robertogreco + consensus   28

The U.S. Needs a New Constitution—Here's How to Write It - The Atlantic
"Almost nobody uses the U.S. Constitution as a model—not even Americans. When 24 military officers and civilians were given a single week to craft a constitution for occupied Japan in 1946, they turned to England. The Westminster-style parliament they installed in Tokyo, like its British forebear, has two houses. But unlike Congress, one is clearly more powerful than the other and can override the less powerful one during an impasse.

The story was largely the same in defeated Nazi Germany, and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, which all emerged from American occupation with constitutions that look little like the one Madison and the other framers wrote. They have the same democratic values, sure, but different ways of realizing them. According to researchers who analyzed all 729 constitutions adopted between 1946 and 2006, the U.S. Constitution is rarely used as a model. What's more, "the American example is being rejected to an even greater extent by America's allies than by the global community at large," write David Law of Washington University and Mila Versteeg of the University of Virginia.

That's a not a fluke. The American system was designed with plenty of checks and balances, but the Founders assumed the elites elected to Congress would sort things out. They didn't plan for the political parties that emerged almost immediately after ratification, and they certainly didn't plan for Ted Cruz. And factionalism isn't the only problem. Belgium, a country whose ethnic divisions make our partisan sparring look like a thumb war, was unable to form a governing coalition for 589 days in 2010 and 2011. Nevertheless, the government stayed open and fulfilled its duties almost without interruption, thanks to a smarter institutional arrangement.

As the famed Spanish political scientist Juan Linz wrote in an influential 1990 essay, dysfunction, trending toward constitutional breakdown, is baked into our DNA. Any system that gives equally strong claims of democratic legitimacy to both the legislature and the president, while also allowing each to be controlled by people with fundamentally different agendas, is doomed to fail. America has muddled through thus far by compromise, but what happens when the sides no longer wish to compromise? "No democratic principle exists to resolve disputes between the executive and the legislature about which of the two actually represents the will of the people," Linz wrote.

There are about 30 countries, mostly in Latin America, that have adopted American-style systems. All of them, without exception, have succumbed to the Linzian nightmare at one time or another, often repeatedly," according to Yale constitutional law professor Bruce Ackerman, who calls for a transition to a parliamentary system. By "Linzian nightmare," Ackerman means constitutional crisis—your full range of political violence, revolution, coup, and worse. But well short of war, you can end up in a state of "crisis governance," he writes. "President and house may merely indulge a taste for endless backbiting, mutual recrimination, and partisan deadlock. Worse yet, the contending powers may use the constitutional tools at their disposal to make life miserable for each other: The house will harass the executive, and the president will engage in unilateral action whenever he can get away with it." He wrote that almost a decade and a half ago, long before anyone had heard of Barack Obama, let alone the Tea Party.

You can blame today's actors all you want, but they're just the product of the system, and honestly it's a wonder we've survived this long: The presidential election of 1800, a nasty campaign of smears and hyper-partisan attacks just a decade after ratification, caused a deadlock in the House over whether John Adams or Thomas Jefferson should be president. The impasse grew so tense that state militias opposed to Adams's Federalist Party prepared to march on Washington before lawmakers finally elected Jefferson on the 36th vote in the House. It's a near miracle we haven't seen more partisan violence, but it seems like tempting fate to stick with the status quo for much longer.

How would a parliamentary system handle a shutdown? It wouldn't have one. In Canada a few years ago, around the same time Washington was gripped in yet another debt-ceiling crisis, a budget impasse in Ottawa led to new elections, where the parties fought to win over voters to their fiscal plan. One side won, then enacted its plan—problem solved. Most parliamentary systems, which unify the executive and legislative branches, have this sort of fail-safe mechanism. If a budget or other must-pass bill can't get passed, or a prime minister can't be chosen, then funding levels are placed on autopilot and new elections are called to resolve things. The people decide.

Arend Lijphart is a political scientist who has spent much of his career trying to answer the fundamental question, "What works best?" and he thinks he knows the answer. "Democracies work best if they are consensus instead of majoritarian democracies. The most important constitutional provisions that help in this direction is to have a parliamentary system and elections by [proportional representation]. The U.S. is the opposite system, with a presidential system and plurality single-member-district elections," he said an email, drawing on complex quantitative analysis he's done to compare economic and political outcomes across dozens of democratic countries with different systems.

If he had to pick any country whose system we might like to try on for size, he'd pick Germany. "Some aspects of it do need to change, of course," he says. Yet it's a nice bicameral federal system for a large country, like ours, but it has a proportional representation parliamentary system."

[via: https://twitter.com/maxberger/status/1061501440642949120

"America is the only presidentialist system (I.e. a separately elected legislature and executive) that hasn't lapsed into dictatorship.

Literally every single other presidentialist system in the world has failed.

It's only a matter of time before ours fails as well."
https://twitter.com/maxberger/status/1061838637795631105
us  constitution  government  2013  alexseitz-ald  presidency  latinamerica  bruceackerman  parliamentarysystem  politics  governance  authoritarianism  constitutionalcrisis  barackobama  teaparty  canada  consensus  juanlinz  democracy 
november 2018 by robertogreco
An Xiao Busingye Mina en Instagram: “David Wojnarowicz had a concept for the world we inherit, the “pre-invented world,” which he defines eloquently here. I interpret it as the…”
[image with text:

"Wojnarowicz identified with outsiders of all kinds—both those who resisted and escaped the "pre-invented world," and those ground don by it. He identified with the discarded, the trapped, and the rebellious. In this page from his 1988 journals, he expressed those feelings in an offhand notation:
The only hero I have or can think of is the monkey cosmonaut in the Russian capsule that got excited in space and broke loose from his restraints and began smashing the control board—the flight had to be aborted.

"The world of the stoplight, the no-smoking signs, the rental world, the split-rail fencing shielding hundreds of miles of barren wilderness from the human step… The brought-up world; the owned world. The world of coded sounds: the world of language, the world of lies. The packaged world; the world of speed metallic motion. The Other World where I've always felt like an alien." —David Wojnarowicz, Close to the Knives"]

"David Wojnarowicz had a concept for the world we inherit, the “pre-invented world,” which he defines eloquently here. I interpret it as the consensus narrative, the world that we might call the mainstream or the dominant. We are watching today the steady disintegration of the pre-invented world. The post-Cold War consensus is collapsing, and a new world is coming into being. On the one hand is a violent ethnonationalism and authoritarianism. On the other is a global, communal, inclusive outlook. It is not clear which one will win, but for those of us born on the margins, for those of us who’ve always struggled with the pre-invented world, these are the most dangerous times. But this comes with the recognition that the world before wasn’t made for us, either. The world before was also dangerous.
.
Wojnarowicz died of AIDS in 1992. He wouldn’t live to see the emergence of gay marriage and contemporary queer culture in the US, nor of a massive public health campaign to curb the spread of HIV and AIDS. For the queer community in the US, we have seen improvements. And if we are lucky, what comes next after these dark times might be better. For now, we live in a time of monsters."
anxiaomina  2018  davidwojnarowicz  pre-inventedworld  ethnonationalism  authoritarianism  change  mainstream  unschooling  deschooling  queerculture  othering  otherness  homogeneity  ownership  property  consensus  dominant  margins  marginalization  trapped  resistance  discarded  rebellion  1988  multispecies  monkeys  escape 
october 2018 by robertogreco
The Risk of an Unwavering Vision | Stanford Graduate School of Business
"The tech landscape is lush with entrepreneurs whose success blossomed only after the founders had modified or even abandoned their original vision. Facebook became something quite different from the Harvard-specific social connection site created by Mark Zuckerberg. Airbnb? That short-term housing rental juggernaut started as a way for people to find roommates. What eventually became the ride-sharing app Lyft originally offered carpooling software for large companies.

“It’s almost always the case that the greatest firms are discovered and not planned,” says William P. Barnett, a professor of business leadership, strategy, and organizations at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

That’s one conclusion from a study Barnett co-authored with colleague Elizabeth G. Pontikes of the University of Chicago. They decided to gauge entrepreneurial success rates by researching the early choices made by software entrepreneurs operating in 4,566 organizations in 456 different market categories over 12 years.

They focused on the software industry because it’s filled with producers and investors constantly racing to identify the next big thing, and studied how big successes and spectacular failures affect the willingness of entrepreneurs to dive in. They also analyzed how those budding businesses eventually fared. Did they exit the market? Did they generate investor financing? Did they go public?

