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Decision Links

May 8, 2014 Leave a comment

Events exist as links on a chain. A moment cannot be seen as independent and unrelated from the moments that preceded it. Everything that will happen in the future is determined by everything before it. There are no original moments.

Consider then how one decision leads to changes in history. A recent article discusses the “millennial” generation’s attitudes towards life. It frames its argument in comparing people ages 18-34 with older generations. Perspectives and priorities are considered and broad conclusions are presented about the group. Despite variety of attitudes, the article seeks to simply a massive group of people. We are, according to articles like this, common types of people with predictable ideas.

While comparing one generation to a next may yield interesting ideas, a more comprehensive consideration looks at generations with a common link in mind. Just as each moment is connected to the moment that preceded it, a generation is related to the generation before. Humans teach by passing down information from one generation to the next. How does one generation differ from another?
The answer here is more in finding where they are similar. What attitudes did the younger generation choose to adopt. In these selected items we find commonality and more broad perspective on the times.

The chain of existence also reveals the power of single decisions. How might the world have been different if World War II did not occur? If Hitler had decided differently how might the world be different? Without a war there are millions of soldiers who do not go to war to experience its horrors and alter their lives forever. How different is their parenting and the experiences of their children? The chain of existence spindles on and on until its impossible to imagine. With one decision the entire world is altered for centuries.

Safe in Saying Safely

June 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Dare a curator violate our perspective? The internet is often presented as a land of “silos” where content suited to one’s perspectives can easily be accessed. Easy access, some argue, leaves us less interested in differing ideas and locked inside silos of understanding. Whether the internet limits our perspectives is beyond this post. What about those sources? Whether silos or simply sources, we use internet sites as resources to gain info. Whether CNN, NPR or Fox News, we trust sites to give us info and use them as access points to information.

Why do we trust these sources? Major networks hold most of their trust on the basis of history. ABC, NBC and CBS have existed since the dawn on broadcast news. “They’ve always been there” is the argument here and source for common trust. Newcomers like Fox News and

MSNBC have proven their worth through time via high-profile stories and mention in our trusted forms. If ABC, NBC or CBS mentions you we grant value to your existence and garner legitimacy. Maybe the reason Reason.tv failed was a failure to garner major network attention. Working to function as an alternative does not mean you can disregard those who you seek to defy. Function in the system to violate and, after all, where will your audience come from if not from the very sources you despise and took inspiration from.

Media authority comes gradually but once attained must be carefully maintained. Violate your audience’s expectation and the ability to go elsewhere is far too easy. There are no second changes in the media: if you suggest ulterior goals you will lose readers. Ulterior motives can exist but one must hide them very carefully and present the desired content as desired. The audience rules.

Curators must tend their flock carefully. A content creator cannot rest on content alone. Curation and presentation are two critical tools in maintaining power. The audience trusts the curator to present the info. “Maintain my perspective” is a silent mantra playing through the use of resources. Curators who maintain tone and content hold audience. Those who fail reveal their real goals or fall victim to a failure to communicate. Clarity is simple and balance is not about equal coverage. In this world a curator’s “balance” is with tone and voice. The audience isn’t interested in objectivity of coverage. Diversity of voice means death and the only objectivity desired is voice. “Stay real for me resource, “Be just who you are when I first found you.”

The Utility of Gossip

May 20, 2011 Leave a comment

An interesting story on NPR discusses an evolutionary bias in the human brain that favors gossip. It’s an interesting story but I would argue further that such a bias is more suggestive of a human awareness of deceit and the related need to seek truth and reality. Each individual is keenly aware of the multiple roles that humans must present to the world: at times we are a professional version of ourselves while at other times we are social, laid-back or simply indifferent to our lives. In many cases these varied roles contradict each other and may in fact mock the alternative roles.

Gossip is composed of the secret details that compose the gaps between these different roles. All humans seek truth and reality and gossip possesses powerful contents connecting our varied roles. Who is the true human being? When we interact with someone it is often this question at work. Can we actually know the answer to this question? Is it possible to crack the thick mask that human beings wear? I argue that it is not. I feel it is impossible to know the individual at the core level. Even in those who we know intimately there is a deeper level at which that individual holds details too personal to share. In short, we will never know an individual in full. The human being is too complex an animal and our need for certainty and the truth is merely a desire arising from our awareness of these complexities.

Suggestions for Funding Requests

March 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Organizations seeking money are best served by framing their request as a means for advancement, not maintenance. When you ask for money, do not remind me how great you are. Rather, let me know about what you plan to do. I prefer to give money to causes aiming at greater challenges; I am less interested in helping you maintain how great you already are.

If success comes to an organization in the form of accolades it is best to use other items as sources of pride in the face of funding cuts. When your organization is being threatened with a reduction in cuts, please avoid bragging about the numerous awards you have won. Afterall, if you’re doing well maybe your success could increase with a small reduction in cuts. If the rest of the community is struggling to live more leanly than certainly your organization can struggle along with us.

Do not request funding when a major global disaster has occurred. When an earthquake and tsunami strike Japan my priorities will shift and so should your’s (especially as a news organization). I know you need money, but holding on to radio programming I like is less important when people are dying. Know where you stand in public priority and do not forget your role to the public.

Fund drives are ugly, unfortunate things. Any time an organization has to beg for funding is a time for an unseen reaming of shame. It’s a tough world, but frame your request correctly. Yes, its critical, yes you are under threat but so are we and we’d rather have you down in our hole than charged with the request to play ladder.

