Archive for the 'Collective Intelligence' Category

Sharing Truth to Change the Game

My previous post referred to Tom Atlee’s piece on “Changing the Game” of polarized politics by giving citizens established ways to talk directly to each other.   In order to bridge gaps that now seem impossible to cross, there need to be extremely basic agreements on our shared goals, and how to know whose ideas are really on track for achieving those goals.

Ideally, more and more citizens will think about this type of question:

What do we all share?  What is most basic to all of us?

For me, it means asking:

What do I love most?

What do I love most that is not just about me and mine, but really universal?

The simple and pretty abstract answer that popped up for me:

Truth, Beauty, and Synergy

Truth and Beauty can be thought of as highly personal and relative – until we find common ideas that are so deep that most of us can agree on them, most of the time.

Synergy is living and working together, creatively and with satisfaction. It is the magic of connecting deeply to create a greater whole, where the sum is greater than the parts.

Connecting deeply means:  Transcending individual egos, and transcending group egos.

It means caring intensely about the whole, while also caring about the integrity of our individual interests.

It means unconditional love, freedom from narrow, ‘must-have’ goals, and letting go of bias.

It means suspending judgment long enough to really listen to another point of view, and to care enough about living together in the same community, and on the same planet.

Transcending our egos doesn’t mean suppressing or ignoring them.  But rather, it’s about expanding our boundaries.   If we really believe that from many we are One Nation, then acting like one nation doesn’t involve vilifying each other, nor only talking and not listening with openness.

Transcendence is mostly an ideal.  And yet it is possible to be closer, or further, from that ideal.

How can we tell who is close and who is far, from the ideal?

There are several ways that help us shake off the well-funded exhortations of narrow interests:

  • Follow the money.
  • Follow the fame, that brings money and influence.
  • Follow the trail of encouragements for disrespect, denigration, ridicule, arrogance, and hostility.
  • Follow the trail of encouragements that separate “We the People” into “Us and Them”

Look at who is funding the research, or funding the campaign, or most actively spreading the “news” and the “evidence”.   Who is actively promoting divisiveness who is also gaining the most:  Extraordinary wealth, fame and influence?

Look also more closely at the arguments and at the evidence.

Are they based on reason and objectively obtained and verified evidence?  Are independent and unbiased sources agreeing that the evidence is sound and conclusive?   Or are the arguments and evidence we’re paying attention to coming only from sources that are supporting the same point of view?

Power to the extremes

There have been times when political Power was able to find a center much closer to the middle.   It was still politics and not perfect; but it now seems a lot better than polarized paralysis.

Power in the extremes makes us collectively less and less intelligent, and unable to act effectively.   But it also creates a tremendous tension that can be harnessed for good.  Yet harnessing that which is powerful enough to destroy us is dangerous and daunting.

It requires restoring respect, a common sense of what it means to be objective, an understanding that ridicule and divisiveness benefit a tiny few to the loss of nearly all the rest of us.

Divisiveness is occurring in many areas of society where mixing differences can be explosive: Cultures, religions, politics.   Divisiveness among we the people is most easily inflamed by special interests when too many of us are listening to only one channel (special interests are very clever at targeting their messages) and when we are afraid (when life is full of threats and losses), and by our desire to be respected and rewarded by our tribe.

In the political spectrum, there are both Progressives and Conservatives who are true to their deeper human values who do not participate in or support the spread of divisiveness, denigration, and hostility.   They have different opinions, sources of information, and ideas about what is wrong and what to do.  But they do not disrespect and ridicule “the other;” and they are looking for a common way forward.  These are the ones who can help us harness the tension between perspectives to create real and lasting solutions.

Let us be always wary of those who are spreading divisiveness.   Let us be wary of getting most of our information from a single set of channels all funded by the same agenda.   Especially be wary of those who are gaining extraordinary wealth and influence by keeping “We the People” in a state of “Us and Them.”

See Tom Atlee’s post for links to ways that can help.  In the Fall of 2008, Yes! Magazine also ran several related articles on “Purple America.”

Changing the Game

Tom Atlee’s piece “Are we Ready to Change the Game Yet?” (Nov. 11) gives his explanation of both the causes of political polarization, and a potential way to change the game and bring power truly back to the people – ALL the people, regardless of current political views.