Barnett and Pontikes found that entrepreneurs who were willing to adapt their vision and products to find the right market often did the best. They also found that those who followed the herd into perceived hot markets, or “consensus” entrants, were less viable in the long run than those who made “non-consensus” choices by defying common wisdom and entering markets that were tainted by failures and thus regarded as riskier.

“We know from studies of human behavior that, as social beings, we want to resolve uncertainty,” Barnett says. “We do that not by doing objective research but by looking at each other.”

That has clear implications for business leaders, he says. “They need to ask if the people who report to them are being quiet about their non-consensus ideas. If the answer is yes, then a leader has to wonder what that says about their leadership if people are afraid to suggest counterintuitive strategies.”

Barnett also says that many of the tech world’s most historic success stories can be traced back to entrepreneurs who pursued a vision that ran counter to accepted wisdom. “If you want to find a unicorn,” he says, “listen for the buzz and run the other way.”

For example, Barnett says Apple continued to pursue handheld technology despite the failure of the Apple Newton, a balky handwriting-recognition device that was released in 1993 to general mockery, including in cartoonist Garry Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” comic strip. Barnett notes that “the Newton’s failure quickly stigmatized the market for smart, handheld devices, making similar innovations taboo for a number of years.”

Apple’s Steve Jobs killed the Newton in 1998 but saw potential in the concept, which eventually led to the 2007 introduction of the industry-changing iPhone and the 2010 introduction of the iPad.

Of course, when non-consensus ideas fail, they often fail spectacularly, which in turn can inhibit risk-taking by others. “The fear of being a fool is stronger than the hope of being a genius,” Barnett says. “So we tend to shy away from non-consensus moves, because we understand the world will look at our errors as if we’re a complete idiot.”

But if humans are bad at predicting, he adds, we’re great at “retrospectively rationalizing” to explain why a business or product succeeded or failed. He says Jobs was particularly good at this, paraphrasing Jobs’ 2008 Stanford commencement address in which the Apple co-founder said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, only looking backward.”

Nearly every move Jobs made at Apple turned out to be different from what he intended, Barnett says. “These ‘geniuses’ — we think they knew, but they didn’t.”

One thing that wildly successful entrepreneurs like Jobs and Zuckerberg did understand, Barnett says, is how to put together systems “that could discover the future, that allowed for uncertainty, that ferreted out possibilities. Then they doubled down on those discoveries.”"
vision  adaptability  technology  siliconvalley  elizabethpontikes  williambarnett  entrepreneurs  entrepreneurship  stevejobs  conventionalwisdom  consensus  uncertainty  possibility  sfsh  adaptabilty 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Understanding Hillary: The Clinton America sees isn’t the Clinton colleagues know. Why are they so different?
"I don’t buy it. Other politicians find themselves under continuous assault, but their poll numbers strengthen amid campaigns. Barack Obama’s approval rating rose in the year of his reelection. So too did George W. Bush’s. And Bill Clinton’s. All three sustained attacks. All three endured opponents lobbing a mix of true and false accusations. But all three seemed boosted by running for the job — if anything, people preferred watching them campaign to watching them govern.

Hillary Clinton is just the opposite. There is something about her persona that seems uniquely vulnerable to campaigning; something is getting lost in the Gap. So as I interviewed Clinton's staffers, colleagues, friends, and foes, I began every discussion with some form of the same question: What is true about the Hillary Clinton you’ve worked with that doesn’t come through on the campaign trail?

The answers startled me in their consistency. Every single person brought up, in some way or another, the exact same quality they feel leads Clinton to excel in governance and struggle in campaigns. On the one hand, that makes my job as a reporter easy. There actually is an answer to the question. On the other hand, it makes my job as a writer harder: It isn’t a very satisfying answer to the question, at least not when you first hear it.

Hillary Clinton, they said over and over again, listens.

How a listener campaigns

“I love Bill Clinton,” says Tom Harkin, who served as senator from Iowa from 1985 to 2015. “But every time you talk to Bill, you’re just trying to get a word in edgewise. With Hillary, you’re in a meeting with her, and she really listens to you.”

The first few times I heard someone praise Clinton’s listening, I discounted it. After hearing it five, six, seven times, I got annoyed by it. What a gendered compliment: “She listens.” It sounds like a caricature of what we would say about a female politician.

But after hearing it 11, 12, 15 times, I began to take it seriously, ask more questions about it. And as I did, the Gap began to make more sense.

Modern presidential campaigns are built to reward people who are really, really good at talking. So imagine what a campaign feels like if you’re not entirely natural in front of big crowds. Imagine that you are constantly compared to your husband, one of the greatest campaign orators of all time; that you’ve been burned again and again after saying the wrong thing in public; that you’ve been told, for decades, that you come across as calculated and inauthentic on the stump. What would you do?"



"Laurie Rubiner, who served as Clinton’s legislative director from 2005 to 2008, recalls being asked to block out two hours on the calendar for “card-table time.” Rubiner had just started in Clinton’s office six weeks before, and she had no idea what card-table time was, but when the boss wants something put on the calendar, you do it.

When the appointed day arrived, Clinton had laid out two card tables alongside two huge suitcases. She opened the suitcases, and they were stuffed with newspaper clippings, position papers, random scraps of paper. Seeing the befuddled look on Rubiner’s face, Clinton asked, “Did anyone tell you what we’re doing here?”

It turned out that Clinton, in her travels, stuffed notes from her conversations and her reading into suitcases, and every few months she dumped the stray paper on the floor of her Senate office and picked through it with her staff. The card tables were for categorization: scraps of paper related to the environment went here, crumpled clippings related to military families there. These notes, Rubiner recalls, really did lead to legislation. Clinton took seriously the things she was told, the things she read, the things she saw. She made her team follow up.

Her process works the same way today. Multiple Clinton aides told me that the campaign’s plan to fight opiate addiction, the first and most comprehensive offered by any of the major candidates, was the direct result of Clinton hearing about the issue on her tour. “Her way of dealing with the stories she hears is not just to repeat the story but to do something about the story,” says John Podesta, the chair of Clinton’s campaign."



"One way of reading the Democratic primary is that it pitted an unusually pure male leadership style against an unusually pure female leadership style. Sanders is a great talker and a poor relationship builder. Clinton is a great relationship builder and a poor talker. In this case — the first time at the presidential level — the female leadership style won.

But that wasn’t how the primary was understood. Clinton’s endorsements left her excoriated as a tool of the establishment while Sanders's speeches left people marveling at his political skills. Thus was her core political strength reframed as a weakness.

I want to be very clear here. I’m not saying that anyone who opposed Clinton was sexist. Nor am I saying Clinton should have won. What I’m saying is that presidential campaigns are built to showcase the stereotypically male trait of standing in front of a room speaking confidently — and in ways that are pretty deep, that’s what we expect out of our presidential candidates. Campaigns built on charismatic oration feel legitimate in a way that campaigns built on deep relationships do not.

But here’s the thing about the particular skills Clinton used to capture the Democratic nomination: They are very, very relevant to the work of governing. And they are particularly relevant to the way Clinton governs.

In her book Why Presidents Fail, Brookings scholar Elaine Kamarck argues that "successful presidential leadership occurs when the president is able to put together and balance three sets of skills: policy, communication, and implementation."

The problem, Kamarck says, is that campaigns are built to test only one of those skills. “The obsession with communication — presidential talking and messaging — is a dangerous mirage of the media age, a delusion that inevitably comes crashing down in the face of government failure.”

Part of Kamarck’s argument is that presidential primaries used to be decided in the proverbial smoke-filled room — a room filled with political elites who knew the candidates personally, who had worked with them professionally, who had some sense of how they governed. It tested “the ability of one politician to form a coalition of equals in power.”

Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination by forming a coalition. And part of how she forms coalitions is by listening to her potential partners — both to figure out what they need and to build her relationships with them. This is not a skill all politicians possess.

As I began to press the people I talked to about why they brought up Clinton’s listening skills, a torrent of complaints about other politicians emerged. “The reason so many people comment on this is most of us have experienced working with people who are awful listeners,” says Sara Rosenbaum, who worked with Clinton on the 1994 health reform bill and is now at George Washington University. “Because they don’t listen, they can’t ask good questions. They can’t absorb the information you’ve given them.”"



