everybody except the individual himself knows and perceives what is happening. The individual who is stingy and mean in certain relationships will persist in perceiving himself as generous and kind. Similarly the individual who has trouble getting close to people may compensate for this deficiency with a pseudo friendliness and overt joviality (a common cultural trait, characteristic of many Americans, that is recognized all over the world).”

Beyond Culture, Edward T. Hall, pg 234

Their concern is not with themselves but with the group and how the group is faring

“I once watched a highly intelligent Pueblo Indian engaged in intercultural education programs struggle and sweat to put into words a problem he and his people were having to cope with. vulturesWhenever a white man is put down in the middle of a pueblo, the Indians must cope with his narcissism as expressed by his almost total preoccupation with how HE is doing (providing he is well motivated) or how HE is being treated (if he is less idealistic).

Regardless of motives, behavior of this sort is threatening and disruptive to Pueblo life, because the Indians are just the opposite. Their concern is not with themselves but with the group and how the group is faring.

The Indians see what we call narcissism in all whites ““ a trait that goes far beyond and is much more inclusive than self-love and individual differences. Since the Pueblo Indians themselves are not this way, how can they describe what they themselves do not include in their experience?

And what does the well-motivated concerned white man do when he has devoted much of his life to “helping“ the Indians only to discover that cultural insight reveals him as a disruptive force in Pueblo life, even though he considers himself an ally?

Why hadn’t any of his Pueblo friends told him this?”

Beyond Culture, Edward T. Hall, pg 153, Copyright 1976

Tribal Citizenship Behavior

When a crisis occurs, like a hurricane hits your city or the country freaks out about the swine flu, part of a leaders job is to protect the tribe. To do that, the people have to be prepared. The first priority must then be to make sure every member of the tribe is prepared to take care of their family. Katrina made this concept clear:

The New Orleans police chief says some of his officers may still be trapped in their homes and he’s not sure how many walked off the job.

Walk off the job? Police!? Obviously family comes first. Or people won’t show up to work no matter how critical their job is because no job is more important than your family. Step one is to have everyone develop an “in case of emergency preparedness family plan“.

Assuming someone is prepared as best they can be, then what makes them a “team player” as they say. Well, as usual, “they” is wrong in that the phrase “team player” is like comparing the word “violin” to “Stradivarius”. What you REALLY want from your tribe members, peers, friends, etc, whether you know it or not, is far more nuanced that the phrase “team player” suggests. You want someone who is “cool with the tribe” and supports you ALL!

caroline-tribeA bit of research led me to the Distributive, Procedural and Interactive Justice scales by Niehoff & Moorman. If they weren’t academics they would call it a way to quantify employee satisfaction. But that isn’t really what I am after. More digging made me realize that the academics call what I am after, perhaps theirs is more narrow in scope, but they call it “Organizational Citizenship Behavior.” This criticism of Organizational Citizenship Behavior questions if good OCB is in fact in the best interest of the organization! But I’ll leave that to another day. For now OCB is comprised of four elements (from the above link):

OCB has four separate, but related behavior elements that differ in their target and direct objective.  It is believed that the indirect objective of all OCB is the benefit of organizational goals (Organ, 1988).  In a theoretical typology developed by Graham (1989; Moorman & Blakely, 1995; Moorman, Blakely, Niehoff, 1998) OCB categorizes into four types:

  1. personal industry,
    1. (the extent to which an individual performs tasks beyond the call of duty.  Employees who spontaneously work overtime, put in extra hours on a project, or volunteer to take on new projects are engaging in personal industry.)
  2. loyal boosterism,
    1. (the promotion of firm image to outsiders.  An employee that spontaneously compliments his employer to a member of another firm, a friend, or any stakeholder displays loyal boosterism behavior.)
  3. individual initiative,
    1. (communicating with others in the organization to improve individual and group performance) and
  4. inter-personal helping.
    1. (An employee, recognizing that a co-worker might benefit from possession of a piece of information, such as a sales contact, technical information, or market tip, and passing on such information without the other asking for it)

and

To summarize, OCB consist of non-obligatory, informally influenced behaviors.

