OK, I'm making this page to try to draw together and summarize some of the discussions between HilanBensusan, OliSharpe, ZbigniewLukasiak and myself (PhilJones) over the last couple of days.
The conversation went from :
- really got started in TheAnonymousFriendShowsUp
- continued on SustainableCultures
- and is currently TalkingAboutOneAndThinkingAboutTheOther
Here's a very very rough outline of the dynamic, losing all the interesting and subtle arguments and side-issues :
Hilan : Hacking is sick
Oli : it's grounded in HumanNature and SustainableCultures need to accomodate themselves to human nature
Hilan : belief in HumanNature is dangerous. And our culture isn't sustainable
Oli : I think our culture is pretty sustainable
Hilan : how can you believe our culture is sustainable when it's clearly so bad?
Zbigniew : bad and unsustainable are different things
Phil : Yep, you're confusing "bad" with "unsustainable"
But at this point I notice something I think is very important. It's not that Hilan is confusing "bad" with "unsustainable". It's that Hilan's notion of "sustainability" is different from the one I and Oli (and probably) Zbigniew are implicitly assuming.
I'm thinking of sustainability largely as a matter of constraints. There are deep principles which govern what kinds of societies are possible. These could come from psychology and human nature, but these days I'm inclined to look even deeper : at mathematics such as GraphTheory and InformationTheory which govern what kinds of organizational structures are possible and efficient.
Hilan is talking about something very different : "unsustainable" basically means something so bad that it can't be allowed to continue. Implicit in Hilan's thinking is the idea that the most important constraint is what we are willing to tolerate. And no other constraints are really binding. In fact, it's generally dangerous to worry about them because that's likely to confuse our notions of what is tolerable.
OK, so the nature and importance of contraints, along with HumanNature is an argument we have to have.
Also worth remembering :
- the similar discussion with DariusSokolov on MovingToTheRight and WhereDoAlternativesComeFrom. I think Darius was generally smarter than me there. But he acknowledged that there were some deeper constraints on organizations, which he labelled CollectiveActionProblems and has put some pages here discussing them.
- even if there are systematic constraints, we can still learn to control and intervene in systems : OnInterventions
Perhaps "Collapse" is a useful standard. Might want to take a look at JosephTainter's work - BillSeitz:CollapseOfComplexSocieties
Spinning off the above discussion from Hilan, Oli started another series of pages :
- in AnotherIndustrialRevolution he asserted that we needed to seek technological solutions to the problems of poverty and exclusion
- this also harked back to TechnologicalDeterminism and a brief discussion on JustInTime
- Oli also defined what he was contrasting his position with : TheAbsentPositionIWasArguingAgainst
- after much discussion, he challenged me to define my suggestions for something political which was MoreThanJustTinkering with the current political set-up.
It just occurred to me that Hilan's notion of good == sustainable is the same as ChristopherAlexander's PatternEthics