"The danger of leading by listening

There is a downside to listening to everyone, to seeking rapport, to being inclusive, to obsessing over common ground. Clinton’s effort to find broad consensus can turn her speeches and policies into mush. Her interest in hearing diverse voices can end with her chasing down the leads of cranks and hacks. Her belief that the highest good in politics is getting something — at times, anything — done means she takes few lonely stands and occasionally cuts deals many of her supporters regret.

Clinton spent much of the primary defending herself against criticisms of deals her husband made and she supported — welfare reform and the crime bill, specifically. Her great failure, the 1994 health reform effort, unwound in part because she created a sprawling, unruly process in which hundreds of experts came together to write a bill no one understood and no one could explain."



"This is, in general, one of the frustrations you hear from Clintonites: Her network is massive, and particularly when her poll numbers flag, or she feels under attack, she reaches out into that vast, strange ecosystem. The stories of Clinton receiving a midnight email from an old friend and throwing her campaign into chaos are legion, and it was all the worse because she often wouldn’t admit that’s what was happening, and so her staff ended up arguing against a ghost.

In an exhaustive review of private communications from her 2008 campaign, Joshua Green wrote that “her advisers couldn’t execute strategy; they routinely attacked and undermined each other, and Clinton never forced a resolution.” Under duress, Clinton’s process broke down, and her management proved cumbersome, ineffective, and conducive to staff infighting.

“What is clear from the internal documents is that Clinton’s loss derived not from any specific decision she made but rather from the preponderance of the many she did not make,” Green concluded. “Her hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency.”"



"Clinton laments how polarizing she is, but the fault lies at least partly with her. Asked at a Democratic debate to name the enemies she’s most proud of making, she replied, “The Republicans.” For all her talk of finding common ground, of reaching out, of respecting each other, she stood up, on national television, and said she’s proud of the enmity she inspires in roughly half the country.

I asked her if she regretted that statement, whether she thinks she’s feeding the negativity, becoming part of the problem. “Not very much,” she said. “I mean, you can go back and look at how I’ve worked with Republicans, and I … [more]
2016  hillaryclinton  politics  elections  listening  consensus  policy  billclinton  barackobama  governance  berniesanders  gender  coalitions  media  journalism  press  communication  networking  decisionmaking  relationships  implementation 
july 2016 by robertogreco
All Aboard the LeaderShip - Alfie Kohn
"If you’re going to lead a school or other organization, it might be smart to give some thought to what it means to be a good leader. But that fact doesn’t explain why some schools proudly announce that they train their students — every last one of them — in the art of leadership. What’s up with that?

I’d suggest three possible explanations. The first is that leadership, like a lot of other terms that show up in mission statements (transformational, responsible, good citizens, 21st-century as an adjective), is just a rhetorical flourish — something we’re not supposed to think about too carefully. No one is likely to stand up and say, “Hey, wait just a minute! Exactly which characteristics does this school regard as admirable in the 21st century that it didn’t value in, say, 1995?”

Similarly, you’re not expected to ask how it’s possible for everyone to be a leader. You’re just supposed to smile and nod. Leadership good.

Possibility number 2 is that the term does have a specific meaning — a meaning that’s actually rather disturbing in this context. “When colleges promise to make their students leaders, they’re telling them they’re going to be in charge,” William Deresiewicz wrote in the September issue of Harper’s magazine. In fact, that pact with the privileged begins well before college. The message, if made explicit, would sound something like this: “No, of course everyone can’t be a leader. The elite are far more likely to attain that status. So buy your kids an education here and we’ll equip them to be part of that elite.”[1]

It’s a shrewd selling point for a selective school, granted. And it explains why, as someone observed recently, you don’t find many institutions that refer to themselves as “followership academies.”

The relatively benign word leadership may be a way to mute the objectionable implications of grooming certain students to run the world. It’s not unlike how adults try to make themselves feel better about punishing children by referring to what they’re doing as “imposing a consequence.”

*

When I mused about this issue on Twitter a few weeks ago, wondering whether appeals to leadership implicitly endorsed a competitive hierarchy, my post produced a bushel of responses that made me consider possibility number 3: Maybe leadership, like a lot of other words, just means whatever the hell you want it to mean.

One person pointed me to a website about being a “servant/leader” — a phrase with religious roots, I discovered. The site, which had the feel of a late-night TV commercial, offered materials to promote both “personal development” and an “entrepreneurial mindset.”

Here, reproduced verbatim, are a few of the other replies I received:

* Leadership requires that we lead ourselves first. Part of being a great leader is being a good follower too

* Students can lead in 4 directions- leading up, leading peers, leading down, and leading self

* Everyone can be a leader, everyone can be a servant, and everyone can treat others w/ respect

* Some leadership actually comes from the followers within a group

* Lead from YOUR passion. All can.

* [I] always interpreted “teaching leadership” to mean recognizing/owning our gifts & challenges, and learning what we can do with them

One reasonable reaction to all these declarations would be: “Huh?” The dictionary says a leader is “one who is in charge or command of others.” The leader’s style doesn’t have to be (and ideally wouldn’t be) heavy-handed or authoritarian. But that doesn’t mean the word can be redefined to signify anything we choose, such that the inherent power differential between leaders and followers is magically erased. To deny that feature, or to claim that leadership can refer to being a good follower, stretches the word beyond all usefulness. Likewise for the blithe reassurance that everyone can be a leader, which recalls Debbie Meier’s marvelous analogy: It’s like telling children to line up for lunch, then adding, “And I want all of you to be in the front half of the line!”

In a political context, it makes sense to discuss how to prevent leaders from abusing their power. But if our focus is on education or child rearing, then I’m not sure why we’re promoting a hierarchical arrangement. And teaching kids to “follow as well as lead” doesn’t address this concern any more than the harm caused by having a punitive parent is rectified by having another parent who’s permissive.

It’s fine to hope that those children who do eventually end up in leadership positions will act with kindness and skill. But, again, why frame education in these terms? Why not promote characteristics that apply to everyone (just by virtue of being human) and are relevant to children as well as adults: compassion, skepticism, self-awareness, curiosity, and so on? Why not emphasize the value of being part of a well-functioning team, of treating everyone with respect within a model that’s fundamentally collaborative and democratic? At best, a focus on leadership distracts us from helping people decide things together; at worst, it inures us to a social order that consists of those who tell and those who are told.

*

Alongside my substantive objection to an emphasis on leadership (as the word is actually defined) I will confess to some irritation with the more general tendency to be unconstrained by how words are actually defined. This temptation presents itself with respect to all sorts of terms, and even people with admirable views give in to it. Faced with an objection to a certain idea or practice, the response is likely to be, in effect, “No, no. I use that label to mean only good things.”

Thus: “I reject your criticisms of the flipped classroom [making students watch lecture videos as homework and do what’s more commonly assigned as homework during class] because when I talk about flipped classrooms, I mean those that include wonderful student-designed projects.”

Or: “Why would someone who’s progressive raise concerns about the idea of a growth mindset [attributing outcomes to effort rather than to fixed ability]? The way I use that term, it includes a rejection of grades and other traditional pedagogical practices.”[2]

We’ve disappeared through the looking glass here, finding ourselves in a reality where, as Lewis Carroll had Humpty Dumpty put it, “a word…means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”[3] Like Carroll, I think it’s fine to argue that x is consistent with things you already like (if you can defend that proposition), but it’s not fine to defend x by redefining it however you see fit.

After all, that’s something a good leader would never permit."
alfiekohn  leadership  education  howweteach  schools  williamderesiewicz  skepticism  power  elitism  buzzwords  missionstatements  2015  deborahmeier  compassion  self-awareness  curiosity  democracy  collaboration  society  selfishness  language  lewiscarroll  growthmindset  flippedclassroom  pedagogy  whatweteach  words  kindness  consensus  hierarchy  horizontality  competition 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Spreadsheets of power: How economic modelling is used to circumvent democracy and shut down debate | The Monthly
[via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/587013934143574016 ]

"Most people think it is hard to put a dollar value on a human life, but they’re wrong. It’s easy. Economists do it all the time.

Most people think that all human lives are equally valuable. And most think economic modelling is boring, irrelevant to their busy lives, and unrelated to how our democracy is functioning. They’re wrong about those, too.

About ten years ago, a lawyer rang to ask if I would do some (economic) modelling. “It depends,” I said. “What’s the job?”

