Why we’ll win. All of us, that is.

JP Rangaswami, in On not collaborating:

Ignore. Ridicule. Fight. Lose. That’s what happens to the institutions that seek to preserve the problems for which they were created.

So it is with collaboration. We’ve heard the word many times. And we’ve seen it paid lip service many times. But so long as it was not centre-stage, the immune system didn’t care.

Now things are changing. Studies are coming out indicating that networked organisations don’t work, that command and control is needed. That open-plan doesn’t work, we need cubicles with high walls. That too much collaboration can cause problems.

All that says to me is that the immune system is switching from ignore and ridicule to fight.

Which means that not collaborating will soon come to an end.

A corollary is John Gillmore‘s “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” The Net is, at its heart, a system of collaboration.

11 comments

  1. Charles Edward Frith (@charlesfrith)’s avatar

    The internet is impatient with denial. I often find it teaches me a lesson.

  2. Terry Heaton’s avatar

    There’s also a lot of Kubler-Ross here.

  3. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Right, Terry: denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance…

  4. Seth Finkelstein’s avatar

    As I’ve asked many times in reply: “But what if censorship is in the router?”
    (nowadays, literally – it’s a router builtin, or at least plugin).

  5. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Get your point, Seth. Are you talking about the routers on premises, or back in the network? Or both?

  6. Seth Finkelstein’s avatar

    I’m replying on two levels – 1) the abstract – routing is a choke-point, a means that censorship can be implemented 2) the concrete – we’re seeing it fought out now, everything from the Great Firewall of China to various lesser efforts.

    Note the issue here is not whether an authority is legitimate or not – it’s if the efforts work.

    You just linked to an “Internet S.O.S.” post which says in part “Without safeguards that protect users from surveillance and censorship, the Internet’s DNA will change in ways that no longer foster openness, free expression and innovation.” – that implies it is *possible* and *feasible* to (drumroll) Censor The Internet.

    It’s kind of weird reading certain streams these days – on one side, there’s a set of posts that basically say “Victory Is Inevitable”. Then, in the very same stream, there’s another set that says “Defeat Is Looming”. These can’t BOTH be true.

    Sigh. Sorry, I ramble. I know I’ve said this all before.

  7. Doc Searls’s avatar

    David Weinberger once said something like “You can fight the good fight in certitude of victory, or join me in my trough of despair.” I forget the context, but that brackets how I feel lately. When I wrote this I was in an up mood, and wanted to salute JP’s faith, throwing in a little Gillmore as well.

    Other times I think we’re in a handbasket to hell. That’s actually been what I’ve thought most of the time since the Snowden revelations started getting parsed out.

    As I said in Thoughts on Privacy, I think we’re just beginning to come to terms with essentially limitless computing power, net access and the ability to copy anything at any distance. I suppose I should add “spy on anybody anywhere” as well.

    I don’t know what those terms will be. Work toward the best and brace for the worst, I suppose.

  8. JP’s avatar

    Seth, instead of Gandhi or Kubler-Ross, maybe it’s time for Crosby, Stills and Nash. And you know/ the darkest hour/is always/always/just before the break of day.

    I think the guys (like me) who are saying “victory is ours” are recognising the signals that the darkness represents. And the guys who see only the darkness go with “woe is me”.

    We’re seeing the same thing. Darkness. But our interpretations of what that darkness portends are different.

  9. Seth Finkelstein’s avatar

    JP – But have you considered that you’ve set up an unfalsifiable catch-22? It’s like “You always find something that went missing in the last place you look”. Just as a mathematical fact, anything that’s not purely getting better, but eventually does get better, has point when it was worst. That is, if you were healthy, get sick, recover, there will be a point when you were worst sick and then got better from there. However, it’s also possible to get sick and then die – but presumably via not being around anymore, that doesn’t get counted. So there’s no signals that the darkness represents – that’s a false signal from neglecting all the cases that aren’t counted. The rebels who *lost* to military death-squads and ended up slaughtered in mass graves didn’t get to make aphorisms about how being overwhelmingly attacked meant they were winning.

    Doc – I’ll just say that working for the best is very difficult and complicated and risky.

  10. JP’s avatar

    Seth, if I used that “darkest hour” argument in every context for sure it would be of the unfalsifiable sort. My assertion is that in certain contexts of radical transformation, there are signals in the approach to the darkness, and in the darkness itself, that bode well for an imminent dawn. That’s what happened with the acceptance of open source. That’s what continues to happen with VoIP. And it will happen with collaboration, particularly community -based and networked approaches. Each of the phases matters, the ignore and ridicule ones as well as the fight and lose ones.

    Once you look for ignore-ridicule-fight sequences and then predict a lose, I believe you step away from the unfalsifiable trap.

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