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Archive for the category “Strategy”

Is Marriage Unconstitutional?

This began as a comment at The Conservative Sociologist in response to her reaction to the GMM (Gay Marriage Movement).  She isn’t opposed, but finds the logic and media presentation to be flawed and annoying – she writes an interesting blog, you should check it out.

What I said was:

What I rarely see discussed is the unconstitutional nature of government regulated marriage in the USA.

In English Common Law (the law of the land when what would become the USA was still British colonies) the State is the Church and thus there is no conflict between the governments regulation and sanction of an expressly religious ceremony. The US Constitution explicitly forbids government sanction or recognition of religion. On its face, this would seem to make (federal of a certainty and arguably state as well) government involvement in marriage unconstitutional as a matter of constitutional prohibition.

Making this all so much about anything other than the gender of either participant is the acknowledged transfer of ownership of real property (to include at least one of the participants for the historical purists amongst us) that is part and parcel of the religious ceremony in contention. I don’t know about a crisis necessarily, but it is certain that no government will waste an opportunity to claim taxes and fees so I don’t expect the Supreme Court to take up this issue any time soon.

Of course, anyone seriously advancing this argument can be certain pretty much everyone will have the knives out in response … literally; virtually all of human society bases property rights and law on this explicitly religious arrangement, whatever particular religion may be the facilitator.

To be constitutionally consistent in the USA, marriage would have to be strictly a religious commitment and property rights associated with that arrangement would have to be explicitly made a contractual and entirely separate agreement between the involved parties, whether part of a civil union type contract or otherwise.

I think we can take it as a given that the GMM will be among the most fervently opposed to this question ever arising.

Marriage as it is commonly practiced in the US is an historical relic from a time when the state and church were functionally combined; the US constitution explicitly forbids state and religious union (I know that’s not a direct quote).  The US Supreme Court has a history of straining social camels through the constitutional needles eye, so that isn’t a realistic objection.  If all that be true, to be constitutionally consistent shouldn’t we either amend the document to grant explicit exception to the “no established religion” prohibition regarding the institution of marriage or write a law that makes formal the distinction between the religious commitment of marriage and the issue(s) of property rights and inheritance and all the rest?

Along with everybody else (to include Mrs. [and Mr. for all of that] Supreme Court Justice), I think it a given the gay folks amongst us will be just as much up in arms about such a ruling as pretty much everybody else will be; they are the stars of the marriage movement at the moment, in this circumstance they aren’t any different from their parents and that can’t be what equality is all about can it?

I expect this is all built on very shaky constitutional ground and has long since been resolved, but it applies an interesting filter to the questions surrounding marriage nonetheless, I think.

Further (Retail) Evolution In Action

Last month, I wrote about a rumor public accusation that Amazon.com was getting out of firearms-related product sales.  As part of that, I communicated with Amazon’s customer relations staff and received the following reply:

Hi William,

I’m Amanda Nix of Amazon.com’s Executive Customer Relations team. Jeff Bezos received your email and asked me to respond on his behalf.

We appreciate your feedback and have forwarded it to the correct team internally.

Thanks for choosing Amazon.com.

Regards,

Amanda Nix
Executive Customer Relations
Amazon.com

Now, I am very definitely not calling Ms. Nix anything remotely like a fibber based solely on my own cynicism regarding Jeff Bezos’ reading habits, but …  🙂

Subsequent to that email exchange I have noticed several examples of this type of semi-specific link to Amazon.com’s continuing to offer a product line-up that specifically caters to firearms shooters interests, without any sort of obvious exterior motivation for the notice (a topically related holiday or other public event for example).

Causation?  Correlation? Wish-fulfillment fantasy?

Other than the last (all too possible) suggestion, I can’t say – and Jeff remains conspicuously enigmatic on the question, but as an exercise in strategy this offers an excellent example of the principle of defeating an attack via indirect (and less expensive) means.