“We want you to put a dollar value on the life of a dead mother,” said the lawyer. “We are suing a doctor for medical negligence, and the insurance company wants to value her life at zero because she wasn’t working. She had no future earning potential. Can you estimate the value of the housework she would have performed?”

I still feel sad when I think about it: for the family, for myself, and for a society in which asking such a question is not only acceptable but also necessary. The dilemma for the widower and the lawyer, and for me, was that if someone didn’t put a dollar value on the love and care that a mother gives her children, the father would wind up with even less money to care for the kids he would be bringing up by himself.

Of course, economists have no real way to value love and affection, so I valued ironing, laundry and child care instead. I got my hands on data about how mothers with three kids use their time. I found data on the price of buying individual household services like ironing, and the price of live-in maids and nannies. I forecast the age at which the kids would leave home. My forecast was based on a meaningless average of kids who do go to uni and kids who don’t. My spreadsheets were huge, complex, scrupulously referenced and entirely meaningless. Like all good forecasters I estimated the “value” of her life to the cent, and as happens in all good negotiations, the lawyers ultimately settled for a nice round number. The only good thing about the number was that it was bigger than zero.

The topsy-turvy “morality” of economics is built in to models that politicians, lawyers, economists and lobby groups use to persuade the public, in all parts of public life: models that say, for instance, that we can’t afford a price on carbon; that life-saving medicine for some people is “too expensive”; or that the loss of an entire species is justifiable if woodchip prices remain above $100 per tonne.

Everyone who uses economic models to excuse the inexcusable wants you to believe that the models are boring. The last thing they want you to do is to pay attention.

***

Many economists have calculated that it will be cheaper for the world to endure climate change than to prevent it. The models they use to draw this bizarre conclusion are built on thousands of assumptions about everything from the value of human life to the willingness of consumers to buy smaller cars if petrol becomes more expensive. If any one of those assumptions is wrong, the answer will be wrong. If hundreds of the assumptions are out, the answer becomes meaningless. (Some economists then argue that if hundreds of the assumptions are wrong then the errors might cancel each other out. Seriously.)

Imagine you were asked to model the costs of dangerous climate change. Imagine you were in possession of the likely number of people who will die as a result of storms, floods and droughts. Imagine you knew what countries they would die in, and how many years into the future. Would you value all of their lives equally? Would you assume that a Bangladeshi and an American life were “worth” the same? Would you think that the death of a child in 20 years’ time was worth as much as the death of a child in 50 years’ time?

In our democracy, these ethical questions are usually answered by economists, to two decimal places.

Most economic modellers do not assume that all human lives are equal. Bjorn Lomborg, for example, one of the world’s most famous climate sceptics, uses modelling that assumes the lives of people in developing countries are worth a lot less than the lives of Australians or Americans. While the US Declaration of Independence may declare that all men are created equal, most economic models assume that all men (and women) are worth a figure based on the GDP per capita of their country.

Late last year, Bjorn Lomborg asked to meet me, and I wondered whether talking to him would be good fun or a waste of time. It was neither: it was scary and illuminating. After 15 years as the smiling face of climate inactivists, Lomborg had raised his sights. His new mission was to ensure that governments also deliver inaction on global poverty alleviation, public health and gender inequality.

When we met, Lomborg proceeded to explain how his team of economists at the Copenhagen Consensus Center had decided that a number of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals weren’t worth pursuing. His tool of choice for defending such a position? Economic modelling.



You probably didn’t know economists had an assumption about humanity’s primary goal, did you? No wonder developing countries think that the developed countries don’t really care about their suffering as much as our inconvenience. We don’t.

Assumptions such as those made by Summers sit at the heart of the economic models that are regularly used to oppose carbon taxes, support free trade agreements and prevent the introduction of environmental regulations or more generous welfare safety nets.

Much of the power of economists is based on the public’s (understandable) lack of desire to read reports written in algebra. That’s why we like to use algebra.



In 2011, Denmark’s general election saw its centre-right government tossed out of power, to be replaced by a minority centre-left coalition led by the country’s first female prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

Bjorn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Center was one of the first casualties of the change of government. When it was announced that its more than $1 million in funding would be cut, Lomborg visited the new prime minister, urging her to reconsider the government’s decision. “I’d love to show you how the Copenhagen Consensus is a good idea,” he was reported as telling her.

“I think that probably might be right, Bjorn,” she reportedly responded to the sceptical environmentalist. “But I will just get so much more mileage out of criticising you.”

Costs and benefits can be calculated any number of ways, and the modeller’s assumptions are crucial to the end result. Lomborg had confidently assumed that the Danish taxpayer would continue to fund his work. His cost–benefit analyses had found that more effort should be put into free trade and less money spent on tackling poverty and climate change. But, as with all such efforts, garbage in, garbage out.

There is a role for economists, and economic modelling, in public debate. Its role should not be to limit the menu of democratic choices. Instead it should be to help explain the trade-offs.

Good modellers aren’t afraid of explaining their assumptions. The clients who pay best, however, don’t want the best modellers. They want people who can write a fat report to slam on the fucking table."
economics  power  democracy  control  2015  economists  ideology  modeling  morality  politics  policy  lobbyists  persuasion  climatechange  justification  capitalism  larrysummers  worldbank  welfare  humanism  humanity  ethics  neoliberalism  richarddenniss  bjornlomborg  copenhagenconsensuscenter  riotinton  consensus  petercostello  joehockey  australia  inequality  poverty  representation  environment  pollution 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Curious Cargo 3: Solving Problems with Problem Setting
"Designs are judged in a context. The full context is that we live on a planet beset by countless injustices and wicked problems. Existence is a yawning abyss that devours all meaning and everyone dies alone. But since contemplating that for more than a few moments can cause complete paralysis, most people section off the dark crystal of the world into manageable shards and consider only a few facets at a time.

When it comes to presenting a new idea, the stage you set has an enormous influence on how people respond. Our work is judged by how well it achieves what we say it set out to do. And so the knife maker is judged on the quality of their knife, while the water cleaner is judged on the impossible problem of poverty. If the knife maker had started out talking about poverty, they too would be judged on the utter failure of a knife to address the growing gap between the rich and poor.

There is a trick here. You can change your destination after the fact. You can change your problem as many times as you like, right up until the moment you go public. We know this is possible because after a new design has achieved success, a common “behind the scenes” story designers tell is how they first set out to do X but in their exploration they realized Y. Apple set out to make a tablet, but then decided they should use the tech to first make a phone, and Steve Jobs told this story only after both had been launched. Good design stories may be told linearly but they are rarely composed that way.

In crits, it often feels unfair to go after a student’s set problem. For one thing, they are working under extremely tight constraints. For another, they tend to be honest to a fault about their starting point. If you responded to every presentation with “but what does this do about the situation in America’s prisons?” you’d come across as aggressively rude. Yes, I am aware that this new kind of notecard will do nothing to end the drone strikes in Yemen. No, this chair does not address climate change. We had three weeks and no budget. Fuck off.

In the world, going after the set problem is a vital part of design criticism. When Volvo releases paint to make bicyclists easier to see, it is right and good to rant about the merchants of death machines putting the blame on their victims. When Apple speaks of devices for a better life and a better world, it is right and good to ask about the conditions under which they are made. Good design criticism works to expand the horizons of public discussion, to bring to light elements that are glossed over or forgotten.

Note the power of context setting: Apple bears the brunt of criticism for labour practices at Foxconn even though Sony, Microsoft, Amazon, Nintendo, and many others use the same supplier. I suspect this is partially because Apple in your headline = many clicks and partially because Apple devotes so much marketing time to a story about how their things are made. All car manufacturers are selling death machines, but Volvo gets the rant because they brought up bike safety while the rest of the companies serenely ignore the issue.

And none of them are addressing the situation in America’s prisons.

This difficulty shows up everywhere. In social justice contexts, the line between expanding and derailing the discussion is tricky to draw. In politics, we have the Overton window to name the range of ideas which are acceptably debatable and there is plenty of fighting to be done about the shape and size of the window. In journalism, there are the spheres of consensus, controversy and deviance and the reality distorting tendency of the press to report on neither consensus nor deviance. In design, MAYA returns. There is most advanced, yet acceptable design and there is most advanced, yet acceptable criticism.

