Business

Business

James McIntosh, “Nonsense at Work,” heard on NPR 12/31/11:  What is experience?  Hindsight with enough bite to affect the future.

1.  Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson, NY:  Simon & Schuster, 2011

p. 17:  The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.  Apple’s “Think Different” commercial, 1997

p. 56:  …I found that people had such strong positive and negative emotions about Jobs that the Rashomon effect was often evident.  (The Rashomon effect is the effect of the subjectivity of perception on recollection, by which observers of an event are able to produce substantially different but equally plausible accounts of it.)

p. 58:  Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness, imagination, and sustained innovation.

p. 112:  …soon became clear that Jobs, by both nature and nurture, was not disposed to accept authority.

p. 114:  Not surprisingly, he was sent home two or three times before he finished third grade.

p. 183:  The Blue Box adventure established a template for a partnership that would soon be born.  Wozniak would be the gentle wizard coming up with a neat invention that he would have been happy just to give away, and Jobs would figure out how to make it user-friendly, put it together in a package, market it, and make a few bucks.  (a few?!!?  Ya’think?!!?)

p. 190:  Patience was never one of his virtues.  (To say the least!!)

p. 192:  in applying for college and not going where Woz and other friends went – ‘They weren’t really artistic.  I wanted something that was more artistic and interesting.

p. 200-201:  Jobs also became deeply influenced by the emphasis that Buddhism places on intuition.  ‘I began to realize that an intuitive understanding and consciousness was more significant than abstract thinking and intellectual logical analysis,’ he later said.  His intensity, however, made it difficult for him to achieve inner peace.

p. 218-19:  ‘Robert always portrayed himself as a spiritual person, but he crossed the line from being charismatic to being a con man,’ Jobs said.  ‘It was a strange thing to have one of the spiritual people in your young life turn out to be, symbolically and in reality, a gold miner.’  (Certainly neither the first nor the last to turn out that way!)

p. 226:  ‘…LSD…reinforce my sense of what was important – creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.’

p. 279-80:  There was a hacker subculture – filled with wireheads, phreakers, cyberpunks, hobbyists, and just plain geeks – that included engineers who didn’t conform to the HP mold….

p. 281-82:  ‘There was just something going on here,’ he said, looking back at the time and place.  (Context!  Gladwell’s point in Outliers.)

p. 283:  But by the early 1970s a shift was under way.  ‘Computing went from being dismissed as a tool of bureaucratic control to being embraced as a symbol of individual expression and liberation,’ John Markoff wrote….

p. 292:  The group became known as the Homebrew Computer Club…a place where ideas were exchanged and disseminated.  (early crowd-sourcing.  Early collaborative learning to overcome “attention blindness.”)

p. 366-67:  Markkula wrote his principles in a one-page paper titled “The Apple Marketing Philosophy” that stressed three points.  The first was empathy, an intimate connection with the feelings of the customer….  The second was focus:  ‘In order to do a good job of those things that we decide to do, we must eliminate all of the unimportant opportunities.’  The third and equally important principle, awkwardly named, was impute.  It emphasized that people form an opinion about a company or product based on the signals that it conveys.  …  ‘if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities.’

For the rest of his career, Jobs would understand the needs and desires of customers better than any other business leader, he would focus on a handful of core products, and he would care, sometimes obsessively, about marketing and image and even the details of packaging.

p. 429:  Xerox PARC:  Among its visionaries was the scientist Alan Kay, who had two great maxims that Jobs embraced:  ‘The best way to predict the future is to invent it’ and ‘People who are serious about software should make their own hardware.’

p. 441:  The Apple raid on Xerox PARC is sometimes described as one of the biggest heists in the chronicles of industry.

p. 442:  …what transpired was less a heist by Apple than a fumble by Xerox.

p. 443:  Jobs and his engineers significantly improved the graphical interface ideas they saw at Xerox PARC, and then were able to implement them in ways that Xerox never could accomplish.

p. 444:  The improvements were in not just the details but the entire concept.  …  The Apple system transformed the desktop metaphor into virtual reality by allowing you to directly touch, manipulate, drag, and relocate things.

p. 451:  ‘I got a feeling for the empowering aspects of naïveté,’ Atkinson said.  ‘Because I didn’t know it couldn’t be done, I was enabled to do it.’

p. 476:  Later Jobs would complain about the new generation of kids, who seemed to him more materialistic and careerist than his own.  ‘…Now students aren’t even thinking in idealistic terms, or at least nowhere near as much.’

p. 512:  Tribble:  ‘Steve has a reality distortion field.’

p. 513-14:  At first Hertzfeld though that Tribble was exaggerating, but after two weeks of working with Jobs, he became a keen observer of the phenomenon.  ‘The reality distortion field was a confounding mélange of a charismatic rhetorical style, indomitable will, and eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand,’ he said.

p. 514:  After Jobs decreed that the sodas in the office refrigerator be replaced by Odwalla organic orange and carrot juices, someone on the team had T-shirts made.  ‘Reality Distortion Field’ they said on the front, and on the back, ‘It’s in the juice!’  (Too funny!!)

p. 515:  To some people, calling it a reality distortion field was just a clever way to say that Jobs tended to lie.  But it was in fact a more complex form of dissembling.  He would assert something – be it a fact about world history or a recounting of who suggested an idea at a meeting – without even considering the truth.  It came from willfully defying reality, not only to others but to himself.

p. 517:  …the reality distortion field was empowering:  It enabled Jobs to inspire his team to change the course of computer history with a fraction of the resources of Xerox or IBM.  ‘It was a self-fulfilling distortion,’ she (Debi Coleman) claimed.  ‘You did the impossible, because you didn’t realize it was impossible.’

p. 536:  The result was that the Macintosh team came to share Jobs’s passion for making a great product, not just a profitable one.  ‘Jobs thought of himself as an artist, and he encouraged the design team to think of ourselves that way too,’ said Hertzfeld.  ‘The goal was never to beat the competition, or to make a lot of money.  It was to do the greatest thing possible, or even a little greater.’

p. 542:  So from the beginning at Apple, he believed that great industrial design – a colorfully simple logo, a sleek case for the Apple II – would set the company apart and make its products distinctive.

p. 545:  Among the maxims preached by Mies and Gropius were ‘God is in the details’ and ‘Less is more.’  As with Eichler homes, the artistic sensibility was combined with the capability for mass production.  (Bauhaus style)

p. 548:  ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.’

Jobs felt that design simplicity should be linked to making products easy to use.  …  ‘The main thing in our design is that we have to make things intuitively obvious,’ Jobs told the crowd of design mavens.

p. 549:  ‘…Part of the reason we model our computers on metaphors like the desktop is that we can leverage this experience people already have.”

p. 572:  Esslinger – ‘Form follows emotion,’ a play on the familiar maxim that form follows function.

p. 574:  From his father Jobs had learned that a hallmark of passionate craftsmanship is making sure that even the aspect that will remain hidden are done beautifully.

p. 596:  Jobs was congenitally averse to such a plan.  His approach meant that the Macintosh remained a controlled environment that met his standards, but it also meant that, as Murray feared, it would have trouble securing its place as an industry standard in a world of IBM clones.  (My first response was Control will do that to you.  My second response was the recognition Yeah, but now Apple sets the standard!  :)  )

Jobs’ injunctions or maxims:  ‘Don’t compromise.’ (p. 610); ‘It’s not done until it ships.’ (p. 611); ‘The journey is the reward.’ (p. 612) – SO TRUE!

p. 612:  …someone asked whether he thought they should do some market research to see what customers wanted.  ‘No,’ he (Jobs) replied, ‘because customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them.’  (Did he ever perfect that!)

p. 661:  ‘None of us has any idea how long we’re going to be here, nor do I, but my feeling is I’ve got to accomplish a lot of these things while I’m young.’

p. 664-65:  Yet Jobs knew that he could manipulate Sculley by encouraging his belief that they were so alike.  And the more he manipulated Sculley, the more contemptuous of him he became.

p. 667:  Sculley tried to coach him.  ‘You’ve got to learn to hold things back,’ he told him at one point.  Jobs would agree, but it was not in his nature to filter his feelings through a gauze.

p. 758:  You have to be ruthless if you want to build a team of A players.  ‘It’s too easy, as a team grows, to put up with a few B players, and they then attract a few more B players, and soon you will even have some C players,’ he recalled.  ‘The Macintosh experience taught me that A players like to work only with other A players, which means you can’t indulge B players.”  (Jobs could get away with this, but if you’re not a genius like he was then you probably can’t.)