By having arguably the most influential individual Amazon.com affiliate periodically make note of an otherwise unremarkable retail product offered by Amazon.com (and there may well be others; I don’t keep track of Jeff and the gang’s sales metrics per se), Amazon.com is able to apply the sales leverage generated by its affiliate program directly to its advertising needs of the moment at no additional cost beyond that intrinsic to the affiliate program structure itself.

Sun Tzu would approve, I think.

Which leads me to conclude that this understated-but-determined support of peoples beliefs deserves recognition.  With that in mind, I propose that this April 15th, we who participate in gun ownership acknowledge Amazon.com’s refusal to bow to political (or other public and private) pressure to abandon our market interests by purchasing something gun-related from Amazon.com on that calendar date. 

I expect most firearms shooters at least are familiar with the concept of April 15th being BAG (Buy A Gun) Day by now; I first learned of it from Kim du Toit’s now-defunct blog some 10-or-so years ago.  The idea being to deliberately correlate exercising our freedom to own a firearm with the (for Americans anyway) mandated federal income tax filing date.  In similar fashion, I think extending this notion to include Amazon.com this year would be an excellent means of recognizing their willingness to continue serving our market interests just as they have historically done.  Steadfast support deserves its own reward, I suggest.

This doesn’t have to be a special purchase, or even especially large financially; just be sure you submit an order on April 15th and include something gun related along with all the rest.

Worth doing?

If It’s Good Enough For Tam …

… I’m going with some “away game” content too.

Rand Simberg has a post up about the Aurora, CO shooter reportedly having converted to Islam while in prison.  He says:

And no, I don’t really know what kind of conclusions to draw from this, about either him or Islam.

Not only did I have the rare opportunity to be the first commenter, the snark almost wrote itself:

“… I don’t really know what kind of conclusions to draw …”

I think we can reasonably conjecture that we now know which prison gang successfully recruited him into its ranks.

 Which prompted this question; if Pope Francis were to re-instate the Ordo Templari specifically to advance the strategy of actively converting from within the worlds prisons, would that have the effect of organizing inmates into a “union” of peace-enforcing warriors for Christ?  Further, how would these men (and presumably women too) be successfully embraced into the non-incarcerated Church upon their release from prison?  Would this have the effect of countering the criminal gang dominance of prisons?  How well might this influence extend into the “street” cohorts of the worlds established crime organizations?  Might this be an effective counter to jihad being advanced through prison populations?

Riddle me that, Padre.

Making Work = Job

There is an on-going lament about “Where have all the jobs gone?” or variations on that theme.  The single most common aspect of the question seemingly being that “job” is a tangible item which some diffuse other retains control over and to whom you must apply in order to be paid for work performed.

In the now-past Industrial Revolution there was a quite deliberate truth behind that belief.  Welcome to the 21st century.

One of the most widely occurring and historically repeated models of attaining economic self reliance is that of the story teller.  In the modern world, this most often takes the form of being a writer of some niche application or expertise; technical manuals or instructions, computer code, science fiction (some overlap in those three, I think), poetry, screenplay, music and on and on.  This post is about making that sort of work into an income producing job for far more of us than is ordinarily believed possible, and Jobster is its name-o.

In my experience, the hardest part of telling a story is how to begin.  Which seems completely silly until you start to actually think about how much of a story actually doesn’t appear on the page (or screen, as you prefer).  Known as the “back-story”, these are all the tiny and overwhelming details that combine to give the characters and their actions both context and believability, but don’t achieve direct mention in the actual telling of events except possibly as a bit of background color.  The classic opening line, “It was a dark and stormy night …” would quite possibly be the stereotypical example of this, and the Star Wars sext-ology a recent example of failure in this part of story development.  What follows is how to create all of this (so as to be better able to tell the good bits to others for money) and how to make doing so into an industry that carries a great many more of us into the 21st century than you might think.

Jobster is a job board/career development site that presently offers traditional job availability/application services mixed with modern networking technology that patches together 19th century employment structures with very-late 20th century labor resources (that last would be a cumbersome euphemism for you and me).  In the doing of, Phil Bowermaster and his cohorts at Jobster have in place the infrastructure to re-create an industry that few can find entry into (never mind financial success) and hopefully expand our entertainment and information acquisition experience far beyond our present range of possibility.