Problem setting matters because it influences not only what gets designed but how we talk about what gets designed, and that influences what gets designed next. Sooner or later, some of those chronically unconsidered facets are going to force their way on stage whether we want them or not."
timmaly  2015  crits  design  designschool  artschool  context  overtonwindow  marketing  apple  designcriticism  criticism  raymoundloewy  critique  problemfinding  problemdefinition  volvo  judgement  industrialdesign  architecture  productdesign  journalism  politics  consensus  controversy  deviance  derailing  artschools 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Deep Culture: A New Way of Work — Work Futures — Medium
"I will be keynoting at the Social Now conference on 21 April 2015 in Amsterdam. The topic is the theme of the book I am writing, Deep Culture: A New Way of Work.
The future attitude to work is to question all assumptions, and only retain what works, what adds to the mix, and what opens options. This is why autonomy, purpose, and the regard of those you respect will become the first theorems of a new logic in business: not because it sounds good when trying to hire people, but because it works, and because the legacy, shallow culture left over from the last century has led to the highest levels of disengagement since we started to pay attention. — Stowe Boyd

I intend to explore a number of contradictions that define the new way of work emerging today, which I am calling deep culture. For example, deep work culture is based on embracing dissent, not slavishly pursuing consensus. It embraces widespread democracy, and rejects oligarchic control of the many by the few. Deep culture is based on distributed and emergent leadership, where any and all can step forward to lead when it makes sense, instead of leadership being limited to an elite caste of managers.

The changing nature of work is happening so fast and we are so close to it that we have a hard time seeing what’s different, or to abstract the new principles that underlie the new practices. I hope to tease some of those out, and to treat them as a new set of requirements for work technologies of the next five or so years."

[via: "So what do you think @stoweboyd’s deep culture of work mean for k12 edu https://medium.com/the-future-of-work-and-business/deep-culture-a-new-way-of-work-857da007d11f "
https://twitter.com/Braddo/status/574427438110797824

replied: “@Braddo @stoweboyd Great question. Maybe moving from ~Monopoly to ~Calvin Ball / Nomic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomic )? https://twitter.com/rogre/status/574283912878252032 * ”
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/574434845050318848

*referencing: “often the case ☛ school : learning :: finite game: infinite game*

*defined: https://twitter.com/Bopuc/status/574279146727194626 …”
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/574283912878252032

""A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play."
Finite & Infinite Games
Carse"
https://twitter.com/Bopuc/status/574279146727194626 ]
stoweboyd  work  autonomy  howwework  deepculture  change  2015  via:braddo  purpose  democracy  horizontality  dissent  consensus  control  leadership  emergent  management  administration  nomic  infinitegames  finitegames  jamescarse 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Convivial Tools in an Age of Surveillance
"What would convivial ed-tech look like?

The answer can’t simply be “like the Web” as the Web is not some sort of safe and open and reliable and accessible and durable place. The answer can’t simply be “like the Web” as though the move from institutions to networks magically scrubs away the accumulation of history and power. The answer can’t simply be “like the Web” as though posting resources, reference services, peer-matching, and skill exchanges — what Illich identified as the core of his “learning webs” — are sufficient tools in the service of equity, freedom, justice, or hell, learning.

“Like the Web” is perhaps a good place to start, don’t get me wrong, particularly if this means students are in control of their own online spaces — its content, its data, its availability, its publicness. “Like the Web” is convivial, or close to it, if students are in control of their privacy, their agency, their networks, their learning. We all need to own our learning — and the analog and the digital representations or exhaust from that. Convivial tools do not reduce that to a transaction — reduce our learning to a transaction, reduce our social interactions to a transaction.

I'm not sure the phrase "safe space" is quite the right one to build alternate, progressive education technologies around, although I do think convivial tools do have to be “safe” insofar as we recognize the importance of each other’s health and well-being. Safe spaces where vulnerability isn’t a weakness for others to exploit. Safe spaces where we are free to explore, but not to the detriment of those around us. As Illich writes, "A convivial society would be the result of social arrangements that guarantee for each member the most ample and free access to the tools of the community and limit this freedom only in favor of another member’s equal freedom.”

We can’t really privilege “safe” as the crux of “convivial” if we want to push our own boundaries when it comes to curiosity, exploration, and learning. There is risk associated with learning. There’s fear and failure (although I do hate how those are being fetishized in a lot of education discussions these days, I should note.)

Perhaps what we need to build are more compassionate spaces, so that education technology isn’t in the service of surveillance, standardization, assessment, control.

Perhaps we need more brave spaces. Or at least many educators need to be braver in open, public spaces -- not brave to promote their own "brands" but brave in standing with their students. Not "protecting them” from education technology or from the open Web but not leaving them alone, and not opening them to exploitation.

Perhaps what we need to build are more consensus-building not consensus-demanding tools. Mike Caulfield gets at this in a recent keynote about “federated education.” He argues that "Wiki, as it currently stands, is a consensus *engine*. And while that’s great in the later stages of an idea, it can be deadly in those first stages.” Caulfield relates the story of the Wikipedia entry on Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, which, 16 minutes after it was created, "someone – and in this case it probably matters that is was a dude – came and marked the page for deletion as trivial, or as they put it 'A non-notable article incapable of being expanded beyond a stub.’” Debate ensues on the entry’s “talk” page, until finally Jimmy Wales steps in with his vote: a “strong keep,” adding "I hope someone will create lots of articles about lots of famous dresses. I believe that our systemic bias caused by being a predominantly male geek community is worth some reflection in this context.”

Mike Caulfield has recently been exploring a different sort of wiki, also by Ward Cunningham. This one — called the Smallest Federated Wiki — doesn’t demand consensus like Wikipedia does. Not off the bat. Instead, entries — and this can be any sort of text or image or video, it doesn’t have to “look like” an encyclopedia — live on federated servers. Instead of everyone collaborating in one space on one server like a “traditional” wiki, the work is distributed. It can be copied and forked. Ideas can be shared and linked; it can be co-developed and co-edited. But there isn’t one “vote” or one official entry that is necessarily canonical.

Rather than centralized control, conviviality. This distinction between Wikipedia and Smallest Federated Wiki echoes too what Illich argued: that we need to be able to identify when our technologies become manipulative. We need "to provide guidelines for detecting the incipient stages of murderous logic in a tool; and to devise tools and tool systems that optimize the balance of life, thereby maximizing liberty for all."

Of course, we need to recognize, those of us that work in ed-tech and adopt ed-tech and talk about ed-tech and tech writ large, that convivial tools and a convivial society must go hand-in-hand. There isn’t any sort of technological fix to make education better. It’s a political problem, that is, not a technological one. We cannot come up with technologies that address systematic inequalities — those created by and reinscribed by education— unless we are willing to confront those inequalities head on. Those radical education writers of the Sixties and Seventies offered powerful diagnoses about what was wrong with schooling. The progressive education technologists of the Sixties and Seventies imagined ways in which ed-tech could work in the service of dismantling some of the drudgery and exploitation.

But where are we now? Instead we find ourselves with technologies working to make that exploitation and centralization of power even more entrenched. There must be alternatives — both within and without technology, both within and without institutions. Those of us who talk and write and teach ed-tech need to be pursuing those things, and not promoting consumption and furthering institutional and industrial control. In Illich’s words: "The crisis I have described confronts people with a choice between convivial tools and being crushed by machines.""
toolforconviviality  ivanillich  audreywatters  edtech  technology  education  2014  seymourpapert  logo  alankay  dynabook  mikecaufield  wardcunningham  web  internet  online  schools  teaching  progressive  wikipedia  smallestfederatedwiki  wikis  society  politics  policy  decentralization  surveillance  doxxing  gamergate  drm  startups  venturecapital  bigdata  neilpostman  paulofreire  paulgoodman  datapalooza  knewton  computers  computing  mindstorms  control  readwrite  everettreimer  1960s  1970s  jonathankozol  disruption  revolution  consensus  safety  bravery  courage  equity  freedom  justice  learning 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Loomio
"Loomio is free and open source software for anyone, anywhere, to participate in decisions that affect them.

On this page you can explore some of the groups around the world who have opted to make their decision-making process transparent."
software  opensource  via:caseygollan  loomio  decisionmaking  transparency  consensus 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Loomio: The Occupy Inspired App for Consensus Decision Making - Shareable
"The best thing about Occupy Wall Street wasn't what it argued politically or accomplished legislatively, but what it modeled for us: a new way of engaging with issues, resolving conflict, and reaching consensus. It was a style of engagement that seemed like it could only happen in person, between young people willing to sit in a cold park all night until they could come to an agreement over an issue.