I translate that last part to say what OCB is referring to, is stuff you do to help the organization that isn’t in your job description. It’s the stuff that makes life pleasant, like buying a Nerf Gun refill pack for your unarmed co-worker to make cubicles-war “fair” again. That stuff.

I think what I’m looking for is really a Tribal Citizenship Behavior index. With the definition of tribe being more loosely defined than just the employees of a company. A tribe that has even low clustering coefficients – meaning loosely bound.

Anthropologist Michel Maffesoli appears to have coined the term Neo-Tribalism which Wikipedia defines as:

Neotribalism is the ideology that human beings have evolved to live in a tribal, as opposed to a modern, society, and thus cannot achieve genuine happiness until some semblance of tribal lifestyles has been re-created or re-embraced.

Tribes are not organizations, at least in the context of OCB as I understand it. An easy example; in tribes people have distinct roles including that of the cynic who provides constant creative tension. Yet the cynic DOES add value in times of crisis because they foresee the need for batteries, chain saws, and medical masks before a crisis. While not wildly popular perhaps, they fix the weakest link in a tribe at specific times. Maybe a score of 5/10 on a day-to-day basis on the OCB scale, but a 10/10 for Tribal Citizenship Behavior when the *&@#! hits the fan! This need to remain loosely joined (a clustering coefficient closer to zero) quickly snaps back into place during a crisis (a clustering coefficient closer to 1 – we ALL know the guy with the generator after a Hurricane!).

I’ll keep thinking about this (of course) but I wanted to highlight two other concepts from OCB that we can borrow for TCB are dominant coalitions and technological change as a tribe restructuring catalyst:

Dominant Coalitions

A dominant coalition consists of the network of individuals within and around an organization that most influence the mission and goals of the organization (Cyert & March, 1963).  In theory, the goals of an organization flow from the chief executive officer, board of directors, or top management team.  However, the dominant coalition maintains an influence on goals through informal, rather than formal, channels.

When it comes to social media, public relations and tribal behavior, you have a unique problem. It is considered “uncool” to call yourself a “Social Media Expert“. And indeed like any other trend that goes mainstream, every new kid on the block joins in when their last trendy business dries up and becomes an “expert”. I overheard a conversation the other day that was “I didn’t follow her back (on twitter) because her description said ‘social media expert’ and she only had 22 followers!”. I wouldn’t have followed back either so I am part of the problem in a way.

The point is the “cool kids find it cool to deny being cool.” Or, the dominant coalitions in tribal citizenship behavior deny being influencers in the first place.

which ties into technology as follows

A technological change within an organization may provide the impetus for power changes within the organization.  Burkhardt and Brass (1990) studied the introduction of a new computer technology into a governmental agency.  They found that early adopters of the technology gained a significant amount of informal power in the organization, which could be used to join or enhance one’s membership in the dominant coalition.  Thus, such changes in technology could result in altered membership in the dominant coalition.

Or “The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth.” If this premise is true it not only changes the complexion of the dominant coalitions and the tribe itself, but it is a biased change. By that I mean tech people are more introverted than extroverted, more logical than mathematical, tend towards aspergers, etc… In other words a different personality type has joined the dominant coalition. Perhaps a good thing! But a change to be noted regardless.

In conclusion, Tribal Citizenship Behavior (TCB, heh) can borrow heavily from Organizational Citizenship Behavior. Like OCB we can borrow personal industry, loyalty, initiative, people helping people.  We can try to measure dominant coalitions in a tribe. Measure intention which is always critical. But these aren’t enough because a tribe may not have a stated goal like an organization, beyond preservation of the tribe. Which, again, is why we start by personal emergency planning.

More posts on the topic of Tribal Citizenship Behavior as my thoughts evolve. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic?