All good propositions have a succinct definitional or mission statement; this is as close as I can come to one:

STORY TELLERA job board that provides all of the support functions needed by successful authors

Story Teller is a writers development tool for any genre or production format.  Deliberately modeled after the straightforward Turbo Tax Q&A process of content development by non-experts, Story Teller provides the structural framework for an author to create a consistent “back-story” environment within which to relate information to an audience.  By creating this wealth of back-story detail, the writer builds a contextual infrastructure to support any reference requirements the story might require during telling.  Who are the characters involved, what are the circumstances and technology experienced, when do events take place, Where are characters located during the course of the tale, why do actions occur; once these have been worked out as fully as possible in advance (and there will be need for some back-story on-going editing required) finally the how (the actual story or information being offered for sale) can be told by as many authors as the originator can interest in his creation.

The devil is ever in the details (and despite some of my more questionable predilections, I fall well short of that standard), but some of the major support functions Story Teller would need to provide would include:

1) Tax and contract legal advice links.  These could take the form of links to “boilerplate” legal contract sites up to a paid member service of retained counsel from legal professionals directly.

2) Reference links.  While I like refdesk and wikipedia, this would probably require a more refined search function than is currently available from those two.  As a start though, they’re a good beginning as they are (see also: 7 below).

3) Editorial support.  This would involve the classical editor functions, but also include links to those wishing to work as “reader”, page/cover illustrator or researcher as well.  The possibility of these services being for direct cash or on a limited sales profit-sharing basis needs to be explored and appropriate contracts developed.

4) Co-Author job posting requests.  This works from either end of the deal; author needs help or author wants to help (a good deal of specificity would be required for such notices to be useful I expect).  In addition to expansion of the existing Jobster model, this is an avenue for Jobster to make a business alliance with an established publishing house (for the record, I like and hereby nominate Baen books for a lot of reasons – only some of which are the cracking good authors who publish there and the management team with a proven history of being willing to look beyond established market and industry standards).  Such an alliance would offer new opportunities for the established writers as well as provide vital assistance with the next point of emphasis, to wit:

5) Marketing.  In addition to the now-traditional “Hey look, my book is for sale” tug on Instapundit‘s blogospheric cape, the capability to combine the advertising resources of both Jobster and an established publisher’s promotional expertise should result in sales potential far beyond anything either can currently economically achieve independently.  This would result in a vast increase for potential markets for all authors as well as increased profitability for both members of the business alliance.

6) Back-story Development.  This is the crux of the thing, the point upon which all of the fulcrum above rests.  Broken down to its basics, a story consists of the classic detectives line of questioning; who, what, when, where, why and only then can the tale be told as the how.  Eric S. Raymond is one of the premier open source software developers alive today, has no idea I’m bruiting his name about this way, and should be the first person Jobster contracts with to develop this concept (OK, second :)).  To make Story Teller function as intended will require that the operating code architecture be written such that it can be easily adapted to a variety of story development and presentation requirements.  Having an open source menu of roughly pre-formatted options from which individual story tellers can select offers the least demanding entry-level requirement for new story tellers to achieve; the emphasis being on telling their story and not displaying their code-adapting skills.  Besides, esr has more contacts in the open source coder’s market than most along with a sterling reputation; his involvement in this project will result in it being accomplished much more quickly – not to mention better – than other likely available options could achieve for a good deal more expense.

7) Story Teller must be at minimum a two-tiered structure.  The open-to-all page (see the Baen link in 4 above as example) should provide links to all material available for sale (possible partnership with Amazon or a competitor here) as well as a “New Writer Sponsorship” link.  The NWS link would offer a bare bones version of the Story Teller development software for a new writer to display his concept for established writers to consider.  The secondary level would by for paid members, which is how Story Teller becomes a business entity.  Membership fees should be nominal (US$120/year) but include a modest (10%?) percentage of all sales made of products developed on Story Teller.  Members automatically have access to all networking, research and editorial support contractors and receive access to legal and tax professional assistance at a negotiated per-transaction fee.  Members can arrange a contract to co-develop a story with an NWS writer by sponsoring the new writer into Story Teller membership (paying the membership fee for a year).  There should be a tertiary forum/library in which members can document/debate stipulated metrics for character types (do vampires sparkle or not?) and technology (how does that space drive work?) which should permit members to directly link to stories under development.