But now, a small collective in New Zealand has developed a digital platform through which any group — large or small, local or global — can take a page from the Occupier’s handbook. It’s called Loomio, and it’s already being used by civic activists in Ukraine, thousands of direct democracy advocates in Greece, municipalities in England, foundations, and credit unions.

It’s all based on what the Occupy movement called the General Assembly, an alternative to parliamentary procedure, borrowed from the Ancient Greek senate. It’s a deceptively simple (and easily satirized) process where the crowd waves their hands to indicate their approval or level of objection to a proposal. It may look a little silly, but it proved a valid or even superior method for forging consensus than traditional debate, where one side wins and the other, well, loses.

The problem with the General Assembly, like representative democracy, is that it’s quite limited in scale. You can only have so many people engaging with one another, blocking motions, and making arguments. Plus, it just has to happen in person.

Well, now there’s an app for that. The first time I saw it in beta, I asked if I could be an advisor to the collective working on it. (They agreed.) And this week, they’re finally releasing the application and doing a crowdfunding campaign to develop it further.

Amazingly, there exists no great tool online for groups to make decisions. There are plenty of platforms on which to collaborate or work together. But the most complicated decisions most of us have made online deal with the time or location of a meeting.

The Loomio application lets members of a group offer proposals, discuss their merits, make changes, and register their feelings all along the way. By entering into this process in good faith, even large groups can steer towards outcomes that may not be perfect for everyone, but make the fewest people unhappy — and nobody too very upset.

It’s not much more than a pie graph with four buttons, but its simplicity (and privacy) is getting it positive attention from a broad cross section of people across the globe—from remote villages in India, community hospitals in Vietnam, to government departments and early childhood education centers. Even the Wellington City Council that 12 months previously had been trying to evict Loomio’s developers from the public square, is now using Loomio to collaborate with citizens in developing policy.

I can only wonder what would have happened if the recent controversy over installing a synthetic football field at the high school in my community had been conducted on platform like Loomio instead of at contentious town hall debates. I know people who still aren’t on speaking terms as a result of our all-or-nothing, winner-takes-all, scorched earth battle.

Likewise, the possibilities raised by Loomio force me to question our nation’s reliance on a two-party political system hatched back in the 1700s, especially as the spin cycle of 21st Century media and markets only intensifies its polarities. What was supposed to be a way of generating multifaceted solutions has devolved into intransigence and extremism. And paralysis.

Debate itself is a form of combat, not an approach to reaching an agreement. It’s geared toward creating no greater number of winners than losers. That’s not what democracy was supposed to be about. As one of Loomio’s founders, Ben Knight explains, “Democracy is about collaboration — people coming together and making decisions. Democracy is not a scarce resource; it doesn’t need to be this abstract thing that we only get access to once every four years, managed by a professional class far away. With the right tools, it can be a skill that we practice together every day, in our schools, our workplaces and our communities.”

While Loomio might not replace representative democracy — nor should we necessarily want it to — it may take some of the pressure off our democratic institutions by giving people the ability to make a whole lot of decisions for themselves, and with one another."
loomio  douglasrushkoff  2014  applications  consensus  occupy  ows  occupywallstreet  generalassembly  democracy  collaboration  community  decisionmaking 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The Tyranny of Structurelessness (Jo Freeman)
[Already bookmarked another version of this: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:d3995eef07ce . Thanks to Max for resurfacing today.]

"Unstructured groups may be very effective in getting women to talk about their lives; they aren’t very good for getting things done. It is when people get tired of “just talking” and want to do something more that the groups flounder, unless they change the nature of their operation. Occasionally, the developed informal structure of the group coincides with an available need that the group can fill in such a way as to give the appearance that an unstructured group “works.” That is, the group has fortuitously developed precisely the kind of structure best suited for engaging in a particular project.

While working in this kind of group is a very heady experience, it is also rare and very hard to replicate. There are almost inevitably four conditions found in such a group:

1) It is task oriented. Its function is very narrow and very specific, like putting on a conference or putting out a newspaper. It is the task that basically structures the group. The task determines what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. It provides a guide by which people can judge their actions and make plans for future activity.

2) It is relatively small and homogeneous. Homogeneity is necessary to ensure that participants have a “common language” or interaction. People from widely different backgrounds may provide richness to a consciousness-raising group where each can learn from the others’ experience, but too great a diversity among members of a task-oriented group means only that they continually misunderstand each other. Such diverse people interpret words and actions differently. They have different expectations about each other’s behavior and judge the results according to different criteria. If everyone knows everyone else well enough to understand the nuances, these can be accommodated. Usually, they only lead to confusion and endless hours spent straightening out conflicts no one ever thought would arise.

3) There is a high degree of communication. Information must be passed on to everyone, opinions checked, work divided up, and participation assured in the relevant decisions. This is only possible if the group is small and people practically live together for the most crucial phases of the task. Needless to say, the number of interactions necessary to involve everybody increases geometrically with the number of participants. This inevitably limits group participants to about five, or excludes some from some of the decisions. Successful groups can be as large as 10 or 15, but only when they are in fact composed of several smaller subgroups which perform specific parts of the task, and whose members overlap with each other so that knowledge of what the different subgroups are doing can be passed around easily.

4) There is a low degree of skill specialization. Not everyone has to be able to do everything, but everything must be able to be done by more than one person. Thus no one is indispensable. To a certain extent, people become interchangeable parts."



"Once the movement no longer clings tenaciously to the ideology of “structurelessness,” it is free to develop those forms of organization best suited to its healthy functioning. This does not mean that we should go to the other extreme and blindly imitate the traditional forms of organization. But neither should we blindly reject them all. Some of the traditional techniques will prove useful, albeit not perfect; some will give us insights into what we should and should not do to obtain certain ends with minimal costs to the individuals in the movement. Mostly, we will have to experiment with different kinds of structuring and develop a variety of techniques to use for different situations. The Lot System is one such idea which has emerged from the movement. It is not applicable to all situations, but is useful in some. Other ideas for structuring are needed. But before we can proceed to experiment intelligently, we must accept the idea that there is nothing inherently bad about structure itself — only its excess use.

While engaging in this trial-and-error process, there are some principles we can keep in mind that are essential to democratic structuring and are also politically effective:

1) Delegation of specific authority to specific individuals for specific tasks by democratic procedures. Letting people assume jobs or tasks only by default means they are not dependably done. If people are selected to do a task, preferably after expressing an interest or willingness to do it, they have made a commitment which cannot so easily be ignored.

2) Requiring all those to whom authority has been delegated to be responsible to those who selected them. This is how the group has control over people in positions of authority. Individuals may exercise power, but it is the group that has ultimate say over how the power is exercised.

3) Distribution of authority among as many people as is reasonably possible. This prevents monopoly of power and requires those in positions of authority to consult with many others in the process of exercising it. It also gives many people the opportunity to have responsibility for specific tasks and thereby to learn different skills.

4) Rotation of tasks among individuals. Responsibilities which are held too long by one person, formally or informally, come to be seen as that person’s “property” and are not easily relinquished or controlled by the group. Conversely, if tasks are rotated too frequently the individual does not have time to learn her job well and acquire the sense of satisfaction of doing a good job.

5) Allocation of tasks along rational criteria. Selecting someone for a position because they are liked by the group or giving them hard work because they are disliked serves neither the group nor the person in the long run. Ability, interest, and responsibility have got to be the major concerns in such selection. People should be given an opportunity to learn skills they do not have, but this is best done through some sort of “apprenticeship” program rather than the “sink or swim” method. Having a responsibility one can’t handle well is demoralizing. Conversely, being blacklisted from doing what one can do well does not encourage one to develop one’s skills. Women have been punished for being competent throughout most of human history; the movement does not need to repeat this process.

6) Diffusion of information to everyone as frequently as possible. Information is power. Access to information enhances one’s power. When an informal network spreads new ideas and information among themselves outside the group, they are already engaged in the process of forming an opinion — without the group participating. The more one knows about how things work and what is happening, the more politically effective one can be.

7) Equal access to resources needed by the group. This is not always perfectly possible, but should be striven for. A member who maintains a monopoly over a needed resource (like a printing press owned by a husband, or a darkroom) can unduly influence the use of that resource. Skills and information are also resources. Members’ skills can be equitably available only when members are willing to teach what they know to others.

