Thursday, June 19, 2003

Nice perspective on swarming

Between Smart Mobs, InstaMobs and complexity theory's swarms, there's plenty of attention these days on how people cluster around activities.

During discussion about adaptive service organizations at a small conference this week run by Greg Oxton of the Consortium for Service Innovation, Steve Young (of Dexterra) described dysfunctional swarming as similar to how young kids play soccer -- all jammed around the ball. Several companies had seen that kind of behavior when customer support problems escalated. Efficient swarming is more like a great soccer team, where the members know one another's roles and strong points, and they spread out, making room for plays.

Ah, an organic sports metaphor.

Speaking of soccer, does Real Madrid really need Beckham?

Saturday, June 07, 2003

The Californization of the world?

Excellent, speedy talk at PlaNetwork this morning by GBN's Peter Leyden, in which he outlined the results of GBN's most recent Global Scenarios cycle, which they repeat every five years and will soon be available as a book.

The two axes in this scenario logic are centralized/decentralized and US cultural and economic power, which leads to the following four quadrants (clockwise from the upper right): New American Century [yep] (centralized, increased US global influence); Adaptive Strain (decentralized, increased US influence); Creative Disorder (decentralized, decreased US influence); and Eurasian New Deal (centralized, decreased US influence).

The quadrant Peter believes is playing out is Adaptive Strain, which he nicknames The Californiaization [sic] of the World. Trends start in California, he claims, then play out across the US (and, by implication, the world). Witness the Reagan Revolution, presaged by then-ultra-conservative Kevin Phillip's 1969 book The Emerging Republican Majority and still in peak form. As evidence that a counter-swing is now in motion, Leyden points to The New Republic writer John Judis' new book The Emerging Democratic Majority, the rising sentiment in favor of sustainable policies and the fact that California has Democrats in charge now from top to bottom (among other pieces of evidence). That's too brief a treatment of what Peter said, but it's a start.

Having just lived briefly in Hong Kong and tasted a little of what China is doing, I am unconvinced that Adaptive Strain/Californization takes enough into account the power of Asia, and the potential synergies of tighter relationships between Europe and Asia. I tend to think the major tension is between the upper right quadrant (New American Century) and the lower left (Creative Disorder), and I hope Creative Disorder is the path we take.

Friday, June 06, 2003

At the PlaNetwork conference in SF

I'll be blogging a little from the PlaNetwork conference this weekend. I'm happy to be here, but disillusioned by the relatively shameless Grokker pitsh that Paul Hawken just made, taking up his entire presentation. There are a thousand things I'd rather learn from Paul, and it's not just because I'm a Brain fan.

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