8) This software needs to be written in such a fashion that it be readily adaptable to other applications of a generally similar, but discrete, market

This initial proposal is intended to introduce a digital network-based solution for individuals to create an income for themselves in an era of Industrial Revolution-model economic decline.  To defile a metaphor, the buggy whip market is going even further away and taking much of the rest of traditional human-centric “manufacturing” with it.  I propose we build a new, digital manufacturing industry, initially around the creation of entertainment and education, but adaptable to many other applications also.  This is but the first step in that industry developing process, but offers entry into all the rest at a comparatively minimal initial cost that offers considerable long-term ROI potential in its own right.

As I said, Sun Tzu wrote his own job application; this is mine.

Strategy Policy

Via Glen Reynolds we learn of the important question; “FOREIGN CHEESE: Threat, Or Menace?”

From my years of reading Sun Tzu (not to forget 4 years of high school PE followed by another 4 years of “close quarters habitation defensive training” in the US Navy), I would say it would be more a matter of who cut the cheese rather than the source there-of and, most importantly, precisely how upwind I can remain from the event immediately thereafter.

Who said classical strategy doesn’t have pertinence to the modern world?

A World Transformative Opportunity

Confused by the plethora of technology choices you daily find yourself confronted with?  Want an easy-to-learn technique to help you answer all your questions?  Can’t help you.  However, if you have the least interest in taking advantage of the near-endless opportunities our steadily (and increasingly) changing world offers, you should be listening to tonight’s edition of The World Transformed, 10pm Eastern, 7pm Pacific.

Oh yeah, Phil and Stephen try to make sense of some guy ratcheting on about strategy, too.

The Threat Of Abundance – A Strategic Model

In their book, Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler write a brief over-view of many of the dangers associated with the concept of exponential growth of technology.  This can be found in the appendix on pages 293 through 304 and is imaginatively titled DANGERS OF THE EXPONENTIALS.  They confront the Bill Joy lead balloon along with bio-terrorism, cyber crime, a mash-up of robotics, AI, and the unemployment line and conclude with Unstoppable:

“… putting the brakes on technology just won’t work.  As the Bush administration’s ban on human embryonic stem cells bore out, attempting to silence technology one place only drives it elsewhere.”

  Keeping in mind that the really bad stuff is still in Pandora’s Box somewhere (Thanks Lara Croft!), all of the rest seems sufficiently bad enough to be getting on with and we are going to have to do something about it too.

In my post on this book on Wednesday, I wrote:

Diamandis and Kotler seem to be comfortable in the belief that networks of users of technology will accrete naturally.  While true enough, this position leaves the direction of such growth far too susceptible to destructive (or merely oppositional) forces influence.  My belief is that such user networks deserve nurturing and promotion in their growth process; in direction, in speed and in the very nature of that growth.

 I realized at the time this is a bit inflammatory (at the very least of drawing a conclusion based on little direct evidence) and almost certainly isn’t an accurate description of the authors hopes.  They were writing a book and there simply must be a limit to what can be included therein (otherwise you have to call it a library).  What follows is an effort to redress that imbalance, as well as to propose a possible mechanism to counter the threats noted in their book’s appendix.  With that said, here you go, boys.

—–

There are legitimate concerns about what might also result along with the abundance of opportunity from the projected growth of technology examined in the book Abundance.  Human history being also littered with past efforts at dealing with threat, I wish to suggest a potential example upon which we in this era might base an effort to both develop that hoped-for abundance while simultaneously countering the implicit threat.