When these principles are applied, they ensure that whatever structures are developed by different movement groups will be controlled by and responsible to the group. The group of people in positions of authority will be diffuse, flexible, open, and temporary. They will not be in such an easy position to institutionalize their power because ultimate decisions will be made by the group at large, The group will have the power to determine who shall exercise authority within it."
feminism  groups  groupdynamics  power  control  social  politics  jofreeman  anarchy  anarchism  consensus  democracy  delegation  responsibility  elitism  politicalimpotence  decisionmaking  authority  leadership  administration  organizations  structure  structurelessness 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Approval Economy: In Practice | GeorgieBC's Blog
"I have talked a lot in this blog about money and society and the need for new solutions. My opinion from years of volunteering is that money ruins every volunteer effort. As soon as a need receives funding, it becomes a noun and a product instead of an action. As soon as a project is allowed to fundraise, there is a need to manufacture scarcity, to withhold work until payment is received and to continue the need for the project. And as soon as a project receives money, the motives of the person receiving money are suspect.

I do not want to go to a ‘crowd funding website’ and ask a centralized go-between to stand between me and anyone who chooses to support me. I do not want to waste my time creating glossy videos and applications to explain to strangers what you already know, my work. I do not want to ally myself with corporate media or NGO’s, I am trying to make both obsolete. I do not want to develop a persona, tell you all about my personal life, appear on panels and talks to become a character and a brand; I am an action not a noun and I value my right to privacy.

I do not want to be the designated official person for any action I initiate, I want to be free to let others take my place whenever I find people willing. I want to continue to promote others instead of seeking to enhance my own reputation for a livelihood. I want to give freely my ideas and work to anyone who can use them instead of hoarding them to myself for profit.

I do not want to ask you to support every action I take. I will not delay my work waiting for approval or funding. Most of what I work on are things that nobody knows of or supports, that is why I give them my priority. I do not want to jump on popular, widely supported causes to gain support. I want to continue to speak even when everyone disagrees with me as they very frequently do. I want to speak for Gaza when the world says it is anti-semitic to do so, I want to speak for the DRC when the west doesn’t know or care where that is, I want to speak for the Rohingya when no one believes me. I want to criticize democracy, consensus, peer to peer economies, libertarianism and Marxism when everyone I know supports them. I want to advocate for people who have no supporters or funding behind them and tell people about things they may not want to know about.

I do not want to sell you a book, a talk, art, advocacy, a button or a T-shirt, anything I do is available to you as always, for free. But I want it recognized that what I do is not ‘unemployment’, that I am a contributing and valuable member of society entitled to the benefits of society. I want to have the human dignity of societal approval and recognition. I want to be able to support myself and others in society without any of us becoming a product."
heathermarsh  economics  work  motivation  advocacy  consulting  crowdfunding  withholding  2013  labor  privacy  cv  freedom  livelihood  reputation  ideas  sharing  artleisure  artlabor  character  selfbranding  branding  democracy  consensus  hierarchy  horizontality  hierarchies  employment  unemployment  society  recognition  dignity  p2p  libertarianism  marxism  funding  via:caseygollan  leisurearts 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Woolman at Sierra Friends Center | Educational Community for Peace, Justice & Sustainability
"Woolman is a nonprofit educational community dedicated to the principles of peace, justice and sustainability. Originally founded in 1963 as a Quaker high school, Woolman now offers educational programs for teens, retreats for adults, and summer camps for children and families. John Woolman, an 18th century Quaker human rights activist who aspired to live his life in complete integrity with his principles inspired the name for the school.

Located on 230 acres in the Sierra Nevada Foothills within walking distance of the Yuba river, the Woolman campus is an experiment in sustainable community living. Most of our produce grows here in our organic garden, and much of our energy comes from solar, wood, and other renewable resources; ideas of Permaculture and conservation weave throughout the Woolman culture. As a Quaker community we welcome people of all backgrounds, and do not require or push any religious beliefs. While many of our staff and participants do not identify as Quaker, the Quaker ideals of inquiry-based education, consensus decision making, peace, equality, and integrity provide the foundation to our shared endeavor."

[See specifically The Woolman Semester: http://semester.woolman.org/ ]

"The Woolman Semester School is a progressive academic school for young people who want to make a difference in the world.

Students in their junior, senior, or gap year come for a "semester away" to take charge of their education and study the issues that matter most to them.

Woolman students earn transferable high school credits while taking an active role in their learning experience through community work, organic gardening and cooking, permaculture, art, wilderness exploration, service work, and by doing advocacy and activism work with real issues of peace, justice and sustainability in the world."
woolman  sierras  quakers  quaker  sierranevadas  johnwoolman  education  consensus  teens  summercamps  northerncalifornia  california  inquiry-basedlearning  inquiry  permaculture  servicelearning  service  progressive  learning  advocacy  peace  justice  sustainability  semesterprograms 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Radical alternatives? Surely we can do better? « The Third University
"2. …Mimicking what we are railing against is comfortable but changes little. It simply gives us a new, safe space in which to rail and exclude.

3. The process of consensus is disabling where it is shackled to a perceived need to be productive or by self-imposed time constraints or by the fear of being bogged down in long discussions, and by the desperate, unquestioned desire to act now. However, we’ve seen the allegedly direct democratic process of consensus used in time-limited ways to marginalise or simply give voice to those more experienced in the process. In this way it is no different to standard institutionalised forms of governance. But what is worse is the subtext that it is more open and transparent, and that somehow at every point we don’t have to out power relationships. The network, for all our trite statements about newness, is neither new nor power free. It is just as hateful and disabling, or just as counter-hegemonic and different."
technology  principles  answers  commodities  gandhi  vinaygupta  alternativeeducation  radical  criticalpedagogy  permaculture  place  employability  pedagogy  anarchy  anarchism  education  deschooling  unschooling  lcproject  hypocrisy  organizations  capitalism  process  consensus  democracy  change  2011  thirduniversity  hierarchy  control  power  from delicious
december 2011 by robertogreco
The Thought Leader Interview: Meg Wheatley
"Good leadership can be found in pockets within any large organization. I’ve dubbed them islands of possibility in some of my past work. The leaders of these pockets routinely meet goals, motivate employees, and achieve high levels of safety and productivity. But, ironically, they never change the behavior of the majority of the organization — even though these few islands reach or exceed the goals set by senior management. There’s a lot of evidence that innovators get pushed to the margins. You’d expect that they would be rewarded, promoted, and given the responsibility of teaching everyone else how to do the same. But instead, they’re ignored or invisible…"
hierarchy  hierarchy  deschooling  unschooling  margaretwheatley  education  learning  organizations  management  administration  leadership  innovation  cv  tcsnmy  lcproject  networks  motivation  fear  values  meaning  purpose  2011  community  sharedvalues  vision  inclusion  schools  perseverance  decisionmaking  consensus  collegiality  morale  systems  systemschange  change  inclusivity  inlcusivity  from delicious
december 2011 by robertogreco
A Conversation With Anarchist David Graeber - YouTube
"Anarchists believe in direct action…Anarchism is about acting as if you are already free…Anarchism is democracy without the government…Anarchism is direct democracy…Anarchism is a commitment to the idea that it would be possible to have a society based on principles of self-organization, voluntary association, and mutual idea."
2006  davidgraeber  authority  hierarchy  academia  globalization  politics  subversion  marxism  teaching  cv  charlierose  interviews  via:chrisberthelsen  subordination  philosophy  freedom  activism  coercion  democracy  optimism  humanism  protest  voluntaryassociation  mutualaid  self-organization  deschooling  unschooling  power  worldbank  imf  process  consensus  history  war  20thcentury  policy  economics  capitalism  concensus 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Nemawashi - Wikipedia
"Nemawashi (根回し) in Japanese means an informal process of quietly laying the foundation for some proposed change or project, by talking to the people concerned, gathering support and feedback, and so forth. It is considered an important element in any major change, before any formal steps are taken, and successful nemawashi enables changes to be carried out with the consent of all sides.

Nemawashi literally translates as "going around the roots", from 根 (ne, root) and 回す (mawasu, to go around [something]). Its original meaning was literal: digging around the roots of a tree, to prepare it for a transplant.

Nemawashi is often cited as an example of a Japanese word which is difficult to translate effectively, because it is tied so closely to Japanese culture itself, although it is often translated as 'laying the groundwork.'"

