Session Time: 70 Minutes
“Materials are less important than human beings – although we have not yet come quite around to thinking in that fashion.” Henry Ford
[quote from Today and Tomorrow – Pg 81 2003 Commerative Edition]
Both Eyes Open:
What goes around might come around and these things are not in our own hands, but our candor is and in that regard candor is only useful if it serves an intelligent purpose, candor also has a great downside if it is expressed in vulgar terms, society needed Lenny Bruce but it doesn’t need millions of people looking at life from their lower extremities. Candor also changes meaning in how we view time, today we increasingly try to knit a one line universe such as twitter so that we can feel more “connected’, or we participate in 10 minute conversations and both are product of short-term thinking. The alternative is long-term thinking (5 to 10 years out), to learn to see among other things, how social “disconnection” arises in the first place – and in that regard, it totally transforms meaning, because it is no longer about small talk and piecing together jigsaw or broken pieces of existence but how it is we personally want to construct our own life.
My journey here is personal, but it only represents 1/3rd of my life, for the other 2/3rd (the professional and the private) I prefer mostly to remain in the lap of honourable discretion and private confidences). I therefore prefer to view what I write in terms of long term and not short-term thinking. I also see a distinction between a needs attitude which is represented by “TELL ME HOW THIS HELPS ME EAT” and an intelligence attitude which is “SHOW YOURSELF HOW YOU ARE LIVING” – the first attitude none of us can escape, for the word economics literally means “home-maker” and we are united by the quality of our home making, but the latter attitude is a distinctly personal choice, a choice to think about our thinking and therefore control one of the few things we do have control over, viz the way we think.
The recent writers strike showed me that chat show hosts and celebrities are only as good as the power that sits behind their thrones. We ourselves still don’t seemingly have any more regard for the creative talent that sits behind the faces that we so often mythologize because so often we are occupied by what is happening in the short-term. We seemingly continue to be mesmerized or attracted by the surface or this skin deep creativity, the talking head, the image that we can personally relate to, rather than the talent connects the dots under the surface.
The human voice today is largely manufactured through the machinery of modern media and education and our media habits compound our learned helplessness to spot an important distinction or difference between an authentic voice and an actor’s voice. We therefore get caught up in the short-term thinking of the news cycle. Originality on the other hand is the birthright we squander the moment we learn traditional ways we have been taught to see the world, moving from the spontaneous child to the fear-riddled, attention drowned beings that we are apt to become, unless we know how to let go, reframe our thoughts or learn how to switch off.
Moreover, hardly any of us (other than those who recognize creative source as inspiring) stand on the shoulders of the great, we don’t even give ourselves the benefit that chat show hosts and celebrities futures critically depend upon because we read instead of write, and dilute instead of disipline our focus. We generally avoid our own thinking in preferences to looking for permission slips to think and our permission is defined by a society being taught that our opinion must be socially rated, be associated by a known brand and valued measured through the pipes that can turn into something far different than we intended, such as pluralistic ignorance.
We are not, as I see it, anywhere close to the society of free thinkers we think we presently are, especially if we are insufficiently concerned with our own character development, raising the bar of life quality and feeding this energy to those who live directly around us. Much of society is a manufactured and processed, rehashed and spectator applauded pre-processed thoughts. We dare not consider ourselves personally wrong and yet it is trial and error that can make us more innovative and strong. I therefore state that this here are thoughts of a rambling man, who will simply use this as fodder or foundation to create a more clarity filled and more well articulated life.
A human voice can be rebelliously creative as Locke, it can be socially intelligent as Weinberger, it can be technical and direct as Doc Searls or it can be quiet and supporting as Rick Levine, but the human voice isn’t the Cluetrain Manifesto, to be human does not require one signature or four authorities, it simply requires of us to make an individual personal choice to be human. To be human means different things to different folks, but for me it basically means shedding the coat of our animal self which means avoiding and running away from the lowest common denominator, as well as NOT simply blindly following the voice of the thought leader.
It means getting on with our own lives without pointing fingers or casting blame on others, for decisions that represent our own thinking. Our life is to me all but an illusion unless we find such a human voice. In that regard I will sign any manifesto of freedom but I don’t represent freedom as a name or grouping or something to follow, I represent nothing – for we are always free until we find something and the paradox in this is that we are never free, not once we search and sign up for freedom.