p. 1008:  …typical empathy deficiency….

p. 1080-81:  (Jobs’ relationship w/Redse, very tempestuous, didn’t last.)  She accused him of being too influenced y the Bauhaus movement.  ‘Steve believed it was our job to teach people aesthetics, to teach people what they should like,’ she recalled.  ‘I don’t share that perspective.  I believe when we listen deeply, both within ourselves and to each other, we are able to allow what’s innate and true to emerge.’  (I believe they are both right!  It’s not either/or, but both/and)

p. 1352:  One of his motivating passions was to build a lasting company.  …a properly run company could spawn innovation far more than any single creative individual.  ‘I discovered that the best innovation is sometimes the company, the way you organize a company,’ he recalled.

p. 1360:  One of Jobs’s great strengths was knowing how to focus.  ‘Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do,’ he said.  ‘That’s true for companies, and it’s true for products.’  (It’s also true for people!)

p. 1440:  His management mantra was ‘Focus.’  …  He let go of his control-freak desire to manufacture products in his own factories and instead outsourced the making of everything….

p. 1443:  …having trouble delivering enough chips on time, Jobs stormed into a meeting and started shouting that they were ‘fucking dickless assholes.’  The company ended up getting the chips to Apple on time, and its executives made jackets that boasted on the back, “Team FDA.”  (I love it!!)

p. 1454-55:   Because he believed that Apple’s great advantage was its integration of the whole widget – from design to hardware to software to content – he wanted all departments at the company to work together in parallel.  The phrases he used were ‘deep collaboration’ and ‘concurrent engineering.’  Instead of a development process in which a product would be passed sequentially from engineering to design to manufacturing to marketing and distribution, these various departments collaborated simultaneously.

p. 1455-56:  This approach also applied to key hires.  …  His goal was to be vigilant against ‘the bozo explosion’ that leads to a company’s being larded with second-rate talent….

p. 1495:  Jobs liked to tell the story – and he did so to his team that day – about how everything that he had done correctly had required a moment when he hit the rewind button.  In each case he had to rework something that he discovered was not perfect.

p. 1496:  ‘If something isn’t right, you can’t just ignore it and say you’ll fix it later,’ he said.  ‘That’s what other companies do.’  (Not just other computer companies; churches and seminaries, too.)

p. 1548:  about presentations:  ‘If you need slides, it shows you don’t know what you’re talking about.’  Instead Jobs liked to be shown physical objects that he could feel, inspect, and fondle.  (that’s fine for him and computers, but he was also master of using slides at his own presentations of new products.  He relied on the pictures to communicate and said there should never be more than one word/slide.  I’m not there yet but I need slides to focus the presentation, give people cues and clues.  I have progressed to using many more pictures instead of words.)

p. 1626:  Jobs did not organize Apple into semiautonomous divisions; he closely controlled all of his teams and pushed them to work as one cohesive and flexible company, with one profit-and-loss bottom line.  (churches and seminaries close when they don’t do this.)

p. 1627:  One of Job’s business rules was to never be afraid of cannibalizing yourself.  ‘If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will.’

p. 1827-28:  The key venue for freewheeling discourse was the Monday morning executive team gathering, which started at 9 and went for three or four hours.  The focus was always the future:  What should each product do next?  What new things should be developed?  Jobs used the meeting to enforce a sense of shared mission at Apple.  This served to centralize control, which made the company seem as tightly integrated as a good Apple product, and prevented the struggles between divisions that plagued decentralized companies.  (emphasis added.  Focus on the future, not the past, not survival, not the next year – the future; so unbelievably successful because of shared focus/mission.)

p. 2168-69:  He (Jobs) refused to take any medications, or be treated in any way, for his depression.  ‘When you have feeling,’ he said, ‘like sadness or anger about your cancer or your plight, to mask them is to lead an artificial life.’  (So true!  Malcolm Marler:  Feel what you feel when you feel it.)

p. 2227-28:  Most people have a regulator between their mind and mouth that modulates their brutish sentiments and spikiest impulses.  Not Jobs.  He made a point of being brutally honest.  ‘My job is to say when something sucks rather than sugarcoat it,’ he said.  This made him charismatic and inspiring, yet also, to use the technical term, an asshole at times.

p. 2238-39:  Some people say, ‘Give the customers what they want.’  But that’s not my approach.  Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do.  I think Henry Ford once said, ‘If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!’  People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.  That’s why I never rely on market research.  Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.  (Every seminary and probably every church I’ve ever known are the first approach.  That’s why in their own realms they never come close to knowing people and sharing the gospel they way Jobs could market his products.  Non-profits could learn so much here!)

p. 2239:  Edwin Land of Polaroid talked about the intersection of the humanities and science.  I like that intersection.  There’s something magical about that place.  There are a lot of people innovating, and that’s not the main distinction of my career.  The reason Apple resonates with people is that there’s a deep current of humanity in our innovation.  I think great artists and great engineers are similar, in that they both have a desire to express themselves.  (emphasis added.  So true!!)

p. 2240:  People pay us to integrate things for them, because they don’t have the time to think about this stuff 24/7.  (So true!)

p. 2248-49:  You always have to keep pushing to innovate.  Dylan could have sung protest songs forever and probably made a lot of money, but he didn’t.  He had to move on, and when he did, by going electric in 1965, he alienated a lot of people.  …  The Beatles were the same way.  They kept evolving, moving, refining their art.  That’s what I’ve always tried to do – keep moving.  Otherwise, as Dylan says, if you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying.

p. 2249-50:  What drove me?  I think most creative people want to express appreciation for being able to take advantage of the work that’s been done by others before us.  …  Everything I do depends on other members of our species and the shoulders that we stand on.  And a lot of us want to contribute something back to our species and to add something to the flow.  It’s about trying to express something in the only way that most of us know how….  We try to use the talents we do have to express our deep feelings, to show our appreciation of all the contributions that came before us, and to add something to that flow.  That’s what has driven me.

2.  12/2/11:  interconnected, collaborative — amazes me that financial world sees this 21st century reality so much more deeply than other organizations and is ahead of the rest, especially religious organizations, in working through.  a truism:  can’t move on until you first move through.

“This crisis has been a sharp reminder that we live in a deeply interconnected global financial system where the risk of a meltdown remains. This one has been avoided for now. There may be another abyss in weeks or months. But each time crisis is averted, we learn collectively. Many dismiss that idea, saying that cans are being kicked down the road, debt is not being dealt with, and the system is irremediably flawed. Perhaps. Or perhaps it is simply a messy process, fraught with fear, as we learn how to manage this new world the only way humans ever have, by stops and starts, courting disaster, and trying at all costs to construct a stable future.”

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Zachary Karabell is president of River Twice Research and River Twice Capital. A regular commentator on CNBC and a contributing
editor for Newsweek/The Daily Beast, he is the coauthor of Sustainable Excellence: The Future of Business in a Fast-Changing World andSuperfusion: How China and America Became One Economy and Why the World’s Prosperity Depends on It.

 

For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast ateditorial@thedailybeast.com.

(color emphasis added by PRP)

3.  Dee Hock, Birth of the Chaordic Age, San Francisco:  Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 1999

Definition on inside front cover:

Chaord:  1.  any self-organizing, self-governing, adaptive, nonlinear, complex organism, organization, community or system, whether physical, biological or social, the behavior of which harmoniously blends characteristics of both chaos and order.  2.  an entity whose behavior exhibits observable patterns and probabilities not governed or explained by the rules that govern or explain its constituent parts.

