The Power of Networks

A new video from the lovely RSA Animate team, this time on the Power of Networks.  

Introduced me to the concept of “Rhizome“:

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari use the term “rhizome” and “rhizomatic” to describe theory and research that allows for multiple, non-hierarchical entry and exit points in data representation and interpretation. In A Thousand Plateaus, they oppose it to an arborescent conception of knowledge, which works with dualist categories and binary choices. A rhizome works with planar and trans-species connections, while an arborescent model works with vertical and linear connections. Their use of the “orchid and the wasp” is taken from the biological concept of mutualism, in which two different species interact together to form a multiplicity (i.e. a unity that is multiple in itself). Horizontal gene transfer would also be a good illustration.

As a model for culture, the rhizome resists the organizational structure of the root-tree system which charts causality along chronological lines and looks for the original source of “things” and looks towards the pinnacle or conclusion of those “things.” A rhizome, on the other hand, is characterized by “ceaselessly established connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles.” The rhizome presents history and culture as a map or wide array of attractions and influences with no specific origin or genesis, for a “rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo.” The planar movement of the rhizome resists chronology and organization, instead favoring a nomadic system of growth and propagation. In this model, culture spreads like the surface of a body of water, spreading towards available spaces or trickling downwards towards new spaces through fissures and gaps, eroding what is in its way. The surface can be interrupted and moved, but these disturbances leave no trace, as the water is charged with pressure and potential to always seek its equilibrium, and thereby establish smooth space. – Wikipedia 

 

The Downside of Stories

Interesting speech on “the heuristic narratological basis of self-delusion”,  “the stories and metaphors we seduce ourselves with”.

Transcript is here: http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/8w1/transcript_tyler_cowen_on_stories/

Here is one extract from the transcript.

Another set of stories that are popular – if you know Oliver Stone movies or Michael Moore movies. You can’t make a movie and say, “It was all a big accident.” No, it has to be a conspiracy, people plotting together, because a story is about intention. A story is not about spontaneous order or complex human institutions which are the product of human action but not of human design. No, a story is about evil people plotting together. So you hear stories about plots, or even stories about good people plotting things together, just like when you’re watching movies. This, again, is reason to be suspicious.

He is so right. Our narrative bias feeds the engine of Ideological belief, which always holds that there are oppressors and oppressed and that the oppressors are intentionally oppressing, usually via conspiracy.

Complex systems, emergent properties, mistakes and unforeseen second or third order effects are discounted. Narrative bias demands agency, and that serves Ideology, the dominant political mode of our time.

Bon Iver’s “Calgary”

One of my absolute fave albums of 2011 has been Bon Iver’s “Bon Iver”.

Yesterday I saw the music video to Calgary, and thought it worth sharing.

The video features the beautifully named (and looking) model Raina Hein. It was filmed in Fall Creek, Wisconsin, the video was written by Bon Iver mastermind Justin Vernon and directed by Andre Durand and Dan Huiting.

[Thanks ONTD]

The War of Actually Shipping

Linchpin by Seth Godin

A few weeks ago I was re-reading one of my favourite books of 2009, “Pragmatic Thinking and Learning” by Andy Hunt, during a lunch break. On page 109 he writes:

When you try to start any creative endeavor, such as writing on a blog, an article, or (heaven help you) a full-length book, you will encounter massive resistance. Resistance
can take many forms, from niggling self-doubt to wildly creative procrastination to a myriad assortment of other distractions and excuses (see The War of Art: Break Through
the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
by Steven Pressfield for a disturbingly complete catalog of the many manifestations of resistance).

I circled the book and made a note to buy it.

That afternoon I, as I walked home from work, I spotted a new (rare) podcast from Merlin Mann of 43 Folders. He was interviewing Seth Godin about his new book “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?“.

In the interview they have along praise-filled discussion about none other that Steven Pressfield and his absolutely amazing must-read book “The War of Art“, the very book I had underlined at lunch.

The interview also discussed a big current theme of how our “lizard brain” paralyses us in so many ways (a topic I tackle in my hack on the Semantic Pause in the new edition of Mind Performance Hacks being released this year. )

Steven Pressfield’s book is by every account a must read, especially for writers (along with On Writing by Stephen King). It looks like Linchpin may also be worth a read.

You can read Steven Pressfield in the new, free ebook called “What Matters Now“, which came out in December 2009.  From the blurb:

Here are more than seventy big thinkers, each sharing an idea for you to think about as we head into the new year. From bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert to brilliant tech thinker Kevin Kelly, from publisher Tim O’Reilly to radio host Dave Ramsey, there are some important people riffing about important ideas here. The ebook includes Tom Peters, Fred Wilson, Jackie Huba and Jason Fried, along with Gina Trapani, Bill Taylor and Alan Webber.

I loved Godin’s use of the word “shipping” in the interview, to signify actually delivering (as opposed to faffing). It all aligns beautifully with my 20th anniversary copy of Eliyahu Goldratt’s business classic  “The Goal” .

Merlin Mann Interview Seth Godin – http://www.43folders.com/2010/01/26/godin-linchpin