WebWork, Social Politics and Zero-Sum Game

Anchor for this item  posted Monday, February 18, 2008 at 5:00 pm MST

I just created / started work on "HomelessnessCohousing" on my wiki and, given my situation and the absolute lack of collaboration I've experienced over the past dozen years I've been on the web, I had to ask myself what you're doing.

Striving for gain, or getting done what need be done?

I've been facilitating communications for more than 3 decades. It's not about me being able to trouble-shoot NORAD/SAC's troposcatter system, or having installed industrial-scale Motorola radio networks. It's about me being there with the right tool ready when you turn around to ask. (Not making you ask is good for you but it's good for me, too. When you aren't busying me with menial chores I'm research best practices, so when I'm "at the ready" I get to suggest the tool or method or process or technique ... if you ask, likely you'll low-ball the solution. It's about being right on the dot, kinda like Radar in "M.A.S.H.")

Point is: any working person will know about office politics and the dynamics that drive it, such as "Imposter Syndrome", that creepy feeling that you're out of your depth and over-committed. That sort of under-tow works to create a situation where people are all just a little bit off balance ... reactive, oppositional, perhaps combative, likely defensive.
Bottom line is that when egos are involved and material resources are at stake folk become "risk averse" and more ... they play the game they've known the best, the rules they've played the longest ... and high-school personality politics take over.
I'm not there. I've paid the price of opting out of all that. (I had my run at careerism; I've had my jet-set hops to the next city for supper or the next state for the weekend. Thanks, but no thanks. I've got work to do.) The market may in the end make rational decisions concerning production and distribution, but personality politics (and the incompetence it spawns) is the thin edge of a wedge I call corruption.

Nobody derails me ... but nobody supports me. So, as a free lance, I'm vulnerable. If I happen to slip on the icy front-steps of my house and suffer a severe concussion (which I did) there's nobody there to secure my work and so I'm likely to loose my position and access to material resources (which is what happened). If I happen to suffer a criminal home invasion (which I did) there's nobody there to bail me out if my escape leaves me with two broken feet from the fall to the sidewalk (which is what happened).

And worst of all: the work I've done year after year is marginalized because (and here's the punchline) there are no A-list egos involved ... so they don't care ... and high-school politics demand that they set the agenda, not the likes of me.

So, really, it's fixed. And web-work for the public good gets throttled to maximize the gain of a few ... zero-sum game.

What's the tipping point? For some agile entity to step up ... B5, or SocialText, or CBC radio ... or one of the many university groups that congregate around the subject.

bentrem.sycks.net/gnodal/ ... no, I didn't spell it out. But please, tell me this: why does nobody respond to anything I've written there? Is it perhaps that you don't care? (But you maintain the persona of a sensitive and responsive person, don't you?) That you don't understand? (But you maintain the persona of someone who's up to speed on such as social software, don't you?)
Isn't it more as though you feel like responding to me would mark you as being a traitor ... to what? Wouldn't that signal your disloyalty ... to whom?

Knowledge is political. Control of knowledge is power. Tools are not inevitably neutral.

What controls innovation? What moves people, conditions them, directs their activity ... ambition, greed, resentment, fear ... the under-belly of mundane politics.

=== By Way of Context ===

  • Many2Many.wordpress.com
  • VibeWise.wordpress.com
  • Past:
    Years ago when I was researching psychopathology (see my dusty old "Fallen Angels") I connected with a professor who'd just testified in front of a Senate sub-committee. His point was simple: establishing an Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children would abolish homelessness and even poverty itself. That was 1996 and 1997. Has anything much changed? --BenTremblay 15:02, 18 February 2008 (PST)

  • Poverty Is Poison" by Paul Krugman; Op-Ed Published: February 18, 2008

    == Post Script ==
    Hand-wringing About American Culture - "Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge?"New York Times book review 14FEB08 (Susan Jacoby' "The Age of American Unreason", with mention of Lee Siegel’s "Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob"

    "[Jacoby] pointed to a 2006 National Geographic poll that found nearly half of 18- to 24-year-olds don’t think it is necessary or important to know where countries in the news are located. So more than three years into the Iraq war, only 23 percent of those with some college could locate Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel on a map."

    What has informed my work is this set of numbers from cog-psych/discourse analysis: most people have strong opinions, but only about 60% can put forward arguments in support of those opinions. The kicker is that the majority of those arguments are logically flawed, either the data is wrong or the logic is specious. Democratic participatory deliberation anyone? I'm talking discourse, Socratic method, propositional hypothesis testing and evidence-based decision support ... but highschool-style personality politics rule.

    "Don't be lucid and ironic. People will turn it against you saying, 'Ah-ha, you see? He isn't a nice person'."
    --Albert Camus

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