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jerryking : community_organizing   3

Opinion | The Man Who Changed the World, Twice - The New York Times
May 8, 2018 | NYT | by David Brooks.
This column is about a man, Stewart Brand, who changed the world, at least twice. I want to focus less on the impact of his work, which is all around us, and more on how he did it, because he’s a model of how you do social change.....In 1965, Brand created a multimedia presentation called “America Needs Indians,” which he performed at the LSD-laced, proto-hippie gatherings he helped organize in California.

Brand then had two epiphanies. First, there were no public photos of the entire earth. Second, if people like him were going to return to the land and lead natural lives, they would need tools......launched the the “Whole Earth Catalog.”....the Catalog....was also a bible for what would come to be known as the counterculture, full of reading lists and rich with the ideas of Buckminster Fuller and others........When a culture changes, it’s often because a small group of people on society’s margins find a better way to live, parts of which the mainstream adopts. Brand found a magic circle in the Bay Area counterculture. He celebrated it, publicized it, gave it a coherence it otherwise lacked and encouraged millions to join.....The communes fizzled. But on the other side of the Bay Area, Brand sensed another cultural wave building-- computers!! Brand and others imagined computers launching a consciousness revolution — personal tools to build neural communities that would blow the minds of mainstream America. [See Fred Turner says in “From Counterculture to Cyberculture,” ].......Brand played cultural craftsman once again, as a celebrity journalist. In 1972 he wrote a piece for Rolling Stone announcing the emergence of a new outlaw hacker culture..... Brand is a talented community architect. In the 1970s, he was meshing Menlo Park computer geeks with cool hippie types. The tech people were entranced by “Whole Earth,” including Steve Jobs....In 1985, Brand and Larry Brilliant helped create the Well, an early online platform (like Usenet) where techies could meet and share. .......Brand’s gift, Frank Foer writes in “World Without Mind,” is “to channel the spiritual longings of his generation and then to explain how they could be fulfilled through technology.” Innovations don’t just proceed by science alone; as Foer continues, “the culture prods them into existence.”....... Brooks argues that the computer has failed as a source of true community. Social media seems to immiserate people as much as it bonds them. And so there’s a need for future Brands, young cultural craftsmen who identify those who are building the future, synthesizing their work into a common ethos and bringing them together in a way that satisfies the eternal desire for community and wholeness.

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Third, the age seems to reward procedural architects (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, etc. , people who can design an architecture/platform that allows other people to express ideas or to collaborate. Fourth, people who can organize a decentralized network around a clear question, without letting it dissipate or clump, will have enormous value. Fifth, essentialists will probably be rewarded--the ability to grasp the essence of one thing, and then the essence of some very different thing, and smash them together to create some entirely new thing. Sixth, the computer is the computer. The role of the human is not to be dispassionate, depersonalized or neutral. It is precisely the emotive traits that are rewarded: the voracious lust for understanding, the enthusiasm for work, the ability to grasp the gist, the empathetic sensitivity to what will attract attention and linger in the mind. Unable to compete when it comes to calculation, the best workers will come with heart in hand.
David_Brooks  Stewart_Brand  community_builders  product_launches  counterculture  community_organizing  Silicon_Valley  '70s  trailblazers  social_change  role_models  via:marshallk  hackers  social_media  Steve_Jobs  books 
may 2018 by jerryking
Those who focus on police reform are asking the wrong questions - The Globe and Mail
AMANDA ALEXANDER
Contributed to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Jul. 29, 2016

The deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile underscore two truths about the United States: We make it difficult for people to get by and harder yet to care for each other. After decades of slashing welfare budgets and increasing investments in prisons, federal and state governments have charted a path for the country’s poorest: aggressive policing and incarceration. We’ve locked people out of the formal job market and criminalized their survival.

It is not coincidental that officers in New York and Baton Rouge killed Eric Garner and Alton Sterling, respectively, in the course of policing informal economies (selling loose cigarettes and CDs). We simply make life hard for people – until we extinguish it entirely....Each day, we require black people to risk their lives to be cafeteria workers, teachers, therapists. The United States demands impossible sacrifices from black people to sustain its economy, and has since slavery.

What does this have to do with police reform?

Very little. Reformers are asking the wrong questions. They have turned to increased police training and altered use-of-force protocols to end this nightmare. Fortunately, some among us demand another way. Young black activists are not just asking, “How do we make cops stop shooting us?” but instead, “What do our communities need to thrive? How do we get free?” They’re not begging for scraps; they’re demanding the world they deserve. If there’s a future for any of us, it’s in asking these questions, demanding fundamental shifts in resources and organizing like hell.....Meanwhile, cash-strapped cities continue to raise revenue from policing and fining the poor. And because of insufficient social service investment, Americans rely on police to be first responders to crises of mental health, addiction and homelessness.
policing  African-Americans  reform  informal_economy  mental_health  addictions  existential  foundational  homelessness  community_organizing  incarceration  institutional_path_dependency  structural_change  questions  Black_Lives_Matter  cash-strapped  cities  reframing  political_organizing 
july 2016 by jerryking

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