It is also why I see that to think our own thoughts requires us to understand the kind of Freedom that folks like Mihalyi Czikzentmihalyi researched as observable traits of creative people in flow and Jiddu Krishnamurti thought through himself, (or as he suggested that we meditate personally on the FACT of things that are most important to us individually, one fact at a time). I don’t have anything remotely close to Krishnamurti’s tremendous discipline to so investigate my own thinking to its raw core, but it obviously makes a great difference if attaining freedom is really one’s own personal goal. A time will come when my mental well being will be excel in this form of excellence, but I am but a student of such individual exploration, not a master or expert voice.
The human voice is a moment of existence but that moment ceases when our voice is xeroxed and replicated into a groupthink chorus dressed in our often pathetic and sometimes well rehearsed pantomine culture. This “own and clone” culture is the collected “ore” in a continuum between spectator existence to conspicuous consumption, while the gold itself which should be an acceleration of social wisdom becomes a cause-effect producer-consumer relationship. The gold in any society is about the creation of paradise but if it keeps on flowing back to us as product, then we often serve to miss the paradise that we actually do live in and turn life into a lifecycle diagram.
So as far as I view it, the human voice has nothing to do with religion, politics or social activism, it is simply the movement between the actor society that is the global stage and the authentic individual we wish to be, which is further manufactured into the more brutal human capitulation called identity. Such is the continuing state of global immaturity, that we still fight like children in the name of freedom. We as a global society have not clearly grown up, otherwise there would be no more need for conceptions such as “freedom fighters”.
A freedom seeker is a global adult, a freedom fighter always a global child, but a person who truly finds freedom of human voice, does so by finding their own and see’s that others should do the same. Freedom then becomes the domain of civilization and humble government as we seek the common accords that make society and of our own intelligence to self-organize, to breath and flow. Freedom then becomes as individual as a human being can be, a cascading sea of thoughts operating at various lines of sight, some capable of determing the purity within the finest diamond, others the black carbon emitted by global collaboration.
We may say nice things, things that delight the heart, things that motivate the mind, things that fire the loins and girdle the spirit – but to be human, is to be here and now, to experience the ability to think one’s own thoughts, to experience learning from one own experiences, as well as the most visible collection of history we have ever had. If we today are still not learning the lessons from both our personal and social history, though modern technology can replay it backwards, forwards, close up, distant, in material form, in digital form or searched as an overall pattern or as fact based details, then what good is progress, why not then walk away and be a fool on the hill (Music Video).
“Life is not a vaudeville act, it is does not comprise of provocation to awaken society, it requires provocation to wake up one’s own self.”. This is what I wrote in Poetry but this does not mean that I deliberately would look for provocation in order to think. There are enough provocateurs in the world who are far more professionally accomplished at raising human blood pressure levels, but I must get more adept at feeling the temperature of my own internal pressure. I personally think that pushing one’s own nerve or limit is a useful exercise if it strengthens our own character, but a pointless exercise if it simply fractures our spirit or creates so much noise that are swimming in the byproduct of our own folly or distraction.
When FC entertains quotes that some may consider profane, IMHO it does not add to its professional value, it merely sinks value to an even lower plain – and it simply supports the human bell curve of conformity. It also makes the power law curve (Barabasi) that much more fixed, where 97% are mostly guaranteed to remain locked into their respective 3%. This matters to me in two regards, firstly because I am presently trying to raise my values and not lower them, and secondly this particular quote is one that touches a raw nerve in me that has shaped my conversation since.
I was sufficiently provoked enough by this “Steve Jobs quote” to think of what “heat” means to me. We generate heat under pressure and we grow cold without feeling. Neither is a healthy part of our human nature, but we are susceptible to both and intelligence is our ability to use temperature of the guts, the rhythm of the heart and the weight of the human mind to bring us to a state of personal balance – if we are unable to do this, we cease to serve our intelligence and we regress. Regression is so much easier a trap to fall into, where our comfort zone becomes a place of hiding rather than a barometer of our passion, work and mental acumen.
IMHO the only heat a human being requires is that which shapes values and value that contribute to being a stable and firm contributor to society. In the time others may expend their energy on whatever ego, will, personality fault one can find, I also see people who move through the FC forums wanting to show the world what they can do and seeking recognition for their efforts. At the time of writing this I saw Shaun Bala’s profile and what he does with video’s at commoncraft.com, I saw Theresa Quintanilla’s profile, who publishes various newsletters (one called Innovators Guide), I also saw a woman who did not give much information about herself and I therefore respect her corresponding implied wish for privacy. Such observation about “New Voice” is something I have written about before, especially in thinking out aloud in a response to David H. Deans about “Digital Storytelling“. My relationship to the old FC in 2002 could be summed up as HOST in relationship to PARASITE, but in 2008 my relationship to the new FC can be summed up as HOST in relationship to GUEST. It all depends on how the host acts whether people treat a web property with parasitic zeal or honour it as its guests – by treating it as they would someone’s home.