3 of his points below are a good high-level summary:

  • “Special interests — especially moneyed interests — have effectively captured the two-party system — and thus the policy-making apparatus — for their own purposes.
  • “Two-party polarization impedes natural alliances among those who favor the same policies and programs from different ideological perspectives.
  • “If we could facilitate policy-option alliances outside of the two-party system — and those alliances could then powerfully organize either outside or inside that bipolar system — it would change the political game in the U.S.”

After this summary he describes the solutions he favors, which he calls “The Interactive Voter Choice System” and “citizen deliberative councils.”  These should be an important part of the discussion for anyone concerned with issues of polarization and transpartisanship.

My next post contains reflections on what is most fundamental for finding and achieving our shared goals.

Inequality of Wealth and the Story of the Two Bubbles

Sometimes you come across a set of ideas and a mental framework that makes things that are difficult to comprehend suddenly extremely clear.  And one thinks, “Wow, anybody should be able to understand this!”

Yesterday I listened to a downloaded 20 minute interview with Robert Reich speaking about the causes of our current “Great Recession.”  Reich is an economist, Professor of Public Policy, and former Labor Secretary.

I was interested in this interview because I saw that he was making this premise:

Too much concentration of wealth at the top is not just bad for people in the middle and bottom, but it’s also bad for the economy.

This is a message that is easily understood and that can help explain why our economic system is in such terrible shape, and that making the system more fair is also the way to fix it.

There are links to the podcast and also a complete transcript of the interview at the bottom of this post.

Here is a summary:

ReichAnd then I looked at the research and was amazed to discover there were two years in the 20th century in which income concentrated to such an extent it actually centralized a great deal of the nation’s income right at the top.

“One year was 2007, when the richest [1% of] Americans took home, or got, I should say, about 23 and a half of total income. The other year was 1928.”


% of wealth owned by the richest 1%

1928     23%

1979       9%

2007    28%


Industrialization was the force that led to huge side-by-side bubbles of wealth and debt just before the Depression.

Globalization, automation, and information technology are what have led to the same side-by-side bubbles of huge wealth and debt that now exist.

Too much wealth in the hands of the rich and super rich means:

a) The middle and lower classes have to go deeper and deeper into debt in order to keep paying at least partially for their modest lifestyles.

b) The wealthy have so much money that they can only spend a small amount, which means that they:

i) speculate in securities, creating an expanding bubble there,

and that

ii) too much of the burden of spending to keep the economy going is financed by too-much debt taken on by the middle class, thus creating another big bubble of debt for the economy to rest on.

When these two bubbles became too large they collapse, and the market and the whole economy collapses with them.

After the Great Depression, it was by pumping money back into the hands of the middle and lower classes that the debt bubble decreased enough and the economy got restarted, but only after many years of slow recovery.   As all economists know and often tell us, the middle and lower classes spend much greater proportions of their income than the wealthy.  World War Two also helped unleash radical levels of government spending to “fight the war” and put people back to work.

Among the wealth-re-balancing changes put into place by Roosevelt:  Legalization of labor unions and collective bargaining – illegal before 1935 – Social Security, a minimum wage, and a 40 hour workweek – all of which were bitterly fought by industrialists and others who favored the status-quo.

You can download the 20 minute podcast and a complete transcript here:

Fresh Air, 9/29/2010

Old Testament Prophets and Environmental Forecasts

Over lunch, I’m snatching a few minutes to read about the terrible prophesies of Isaiah in Karen Armstrong’s History of God.  Isaiah’s prophesies – of devastation of the land and the uprooting of most of the people – were of course soundly rejected, and also of course came true.

Reading this reminded me that no one, and no nation, likes to hear prophesies that for-tell disasters that can only be prevented by the people acting as a whole, at great cost in personal wealth and comfort, and with a great deal of uncertainty.

Prophesies of Global Warming?   It feels much better to pay attention to respected elders and experts who reassuringly say that such prophesies are unreasonable and even dangerous, and that we don’t really need to make big and difficult changes, that might cause us to be more careful with our wealth and our time.

But who is to know??

It might help to look at the record of environmental disasters that were predicted well in advance, and not heeded.   For example, several years before too much of New Orleans was destroyed, all that happened was predicted as a near certainty if big steps weren’t taken to prevent them.   Why weren’t the predictions heeded?  Because taking action would cost too much, would require more taxes, or would be bad for the economy.   All now very sad reasons.

When a majority of scientists and climate experts (not all mind you) are predicting disaster, a wiser nation would at least have a serious discussion with itself (instead of derisive dismissal or stone-walling), to find and agree on creative solutions, and hedge its bets — like investing on a huge scale in non-polluting, low CO2 emitting, sustainable technologies  – because there is simply too much to lose.