Chaordic:  1.  the behavior of any self-governing organism, organization or system which harmoniously blends characteristics of order and chaos.  2.  patterned in a way dominated by neither chaos or order.  3.  characteristic of the fundamental organizing principles of evolution and nature.

p. 2-3:  3 questions Hock deems compelling and repeated throughout the book:

  1. Why are institutions, everywhere, whether political, commercial, or social, increasingly unable to manage their affairs?
  2. Why are individuals, everywhere, increasingly in conflict with and alienated from the institutions of which they are part?
  3. Why are society and biosphere increasingly in disarray?

p. 6:  Our current forms of organization are almost universally based on compelled behavior – on tyranny, for that is what compelled behavior is, no matter how benign it may appear or how carefully disguised and exercised.  The organization of the future will be the embodiment ofcommunity based on shared purpose calling to the higher aspirations of people.  (Emphasis added)

Hock calls Industrial Age organizations Command-Control organizations

p. 28:  Today, it doesn’t take much thought to realize we’re in an accelerating, global epidemic of institutional failure.  Not just failure in the sense of collapse, . . ., but the more common and pernicious form:  organizations increasingly unable to achieve the purpose for which they were created, yet continuing to expand as they devour scarce resources, demean the human spirit, and destroy the environment.

p. 44:  MiniMaxims:  Only fools worship their tools.

p. 57:  The essential thing to remember is not that we became a world of expert managers and specialists, but that the nature of our expertise became the creation and management of constants, uniformity, and efficiency, while the need has become the understanding and coordination of variability, complexity, and effectiveness, the very process of change itself.  It is not complicated.  The nature of our organizations, management, and scientific expertise is not only increasingly irrelevant to pressing societal and environmental needs, it is a primary cause of them.

p. 63:  How can a part know the whole?  Man is related to everything that he knows.  And everything is both cause and effect, working and worked upon, mediate and immediate, all things mutually dependent. – Blaise Pascal

For prosperity doth best discover vice, and adversity doth best discover virtue. – Sir Francis Bacon

p. 67:  Leader presumes follower.  Follower presumes choice.  One who is coerced to the purposes, objectives, or preferences of another is not a follower in any true sense of the word, but an object of manipulation.  . . .  The terms leader and follower imply the freedom and independent judgment of both.  If the behavior of either is compelled, whether by force, economic necessity, or contractual arrangement, the relationship is altered to one of superior/subordinate, management/employee, master/servant, or owner/slave.  All such relationships are materially different than leader/follower.

Induced behavior is the essence of leader/follower.  Compelled behavior is the essence of all the others.  Where behavior is compelled, there lies tyranny, however benign.  Where behavior is induced, there lies leadership, however powerful.  . . .  Therefore, a clear, meaningful purpose and compelling ethical principles evoked from all participants should be the essence of every relationship and every institution.

p. 68:  True leaders are those who epitomize the general sense of the community – who symbolize, legitimize, and strengthen behavior in accordance with the sense of the community – who enable its conscious, shared values and beliefs to emerge, expand, and be transmitted from generation to generation – who enable that which is trying to happen to come into being.  The true leader’s behavior is induced by the behavior of every individual who chooses where they will be led.

The important thing to remember is that true leadership and induced behavior can be constructive or destructive, but have an inherent tendency to good, while tyranny and compelled behavior have an inherent tendency to evil.

MiniMaxims:  Compelled behavior is the essence of tyranny.  Induced behavior is the essence of leadership.  Both may have the same objective, but one tends to evil, the other to good.

p. 69:  The first and paramount responsibility of anyone who purports to manage is to manage self; . . ..

The second responsibility is to manage those who have authority over us:  bosses, supervisors, directors, regulators, ad infinitum.

The third responsibility is to manage one’s peers – those over whom we have no authority and who have no authority over us . . ..

p. 70:  The fourth responsibility is to manage those over whom we have authority.    . . .  It is not making better people of others that management is about.  It’s about making a better person of self.  Income, power, and titles have nothing to do with that.

MiniMaxims:  Lead yourself, lead your superiors, lead your peers, employ good people, and free them to do the same.  All else is trivia.

p. 72:  Without question, the most abundant, least expensive, most underutilized, and constantly abused resource in the world is human ingenuity.  The source of that abuse is mechanistic, Industrial Age, dominator concepts of organization and the management practices they spawn.

p. 73:  People are not “things” to be manipulated, labeled, boxed, bought, and sold.  Above all else, they are not “human resources.”  They are entire human beings, containing the whole of the evolving universe, limitless until we start limiting them.  We must examine the concept of leading and following with new eyes.  We must examine the concept of superior and subordinate with increasing skepticism.  We must examine the concept of management and labor with new beliefs.  And we must examine the nature of organizations that demand such distinctions with an entirely different consciousness.

It is true leadership; leadership by everyone; leadership in, up, around, and down this world so badly needs, and dominator management it so sadly gets.

p. 83:  MiniMaxims:  You can learn much from what people say, but more is revealed by what they do not say.  Listen as carefully to the silence as the sound.

p. 88:  Is it possible the most concise definition of organization is simply “agreement”?  Wherever there is need for agreement, there is either ambiguity or differing points of view.  There is also desire for reconciliation.  When two people engage in such reconciliation, is that the essence of organization, however small in scale and transitory in time?

. . . the agreement contains the essence of organization.  They are, no matter how briefly or for what purpose, “organized.”  That agreement also contains the essence of self-governance, for each must rely on the self-induced behavior of the other to act in accordance with the understanding.

Agreement is always dynamic, imperfect, and malleable.

p. 89:  Reaching agreement is a continual process, as alive as the people involved.  It does not admit of certainty or perpetuity, especially in the particulars.  Relationships between even two people who live or work together are far too complex to allow agreement much beyond intent, sense of direction, and principles of conduct.  This reveals another essential element of agreement:  tolerance and trust.  . . .

In the constructive sense of the word, governance can only be based on clarity of shared intent and trust in expected behavior, heavily seasoned with common sense and tolerance.  . . .  Principles are never capable of ultimate achievement, for they presume constant evolution and change.  “Do unto others as you would have other do unto you” is a true principle, for it says nothing about how it must be done.  It presumes unlimited ability of people to evolve in accordance with their values, experience, and relations with others.

p. 90:  There is no way to give people purpose and principles, nor can there be self-governance without them.  The only possibility is to evoke the gift of self-governance from the people to themselves.  It is in that process that a true leader may be useful.  Nor can self-governance occur if the principles do not deal with such fundamental issues as the locus and exercise of power, and the distribution of rewards.

p. 91:  People, everywhere, are growing desperate for renewed sense of community.  Shared purpose and principles leading to new concepts of self-governance at multiple scales from the individual to the global have become essential.

p. 105:  Only a few generations ago, the present stretched relatively unaltered from a distant past into a dim future.

Today, the past is ever less predictive, the future is ever less predictable, and the present scarcely exists at all.  Everything is accelerating change, with one incredibly important exception.  There has been no loss of institutional float.

p. 116:  Biological and social evolution have several things in common.  Neither is static or predictable.  Both are constantly in motion, constantly evolving.  An organism is a manifestation of and inseparable from the physical environment from which it emerged, and on which its health and existence depend.  An institution is a manifestation of and inseparable from the social environment from which it emerged, and on which its health and existence depend.  Every organism is interdependent . . ..  Every institution is interdependent . . . .

The trick for a biological organism in a changing physical environment is to evolve into whatever form best serves function.  The trick for each part of the organism is to assume a form useful to the evolving whole.  It is no different for organizations.  . . . .  Healthy biological organisms and healthy organizations alike are an ever shifting panoply of relationships exhibiting characteristics of both chaos and order.  . . .

A principal thing they have in common is penalty for failure to evolve.

p. 117:  MiniMaxims:  Life will never surrender its secrets to a yardstick.

Understanding requires mastery of four ways of looking at things – as they were, as they are, as they might become, and as they ought to be.  Repeated on p. 133!

p. 119:  ****The truth is that a commercial company, or for that matter, any organization, is nothing but an idea.  All institutions are no more than a mental construct to which people are drawn in pursuit of common purpose; a conceptual embodiment of a very old, very powerful idea called community.  ****

MiniMaxims:  Healthy organizations induce behavior.  Unhealthy organizations compel it.

p. 120:  Healthy organizations are a mental concept of relationship to which people are drawn by hope, vision, values, and meaning, and liberty to cooperatively pursue them.

p. 133:  If one is to properly understand events and to influence the future, it is essential to master four ways of looking at things:  as they were, as they are, as they might become, and as they ought to be.  It is no less essential to synthesize and hold them in mind as a single perspective.

p. 142:  The possibility of that which has never occurred cannot be determined by opinion.  Attempting the impossible is not rational, though reason may play some part in it.  It is beyond reason.  It is a matter of hope, faith, and determination.