What we need is a mechanism – an organization accepting membership by anyone – that encourages development and adoption of technology that satisfies the increasing demands of humanity and also encourages creation of counter-applications to the undesired efforts of those who would apply technology in a harmful or unacceptably destructive way.  I think the example of the Knights Templar might be adapted to fill this bill.

An organization associated with, but not directly a part of, mainstream groups.  An organization with an explicit but multifaceted effort structured around a stipulated membership skill set.  An organization funded by external donations as well as from it’s own accomplishments and developed assets.  I can stretch this as far as necessary, but the idea is to create a semi-official but independent organization that is dedicated to the safe development of technology as equally as it is to encouraging the most wide-spread adoption of technology applications (both direct and in response to technology threats) that the membership works to develop.

Actual knighthoods and the like would be silly, but might offer an example of a potential class of “job titles” for this hypothetical organizations members to utilize.  Any organization has its internal hierarchy; the Templars were no different and I suggest that the distinct but loosely defined type of descriptions they utilized would make good sense in this application too.

Like the Templars, members in the organization (a name would be really useful too while I’m about it) would be unpaid but eligible for support by stipulated means; direct contributions toward a specified development perhaps, cash or other material prizes awarded for successful development efforts being another obvious (and I think principal) mechanism.  The important part of this is that the format specifically address how to equitably distribute both prizes and commercialization of developed technology applications.  Perhaps the “badges” mechanism used by Salman Khan to encourage and reward student study efforts might be usefully modified in this circumstance.  Two or three (at most) distinct badges that can denote both level and degree of direct involvement in a given development.  This mechanism would also be used to equitably distribute prize awards as well as commercialization revenues.  Again, this would be consistent with the Templar historical model of knights, sergeants and clerics working together as (social) equals within the same organization.

There would need to be some sort of “executive council”, made up of non-members of the organization; perhaps drawn from sources like Diamandis’ X-Prize Foundation, NGO’s and even governments themselves (as example, the US President’s Science Adviser, charged with recommending funding for specific prizes to a Congressional committee perhaps and reporting back to same on current status’ and results).  Members of this council (which I think should be temporary appointments) would be responsible for creating prizes as well as determining their being awarded properly of course, but I think this council should be equally responsible for encouraging explicit government efforts to reduce legislative hindrances to adoption of technology application.  The membership themselves act as a self-coordinating effort to encourage popular support for the same freedoms at the political grassroots level as it were.

I envision the executive committee establishing (this would involve soliciting funding as well as supervising the honesty of the award process) a series of prizes ranging from a few thousand dollars to as much as $250,000 for specific technology application development along with aggressive management of application commercialization contracts (also to be developed and supervised by the committee).  Along with this should be a series of prizes directed at developing technology applications that defeat stipulated threat mechanisms (either existing or potential) that members can work to develop; these prizes should begin at the $500,000 level to make clear the importance placed upon developing safeguards as well as increased capability.

The founding document(s) of this organization (much as the US Constitution does, a model I recommend) should make explicit the intent and purpose of the organization, should stipulate a transparent process whereby anyone can determine this principle is being adhered to in practice, should strictly limit the duties, functions and authority of both the executive council as well as the general membership, and perhaps most importantly of all, should explicitly delineate the liability the council, membership and contributors assume for their actions within the activities covered by the founding charter of the organization.  Having this founding charter be formally recognized and accepted as having equal legitimacy with a formal treaty between governments would be the standard sought.

I’m certain I’ve left out much of importance, but this seems sufficient to introduce my proposal.

A Rights-Based Strategy Of Exponential Technology Change

There exists in the USA an energetic (and more than occasionally vituperative) debate into the nature of rights.  Their source, their expression and, perhaps most vehement of all, the acceptable limitations on that expression.  What follows will draw example from a limited selection of that rights discussion with the express purpose of arguing the applicability of the fundamental principles of human rights as that concept might apply to developing a strategy to accommodate the exponential development of technology on human society.  This post is not intended to be all-inclusive and the hope is to stimulate thought toward arriving at a considered position available to be applied as circumstance makes desirable.