Stories entrance and entrain us

Recent research from Princeton finds confirmation in the brain of what we already experience:   Stories align minds.   In the research listener’s brain patterns closely mirrored the story teller’s brain patterns, and the strength of the mirroring correlated highly with the respondent’s ability to retell the tale.


People who tell captivating stories win more often than people who use even the best logical arguments.

But there has to be a minimum level of receptivity.  Some stories are calculated to block receptivity to stories that are considered to enhance the enemy‘s positions.

And there are also stories designed to break down barriers to receptivity.

Expansion of choices reduces diversity???

I just read an article from The Nation, by Colin Robinson (via

How Amazon Kills Books and Makes Us Stupid

In summary, Amazon’s dominance of the book market and their intense drive to reduce the costs of books are having these effects:

  • Drastically reducing the number of independent book sellers.
  • Reducing the income of publishers, and especially authors.
  • Making it more and more difficult for authors to produce well-crafted and thoroughly researched books.
  • And reducing cultural diversity by overwhelming customers with choices.

This last point is the most surprising – and sounds the most paradoxical.  How could more diversity of choice reduce cultural diversity?

Embedded in the middle of the article is this explanation:

According to industry statisticians Bowker, just over 172,000 titles were released in 2005. Last year “traditional” output had risen to 288,000 titles, a significant enough increase by itself. But adding what Bowker describes as “self-published” and “micro-niche” books, the total inflates to a staggering 1 million new titles in just twelve months.

“Many would argue that the efflorescence of new publishing that Amazon has encouraged can only be a good thing, that it enriches cultural diversity and expands choice.

“But that picture is not so clear: a number of studies have shown that when people are offered a narrower range of options, their selections are likely to be more diverse than if they are presented with a number of choices so vast as to be overwhelming. In this situation people often respond by retreating into the security of what they already know.

“As Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice, explains, ‘When the choice set is larger, people tend to make worse choices. They choose on the basis of what’s easiest to evaluate, rather than what’s important to evaluatethe safe, highly marketed option usually comes out on top.’

Actually, this phenomenon isn’t really the fault of Amazon, but is rather part of the effect of making it easier and cheaper for individuals to create their own content, i.e., to self-publish.   It’s of course not just happening in the world of books, but in all manner of media and content, including newspapers, reporting, editorials, and reviews, film, video, and photography, music, etc..

This is an incredible expansion in creativity and expression; and at the same time, this expansion has clear effects of creating echo-chambers where we, “the masses” who are now “personalized” are clumping together like never before and having less and less thoughtful exposure to ideas beyond those that we ‘naturally’ prefer and seek out.

So these are not new reflections.

But still, what are the answers?   How can we break through this paradox of explosions of expressions and choices that somehow create an implosion of diversity and dialogue?  (Actually, it’s not an implosion of diversity, as much as an explosion into huge and small fragments that appear to have not much to do with each other.)

Somehow the “answers” will have to be the creation of common experiences that invite curiosity, openness, and simple kindness.   Curiosity mixed with kindness can bridge differences, without eliminating differences.

What kind of experiences would these be?

As a designer of social technology, I can only think that, among other things, these experiences have to include radically new ways  a) to manage attention overload without killing serendipity, and b) to discover “content” that is rewarding – even deeply fulfilling – without relying on naturally clumping algorithms like “Show me more like this one” — or “Show me – books, movies, ideas, etc – that other people like who like the same kinds of stuff I like.

Honestly, with algorithms like that, what can you expect other than bigger and bigger clumps?

State of theFuture Report – 2010

Alerted by summary on

This extensive report is by the Millennium Project, founded in 1996 as a global think tank that connects international experts in corporations, universities, NGOs, UN agencies and governments via 35 Nodes around the world in a participatory process and that explores how to build a better future.

Summary of summary:

“The world is in a race between implementing ever-increasing ways to improve the human condition and the seemingly ever-increasing complexity and scale of global problems.”

Accelerating advances in technology have the potential to stabilize or solve many of the greatest problems.  But changes in policies, and our collective decision-making are urgently required.

In addition, “We also need changes in human values to be discussed within and among religions, media, entertainment, and the arts. Everyone has a part to play in the great race between the increasingly complex problems and ways to improve the prospects for civilization.”

