TIMN is an explanatory model of how human societies have organized: first in Tribes, later with Institutions added (T+I), and in our current society where Markets dominate (T+I+M). As we enter an era where the Network form (T+I+M+N) gains dominance, most of the previous organizational forms will evolve to adapt to the new form. The Network form puts into question our current market dominated forms, including our institutions and our families. Consider that the nuclear family is no longer the dominant Tribal form in many developed countries. Fewer people have faith in our existing institutions and our capitalist markets are seen as inadequate in distributing wealth. One example is the move to establish a universal basic income in many countries because our markets are unable to effectively distribute wealth.
The TIMN model aligns with changes in how we communicate: Tribes were mostly Oral, Institutions developed with the Written word, Markets were enabled by Print, and Networks communicate Electrically, fragmenting linear literacy. One potential aspect of the Network era is that it will retrieve a more Oral form of discourse, albeit in a new, electric manner. After thousands of years where Writing and Print have dominated, we may be retrieving some aspects of a Tribal society.
In The Alphabet Goddess (1999) Leonard Schlain puts forward the hypothesis that Writing is a patriarchal medium and its advent brought about the demise of matriarchal societies and goddess worship [my emphasis added].
“Whenever a culture elevates the written word at the expense of the image, patriarchy dominates. When the importance of the image supersedes the written word, feminine values and egalitarianism flourish.”
“The introduction of the written word, and then the alphabet, into the social intercourse of humans initiated a fundamental change in the way newly literate cultures understood their reality. It was this dramatic change in mind-set, I propose, that was primarily responsible for fostering patriarchy. The Old Testament was the first alphabetic written work to influence future ages. Attesting to its gravitas, multitudes still read it three thousand years later. The words on its pages anchor three powerful religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Each is an exemplar of patriarchy. Each monotheistic religion features an imageless Father deity whose authority shines through His revealed Word, sanctified in its written form. Conceiving of a deity who has no concrete image prepares the way for the kind of abstract thinking that inevitably leads to law codes, dualistic philosophy, and objective science, the signature triad of Western culture. I propose that the profound impact these ancient scriptures had upon the development of the West depended as much on their being written in an alphabet as on the moral lessons they contained.”
If one subscribes to Schlain’s hypothesis then it can be seen that society has been male-dominated for several thousand years because of how we communicate. Will the Network era change this? If we look at how our current institutions and markets are structured we can readily see that the most powerful ones are male-dominated. But the internet is not. It is pretty well a 50/50 split, so that women cannot be so easily ignored. The recent cases of sexual abuse in the USA are coming to light not via traditional institutions and broadcasters but through networked social media. A recent FastCompany article sums up the situation.
“The power structures that used to protect such men from the consequences they’re now incurring have begun to evaporate … If there’s hard evidence and you know your client did it, you really can’t shield behind it anymore. I think even 10 years ago, you could have, but we’re in a completely different place now and we have to as publicists reteach ourselves how to handle situations like this.”
The retrieval of certain aspects of a Tribal/Oral society require a rethinking of how we organize and work. Many people already understand this but they are often stuck in the old ways of organizing. For example, we collectively understand that what are considered ‘feminine’ traits are what leaders need today.
“32,000 study subjects were asked to classify 125 traits as masculine, feminine, or neutral. Another 32,000 were asked to rate the importance of the traits to effective leadership. ‘Feminine’ traits were more likely to be strongly linked to leadership.” —Inc. 2013-06
In our institutions and our markets, women are often a minority in the hierarchies, but in a T+I+M+N world, women are over 50% and there is little hierarchy. Our future is likely to be networked and feminine.
—If you like this post, consider joining the coffee club.
Subsequent posts on this topic:
Retrieving gender balance (synthesis of previous posts)