Since the topic is exponential change in capability, I will take the fundamental position that the principles delineated in the 9th and 10 amendments to the US Constitution are the most supportive of people having the broadest authority for developing and using technology.  Additional to this, the principle that restriction of the exercise of rights (specifically, the right to learn about and individually seek to advance the development of technology in a specifiable application) by those other than the legitimate owner(s) of a given technology (in a word; government) are subject to specific and quite limited circumstance (as example, see the entire Bill Of Rights to the US Constitution).

There has recently been an effort to counter the question of an individual exercising certain rights without reference to the general concept of rights.  I think this entire line of reasoning is most pertinent to dealing with the effects of exponential growth on human society.  To wit; that rights cannot be selectively denied without destroying the very concept, and that rights can be mutually limited in specific and stipulated fashion and degree.

Rights are the universal condition of the individual human (alright, the individual intellectual entity).  Their exercise can be denied, but they can only be temporarily extended to some other voluntarily (regardless of the duration of the agreement).  If this be true generally, then applying the same principles to encourage and normalize change becomes a mere extension of established principles and it’s application subject to the established mechanisms for dealing with disruptive circumstance.  Should it come down to a matter of law, I’m thinking a Federalist model; a unifying but expressly limited structure within which a variety of different standards are available to individual choice.  Freedom of movement between the different areas is guaranteed as is personal responsibility for the effects of one’s actions.

In their book Abundance, Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler seem to ignore the effect of network development on the ability of people to adopt technology changes in a fashion that allows for exponential growth of their ability to accommodate the effects of exponential growth on their societies and selves.  What I am suggesting in this post is that a principle of ethical and mutually beneficial standards be developed, specifically in response to the numerous changes the two men make so prominent a part of their book.  We can make such an effort a central part of our effort to adapt to and incorporate exponential change into our lives, or experience yet another set back in the course of human development – an experience they go to some effort to point out that human history is “littered with”.

The two men make the point that humanity has been improving the human condition throughout the course of recorded human existence.  Why not make doing so successfully a prominent part of a conscious strategy to achieve a continuation of that historical trend?

Strategy Principles In Abundance

This isn’t really a book review, more an observation on the ideas expressed by the authors of the book, but I encourage everyone to buy this book and study what it has to offer.  Not just read it; we all need to figure out how to personally apply as many of the concepts briefly examined there-in as we ultimately prove able to.  It’s that important.

In the book, the following statement is made:

“… global living standards will continue to improve regardless of the horrors that dominate the headlines.”  A Note From The Authors, pg X

Stripped of its context, this is a re-statement of a basic strategic principle that can be expressed in a digital context as information =/= knowledge.  Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler are making the explicit point that the examples of failure notwithstanding (and however horrible in practice), humanity is – and they contend has historically always been – on an inexorably rising trend of improving conditions of life.  They make this point in support of the concept of exponential growth applying to more than just our tech toys; that all of human existence is improving on the identical, inter-connected and interdependent scale as well.

In Chapter 1, Our Grandest Challenge; The Lesson Of Aluminum, pg 3-4, they make the observation:

History’s littered with tales of once-rare resources made plentiful by innovation.  The reason is pretty straight-forward; scarcity is often contextual.”

 A more intuitive explanation of the strategic principle of “position” I have trouble imagining.  Advancement of position is always measured against both your present condition and that of others too.  From this it can be seen that position is also always an unstable and temporary condition; a momentary measurement of a fluctuating placement within a dynamic and unceasing process.  The author’s contention that this is a context that is much more subject to direct individual influence – and that our steadily improving technology only increases that degree of influence – is potentially sufficient to justify the cost of the book all in itself.

“… one of the better responses to the threat of scarcity is not to try to slice our pie thinner – rather it’s to figure out how to make more pies.”   Chapter 1, Our Grandest Challenge, The Limits To Growth; pg 9

 In rhetoric, there is a technique I’ve seen identified as framing the argument.  By delineating the boundaries within which discussion is limited, the outcome of the exchange can be predictably controlled.  Classical strategy has it that you must control the context of possibility as to which positional advancement tactics are permissible.  Strategy has an internal ethic, but this is as akin to morality as a kiss is to rape (they’re both inter-active human behavior, but …).   Holding up the potential for less pie per capita may well be ethical behavior, but the more moral positional advancement is to actualize the capability for more of us to make pies instead (hopefully so as to offer some to us all at less cost per bite).