The Godfather, The Undertaker, and Informal Systems

In recent talks I have found an anecdote that has worked well to explain the difference between formal and informal systems that most Americans can relate to. The book The Godfather opens with:

Amerigo Bonasera sat in New York Criminal Court Number 3 and waited for justice; vengeance on the men who had so cruelly hurt his daughter, who had tried to dishonor her. (pg 3)

bridgeThe two young men who did this were set free by a corrupt judge. Amerigo Bonasera, the Sicilian Undertaker, concludes “For justice we must go on our knees to Don Corleone.” The formal American system in this fictional book has failed our Undertaker. So he reaches out to the informal system in his community; Don Corleone. When they meet on the day of Corleone’s daughter’s funeral, a day “that by tradition no Sicilian can refuse a request” (pg 17), Amerigo asks the Godfather to have the men killed. Corleone refuses and rebukes Amerigo for basically being a rainy-day-friend. Corleone says:

“…until this day you never came to me for counsel or help. I can’t remember the last time you invited me to your house for coffee though my wife is godmother to your only child. Let us be frank. You spurned my friendship. You feared to be in my debt. … Now you come to me and say, ‘Don Corleone give me justice.'” (pg 21)

he continues

“Why do you fear to give your allegiance to me? … if you had come to me, my purse would have been yours. If you had come to me for justice those scum who ruined your daughter would be weeping bitter tears this day. If by some misfortune an honest man like yourself made enemies they would become my enemies” – the Don raised his finger pointing at Bonasera – “and then, believe me, they would fear you.”

“you shall have your justice. Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do me a service in return. Until that day, consider this justice a gift from my wife, your daughter’s godmother.” (pg 23)

Justice is delivered on page 53 “… they seemed to be pulps of human beings. Miraculously, said the News, they were both still alive though they would both be in the hospital for months and would require plastic surgery.” – And the Undertaker owes the Godfather.

All of us can relate to this story, particularly if we have children. “I don’t need you! I’m (an adult/in high school/have my own job/etc/etc) now! I can do it on my own!” But really NONE of us can do it on our own, with any level of success at least. It takes support from both formal and informal systems. Success requires support from family, the rule of law, the employer and these days more and more success requires the full support of extended urban tribes.

For Public Relations folks, I like to bring up the shift from formal distribution (traditional mainstream media) to informal distribution (bloggers, youtube, twitter brand attacks). In my opinion, many people in PR and in media DO understand the shift from centralized to distributed (long tail, small pieces loosely joined) media. Yet what they potentially don’t fully understand is the shift in authority from the police to the Don Corleone’s of the world. And let us not forget the Godfather wasn’t exactly a saint, collecting protection money, bribing the police and “knocking off” the competition.

For public relations professionals, the bloggers are hidden (no Bacon’s directory! gasp!). And bloggers are completely biased and proud of it. And have authority far beyond what a small olive importer should have. From the bloggers perspective the world is finally acknowledging their informal system of authority. About time.

Just an observation about the shift from formal authority in the media to a more informal system. And we all need to get to know and be friends with the new kids in town. With respect.

Geographic Determinism – Four Environmental Differences

From the book Guns, Steel, and Germs by Jared Diamond, there are four major geographic deterministic reasons for the disparity and cultural differences between people historically. (Again, a post mostly for my own notes.)  Specifically this is a follow up to my post on Yali’s question.dragon-fly-by-eschipul

From the book:

“The striking differences between the long-term histories of people of the different continents have been due not to innate differences in the people themselves but to differences in their environments.” – pg 405

Just four sets of (environmental) differences appear to me to be the most important ones.” – pg 406

1. Differences in plants and animals available as starting materials for domestication

“The first set consists of continental differences in the wild plant and animal species available as starting materials for domestication. That’s because food production was critical for the accumulation of food surpluses that could feed non-food-producing specialists, and for the buildup of large populations enjoying a military advantage through mere numbers even before they had developed any technological or political advantage. For both of those reasons, all developments of economically complex, socially stratified, politically centralized societies beyond the level of small nascent chiefdoms were based on food production.“ ““ pg 406

“On each continent, animal and plant domestication was concentrated in a few especially favorable homelands accounting for only a small fraction of the continent’s total area. In the case of technological innovations and political institutions as well, most societies acquire much more from other societies than they invent themselves. Thus, diffusion and migration within a continent contribute importantly to the development of its societies, which tend in the long run to share each other’s developments”¦ That is, societies initially lacking an advantage either acquire it from societies possessing it or (if they fail to do so) are replaced by those other societies.“ ““ pg 406