Where we are losing

Where We Are Winning

Social Networks as Platforms for Collective Consciousness

At least two things are needed for social networks to become self aware ‘platforms’ for collective intelligence:

  • A much greater percentage of the connections in the network need to be accessible and usable by anyone in the network.
  • The connections need to include information about connection weights.

Connection weights can help individuals and organizations better manage privacy and attention.

Weighted connections and real-time adjustments in the weights can also track reputation and collective desires and can facilitate and reveal collective decisions.

The trick is to add connection weights in a way that is actually usable.

Insight into Group Consciousness

The Celestine Prophecy (Redfield, 1996) was not a great work of literature, but it contained many good insights (and more than 9).

In 2000 I copied the description below of a group process based on intuitively sensing the flow of energy in a group conversation.   You could also say it’s based on extremely fluid listening, and non-attachment – which are not easy to come by in groups, but which can make any group process much more effective.

The question is, how can this level of group consciousness be developed?  A simple answer is that it can if there is a great deal of motivation on the part of group members, and if at least some of the members can model the method and help coach the others.

Is this really a “method” – or actually a level of collective consciousness that many groups experience, regardless of the particular method or process used?   Which methods are especially good at culturing listening and dropping ego-attachments?

(Excerpt follows from the Celestine Prophecy pp. 214 – 215 – this book is available for “Search Inside” on Amazon)  Continue reading ‘Insight into Group Consciousness’

Who is the enemy? Who are the socialists?

In the major industrialized countries that have public health care and legal abortion the abortion rates are much lower than they are in the U.S.  Is that really so startling?   Taking good care of pregnant women and new mothers and their children seems to be a good idea.

How long will it take for so many Americans to get over fears of “socialism”?  Maybe not so long.   The problem isn’t “socialism” – it is corruption, abuse of power, bureaucratic bloat and inefficiency.   Socialism is discredited because it has been associated (fairly and not fairly) with the creation of  ineffective, self-serving, over-reaching systems, not because socialism – taking care of each other –  is inherently bad.   We need to unite, progressives and conservatives, against the real common enemies:  Corruption, greed, abuse of power, and irresponsibility – wherever they can sprout and grow, whether in government, corporations, or non-profits.

(Later the same day)

On the other hand, I think I’m being a bit too rational here – in talking about uniting differences when the differences are so extreme, for so many, and so based on fear, frustration, and desire for … gaining a sense of power.   Something very unrational is going on right now.    A kind of hysteria unleashed and amplified so that it is spilling out into public view, with scary effects.    Unfortunately, those who could have the most influence are motivated to keep their influence, and thus to either say nothing or to further stoke the anger of “their” people.

Controversies with Calamitous Consequences

Today is the last day to give feedback to the USDA about an issue that many people, including experts, believe could have disastrous effects on US and global agriculture.  The USDA and Secretary Vilsack, in collaboration with Monsanto, are about to lift a court-ordered ban on Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) “Roundup Ready” alfalfa.   Information on why this is important, and how to give feedback is below.

(Even if “today” is gone; please keep reading to understand this situation better.)

There are actually two issues here.  One is that GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are potentially very dangerous, and the dangers, while controversial, are not yet well enough understood to ignore.  The second issue is that Monsanto is another example of a corporation that is simply too powerful to fail.   How much power should a single corporate entity have?   In Monsanto’s case, the company controls patents on seeds that are currently responsible for 93% of soybeans and 80% of corn grown in the U.S.  They also control patents on many other seeds that farmers can’t simply reproduce and replant, but instead they have to essentially pay royalties in perpetuity to Monsanto.

Like Climate Change, GMOs are controversial, and like Climate Change, if those who see huge dangers looming are correct, and if those who deny those dangers prevail, the dangers can not only be disastrous, but practically irreversible.

Undoubtedly many proponents for the dangers of Climate Change may not agree that GMOs are a danger, and vice versa.   However, there is at least one thing all groups should be able to agree on:  If there is significant evidence that consequences of doing nothing can be not only disastrous, but irreversible, then doing nothing – which means letting corporate and other narrow interests stay on course – should not be an option in intelligent, life-loving societies.

So, regardless of your current position on GMOs, please consider this to be a serious enough issue to put the brakes on Monsanto’s plans until more is known about the consequences.

Here is some background on the issues at stake.

As described in this recent Washington Post article, Monsanto has developed genetically modified seeds that ‘help’ farmers by making Roundup herbicide (which Monsanto also owns) easier and more effective to use, and thus giving farmer’s bigger crop yields.   Unfortunately for the farmers, Monsanto has also been regularly raising seed prices and that has been cutting into farmers’ profit margins.  But currently most farmers feel that for economic reasons they have to continue buying from Monsanto.  Now Monsanto is pushing on the USDA to overturn court-ordered bans on Roundup Ready Alfalfa.  Some of the reasons that alfalfa is so important are given below and more in the links.