“One reason abundance remains hard to accept is because we live in an extraordinarily uncertain world, and decision making in the face of uncertainty is never easy.  In a perfectly rational world, when given a choice, we would asses the probability and the utility of all possible outcomes and then combine these two to make our call.  But humans rarely have all the facts, we can’t possibly know all the outcomes, and – even if we did – we have neither the temporal flexibility nor the neurological capacity to analyze all the data.  Rather, our decisions are made based on limited, often unreliable, information, and further hampered by internal limits (the brain’s processing power) and external limits (the time constraints under which we have to make our decision).  So we have developed an unconscious strategy, a problem-solving aid for just such situations: we rely upon heuristics.”  Chapter 3, Seeing The Forest Through The Trees, Cognitive Biases, pg 29

 In the world we actually live in, some 3,500 years ago someone developed a methodology that assumed both uncertainty and the absence of complete (or even reliable) knowledge upon which to base decisions.  Upon occasion I have the amusing conceit to think that Sun Tzu may well have been simply the most observant guy of his fellow humans behavior to have ever existed, and that his famous treatise may in fact be the oldest surviving example of an effective job application known to human history.  That bit of hubris notwithstanding, I do know that the principles of strategy he recorded offer a far more consistent and broadly applicable standard upon which to base decision making then any possible format of qualified guesses possibly could reliably achieve.  I’m not dismissing heuristics, knowing what you don’t know is valuable; maybe a conscious strategy would be a better choice, that’s all.

I firmly believe that we are capable of developing technology that deliberately applies the principles of classical strategy to our knowledge base so as to vastly improve our individual capability to quantifiably apply that to our decision making process as a matter of routine.  If all of our major choices (those which we spend time and effort deciding – the ones not having an intuitive answer immediately apparent) were the result of a data search of all pertinent information, ranked by a series of hierarchies to arrive at a select number of choices with predetermined probabilities of result, then we all become much more capable of providing for our individual wants and needs through our own arrangements.  This presents an obvious source of conflict of course.

Diamandis and Kotler seem to be comfortable in the belief that networks of users of technology will accrete naturally.  While true enough, this position leaves the direction of such growth far too susceptible to destructive (or merely oppositional) forces influence.  My belief is that such user networks deserve nurturing and promotion in their growth process; in direction, in speed and in the very nature of that growth.  People should be be made aware of the increased possibility for their personal development, be directed to the means of doing so achievable from their circumstance and taught the philosophical values and standards appropriate to the safe usage of technology.  I will write more on this in another post, but I believe Peter Diamandis in particular needs to re-evaluate his apparent position on the development of networks, both in light of the individuals safety as well as the effect such networks have on peaceably …, err, encouraging political hierarchies to modify existing legislative structures so as to better allow for ease of technology advancement that undeniably disrupts historical technology-based social and economic arrangements.  I submit that such networks can provide a reinforcement of the efforts exerted by organizations such as his own X-Prize Foundation in achieving positive societal change.

Transformative Strategy

I received an email from Phil Bowermaster the other day in which he pointed out what he saw as similarities between my views on classical strategy, the evolutionary developmentalism concept John Smart writes about and the Prosumer concept I first became acquainted with in an Alvis Brigis blog post shortly after our mutual Future Blogger days.

Any of these ideas would make for a complex discussion on its own.  The idea of trying to summarize and present them in some combined form as a classical strategy holistic (I really don’t like that word, but it does seem to sum up the non-linear process Sun Tzu formalized back when) presentation is an enormous challenge, one I just don’t think can be clearly presented in a strictly verbal format.  To wildly mix the metaphors, it requires too much spade work to form up the foundational concepts that permit erection of the assumptions necessary to format the context from within which to extrapolate possible choices to select among so as to make an informed decision whereby to advance our individual position within the more general strategy that we are pleased to call “civilization”.