2. Diffusion and Migration

“On each continent, animal and plant domestication was concentrated in a few especially favorable homelands accounting for only a small fraction of the continent’s total area. In the case of technological innovations and political institutions as well, most societies acquire much more from other societies than they invent themselves. Thus diffusion and migration within a continent contribute importantly to the development of its societies, which tend in the long run to share each others’ developments…  That is, societies initially lacking an advantage either acquire it from societies possessing it or (if they fail to do so) are replaced by those other societies.” – pg 406-407

3. Diffusion within Continents of technology and domestic plants and animals

“Related to these factors affecting diffusion within continents is a third set of factors influencing diffusion between continents, which may also help build up a local pool of domesticates and technology. Ease of intercontinental diffusion has varied, because some continents are more isolated than others.“ ““ pg 407

4. Continental Differences in area or total population size

“The fourth and last set of factors consists of continental differences in area or total population size. A larger area or population means more potential inventors, more competing societies, more innovations available to adopt ““ and more pressure to adopt and retain innovations, because societies failing to do so will tend to be eliminated by competing societies.“ ““ pg 407

There is something nice and compact about breaking such a complex topic as the history of the world’s people’s culture down to four primary environmental factors. And if correct, what balance of power gets shifted globally with the advent of global warming? Something to think about….

Graham – Sarfati: Mapping The Future of Your Association: Eight Super-Trends

GrahamsarfatiassociationseightsupertrendWorking with numerous association clients I try to study organizational structures and trends.  I was pointed to this association PPT presentation by a client with similar interests.  If you are a sociologist or are involved in associations I highly recommend a review of the Graham-Sarfati association super trends presentation deck (linked below).

Mapping The Future of Your Association: Eight Super-Trends
John Graham, IV, CAE, President and CEO, ASAE
Susan Sarfati, CAE, President and CEO, The Center for Association Leadership

Full PPT recommended! – http://www.centeronline.org/ppt/MappingFuture.ppt

  1. Demassification – Break-up of the Mass Market
  2. Unbundling – One-Size-Fits-All No Longer Appeals
  3. Scrimping – Greater Return on Dues Investment
  4. Wave 3.1 – Knowledge, Not Information is the Competitive Advantage
  5. Virtualization – Virtual and Personal Relationships
  6. Cyber-Mobbing – Web-based Communities are Organizing for Advocacy
  7. Scrutiny – Oversight Demands Greater Transparency
  8. Counter-Americanism – U.S. Styles, Values, Products No longer Dominate the World

update: Got a comment from Ben Martin (see comments) with ASAE who is trained on all sorts of association stuff and is certified to deliver the ASAE presentation to your group.  Give him a shout at http://caeexam.blogspot.com/.  What makes social software so interesting is that you can NOT predict the outcomes of social groups.  Which is exactly why we need to study and seek understanding starting with Weber’s Theory of Bureaucracy and going forward.

update2: Speaking of virtualization, Jason McElweenie, Katie Laird and I delivered a webinar on Podcasting for associations for TSAE on Thursday Jan 26, 2006.  Contact TSAE (or Join) for a recording of the webinar or contact me for a copy of just the presentation deck on podcasting.

Via Dina – Google – Countries are known for

DinacountrysociologygooglemapPR is mostly about opportunities, but some PR opportunities are created.  It is a well known technique to create a survey that might be controversial, or at least "interesting" and use that as fuel for a press release perhaps even annually.

This enterprising individual generated great blogosphere coverage by graphing an interesting google query.  Via Dina, the graph (to the left) is generated from a google query with alternating countries.  I doubt a scientific method of sociology was applied, but it passes the "I find it interesting" test.  Great job Radio Blogs.

Just to repeat, literally, this press was generated from a map with labels and 50 to 100 searches in google.  That simple.  Strategy is more important than press releases when it comes to public relations.