In the time one individual takes to put a heat on another human being, I could be browsing through a Leander Kahney article at Wired comparing Steve Jobs with Bill Gates – but the only “heat” I get from Kahney’s article is a stern reminder that we must not let mythology be a determinant of our reason, or make qualifications based on deference to stardom or fame. How difficult is it for us to see that everyone has their faults but there is no greater being one can improve in our lifetime than our own given selves. It is difficult because to do that, one must have such honest reflection, that when we face ourselves in a mirror, we too can see ourselves as others actually see us and not just how we assume brand conditioning or cosmetic surgery will help make us look. Work on the inside first and then the outside is an act of adding polish to an intelligent life.
If I take different view and look at the “Steve Jobs quote from a different angle, I might look at Presentation Zen, and there the “heat” would simply be the transference of learning to our own creativity or appreciation of communication. By appreciating, I am free to see what I will obviously miss if my focus is negative and hungry to tear someone else down, in the case of the Presentation Zen article I would discover something about what “Kanso” and “Shizen” as seen through the eyes of Dr. Koichi Kawana, and what he said about these terms in the light of simplicity and design, or even how these terms fit into seven aspects of Zen.
And then I might choose to take one more small step into the unknown and discover that Dr. Kawana died in 1990 and so is no longer with us; and yet at the time of thinking this thought, I can see that I am still here and still breathing on this good earth, and that means that there is an opportunity for me to personally improve, an opportunity Dr. Kawana no longer has. It is by choosing to lift life up rather than spike existence down that I can become a little bit better a human being than I was the morning before. This can occur if I chose to take the heat of provocation and channel it into something good. Should Steve Jobs ever ask me for an opinion about his behaviour, I would ask him respectfully to ask him allow me to focus on my own, and that it would be best for him to maintain his undivided attention to his own business. We don’t do that, that would be too simple a solution, far easier it seems to drag another through the mud.
The Infomating Gadfly:
I spent a decade online, my time with Fast Company (despite my acknowledged ignorance outlined in Zero-004 “Blast from the Past”). The new crew at FC have been good to me, tolerate when I pushed hard at them to see what they were really made of and understanding when I demonstrated there is reason in my rational and method in my madness. My time with AlwaysOn Network was equally precious and I particulary thank Tony Perkins, because he allowed me to think my thoughts freely at his site without ever interfering and he always treated me with respect. The only time he contacted me was when I wrote a post on 27th May 2004 called “Mark Zorro is Dead”, and his one-line text intervention made a definite impression on me, it led me to continue at AO and I am sure that if he was ever asked to recall that time, he may still remember what my follow up posting was titled.
I am heart-speaking rather than a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. If my mind and guts were not operational then this indeed would be a far greater problem. Today I see the need to develop and shape myself into a more elegant individual so I can partake in the bounty, abundance and blessings that I can see in my future promise, potential and path.
I ain’t got no quarrel with them “Thought Leader” type, but I changed much of my online direction hours after I made what was an arrogant reply on my part (I did give everybody else who responded to that Kawasaki posting a positive rating though). Within hours of posting a response to his site, that all Typepad accounts I had access to suddenly blocked me as a “spammer”, and so I can rationalize that what was open at 7pm and suddenly blocked at 10pm that it cannot possibly be a machine calculation, but a decision. Either way doesn’t make a difference, I saw that the new boss is just like the old boss (music video).
From that experience I decided that I would go offline in 2008 and if what I think happened is correct then it is a case of arrogance colliding with arrogance. The irony here is that only a few weeks earlier, I jumped to a link where respect colllided with respect. So when I saw the Guy Kawasaki quote making a remark about Steve Jobs, I did not make the same mistake twice, I did not allow my given arrogance to collide again with arrogance, instead, I pulled the plug again on this online journey – it is upto me to deal with any issues of pride or arrogance but I will also uphold my principles. It is more cowardly to attack than it is be personally reminded our ownselves that we need to follow a principled life.
I remember writing on my Cluetrain Manifesto entry that “Anything that gives responsible freedom a true north connection gets my love.” I guess it is I who am the “idealistic idiot”, which is what I wrote on the next posting I find in my database called “21st Century”. I am sure Kevin may still be able to locate this comment to a FC article in the FC archives that are no longer visible online – but I have written out that comment response from 8 years ago below in “Blast from the Past”.