MiniMaxims:  If you think you can’t, why think?

p. 145:  Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that iron string! – Ralph Waldo Emerson

No ultimate answers emerged, only better questions.  If this institution were to self-organize – in effect, to design itself – what we had thought of as answers must become no more than consensus.  Not consensus in the shallow, modern meaning of unanimous agreement, but in the original, deeper sense of solidarity.  A place where all could agree that they could stand comfortably together to act in accordance with purpose and principle, learn from the acts, reflect upon the learning, and formulate the next step.  This would require placing innovation above engineering – synthesis (p. 146) above analysis – understanding above knowing.

p. 146:  . . . the theology of Chaordic organization writ simple.  Heaven is purpose, principle and people.  Purgatory is paper and procedure.  Hell is rules and regulations.

p. 152:  What he said was about how things were, how they are, and how they might become.  He said nothing about how they ought to be.  The future is not about logic and reason.  It’s about imagination, hope, and belief.

p. 166:  Corporations have become so ubiquitous, so much a part of us from the moment of birth, that we accept them with as little thought as the air we breathe and the water we drink.  But they are not natural phenomena.

p. 170-171:  MiniMaxims:  Corporations are a great place to make love to capitalization of gain in one bedroom and socialization of cost in the other.  He discusses all the ways corporations use government benefits in order to maximize their profits.  “The possibilities for socializing cost and capitalizing gain are endless, as those who hold power or wealth within monetized corporations have discovered to their endless benefit.  . . .  Round and round the merry-go-round, as fewer and fewer get richer and richer and ever more powerful, while more and more (p. 171) people fall into poverty and despair, and generations unborn are placed deeper in bondage to the appetites of the moment.”

p. 182:  The sheep’s first principle was burning hot.  Given the right circumstances, from no more than dreams, determination, and the liberty to try, quite ordinary people consistently do extraordinary things.

p. 187:  MiniMaxims:  Never confuse activity with productivity.  It’s what comes out the other end of the pipe that’s important, not what you push into it.

p. 191:  VISA had multiple boards of directors w/in a single legal entity, none of which could be considered superior or inferior, as each had irrevocable authority and autonomy over geographic or functional areas.  No part knew the whole, the whole did not know all the parts, and none had any need to.  The entirety, like millions of other chaordic organizations, including those we call body, brain, forest, ocean, and biosphere, was largely self-regulating.

p. 192:  (repeats the sheep’s 1st principle) Time and time again, they demonstrated a simple truth we have somehow lost sight of in our mechanistic, Industrial Age, command-and-control organizations:  The truth is, that given the right chaordic circumstances, from no more than dreams, determination, and the liberty to try, quite ordinary people consistently do extraordinary things.

p. 198:  MiniMaxims:  Substance is enduring, form ephemeral.  Preserve substance; modify form; know the difference.

p. 202:  MiniMaxims:  A clear sense of direction and compelling principles about conduct in pursuit of it are far more effective than long-term plans and detailed objectives.

p. 207:  Position became meaningless.  Power over others became meaningless.  Time became meaningless.  Excitement about doing the impossible increased, and a community based on purpose, principle, and people arose.  Individuality, self-worth, ingenuity, and creativity flourished; and as they did, so did the sense of belonging to something larger than self, something beyond immediate gain and monetary gratification.

p. 221:  MiniMaxims:  Fear is an internal narcotic that paralyzes the mind, body, and spirit.  The power of things we fear lies solely in our opinion of them.

p. 224:  MiniMaxims:  When we fish for absolutes in the seas of uncertainty, all we catch are doubts.

p. 236-237:  Making good judgments and acting wisely when one has complete data, and knowledge is not leadership.  It’s not even management.  It’s bookkeeping.  Leadership is the ability to make wise decisions, and act responsibly upon them when one has little more than a clear sense of direction and proper values; that is, a perception of how things ought to be, understanding of how they are, and some indication of the prevalent forces driving change.

All our acts, experience, learning, and decisions are an inseparable flow of larger wholes.  They are equally an inseparable flow of smaller wholes of (p. 237) which each individual is composed.  No one is without some autonomy, yet no one is separably autonomous.

p. 237:  When there is an explosion in the capacity to receive, store, utilize, transform, and transmit information, the external world changes at a rate enormously greater than the rate at which our internal model evolves.  Nothing behaves as we think it should.  Nothing makes sense.  The world appears to be staging a madhouse.  It is not a madhouse.  It is merely the great tide of evolution in temporary flood, moving this way and that, piling up against that which obstructs its flow, trying to break loose and sweep away that which opposes it.  At such times, we experience extreme dissonance and stress.

At the heart of that dissonance and stress is paradox.  The more powerful and entrenched our internal model of reality, the more difficult it is to perceive and understand the fundamental nature of the changing externalities we experience.  Yet without such perception, it is extremely difficult to understand and change our internal model.

p. 238:  All knowledge is an approximation.

When our internal model of reality is in conflict with rapidly changing external realities, there are three fundamental ways to respond.

First:  we can cling to our old internal model and attempt to impose it on external conditions in a futile attempt to make them conform to our expectations.  . . .

Second:  we can engage in denial.  We can refuse to accept the new external reality.  We can pretend that external changes are not as profound as they really are, or deny that we have an internal model, or that it bears examination.  . . .  The world is filling with such people.

Third:  we can attempt to understand and change our internal model of reality.  That is the least common alternative, and for good reason.  Changing an internal model of reality is extremely difficult, terrifying, and complex.  It requires a meticulous, painful examination of beliefs.  It requires a fundamental understanding of consciousness and how it must change.  It destroys our sense of time and place.  It calls into question our very identity.  We can never be sure of our place or our value in a new order of (p. 239) things.   We may lose sight of who and what we are.  It requires an enormous act of faith, for new internal concepts of reality require time to develop, and we require time to grow into them.

p. 239:    Those in positions of power, wealth, and prestige who tenaciously cling to the present order of things deserve understanding, not condemnation, for they intuitively sense what Machiavelli discovered five centuries ago when he wrote:  “Nothing is more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain of success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”  No one should be condemned for failure to welcome change.  It is a pervasive problem plaguing us all.

Dostoyevsky – Taking a new step, uttering a new word is what people fear most.

The undeniable fact is that we have created the greatest explosion of capacity to receive, store, utilize, transform, and transmit information in history.  There is no way to turn back.  . . . we are caught up together, all of us and the earth as well, in the most sudden, the (p. 240) most profound, the most diverse and complex change in the history of civilization.

p. 245:  organizing principle of VISA International and now the corporate motto – the will to succeed, the grace to compromise, “Studium ad prosperandum, voluntas in conveniendum”

p. 260:  MiniMaxims:  People must come to things in their own time, in their own way, for their own reasons, or they never truly come at all.

p. 263:  The concept of organizations composed of semiautonomous equals affiliated for common purpose . . . has intensified the endless debate as to whether competition or cooperation should rule the day.  . . .

Competition and cooperation are not contraries.  They have no opposite meaning.  They are complementary.  In every aspect of life we do both.  . . .  One simply cannot exist without the other.

. . .  Cooperation gone mad results in the mindless pursuit of equality, then uniformity, use of centralized force to achieve it, ever increasing coercion, and eventual slavery.  Competition gone mad results in the mindless pursuit of self-interest, abuse of others, retaliation, accelerating anarchy, and eventual chaos.  Only in a harmonious, oscillating dance of both competition and cooperation can the extremes of control and chaos be avoided and peaceful, permanent order found.

In the Chaordic Age, it will be much more important to have a clear sense of purpose and sound principles within which many specific, short-term objectives can be quickly achieved, than a long-range plan with fixed objectives.

p. 264:  In the Chaordic Age, the centuries-old effort to eliminate judgment and intuition – art, if you will – from the conduct of institutions will change.  . . .

In chaordic organizations of the future, it will be necessary at every level to have people capable of discernment, of making fine judgments and acting sensibly upon them.  . . .

It (Industrial Age) has created a society of people alienated from their work and from the organizations in which they are enmeshed.  Far too much ingenuity, effort, and intelligence go into circumventing the mindless, sticky web of rules and regulations by which people are needlessly bound.