Image Issues: The Struggles of Varied Bases

January 27, 2011 1 comment

In an interview on Fresh Air today there was a discussion on the NRA’s evolution through history. Though largely geared towards recent events and records of activism, there was a brief mention of an “image crisis” that came up near the end of the interview. Gross posed a question of Spitzer that considered the NRA’s member base and its varied directions of activism. Spitzer reflected on the varied demographics of NRA membership and the wealth of concerns that comes from such a varied base of support. Unlike some groups which form on the basis of a common goal, the NRA is formed on the basis of a common interest and draws in members from the multitude of niches in society.

This issue of “image confusion” that comes from a varied member base made me muse on the reasons why we form groups and the features of our more successful alliances. I came to the conclusion that the key feature of group formation is a common goal. Groups are formulated when a common need exists and the formation of the group appears to be the best remedy. This “common need” varies from group to group, ranging from political to personal but always centering on a common need among the individuals in the group. The individuals come together in order to remedy the common need and formulate the group as a device of intervention.

It should be no surprise that groups created to remedy a simple problem are more popular and more successful. As with all things a clarity of focus creates an environment where individuals can gauge their interests and efficiently provide their services to the group. The fewer goals a group has the easier it is for each member to get involved. Likewise the tendency for success decreases as this focus disappears. In order for a group to accomplish its goal it must have a clear focus of intent.

These areas of focus can range from simple social provisions to political activities. A group like a bowling league has a focused goal and each member gauges interest on the basis of this need. If a potential bowler wants to socialize he or she joins the group. This focused “provision to need” is simple and involves a minor sacrifice. Groups that have these simple needs are popular, just note the number of communities have a weekly bowling league. Seek to trace the rates of animal activism in a community and you will find less interest and a more diverse collection of individuals.

Group success is largely tied to the simplicity of message. Groups that strive for large goals like the NRA and PETA face an increased challenge on the basis of their large, broad goals. When a group strives for major change it faces challenges beyond just the task it sets before itself. A group needs to consider the perspective of the “interested outsider.” What types of considerations will this outsider muse on before joining the group? Often it will be a process of seeking out common points of interest. An individual joins a group on the basis of the “remedy of a need” mentioned above. If a group presents to lofty goals, intentions that are too broad or that demand too much from members will often scare individuals away.

I feel the NRA struggles from this difficulty. Of course the NRA membership remains strong but this is largely a response to concern for second amendment rights. For the NRA the notion of “new member dissonance” mentioned above comes in the form of the outsiders who turn away. These are the non gun owners or the figures in society whose concern for constitutional rights is the stronger motivation than gun control. Many are indifferent to guns but feel incredibly passionate about protecting the constitutional rights we currently possess. I feel that many Americans hold a great fear of figures who aim to trim the Constitution and see our founding document like a bonsai tree that isn’t perfect but a highly crafted work in progress.

The NRA and groups with similarly scaled goals would be better served by recognizing the diversity of their message. A simplification of presentation (key here: not goals or direction) would bring in additional support. Communication is the key. Complicated goals and multiple directions of activism can be successful but a failure to convey a simple message to the outside world alienates would-be supporters. The NRA has a major support base whose only hesitation comes from confusion over image. Too many figures work to define the NRA and it takes just one clash to send a potential supporter away. Image control is critical; its devise is communication clarity.

In order for groups like the NRA to interact successfully with the outside world, there need to be an active consideration of public goals and message. Groups that have focused goals framed on connecting with the common notions of outsiders is critical for gaining support. This isn’t a diluting of message; instead it is a refinement of goals that communicates with the general public of common goals and features. The critical factor when interacting with the public is the clean, friendly face. The public can understand different perspectives and as long as a group’s goals are focused and rationally founded the American public will both tolerate and, in some cases, celebrate the civic activity.

Wikipedia: The Latest Great Human Creation

December 22, 2010 1 comment

Wikipedia is a remarkable piece of work. Since its creation on January 15, 2001, the online encyclopedia has blossomed into a power house of over thirteen-million members maintaining over three-million pages of content. Beyond its depth the site also has broken a number of news stories, most notably the death of Anna Nicole Smith. Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, reflected on this development on NPR in 2007.

And yet despite the sheer size of the resource and the fact that each of its three-million pages are the creation of a voluntary group, the site is considered low-grade and is frequently frowned upon as less a viable resource and more an extensive wall of graffiti and system where bad info prevail. Critics cite a lack of editorial oversight (untrue) or a skepticism about the general public’s ability to craft a legitimate educational resource. Some, it seems, are doubtful that non-experts are capable of creating legitimate info.

Of course any user of Wikipedia will recognize the error of these perspectives. The gradual evolution of the site has been a response to the growing body of users and now includes features that preserve and protect pages from rapid or irrational changes. Users who aim to damage the legitimacy of Wikipedia face hurdles in doing so and every set of eyes who utilize Wikipedia possess the ability to improve or correct material on the site. It is the a constantly expanding resource just like the human race and the collective knowledge we possess.In some ways Wikipedia is an abstract representation of our minds, an artificial symbol that reflects our progress, foibles and pitfalls as intelligent creatures.

Wikipedia is a jewel of human creation. It is the single greatest human creation in the last one-hundred years and perhaps, the greatest and only thing that collective human beings have ever created. Never in our history have we worked together to create something like Wikipedia. Some pose the question of what material would be best to showcase Earth to a visiting group of aliens. What piece of art? What film or piece of music could serve to represent our many cultures and ideas. The answer now is simple: the provision of access to Wikipedia will suffice to reveal just who we were, are and continue to be. We’re an imperfect bunch, ever growing and learning and just like all of our creations are reflections of their creator, Wikipedia reveals just how strong and weak we are.

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