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Philosophical Meanderings


So much talk. So little time. Such important business.
We can. We shall.

An overdo revisit of the brilliantly graceful Bill Strickland.

If you want to make a difference in the lives of people most have given up on..
you have to look like the solution more than the problem.
An email from a friend about an upcoming film:
They have signed the air with an individual presence that honors
both the film and the education they are getting.”  — Jay Featherstone,.

Ongoing conversations in the Lab:

How can we make change happen? Laws are so tight, it all seems so daunting.
More insight into last weeks post regarding the Mad Cow Protests..
2003: South Korea bans American beef imports – mad cows disease.
2008: Korean President Lee Myung-bak lifts ban.
Korean citizens stage Korea’s first family-friendly protest. It lasts over a month.
Over half the protesters are teenage girls.
DBSK, a boy band.
DBSK’s online site, with nearly a million users, provided these girls with an opportunity to discuss whatever they wanted, including politics.
Massed together, frightened and angry that Lee’s government had agreed to what seemed a national humiliation and a threat to public health, the girls decided to do something about it.
When kids who are too young to vote are out in the street protesting policies, it can shake governments used to a high degree of freedom from public oversight.
When teenage girls can help organize events that unnerve national governments, without needing professional organization or organizers to get the ball rolling, we are in new territory.
And again, as Mimi Ito describes the protesters,
Their participation in the protests was grounded less in the concrete conditions of their everyday lives, and more in their solidarity with a shared media fandom… Although so much of what kids are doing online may look trivial and frivolous, what they are doing is building the capacity to connect, to communicate, and ultimately, to mobilize. .. What’s distinctive about this historical moment and today’s rising generation is not only a distinct form of media expression, but how this expression is tied to social action.
How can we be sure what we offer to people won’t just get abused, misused?
We can’t.
One of our dreams is to offer a zipbike (or ziplaptop) program, where we have several recycled/donated bikes that we paint, say green. People know they are for free use, especially for kids to get to and from the Lab. So they borrow them when needed. Return them when found/possible. More important than transportation, we hope to model a bigger dream of sharing.
In the 1960’s, Amsterdam tried this very thing. They painted theirs white. Their manifesto: The white bicycle symbolizes simplicity and healthy living, as opposed to the gaudiness and filth of the authoritarian automobile.
Clay Shirky writes in Here Comes Everybody,
The White Bicycle program would have been just another footnote in the Age of Aquarius, but for one detail: it was an almost instant failure. Within a month all the bicycles had either been stolen or thrown in the canals.
Shirky goes on to say that many since have resurrected the idea, those successful have placed restrictions on the use of the bikes with locked sheds and ID cards for checking them out. He says, given the opportunity to misbehave, and little penalty for doing so, enough people’s behavior becomes antisocial enough to wreck things for everyone. A basic truth of social systems: no effort at creating group value can be successful without some form of governance..
But we can’t not offer. And offer again. And again. And again.

More from Shirky, Cognitive Surplus

In 1998, Gneezy and Rustichini set out to test a theory of the affect one simple change has on a culture.
The culture, 10 day-care centers in the Israeli city of Haifa. The simple change, a late pick up fee.
Before the change, the 10 centers experienced only 7-8 late pick ups in a normal week. After a penalty at 6 of the centers, a fine of approx $3 if more than 10 min late. Immediately, the lateness increased. Increasing to 11 the first week, 14 the next, and 17 after that, topping off at about 20. Even after the fine was dropped, late pick-ups remained high.

The pre-fine bargain between parents and teachers was what Gneezy and Rustichini labeled an “incomplete contract.” Once the fine was instituted, the ambiguity collapsed.. Turning the day care from a shared enterprise into a simple fee-for-service transaction, allowing the parents to regard the workers’ time as a commodity. The parents assumed the fine represented the full price of the inconvenience they were causing, and it seemed to remove any fears that they might suffer some unspecified consequence for abusing the workers’ goodwill. Parents saw the day-care workers as participants in a market transaction, rather than as people whose needs had to be respected.

We’re building a culture.
We’re building a culture on trust relationships.
It will take time. It will hurt.
But it will sign the air with a presence,
and it will look like the solution more than the problem..

We can. We shall.

About monika hardy

a nother way


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