In the Chaordic Age, success will depend less on rote and more on reason; less on the authority of the few and more on the (p. 265) judgment of many; less on compulsion and more on motivation; less on external control of people and more on internal discipline.

p. 275:  MiniMaxims:  Leadership is to go before and show the way.

p. 276:  Perhaps the greatest mistake was to completely underestimate the degree of individual cultural change such an organization required, both in self and others.  Nor did I anticipate how pervasively and persistently old concepts would reassert themselves, or the covert, tenacious resistance new methods would evoke.

p. 277:  The pressure to revert and conform, both from within and without the organization, was intense and unceasing.

p. 279:  MiniMaxims:  Failure is not to be feared.  It is from failure that most growth comes; provided that one can recognize it, admit it, learn from it, rise above it, and try again.

p. 280:  MiniMaxims:  Mistakes are toothless little things if you recognize and correct them.  If you ignore or defend them, they grow fangs and bite.

p. 289:  MiniMaxims:  All distinctions are useful, but none are truth or reality.

When we behave as though the linear, mechanistic, separatist, cause-and-effect perspective is the only way to understand, we mentally disconnect from the beautiful, magnificent flow of life and retreat into ever smaller compartments of specialized denial.  We no longer affirm the mystery of endless connectivity and wholeness – awareness that we, the quark and the universe, are both one and many, both infinite and finite, both particulate and whole.

p. 298:  ****  When organizations lose shared purpose and principles – their sense of community – they are already in process of decay and dissolution, even though they may linger with outward appearance of success for some time.  Businesses, as well as races, tribes, and nations, do not disappear when they are conquered or repressed, but when they become despondent and lose excitement and hope about the future.  When institutions reach that stage, people withdraw relevance from them and from those who purport to manage them.

We have lost our local, communal stories and destroyed the places for their telling.

p. 311:  . . .it is far too late and things are far too bad for pessimism.  In such times as these, it is no failure to fall short of realizing all that we might dream; the failure is to fall short of dreaming all that we might realize.

We must try!

4.  Socialnomics:  How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business

Erik Qualman, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2009, 2011 (revised & updated — one I read), 810 pages in iBook

Chapter 1:  Word of Mouth Goes World of Mouth

(Reminds me of Nick Carr in The Big Switch talking about the shift from World Wide Web to World Wide Computer)

p. 63:  Why do I care if my friend is having the most amazing peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich?  Or that someone is at her kid’s dance recital?  These types of questions are often posed by someone who doesn’t understand social media, rather than by someone who hasn’t embraced social media; there is a difference.

p. 65:  One of the key maxims of this book is that investing time on social media actually makes you more productive.

p. 88:  We have shifted from a world where the information and news was held by a few and distributed to millions, to a world where the information is held by millions and distributed to a few (niche markets).  This has huge ramifications for traditional newspapers.

p. 90:  Newspapaers should no longer be reporting the news; instead, they should be commenting on the news and what it means.

p. 90-91:  While I am a huge social medial Kool-Aid drinker, I still believe that social media is more of an “and” thing than an “or” thing.

p. 97:  That is a key construct of the book:  the world as it was, no longer is.  Good, bad, or indifferent, it is a fact that will not change.  … any hurdle, no matter how small, can kill potential distribution.

p. 113:  …most companies need to fundamentally rethink their business models.

p. 114:  We see this type of flawed thinking time after time, and it keeps repeating itself because companies are having a difficult time understanding how to leverage the social graph.  Rather than attempt to understand, many forge ahead and try unsuccessfully to impose outdated business models on the social graph.  The end-result is not pretty.

p. 116:  History repeats itself because nobody listens the first time.

Chapter 2:  Social Media ­­= Preventative Behavior

p. 166-167:  Businesses and people are willing to have open diaries within social media as a way to stay connected because their ultimate desire is to feel a part of something larger than themselves.  With this openness comes responsibility for both businesses and individuals.

p. 167:  What happens in Vegas stays on YouTube.

p. 168:  Negative comments and posts are easier for companies to find with social media.  Hence, those companies have more time to focus on the solution rather than spending time finding the problem.

Effective companies and people embrace critical feedback.  Digital comments that identify areas for improvement are invaluable.

Ineffective companies spend time attempting to obfuscate or manipulate negative comments within social media.  Good companies spend time addressing and resolving customer complaints.

Chapter 3:  Social Media = Braggadocian Behavior

p. 170:  People are actually living their own lives rather than watching others.  As a company, it’s imperative that you produce products and services so that people not only want to be associated with your brand, but also take ownership of it.

p. 172:  Companies need to focus on providing content and tools to consumers, which is the opposite of traditional marketing.  Instead of providing consumers with a one-way communication stream, companies today need to focus on supplying something of value.

p. 200:  Your consumer wants to have a relationship with you and even help out where they can.  All it takes is honesty, transparency, listening and reacting.

p. 204:  The transparency and rapid distribution of information enabled by social media (Blogs, Twitter, YouTube etc.) doesn’t allow for events and news to be handled discreetly anymore.

p. 208:  Generations Y and Z have a desire to contribute to the greater world around them and leverage social media for social and charitable causes.

Consumers want to take ownership of your brand and brag about your product; let them!

Chapter 4:  Obama’s Success Driven by Social Media

p. 236:  It’s important to note here that if you are launching a new product or brand, the more unique the name, the easier it is to crawl and collect data digitally.

p. 243:  …strategy that good brands employ; transparency and having people connect and identify with the brand because the brand helps define them.  Good companies put customers’ needs first and foremost.

Chapter 5:  I Care More about What My Neighbor Thinks than What Google Thinks

p. 278:  Social commerce is upon us.  What is social commerce exactly?  It is a term that encompasses the transactional, search, and marketing components of social media.  Social commerce harnesses the simple idea that people value the opinion of other people.  What this truly means is that in the future we will no longer seek products and services; rather, they will find us.  …  What is new is that social media makes it so much easier to disseminate information.  …

p. 280:  Social media is creating something that I think eventually is going to be very healthy for our economy, and that is institutional brand integrity.  John Gerzema, Chief Insights Officer, Young & Rubicam

p. 300:  We are moving to a world with total retail and product performance transparency for the consumer.  The market will be much less tolerant of poor service and poor products and high margins with this social communications infrastructure.

p. 302:  All of this is a lot to digest for Generation X and beyond, but it’s a way of life for the Generations born after 1980, as they have grown up in a transparent world.

p. 309-10:  …their customers are beginning to take ownership.  This is a good thing, because straightforward and true stories resonate well with consumers, and this particular story has helped Subway overtake McDonald’s as having the most restaurants in the United States.

p. 324-25:  I have a sign outside my door that simply says Speed Wins.  We have adopted this as our motto and it serves us well.  If our development team says something will take four months, we challenge ourselves to do it in four days, and more often than not we succeed.  It may not be perfect for that initial beta launch, but that is okay, because with the help of our users we will make small, rapid changes to constantly improve.  If you aren’t constantly evolving along with your customers you will be doomed to fail.

                                                Steve Kaufer, CEO, TripAdvisor

p. 348:  the old adage that you can only have two of the following – cheap, quick, or quality – doesn’t hold true within social media.  It’s possible to have all three.

Chapter 6:  Death of Social Schizophrenia

p. 366:  Be the Best at Something, Not Everything

p. 367-69:  In a 140-character world, if you want to have a chance at helping the consumer retain a key message and eventually pass it on, it is imperative that you focus on your strengths or particular niche.  There is also a need for the continuous flow of information across the entire organization; in particular, it is mission critical for production and marketing to be feeding information back and forth.  It’s one thing for marketing to respond to consumer complaints; it’s an entirely different thing to respond to the customer’s complaint, look for trends in product deficiencies, and work closely with production to develop solutions.

The role of a marketer today, and even more so in the future, has less to do with creating 30-second television commercials and guessing what jingle will resonate with prospects, and more to do with having ongoing external conversations with the customer or prospects – while at the same time having internal conversations with operations, customer care, and product development.

In turn, production and development will be less about being behind closed doors in a laboratory and more to do with being connected with marketing; they, too, will have an ongoing dialogue with the customer.

p. 372-3:  From production and strategic positioning standpoints, the beauty is that it forces companies to improve.  If your company or product can’t definitively state what it stands for and how it differs from the competition in a few short words, then it is time to reevaluate exactly what you are doing.  If you don’t have a niche position in a marketplace that you are attempting to defend from your competition, and you are trying to be all things to all people, then you are doomed to failure.

p. 386-387:  The transparency and speed of information exchanged within social media mitigates casual schizophrenic behavior.  Having a work personality and a party personality will soon become extinct.  People and companies will need to have one essence and be true to that essence.

Being well rounded as a company or individual is less beneficial.  It’s more productive to play to your core strength.  This differentiates you from the competition.  You need to stand out in order to be outstanding.