[via: http://speedbird.wordpress.com/2011/12/04/my-back-pages-what-is-hotel/ ]
nemawashi  change  culture  tcsnmy  consent  consensus  management  japan  japanese  social  design  business  frontloading  conversation  from delicious
december 2011 by robertogreco
steelweaver - Reality as failed state - tl;dr version (I like doing this)
"I believe part of the meta-problem is this: people no longer inhabit a single reality.

Collectively, there is no longer a single cultural arena of dialogue…

The point, for the climate denier, is not that the truth should be sought with open-minded sincerity – it is that he has declared the independence of his corner of reality from control by the overarching, techno-scientific consensus reality. He has withdrawn from the reality forced upon him & has retreated to a more comfortable, human-sized bubble.

…denier’s retreat from consensus reality approximates role of the cellular insurgents in Afghanistan vis-a-vis the American occupying force: this overarching behemoth I rebel against may well represent something larger, more free, more wealthy, more democratic, or more in touch with objective reality, but it has been imposed upon me…so I am going to withdraw from it into illogic, emotion & superstition & from there I am going to declare war upon it."
reality  climatechange  climatechangedeniers  alternatereality  philosophy  mind  conspiracy  afghanistan  dialogue  environment  environmentalism  2011  awareness  conviviality  sharedhumanpresence  change  division  staugustine  truth  politics  policy  voting  politicalprocess  conflict  control  freedom  agency  technocrats  science  scientists  consensus  intuition  intuitivethinking  thinking  myths  narrative  meaning  meaningmaking  understanding  psychology  birthers  teaparty  realityinsurgents  dialog  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
Phone hacking: British politics has been corrupted by a cosy camaraderie - Telegraph
"Like so many spheres of life in this country…art world…academia & higher reaches of legal profession…it is almost impossible to survive in political journalism as outsider…not to say…that you actually have to have been to school or university w/ people you are trying to engage–can help–but that you must adopt manners which prevail in any club: coded vocabulary, discreet understandings, accepted attitudes…It is this familiarity, intimacy, set of shared assumptions…which is real corruptor of political life. The self-limiting spectrum of what can(not) be said, often patronising preconceptions about what ordinary public will (not) understand & self-reinforcing cowardice which takes for granted that certain vested interests are too powerful to be worth confronting. All of these…constant dangers in political life of democracy…What should worry us are not new, restrictive laws (can be fought out in open) but the old consensual complacency…so familiar that it is almost invisible."
uk  politics  2011  via:preoccupations  consensus  behavior  corruption  statusquo  power  control  democracy  davidcameron  journalism  complacency  janetdaley  press  media  rupertmurdoch  deschooling  unschooling  decolonization  society  cowardice  confrontation  law  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
Charlie Trotter, a Leader Left Behind - NYTimes.com
“You know the old adage that the customer’s always right?” he said. “Well, I kind of think that the opposite is true. The customer is rarely right. And that is why you must seize the control of the circumstance and dominate every last detail: to guarantee that they’re going to have a far better time than they ever would have had if they tried to control it themselves.”<br />
<br />
[via: http://metacool.typepad.com/metacool/2011/06/metacool-thought-of-the-day-charlie-trotter-1-1.html ]
charlietrotter  toomanychefs  tcsnmy  lcproject  creativecontrol  control  design  glvo  counter-practices  howwework  cv  consensus  compromise  mediocrity  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
Participationism and the Limits of Collaboration - Presentation on Vimeo
"With participation now a dominant paradigm, structuring social interaction, art, activism, the architecture of the city, and the economy, we are all integrated into participatory structures whether we want to be or not. How are artists and activists navigating the participation paradigm, mapping the limits of collaboration, and modeling participatory forms of critical engagement?

This panel is organized by Not An Alternative and presented in association with the exhibition Re:Group: Beyond Models of Consensus, curated and organized by Eyebeam, Not An Alternative, and Upgrade NY!"

[See also: http://www.eyebeam.org/press/media/videos/participationism-and-the-limits-of-collaboration-presentation ]
participatory  participation  collaboration  hierarchy  art  activism  urban  urbanism  consensus  cities  economics  social  astrataylor  jodidean  johnhawke  notanalternative  cliques  control  power  criticism  2010  ideology  politics  zizek  ncm  participatoryart  ncmideas  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
Ten Big Ideas of School Leadership | Edutopia
1) Your School Must Be For All Kids 100% of the Time: If you start making decisions based on avoiding conflict, students lose…

2) Create a Vision, Write It Down, & Start Implementing It: Don't put your vision in drawer & hope for best. Every decision must be aligned w/ that vision. The whole organization is watching when you make a decision, so consistency is crucial.

3) It's the People, Stupid: The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from those who are still undecided…Hire people who support your vision, who are bright, & like kids…

8) Have a Bias for Yes: …The only progress you will ever make involves risk: Ideas that teachers have may seem a little unsafe & crazy. Try to think, "How can I make this request into a yes?"

9) Consensus is Overrated: 20% of people will be against anything. When you realize this, you avoid compromising what really should be done because you stop watering things down. If you always try to reach consensus, you're led by 20%."
leadership  education  administration  management  lcproject  schools  tcsnmy  vision  consensus  clarity  people  watereddown  compromise  children  howitshouldbedone  mikemccarthy  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
How to Create Nonreaders
"The best teachers, I find, spend at least some of their evenings smacking themselves on the forehead – figuratively, at least – as they reflect on something that happened during the day. “Why did I decide that, when I could have asked the kids?” &, thinking about some feature of the course yet to come: “Is this a choice I should be making for the students rather than w/ them?” One Washington, DC creative writing teacher was pleased w/ himself for announcing to students that it was up to them to decide how to create a literary magazine – until he realized later that he had incrementally reasserted control. “I had taken a potentially empowering project & turned it into a showcase of what [I] could do.” It takes insight & guts to catch oneself at what amounts to an exercise in pseudodemocracy. Keeping hold of power – overtly for traditionalists, perhaps more subtly for those of us who think of ourselves as enlightened progressives – is a hell of a lot easier than giving it away."
pseudodemocracy  alfiekohn  democracy  education  learning  motivation  reading  research  teaching  topost  toshare  tcsnmy  progressive  schools  writing  coercion  democratic  student-centered  studentdirected  student-led  unschooling  deschooling  2010  majoritarianism  compromise  consensus  decisionmaking  rewards  punishment  assessment  autonomy  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
Polder Model - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"The polder model is a term with uncertain origin that was first used to describe the internationally acclaimed Dutch version of consensus policy in economics, specifically in the 1980s and 1990s. However, the term was quickly adopted for a much wider meaning, for similar cases of consensus decision-making, which are supposedly typically Dutch. It is described with phrases like 'a pragmatic recognition of pluriformity' and 'cooperation despite differences'."
participatoryculture  consensus  cooperation  via:hrheingold  civics  community  politics  models  games 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Palomar5 Parallel process collaboration
"We had a phrase at Palomar 5 marked by a grave – “concensus killed my idea”, parallel process collaboration arose from this thinking on how to proceed without concensus. The answer is just to proceed, with people addressing the issues in the manner they think is most
consensus  palomar5  collaboration  tcsnmy  teams  teamwork  autonomy  sharedvalues  parallelprocess  learning  goals  classideas  direction  administration  management 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Are you on a Consensus Project? - Ewan McIntosh | Digital Media & Education
"I'm reading Scott Belsky at the moment. One phrase strikes me on page 188 of the US edition. I've worked on a couple of these types of projects. What about you?
tcsnmy  ewanmcintosh  scottbelsky  gamechanging  consensus  cv  mediocrity  learning  leadership  risk  risktaking  change  reform  creativity  innovation 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Purple Thistle Centre » What is the Thistle?
"Q: What’s consensus? What’s a collective? A: We eschew the tyranny of the majority in favour of compromise (we don’t vote, we decide together). And that nobody is the boss of anybody else. Come talk to us for more information. Q: So you’re anarchists but the government pays most of your rent? Lame. A: Yeah, we take money from shady characters. It’s a bigger philosophical issue: pragmatism within the Almighty Dollar System versus lifestyle politics and ideological purity. Capitalism makes everything a personal choice about what you’d rather sacrifice in any given situation. In this case, we’re more concerned with having an alternative-to-school than we are about not depending on the government for cash."
matthern  purplethistle  lcproject  freeschools  education  school  anarchy  anarchism  vancouver  democracy  consensus  alternative 
october 2009 by robertogreco

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