In other words, this post is about calling a spade a context, or some such nonsense claptrap brilliant insight as that.

The expression “accelerating rate of change” (sometimes called exponential change) isn’t really directly applicable to social constructs like “prosumer” (though it is to economics more generally), for all it has a measurable economic effect.  Intellectual constructs like economics are external to the individual person; the prosumer concept is one of individual, personal self-perception that informs how we each view the economic and other societal structures we inhabit and interact within.  I share the belief that a fundamental change in our personal and societal image of ourselves (such as that implicit to the prosumer concept) will likely be necessary for humanity to successfully adapt to the social instability caused by such a dynamic experience as an exponential rate of change would cause.  The immediate problem as I see it is to convince people that they should examine the set of personal and societal changes necessary to begin making such a transition will require, and then set about organizing to effect the process.  My personal belief as to how one might begin the former can be read here.

Moving on,  I have to say that the whole evo-devo concept John Smart (and others) writes about isn’t all that compelling a proposition as of yet.  I’m convinced (indeed I would be astonished that it might ever become otherwise) that there are physical interactions and processes in this universe that humanity isn’t even aware exist, never mind understand.  It doesn’t strike me as unreasonable to suggest such unknown processes are expressed in such a manor as to mimic a deliberate design intent, but I think this more an effect of our ignorance of the physical universe and its controlling principles than it is of anything else.  There are lots of facts and a good deal of correlation being presented, but the absence of anything resembling measurable causation leaves me certain that this inquiry needs more development before it will begin to become useful as a factor in strategic consideration.

Phil’s summation of my views as “… trying to advance one’s position” gives me hope that I’m not such a desperation choice as an interview guest as I have only half-jokingly suggested in the past.  Not only is “no man is an island” a poetic truism, it’s also another way of stating a strategic concept; all human beings (all independent intellects despite planet or source of origin for the more cosmic-minded reader) are unique positions within the strategic construct we are pleased to call “life”.  Each such individual position has the capability to exercise independent choice as to action taken, but does so from within an interactive social construct of other positions each also acting independently (if occasionally in mutual cooperation) together.

Confused yet?

Classical strategy is the premise that we must make semi-informed choices of action, which we base upon the sometimes-measurable effects of the physical universe within which we exist.  Strategy never has offered a certainty of result, nor can it ever do so; what strategy does is provide a matrix of measurable cause-and-effect relationships upon which the individual can develop a course of action and re-action having a predictable outcome somewhat more likely than that allowed for by pure chance.  The more we each can know about our universe (both in total as well as in detail – the macro as well as the often seemingly contrarily structured micro/nano levels if you will), the better we can make use of the principles embodied in classical strategy.  The more our technology advances, the better we might become at predictably applying those principles.

Classical strategy doesn’t offer any answers to our questions.  It does offer a proven platform by which we can determine the best answer we are capable of, given our limited knowledge and less-than-perfect ability to process what we do have.  It also offers a means by which to measure our belief in the reliability of the conclusions we draw based upon that known-to-be incomplete knowledge base.  Classical strategy offers proven standards by which to both acquire, and judge the trustworthiness of, newly acquired knowledge.  Unlike the practice of heuristics, which always assumes ignorance of the subject (so as not to rule out any possible answer), the principles of classical strategy provide a structure within which to itemize all known data and from which to create and validate the network effect used to advance position, which is built upon that knowledge by yourself as well as others.

From all of the foregoing, I hope to have the opportunity to talk with Phil and Stephen (and, through Erykah, my fellow members of The World Transformed commentariat)  about how modern technology might help us apply the 3500+ y/o principles of classical strategy to the problem of adapting to the demands of an exponential rate of change as well as a possible methodology to make that as seamless and un-disruptive a process as existing dominant positions will permit.

That’s an interview topic I think would fit the constraints of The World Transformed interview format and in which I have some hope of holding up my end of the conversation.

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