Saturday, December 26, 2009

@ Venessa Miemis

Who's work I discovered at Future Blogger.

The Young Miss (I suppose - she doesn't make that degree of personal data obvious on her blog [Note to self: just how obvious does she have to make her "Who is ..." link anyway? Venessa is indeed married]) is a Master's candidate " in New Media Studies at the New School in NYC, [where] she has been passionately thinking and writing about the future for seven years". She indeed writes well and clearly gives thought to her topic du jour, but I suspect her passion may be creeping into an overly dominant influence on her thinking process; there is a noticeable lack of criticality in some of her writing.

An example of this is evident in a post of hers from late Sept of this year, in which she said:

"How can the power and scope of social networks, combined with human capital metrics, be used to facilitate shared creation and innovation?

It’s becoming more accepted that collaboration, not competition, is a more effective avenue towards producing emergent, innovative results. Now that millions of people participate in online social networks, it seems high time to develop a system of matching people’s skill sets with common values and goals in order to bring about positive change."

Any student of strategy recognises that collaboration only occurs as a result of the demands imposed by competition. Only competition provides the stimulus necessary to obtain control over that beyond our individual needs of the moment; to stockpile against future requirements potentially threatened by the competing needs of others or acquire allies in our efforts to do so. Even at the most basic biologic level, the requirements of the competitive process leading to successful procreation are the principal social (and other) drivers of enduring relationships between individuals (and seem the likely progenitor motivation of familial community from which tribal structures appear to have developed).

So, in a word, "No", collaboration is not replacing competition. Indeed, the former is a direct derivative of the latter; an expression in response to it.

It is important that competition be recognised as the fundamental human (and arguably mammalian) default position of interactivity, especially if one seeks to gain insight into (and from) the interaction displayed on Twitter as Miss Miemis does.

A better grasp of the distinction between strategy and tactic would also be helpful it appears. Hint: in the nifty chart provided, before and after both depict a transactional process between seller and buyer; the strategy is identical. The tactical difference between them is indeed profound, but it's not a strategy.

All props to Mr. Scoble (or possibly Mr. Sagolla), but how is this in any way structurally different (other than the message character limitation) from the pre-existing multiple blogs to coordinate different areas of interest already developed on Blogger and other platforms? I suppose my question is, does the added transparency Twitter brings to the digital connectivity process actually rise to the level of difference that seems to be implied by this and other posts at Emergent By Design?

And then there's the magical thinking that always seems to creep into these speculative essays. Frankly, there is no mechanism whereby independently innovative thought (that is, innovative data/conceptual representation originating independently from any of the individual - and all-too-human - twitterers) (tweeters?) can be formulated within the existing communication infrastructure within which Twitter and other digital communication networks/platforms exist. As well, Our Venessa seemingly displays an incredible lack of skepticism towards establishing the veracity and/or reliability of twitter content. This is not a personal criticism but a comment directed at the seeming lack of recognition she displays regarding the shallow-to-nonexistent mechanism for content verification such social interface mechanisms offer in their existing iteration.

And, to pre-empt the obvious retort (that the communication metaverse is actually a simulacra of a physical mind), might I recommend that she add Niall Ferguson's The Ascent of Money to her current holiday reading list. I further suggest paying particular attention to his discussion of the contributing factors and development process of the intellectual construct known as the economic or financial "bubble". I contend that the current state of unverifiable data integrity that both twitter and it's predecessor blogosphere currently labor under are nothing more (nor, potentially catastrophically, less) than the digital equivalent of the same intellectual failing Ferguson describes so understandably.

It is necessary that many people undertake the challenge Miss Miemis has; she is quite correct in her evaluation of the speed and scope of technologic and conceptual change we humans hopefully face over the next few decades (at least). As well, the successful incorporation of this technology into our social and business processes will rest largely on how well she and others achieve that transition. I'm quite impressed with her documented progress to-date and intend to consult her work in future. A measure of passion and enthusiasm for one's topic is certainly helpful, most especially when it is balanced with a corresponding tincture of skeptical criticality. A bit less of the scientific wonderment along with a dose of engineering rigour, if you will, would add some structural integrity to her researches I think.

Writing at his blog Metamodern, Eric Drexler (yes, that Eric Drexler) recommends the book Infotopia by Cass R. Sunstein saying, "Sunstein explores how groups and societies succeed and fail in what is arguably their most vital task: drawing out and assembling pieces of knowledge that are scattered among many minds." This would seem a likely format upon which Venessa and other researchers might base their efforts to extract pertinent data from the Twitter data stream as well as formulate a standard protocol whereby data might be evaluated for reliability and validity within the Twitter format.


Venessa Miemis said...

thanks for the feedback will. i'll work on a more critical approach to my writing, and i'll check out The Ascent of Money.

calling me "Our Venessa" seems rather condescending, but hey, it's your blog, write however you like!



Will Brown said...

Too much English english influence on my part it seems. "Our whoever" isn't intended as condescention so much as identification with the person so described; a way of associating one's self with another's position without explicitly doing so.

Sorry it came across offensively.