Chapter 7:  Winners and Losers in a 140-Character World

p. 483:  Actually, the question that companies should ask first is “What do we have to offer that is unique and valuable to our customers and potential customer base?

p. 487:  Business decisions become more about letting the user decide what’s important.  As discussed at the beginning of this section, this is commonly referred to as outside-looking-in thinking versus the traditional inside-looking-out thinking, and it is becoming necessary with regard to social media.

p. 489:  Advertising will be less about social media campaigns and more about an ongoing conversation.

p. 496:  So many times companies fail to ask themselves, “What does success look like?”  It’s important for companies to show a united front when it comes to their definition of success, otherwise the team responsible for implementation may be striving for something that is different from what the executives deem as important.

p. 499:  Companies that wish to produce a 100 percent fail-safe program in terms of brand and user security are doomed to paralysis.  These companies will forever remain in a development phase and miss the opportunity for execution.

p. 510:  While as a company you can sit back and learn, you better not take too long to do it – you need to launch and learn.  Companies that still think they control whether they “do” social media or not are terribly mistaken.  Companies don’t have a choice on whether they do social media; they have a choice in how well they do it.

p. 519:  If your customers are that easy to pick off, then you don’t have a problem with your social media or online strategy, you have a problem with your product.

Chapter 8:  Next Steps for companies and The “Glass House Generation”

p. 523-4:  People have always found extreme value in the brevity of messages.  As a result of our ability to have constant connectivity, people believe that immediate, simple, and constant communication matters.  These interactions can be one-to-one or open to a broader audience.

p. 552-3:  Don’t fall victim to FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real). FEAR is an acronym borrowed from scuba diving.  …  Who is business can remain calm and keep their heads when the environment around them changes rapidly?

p. 562:  Fear of failure is crippling to a company or individual.  One needs to fail forward, fail fast, and fail better.

p. 600:  Seems pretty logical, yet company after company continues to miss this important concept – always wanting to build inward-out rather than outward-in.  Build something from the user’s viewpoint, not the company’s viewpoint.

(PRP:  Apple is master of this!)

p. 637:  Showing up at a college campus for a career fair isn’t going to get the job done, because it’s a whole new world.  Online sites now hold 110 million jobs and 20 million unique resumes.

Chapter 9:  Social Media Rolodex and Resources

List of experts in the field of socialnomics

Chapter 10:  Other Insights and FAQs

p. 709:  2009 U.S. Department of Education study revealed that on average, online students out performed those receiving face-to-face instruction.

p. 712:  Social media isn’t a fad, it’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate.

p. 714:  The key with social media is to fail fast, fail forward, and fail better.  You aren’t going to get it right the first time, but you aren’t going to learn anything if you don’t take the first step.

p. 729:  How do you think the marketer’s role in the non-profit sector differs in comparison to the for-profit world?  The same constructs apply.  Sometimes non-profits have less resources, but that is the beauty of social media; it helps mitigate these disadvantages.  It rewards those willing to work hard to develop relationships, not necessarily those with the most money.

p. 733:  What’s the difference between “bleeding” vs. “cutting” edge?  Bleeding edge is when you are too far ahead of the market – cutting edge is where you are ahead of your competition, but not too far ahead of the market/consumers.

p. 741:  Often people believe that evolution is a negative thing.  On the contrary, it’s just a different thing.

p. 748:  It’s about the economy, stupid.  No, it’s about a people-driven economy, stupid.

p. 755:  Companies that deliberate rather than do will quickly die in a Socialnomic world

5.  The Big Switch:  Rewiring the World, From Edison to Google, Nicholas Carr, NY, London:  W. W. Norton & Company, 2008

Part 1:  One Machine

p. 18:  Capitalizing on advances in the power of microprocessors and the capacity of data storage systems, fledgling utilities are beginning to build massive and massively efficient information processing plants, and they’re using the broadband Internet, with its millions of miles of fiber-optic cable, as the global grid for delivering their services to customers.  Like the electric utilities before them, the new computing utilities are achieving economies of scale far beyond what most companies can achieve with their own systems.

Seeing the economic advantages of the utility model, corporations are rethinking the way they buy and use information technology.

p. 19:  Electrification, just like computerization, led to complex, far-reaching, and often bewildering changes for individual companies and entire industries – and, as households began to connect to the grid, for all of society.  …both electricity & information technology…general purpose technologies.  …  General purpose technologies, or GPTs, are best thought of not as discrete tools but as platforms on which many different tools, or applications, can be constructed.

p. 20:  But electricity and computing share a special trait that makes them unique even among the relatively small set of general purpose technologies:  they can both be delivered efficiently from a great distance over a network.

p. 21:  But in the end the savings offered by utilities become too compelling to resist, even for the largest enterprises.  The grid wins.  …  Our PCs are turning into terminals that draw most of their power and usefulness not from what’s inside them but from the network they’re hooked up to….

p. 22:  The Web popularized the Internet, turning it into a global bazaar for sharing digital information.  And once easy-to-use browsers … became freely available in the mid-1990s, we all went online in droves.

p. 23:  The World Wide Web would turn into the World Wide Computer.

p. 25:  If the electric dynamo was the machine that fashioned twentieth-century society – that made us who we are – the information dynamo is the machine that will fashion the new society of the twenty-first century.

p. 26:  The technological imperative that has shaped the Western world is not arbitrary, nor is our surrender to it discretionary.  The fostering of invention and the embrace of the new technologies that result are not ‘duties’ that we have somehow chosen to accept.  They’re the consequences of economic forces beyond our control.  …  Technology shapes economics, and economics shapes society.  …  In a society governed by economic trade offs, the technological imperative is precisely that:  an imperative.  Personal choice has little to do with it.

We see the interplay of technology and economics most clearly at those rare moments when a change takes place in the way a resource vital to society is supplied, when an essential product or service that had been supplied locally begins to be supplied centrally, or vice versa.

p. 27:  Many of the characteristics that define American society came into being only in the aftermath of electrification.  …   We may soon come to discover that what we assume to be the enduring foundations of our society are in fact only temporary structures, as easily abandoned as (the water wheel).

Chapter 2 discusses Edison’s development of electricity and the system of component parts to make it affordable.  His assistant, then competitor, Samuel Insull developed the national grid.

Chapter 3 discusses the evolution from the hole punch tabulator used to compile Census results in 1880 to computer.  Thomas Watson, IBM.  p. 45:  The information technology industry had been born.  J. Presper Eckert & John Mauchly, Univ. of PA, UNIVAC.

p. 55:  It has always been understood that, in theory, computing power, like electric power, could be provided over a grid from large-scale utilities – and that such centralized dynamos would be able to operate much more efficiently and flexibly than scattered, private data centers.

p. 56:  All the machines are now connected and shared – they’re one machine.  (due to fiber-optic network)  …  The economics of computing have changed, and it’s the new economics that are now guiding progress.  The PC age is giving way to a new era:  the utility age.

Chapter 4 discusses Google’s server farms.  Man!  That reminds me of “The Matrix”!!  p. 60:  If companies can rely on central stations like Google’s to fulfill all or most of their computing requirements, they’ll be able to slash the money they spend on their own hardware and software….  Google…has little need for the old vendors.

p. 61:  As Google has expanded its computing utility, it has been able to rapidly introduce new services as well as acquire ones developed by other companies.  …not the only company pioneering this new business.  Amazon another major player.

p. 73:  Sometimes a company can discover an even better business if it’s willing to abandon an old one.  …  The time of Gates and the other great software programmers who wrote the code of the PC age has come to an end.  The future of computing belongs to the new utilitarians.

Chapter 5, p. 75:  Carr loves the quote by Henry Adams in The Education of Henry Adams about the electricity pavilion at the Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1893:  “One lingered long among the dynamos for they were new, and they gave to history a new phase.” Samuel Insull was a visionary, but not even he could have imagined how profoundly, and quickly, the electric grid would reshape business and society.  The essence of the new technology’s transformative power lay in the way it changed the economic trade-offs which influence, often without our awareness, the many small and large decisions we make that together determine who we are and what we do – decisions about education, housing, work, family, entertainment and so on.  … the central supply of cheap electricity altered the economics of everyday life.  What had been scarce…became abundant.

p. 77:  Cheap electricity brought great benefits to many people, but its effects rarely played out as expected, and not all of them were salubrious.  Tracing the course of some of the most important of those effects through the first half of the last century reveals the complex interplay between technological and economic systems and the equally complex way it exerts its influence over society.

p. 78:  The modern corporation, with its elaborate management bureaucracy, emerged in its familiar form and rose to its dominant position in the economy.