I again thank Kevin for respecting my wishes that I be left alone and also for his kind words that he would be glad to see me at FC for another 8 or 9 years, for that is respectful and personally meaningful to me. In December my first kid comes of age, in January I turn 48, and for the next 12 years onwards I will see all my other kids come of age. At the end of this 12 years, I will be 60 years of age. Yet when I turn 60 in the year 2021, you bet that I will take one moment to look back at this particular time and remember what Kevin and Lynne did for me, though themselves would wonder what that was. After all, what better way to consider how I can continue my growth as being a more elegant and understanding individual than on Valentine’s Day.
Da kine Media:
Ride of the Valkryies from Die Walküre by Richard Wagner is a piece of music which always stirs my soul whenever I listen to it. There is that wild rebelliousness in Wagner’s music that transcends even Beethoven’s most manic moments of reaching within and bringing forth the inner energies of a human being. Wagner’s association with Hitler is an unfortunate association, as is viewing his music from the darker elements of the human nature. What I see in Wagner’s music is a testimony of the human spirit, representative to me of the creative potential within human beings that either has a productive outcome that is the shaping of an individual existence or is shaped by the ego into a less than desirable symbolic representation of life. The clip at you-tube itself does not convey the full power of this music and a public performance of such classical work is a form of appreciation – the audience reaction to the music therefore is as important to witness or absorb as is the ebb and flow of the music. Maybe the Wagner in me needs to go, but not the appreciation for art and music that speaks louder than words and pictures will ever do.
“Inspiration Point” is a place we found in San Fransisco when he happened to take the wrong turning on the way to the Presidio, I loved this name then and it is appropriate now. The inspirations we look for can be distant when we live distant lives, or they can be up close and personal but still branch out into a wider generalized conversation.
I remember clearly the day I looked up as a wondering 7 year old at a black and white TV set and saw a news report about “Robert F. Kennedy”. I did not know who Kennedy but I remember feeling that what I had seen on TV was really bad. This would be the same time my mom was taking us to see Bollywood movies at the local cinema. The ones I remember are “Johnny mera nam” and “Junglee”, the rest I have forgotten or slept through.
It is because of these experiences, that I split “Bollywood” into two distinct generations, which I refer to as “Bombay Hollywood” which is where the name Bollywood was derived, and the modern version I refer to as “Mumbia Bollywood”
Bombay Hollywood is marked by rise of three brothers Raj, Shammi and Shashi Kapoor. I guess I can look at them as India cinematic equivalent of the Kennedy brothers, complete with a patriarchal father who began it all Prithviraj Kapoor. It is only today that I have a more fuller appreciation of this time and indeed now I acknowledge Mohammed Rafi to one of India’s greatest playback singers.
In the maturation of “Bombay Hollywood” that the first major star of today’s Mumbia Hollywood appeared, his name being Amitab Bhajchan. Today he represents “Mumbia Hollywoods” First Family
His rival is the incredible Shahrukh Khan, a real talent of an actor and a huge presence in Indian cinema, but behind the scenes there are new faces like Karan Johar who have made a significant impact in shaping this new “Mumbia Bollywood”.
Bollywood is based in a region of Mumbia called “Film City”. It’s constitution resembles a common theme within India, which is the rise of powerful Indian families, families that have already contributed to the creation of other cities such “Electronic City” in Bangleore. I see “Mumbia Bollywood” more of a prelude to India becoming an increasingly commercial powerhouse which itself portends India challenging China for status as the global powerhouse.
What may seem a quaint romantic dance and utterly exotic cameos in this Salaam-E-Ishq movie clip (aside to its mundane comparisons to the British chick-flick “Love Actually”), what I see in this movie is the soft power fuel that now contributes billions of tiny ignitions that is beginning to move India towards one day being in a position to define global soft power, which today is mostly influenced and is led by the United States, though Japan exhibits some of its own. Knowledge of english itself is no barrier to this new India, indeed IMHO maybe the catalyst for this shift in who becomes the next global power.
I have a great amount of admiration for the Founding Fathers of the United States, especially Paine, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and Washington. Yet India is a country of continously founding fathers whether in Film City or Electronic City, for it is marked by emerging corporations that are mostly family based. The kind of world that the US, India and China (increasingly being called Chindia) is creating a far cry from the one I was born into a poor neighbourhood in London, England. For all the uncertainty we face ahead I welcome this new world, and I guess my destiny is going to be more globally based than local. It is not the film or corporate world that makes India different to the United States, it is India’s firm roots based through family rather than tribe. If India’s youth copy the US approach of retrieving the tribe, it will lose its social advantage – and that is why soft power becomes key.
