Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.
“The ingenuity of the average worker is sufficient to outwit any system of controls devised by management.” —Douglas McGregor, via @flowchainsensei
Stephen Downes — “If we can be programmed even a little, what does that say about the relation between education, ethics, and propaganda?”
@duncan_stuart — “Hong Kong is a good example right now of why citizens should not live in a cashless society. With cold cash comes a degree of freedom.”
@euvieivanova — “If you want to get better at something, you have to stress the system to increase its capacity. You don’t get fit unless you exercise. You don’t become more aware unless you train in meditation or similar. You don’t become better at sensemaking with only soundbites and tweets.”
I once asked one of our local staff why there was so much anger towards the Ebola response. She answered: “My husband was killed in a massacre in Beni. At that time, all I wanted was some organization to come protect us from the killings, but no international organization came. I have had three children die of malaria. No international organization has ever come to work in this area to make sure we have access to health care or clean water. But now Ebola arrives, and all the organizations come because Ebola gives them money. If you cared about us, you would ask us our priorities. My priority is security and making sure my children don’t die from malaria or diarrhea. My priority is not Ebola. That is your priority.”
At Houdini sportswear, designers continuously ask:
Does this product deserve existence?
Is it versatile enough?
Will it age with beauty?
Nothing added that isn’t needed, right?
Will it be easy to repair?
Is it durable enough for our rental program?
Does it have an end-of-life solution?
A complex web of societal shifts is making people more susceptible to misinformation and conspiracy. Trust in institutions is falling because of political and economic upheaval, most notably through ever widening income inequality. The effects of climate change are becoming more pronounced. Global migration trends spark concern that communities will change irrevocably. The rise of automation makes people fear for their jobs and their privacy.
Bad actors who want to deepen existing tensions understand these societal trends, designing content that they hope will so anger or excite targeted users that the audience will become the messenger. The goal is that users will use their own social capital to reinforce and give credibility to that original message.