But while electrification propelled some industries to rapid growth, it wiped out others entirely.  …

Inside companies, things changed as well.  As manufacturers replaced their millwork and gas lamps with electric motors and lightbulbs, working conditions improved substantially.  …

But as working conditions got better, work itself underwent a less benign transformation.

p. 79:  …mechanization had been steadily reducing the demand for talented craftsmen.  Their work had been taken over by machines that required little skill or training to operate.  …  Factory output skyrocketed, but jobs became mindless, repetitious, and dull.  …

Mass production found its fulfillment in the creation of the modern assembly line, an innovation that would have been unthinkable before electrification.

p. 80-81:  Here was the first, but by no means the last, irony of electrification:  even as factory jobs came to require less skill, they began to pay higher wages.  And that helped set in motion one of the most important social developments of the century:  the creation of a vast, prosperous American middle class.

p. 81:  …expansion of the white-collar workforce…began before electrification, cheap power accelerated the trend.  And all the new office jobs paid well….

…shift in skilled employment away from tradesmen and toward what would come to be known as ‘knowledge workers’ had a knock-on effect that also proved pivotal in reshaping American society:  it increased the workforce’s educational requirements.  …public education was extended from elementary schools to high schools.

p. 82:  …more appliances meant more consumption of electricity, which led to even greater economies for the utilities, allowing them to cut electric rates still further and spur even more demand for their current and the appliances that ran on it.

Critical to this process was the standardization of the electric system.  …  Without standards, without a grid that truly acted as one machine, motors and appliances would have to be designed differently for different markets….

p. 83:  The profusion of possibilities for spending one’s time and money changed people’s very conception of leisure and entertainment, creating a new kind of popular culture and making consumption and consumerism egalitarian pursuits.

p. 88:  But whether it exerted its influence directly or through a complicated chain of economic and behavioral reactions, the electric grid was the essential, formative technology of the time – the prime mover that set the great transformations in motion.  It’s impossible to conceive of modern society taking its current shape – what we now sense to be its natural shape – without the cheap power generated in seemingly unlimited quantities by giant utilities and delivered through a universal network into nearly every factory, office, shop, home, and school in the land.  Our society was forged – we were forged – in Samuel Insull’s dynamo.

Part 2:  Living in the Cloud

p. 89:  We shape our tools and thereafter they shape us.  John M. Culkin

Chapter 6, The World Wide Computer

p. 92:  By creating a universal medium, one able not just to display text but to show images and process transactions, the Web transformed the Internet from an intellectual meeting-house into a commercial enterprise.  …  The Web had turned out to be less the new home of Mind than the new home of Business.

The Internet has always been a machine of many contradictions, both in the way it works and in the way it is used and perceived.  It’s an instrument of bureaucratic control and of personal liberation, a conduit of communal ideals and of corporate profits.  These and other technical, economic, and social tensions are becoming even more pronounced as the Net turns into a worldwide computing grid and its uses as a general purpose technology multiply.  The resolution of the tensions, for good or ill, will determine how the grid’s consequences play out over the coming years and decades.

p. 93:  Utility computing is a new and disruptive force, but it’s not without precedent.  …the supply of computing as a utility will amplify the benefits, and exacerbate the strains, that have always been associated with the automation of information processing.  Shift focus …  to the users themselves and how their behavior is changing as they adapt to the services supplied over the computing grid and navigate the resulting economic, political, and social upheaval.  … first need to understand how computing is not like electricity….

With the electric grid, we’ve always known precisely where to place the socket.  …  The utilities themselves have just two roles, both clearly delineated:  they produce electricity and they distribute it.  …  All the applications of the electricity are the responsibility not of the utilities but of the utilities’ customers.

p. 94:  The clear divide between electricity’s generating infrastructure and its applications – a divide made manifest in the electrical socket – makes the utility model relatively simple when it comes to electric power.  …  Computing is different.  Because its applications are delivered through software, they too can be transmitted over the grid as utility services.  …  The prices of appliances have certainly been driven down by the technologies of mass production, but because they’re physical devices there’s always been a limit to how cheap they can get.  That in turn has constrained the purposes to which electric current can be applied.  When applications have no physical form, when they can be delivered as digital services over a network, the constraints disappear.

Computing is also much more modular than electricity generation.  …  Modularity reduces the likelihood that the new utilities will form service monopolies, and it give us, as the users of utility computing, a virtually unlimited array of options.  …  Back in the 1990s, Sun Microsystems coined the marketing slogan “The Network Is the Computer.”  …describes what computing has become, or is becoming, for all of us.  The network – the Internet, that is – has become, literally, our computer.  The different components that used to be (p. 95) isolated in the … PC … can now be dispersed throughout the world, integrated through the Internet, and shared by everyone.  The World Wide Web has truly turned into the World Wide Computer.

p. 95:  Eric Schmidt … “the computer in the cloud”…  What he means is that computing, a we experience it today, no longer takes a fixed, concrete form.  It occurs in the Internet’s ever-shifting “cloud” of data, software, and devices.  …  That gives each of us using the World Wide Computer enormous flexibility in tailoring its workings to our particular needs.  …  To put it another way, the World Wide Computer, like any other electronic computer, is programmable.  …  From the user’s perspective, programmability is the most important, the most revolutionary, aspect of utility computing.  It’s what makes the World Wide Computer a personal computer….  (his example of how all this occurs is Second Life – interesting!  Extensive discussion of how this site works.  Carr refers to 2nd Life as a game.  His business example is Salesforce.com – delivering account-management service.  Science example is CERN, physics lab straddling the border between Switz. & Fr., constructor of Large Hadron Collider, world’s largest scientific instrument – particle accelerator)

p. 98:  As the capacity of the World Wide Computer expands, it will continue to displace private systems as the preferred platform for computing.  Businesses:  … a wealth of options as they make the leap to the utility age.  …don’t face an all-or-nothing choice….  hybrid approach – cloud and own IT depts..

p. 99:  Our houses, like our workplaces, are all becoming part of the computing cloud.  Each of us now has a supercomputer, with a virtually unlimited store of data and software, at our beck and call.  (Example – people setting up their own web sites.  Specifically discusses WordPress.  Now that’s more interesting now than when I first read this book.  Guess where I’m posting these notes?!!?)

p. 102-103:  …products are shedding their physical embodiments and turning into pure information, from money to plane tickets to newspapers….  Many of the everyday interactions that used to have to take place in physical spaces – bank branches, business offices,… – can now take place more efficiently in virtual spaces.

p. 103:  The melding of the world of real things and places with the world of simulated things and places will only accelerate as the World Wide Computer becomes more powerful and as more devices are hooked up to it.  …  Soon, the World Wide Computer will know where we are and what we’re doing at almost every instant of the day.  We will exist simultaneously in the real world and in a computer-generated world.  (PRP:  The Matrix – again!)

Chapter 7, From the Many to the Few

p. 107:  Many new companies are using the utility computing grid to create burgeoning enterprises with hardly any employees.

p. 112:  Computerization, like electrification before it, simply continues the centuries-long trend of substituting machines for workers.  …  Computerization extends the replacement of workers by machines from the blue-collar to the white-collar world.

Whereas industrialization in general and electrification in particular created many new office jobs even as they made factories more efficient, computerization is not creating a broad new class of jobs to take the place of those it destroys.  …  Computerization creates new work, but it’s work that can be done by machines.  People aren’t necessary.  (PRP:  they are for the “user generated content” that make sites so profitable.)

p. 118:  By putting the means of production into the hands of the masses but withholding from those masses any ownership over the products of their communal work, the World Wide Computer provides an incredibly efficient mechanism for harvesting the economic value of the labor provided by the very many and concentrating it in the hands of the very few.  …  The creation of the electric grid accelerated the concentration of wealth in large businesses….  The arrival of the universal computing grid portends a very different kind of economic realignment.  Rather than concentrating wealth in the hands of a small number of companies, it may concentrate wealth in the hands of a small number of individuals….

p. 121:  This is not, as it might first appear, a vision of a world of economic egalitarianism.  It’s a vision of a world in which more and more of the wealth produced by markets is likely to be funneled to ‘a small fraction’ of particularly talented individuals.

