Purpose [...]

Simon Sinek discusses the difference between rationalising a decision and finding real purpose:

Providing jobs, driving the economy, serving the shareholder are not purposes. They are rationalizations used when a greater cause or purpose is not clear or not there.  Real purpose has a clear and definitive direction. It is a path that points towards a very specific vision of the future. Rationalizations have no destination, they are simply a calculation to demonstrate some benefit to justify the actions. (Source)

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Innovation and Dynamic Systems [...]

As part of the investigation of systems, Julian Stodd provides a definition for innovation:

Innovation is an emergent feature of a dynamic system, not a process within a system, or a target set upon it. Innovation may be nurtured, but is equally often provoked, and here’s the funny thing: innovation itself is rarely enough, unless accompanied by the ability to exploit it. We have to be able to hear weak voices within the system, to develop, nurture, sense make, and prototype, before we can exploit.

The challenge is nuturing it, rather than pushing and provoking it:

If we want to avoid the innovation trap, we must understand the two spaces, and everything that comes with them: innovate, broadly, at scale, and exploit it, when you have raced the ideas. But do not try to constrain the race: by doing so, we build our own failure, we engineer our own constraint.(Source)

Diversity and Resistence [...]

Providing two separate case studies, Kisha Tracy and Katharine Covino explain why diversity is so important now and offers us an opportunity to resist:

Embracing diversity, in all its forms, promotes critical thinking and empathy ... In such a place and time, forefronting diversity takes on an overtly political mien, becomes an overtly political act. Promoting diversity in a time when diversity is viewed negatively offers educators an avenue of resistance. It is imperative that we not shrink from this duty, but rather that we embrace it. We must model through our pedagogy that we see, know, and value each and every student sitting in front of us not in spite of their differences, but because of them. (Source)

Another take on the topic is Ellen Ullman and her discussion of diversity and perspective.

Algorithms and Human Systems [...]

Writing about Facebook, Franklin Foer explores the concept of algorithms to highlight a more human element:

An algorithm is a system, like plumbing or a military chain of command. It takes knowhow, calculation and creativity to make a system work properly. But some systems, like some armies, are much more reliable than others. A system is a human artefact, not a mathematical truism. The origins of the algorithm are unmistakably human, but human fallibility isn’t a quality that we associate with it. (Source)

The post itself is a useful provocation for the wider discussion of digital technologies, hacking and algorithms.

Intimate Spaces [...]

Sometimes the strength of ideas and collaboration comes via the creation of appropriate spaces. Isaac Kohane discusses the importance of intimate spaces where people are about to come together.

Isacc Kohane says. “Even in the era of big science, when researchers spend so much time on the Internet, it’s still so important to create intimate spaces.”A new generation of laboratory architecture has tried to make chance encounters more likely to take place, and the trend has spread in the business world, too. (Source)

Discussing the power of ideas, David Culberhouse talks about the [learning well]

Authentic Dissent [...]

In a discussion of collaboration and group work, Jonah Lehrer highlights the power of disruption in pushing our thinking further. An example of this is the notion of authentic dissent where ideas are generated to purposely disrupt the thinking.

In a way, the power of dissent is the power of surprise. After hearing someone shout out an errant answer, we work to understand it, which causes us to reassess our initial assumptions and try out new perspectives. “Authentic dissent can be difficult, but it’s always invigorating,” Nemeth says. “It wakes us right up.” Criticism allows people to dig below the surface of the imagination and come up with collective ideas that aren’t predictable. And recognizing the importance of conflicting perspectives in a group raises the issue of what kinds of people will work together best (Source)

Diversity and Perspective [...]

Reflecting on a life within the technology industry, Ellen Ullman shares why diversity is so important:

We need to involve women and minorities and people who come from all social classes because they bring in new sets of values. The newcomers deepen the conversation. They carry in fresh sources of creativity. They enrich our understanding of the relationships between humans and the digital world. They ask new questions: What do we want from all this stuff? And who is included in this definition of “we”? (Source)

This is something that Cathy Davidson touches on with her idea of collaboration by difference:

The whole point of collaboration by difference is that we cannot see our own gorillas. We need one another to help us, and we need a method that allows each of us to express our difference. If we don’t feel comfortable offering an alternative point of view, we don’t. And without such contribution, we continue to be limited or even endangered by our blind spots; we don’t heed the warning signals until it’s too late and an accident is inevitable.(Source)

Julian Stodd suggests that authenticity comes when we are able to tap into the informal and often unheard voices within an organisation:

Stories of difference chart the fragmented truth of our organisation: they may not be pretty, but they help provide perspective. And you can go further, by encouraging response stories, providing further frames to engage in the dialogue, progressively less formal.(Source)

Diversity and Resistence

Power of Stories [...]

Discussing the social age, Julian Stodd uppacks the power of stories. For him, the question often relates to whom owns the story and how it flows.

Stories are the mechanism of transmission of cultural and tacit knowledge: they are units of information, heavily contextualised, highly magnetic, almost frictionless, and can be very, very, long lived. If i tell a story, i may own it, right up until the point that i share it, but at that time, it takes wings, and becomes real. Stories shared are stories relinquished: despite legal frameworks in which we retain ownership of the husk, the germ of truth that resides within a story is let loose through sharing. The essence of it, the ‘story’ itself, is more than simply © words, and trademarked phrases. Stories are meant to flow. (Source)

Providing his own point of view, Kin Lane says that it would kill him not to be able to tell stories:

I need storytelling to do what I do. To work through ideas. It is how I learn from others.(Source)

Coming at the question from the personal perspective, Aaron Hogan asks what stories define you:

Take a minute and ask yourself those questions: What is your story? Who are you listening to? How is that going?(Source)

Silicon Valley Seasteads [...]

American libertarian activist Patri Friedman thinks that the future of the city-state are 'seasteads':

Patri is taking the Silicon Valley mindset and applying it to the nation-state. There are all these things you could now do that didn’t exist when our current system of government was invented, he told me. Constant online direct-democracy voting, building smart-cities, using crypto-currencies. And yet we still use a 19th-century model. (Source)

An alternative to the floating city maybe reclaiming reefs, such as that which is happening in the South China Sea

The Myth of the Nation-State [...]

In his reflections on the city-state, Jamie Barlett explains that:

nation-states are nothing but agreed-upon myths: we give up certain freedoms in order to secure others. But if that transaction no longer works, and we stop agreeing on the myth, it ceases to have power over us. (Source)

This is similar to the ideas of Benedict Anderson and the notion of 'imagined communities'. It is also interesting to consider this idea in regards to Edward Said's discussion of 'coexistence with the preservation of difference'.