Web 0.0 Picks:
Before the Guy Kawasaki posting that somehow triggered Typepad to block me as a “spammer”, I had assembled over 700 blogs with the aim of visiting two blogs a day, making comments as I go and trying to see if I could blog “below the line” ie instead of comments. This obviously did not work, so Web 0.0 has a huge resource for picks. Next in line to feature was Michael Angeles URLGREY and the Urban Tapestries Project, a social knowledge mapping project which features “Social Tapestries” that did research in the town where I was born. This is not about giving people an opportunity to see what is on the web, but for me to explore in different directions, that in turn expose me to different kinds of people and thinking.
I have a tendency to make great focus on magnifying the very little that did go wrong and not enough on so much that went right. Otherwise why did Michael Schrage send me a copy of his book because he liked the Plog post (not directly accessible now), or Jamis MacNiven his book because he loved the way I write. Why did Benneville Strohecker contact me out of the blue after I left a message in session I began at Inc? Why did Mark Finnern take the time to acknowledge me? Why did a blogger deem to mention me in the same breath as Tom Peters? OUCH why did he have to make that comparison? My great takeaway from this is that I have to learn to accept and take a compliment.
I know the Blog Herald pegged me write when they took a quote from my post “Blog Fuhrer” because it captured the essence of my online journey. The rest is because I did do a lot right, and that is what me a more elegant individual, not branding all that, but building off it and acknowledging what those people were telling me, that I have got something and I should wisely deply and use it. At Inc. I went through a series of the earliest articles to see where people ended up years after the article was published. In this exercise I came across an individual called Stanley Salvigsen. Like George Soros recently, Salvigsen was preaching a bear message and he made a name for himself for making some correct calls. Yet the Salvigsen I was looking for in 2004 was no more. Apparently it seems, when the world turned bullish (which a business cycle will always do), he was left outside looking in and I personally think he died of a broken heart. Salvigsen may have became a victim of his own mythology and fame and in that, lies the real secret of exploration – not the great moment when a success was featured, but what that person was doing years after no one was looking. In the case of Benneville Strohecker, the difference was that the man who I refer to as a CEO artist, made for himself a good and worthy life, and Salvigsen settled for the infamous legacy. If I am going to choose between the two it is joyful, artful and engaged.
Blast from the Past:
This comment was originally posted at the URL //www.fastcompany.com/online/27/one.html In the changeover to the new FC system it only shows the original article. Kevin used the word profound in one of my postings about “Culturecounter”, but I reserve the word profound whenever I see patterns emerge that have a beginning and end, and it was a profound experience for me to read the next item on the database of 2300 entries, called “21st Century”. Not only did it seem to fit with the moment but it fits with the politics we are seeing being shaped in 2008. It is unfortunate that I saw the Guy Kawasaki quote regarding Steve Jobs at FC and it hit a raw nerve with me, but I tend to honour my inner voice and gut instinct and that tells me when I should stop not necessarily why I should stop. Yet I have also found a process that in the space of week has provided great value to me, changed my thinking, my tone, and in the end it has also realized that I have outgrown the very same FC space I first came to in 1998. In 2008, I need to challenge myself far more vigourously not in the realm of idea creation, but hard business application and get back to my reading lists I prescribed myself at the beginning year, and maybe one day I might shake Kawasaki’s hand, because as Steve Jobs once said, once we connect the dots backwards we see the whole picture, not just the one more blog.
Hope is about 6ft tall and 4 foot in circumference, that is probably the kind of bodyspace that most people occupy on this planet. There are 16 people who occupied this article with their bodyspace. Each one of them has message that makes sense, yet why are most of these messages so seemingly simple to apply yet still visions of the 21st Century?
Ultimately the world we create is as good as the sum total of our contributions. First we have to trust that world, then we must support those that do not get angry with the world, then we must listen to the angry and finally we must let ourselves see the invisible in our society.
The invisible are the efforts of people who create the environment and services that you use every day. Somebody made that road you are driving on, somebody else keeps it clean, someone else contributed to make the steering wheel you hold, someone created the road signs, someone made a map so you can find directions and someone planned the city that you drive in and someone made the connections that allowed you to use your car phone. All of these people are invisible to you but all of these people contributed to give you what you take for granted. In the 21st Century we have to have greater respect for the invisible people in our lives.
Politics may make that support of the invisible impossible but in the 21st Century must sort out once and for all the difference between good politics and bad politics.
Politics equals power and when you shut the power off you shut the electricity that is the determinant to the success and progress our society and the individual.
The 21st Century needs you to change the nature of politics but don’t ever say that you are getting rid of politics; if you believe that then you are an idiot and the 20th Century was infested by bad politics (in the workplace and at the national level) and idealistic idiots.