As we saw with electrification, the interplay of technological and economic forces rarely produces the results we at first expect.

Chapter 8  The Great Unbundling

p. 122:  Electrification hastened the expansion of America’s mass culture, giving people a shared set of experiences through popular television shows, radio programs, songs, movies, books and magazines, newspaper stories, and even advertisements.  …  The nation’s mass culture, and the sense of unity that it instilled in a motley population scattered across a vast land, was not, in other words, the expression of an essential quality of the American character.  It was a by-product of the economic and technological forces that swept the country at the start of the twentieth century.  The Internet, which is becoming not just a universal computer but also a universal medium, unleashes a very different set of forces, and they promise to reshape America’s culture once again.

The major constraints on the supply of creative works…are disappearing.  …

p. 123:  We’re able to indulge our personal tastes as never before, to design and wrap ourselves in our own private cultures.  …  The vast array of choices is exciting, and by providing an alternative to the often bland products of the mass media, it seems liberating as well.  …  More choices don’t necessarily mean better choices.  …

p. 129:  We may find that the culture of abundance being produced by the World Wide Computer is really just a culture of mediocrity – many miles wide but only a fraction of an inch deep.

p. 130:  Not only will the process of polarization tend to play out in virtual communities in the same way it does in neighborhoods, but it seems likely to proceed much more quickly online.  …

p. 131:  We would click our way to a fractured society.  …  As the dominant search engine, Google wields enormous influence over the information people find on the Web, and it has been particularly aggressive in engineering the personalization of content.

p. 132:  …automatically choose which information to show you, and which to withhold, without having to wait for you to ask.  …

p. 133:  Brynjolfsson and Van Alstyne.  ‘Our analysis,’ they write, ‘suggests that automatic search tools and filters that route communications among people based on their views, reputations, past statement or personal characteristics are not necessarily benign in their  effects.’  Shaped by such tools, online communities could actually end of being less diverse than communities defined by physical proximity.  …  If, in other words, we have even a small inclination to prefer like-minded views and people – to be more ‘focused’ rather than more inclusive – we will tend to create ever more polarized communities online.

p. 134:  2005 – research on resident in Colorado Springs & Boulder.  The results of the study were striking.  In every case, the deliberations among like-minded people produced what the researchers call ‘ideological amplification.’  People’s views became more extreme and more entrenched:  …

p. 135:  …the more that people converse or otherwise share information with other people who hold similar views, the more extreme their views become.  …likely to be pervasive online.  …filtering and personalization technologies are likely to magnify the effect.

p. 136:  In a further perverse twist, the very abundance of information available on the Internet may serve not to temper extremism but to amplify it further.  As the Colorado study showed, whenever people find additional information that supports their existing views, they become more convinced that those views are right – and that people who hold different opinions are wrong.  …  Not only will the Internet tend to divide people with different views, in other words, it will also tend to magnify the differences.  (PRP:  happens in churches and religious organizations all the time.  I’m familiar with the hermetically sealed Christian bubble, but happens to all other religions too.)  …with each one (click) we are constructing our identity, shaping our influences, and creating our communities.  As we spend more time and do more things online, our combined clicks will shape our economy, our culture, and our society.  …  But it’s clear that two hopes most dear to the Internet optimists – that the Web will create a more bountiful culture and that it will promote greater harmony and understanding – should be treated with skepticism.  Cultural impoverishment and social fragmentation seem equally likely outcomes.

Chapter 9  Fighting the Net

p. 138:  Technology is amoral, and inventions are routinely deployed in ways their creators neither intend nor sanction.  …  The very qualities that make the World Wide Computer so useful to so many – its universality and its openness – make it dangerous as well.

p. 140:  The Internet is a battlefield, but it’s a battlefield unlike any other.  (Discusses terrorists, spammers and botnets viruses & zombie networks, cyber attacks, natural disasters, power shortages, etc. Making the point that the web is the extremely vulnerable infrastructure on which economy, politics, culture, etc. depends.  “shared global infrastructure” p. 149)

Chapter 10  A Spider’s Web

p. 151:  …most of us assume that we’re anonymous when we go about our business online.  …  But our sense of anonymity is largely an illusion.

p. 152:  One of the essential characteristics of the computing grid is the interconnection of diverse stores of information.  The ‘openness’ of databases is what gives the World Wide Computer much of its power.  But it also makes it easy to discover hidden relationships among far-flung bits of data.  Analyzing those relationships can unlock a surprisingly large trove of confidential information about Web users.

p. 155:  Computer systems in general and the Internet in particular put enormous power into the hands of individuals, but they put even greater power into the hands of companies, governments, and other institutions whose business it is to control individuals.  Computer systems are not at their core technologies of emancipation.  They are technologies of control.  They were designed as tools for monitoring and influencing human behavior, for controlling what people do and how they do it.  (Carr’s source is, The Control Revolution, James R. Beniger)

Chapter 11  iGod

p. 171:  founder of Google, Sergey Brin & Larry Page, fascinated by AI, artificial intelligence.  In fact, the creation of an artificial intelligence that extends or even replaces the mind is a theyme they return to again and again.  (Microsoft going for this too.)

p. 174:  expecting a “neural interface” by 2020.  (That really creeps me out!!)  The Internet doesn’t just connect information-processing machines.  It connects people.  It connects us w/each other, and it connects us w/the machines.

p. 179:  …World Wide Computer.  We have built it and are beginning to program it, but we are a long way from knowing all the ways it will come to be used.  We can anticipate…the World Wide Computer will not just follow our instructions.  It will learn from us and, eventually, it will write its own instructions.  (PRP:  This always reminds me of “The Matrix”!  Of course, I want him to be wrong, but….)

p. 180-181:  What makes us so smart is that our minds are constantly providing answers w/out knowing the questions.  They’re making sense rather than performing calculations.

For a machine to demonstrate, or at least simulate, that kind of intelligence, it cannot be restricted to a set of unambiguous instructions for acting on a rigidly defined set of data.  It needs to be freed from its fixed memory.  It needs to lose its machine-ness and begin acting more like a biological system.  That is exactly what’s becoming possible as the Internet itself becomes a computer.  …

We see this new kind of software, in embryonic form, in Google’s search engine and in other programs designed to mine information from the Web.

At the end Carr addresses the debate on whether or not our dependence on computers, Google, etc. are making us smarter or dumber.  He is quite negative about “web surfing” making us like pancakes – spread wide and thin – superficial, loss of western civilization and all that.  (p. 183)  Cathy Davidson’s book, Now You See It, engages this debate at a far less negative, pessimistic point with specific neurological data.

p. 183:  Our technologies, he (J.Z.Young, English biologist) explained, make us as surely as we make our technologies.  That’s been true of the tools we use to process matter and energy, but it’s been particularly true of the tools we use to process information, from the map to the clock to the computer.

The medium is not only the message.  The medium is the mind.  It shapes what we see and how we see it.  The printed page, the dominant information medium of the past 500 years, molded our thinking through, to quote Neil Postman, ‘its emphasis on logic, sequence, history, exposition, objectivity, detachment, and discipline.’  The emphasis of the Internet, our new universal medium, is altogether different.  It stresses immediacy, simultaneity, contingency, subjectivity, disposability, and, above all, speed.  The Net provides no incentive to stop and think deeply about anything, to construct in our memory that ‘dense repository’ of knowledge that Foreman cherishes.  …  On the Internet, we seem impelled to glide across the slick surface of data as we make our rushed passage from link to link.

p. 184:  The most revolutionary consequence of the expansion of the Internet’s power, scope, and usefulness may not be that computers will start to think like us but that we will come to think like computers.  Our consciousness will thin out, flatten, as our minds are trained, link by link,…  The artificial intelligence we’re creating may turn out to be our own.  …  God is no longer the Great Electrician.  He has become the Great Programmer.  The universe is not the emanation of a mysterious spirit.  It is the logical output of a computer.

p. 187:  All technological change is generational change.  The full power and consequence of a new technology are unleashed only when those who have grown up w/it become adults….  As the older generations die, they take with them their knowledge of what was lost when the new technology arrived, and only the sense of what was gained remains.  It’s in this way that progress covers its tracks, perpetually refreshing the illusion that where we are is where we were meant to be.

PRP:  The ending is poetic, thoughtful and thought provoking.  Whether or not it is true is another matter.

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