Here are excerpts from a molecular biologist, John Fagan, who has spent more than two decades researching use of recombinant DNA techniques.  Much of his research has been funded by NIH (National Institutes of Health) and the National Cancer Institute.

“Genetically engineered alfalfa would be the first perennial GM crop, and would result in a huge increase of toxic RoundUp in the environment. It would expose livestock widely to both genetically engineered genes and pesticide residues. It would especially affect cows and horses–their health, their reproduction, and their byproducts, particularly milk.”

“Alfalfa pollen is carried far and wide by the wind and bees, so the presence of GM alfalfa in the environment would contaminate organic alfalfa, rendering organic dairy impossible. Consumers who eat alfalfa sprouts would be exposed directly, as well as those who eat meat.

“Despite past positive trends, this is the most serious GMO threat yet, as it creates the legal precedent at the Supreme Court level, for GMO contamination to be acceptable for any crop, with the support of the USDA.”

[UpdateMore than 200,000 NGOs, farmers, consumers and organic producers call on USDA to prohibit genetically engineered alfafa. March 3, 2010]

Here are links for learning more and to take action (by March 3)– e.g. ,by providing feedback to the USDA.

Providing feedback can take less than 3 minutes.

1. Get informed and take action:

This takes you to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) where you can send the OCA email letter as feedback by clicking “take action now.”

2. Submit comments directly to the USDA at:

You can write your own comments, or copy and paste from the letter found at the OCA link above.

Thank you!

Global Warming is better explained as Climate Chaos

Jokes about record snow falls here and there – e.g. where I live – are making the rounds to poke holes in “Global Warming” ideas.    And so are more scientifically-based clarifications that show that global warming is no joke.   A problem is, though, that the people laughing at the jokes may not be likely to see or be interested in the clarifications.

Here is one of the best written and substantiated clarifications that appeared in yesterday’s Washington Post:

Washington’s snowstorms, brought to you by global warming.
By Bill McKibben, Sunday February 14, 2010

An excerpt:

“In most places, winter is clearly growing shorter and less intense. …But rising temperature is only one effect of climate change.  Probably more crucially, warmer air holds more water vapor than cod air does.  The increased evaporation from land and sea leads to more drought but also to more precipitation…  The numbers aren’t trivial – global warming has added 4 percent more moisture to the atmosphere since 1970.  That means the number of ‘extreme events’ such as downpours and floods has grown steadily; the most intense storms have increased by 20 percent across the United States in the past century.

“So here’s the thing:  despite global warming, it still gets cold enough to snow in the middle of winter… And the chances of what are technically called ‘big honking dumps’ have increased.”

As a scientific frame for what is happening, “global warming” is very accurate.  But as a frame that can quickly get the point across, “Climate Chaos” may be more to the point — the point being that global warming causes a whole range of climate disruptions on a global scale that can be not only annoying but dangerous to many.

Frozen Pipes and Global Warming – and the Need for Local Climate Talks

It has been very cold in Asheville recently – and all over the East Coast.   Today it is a balmy 45 degrees; but on Monday we woke up and our pipes were frozen.   10 degrees is rare for Asheville!

Our friend Mike, who does home repairs, came to help.  Afterwards I mentioned that “Global Warming” should really be called “Climate Disruption.”

He said, “Yes, ‘Global Warming’ is wrong.  Have you heard about the conspiracy?”  He then told me how he had been listening to Jesse Ventura’s frequent reports about how the government and rich people are making a bundle by convincing people that global warming is a big threat and then getting fat contracts to fix a problem that doesn’t really exist.   He said, “It opens your eyes.  You should listen on TV, on the True TV channel.”  I said that most scientists believe that global warming is real and a very big danger.  He said that there is evidence that the scientists are getting paid off.

I didn’t have time then – or a handy list of points to make – to have a serious discussion, so I’m sorry to say that I didn’t follow-up.  But my overall thought is that Mike is a very good guy.  I honestly believe he would listen to real experts if he truly believed they were real and not speaking out of narrow interests.  But he is currently plugged into only one channel.

Asheville is very cool, because you can find all points of view well represented here.  There are many people like Mike who listen to only the ‘conservative’ side of the story.   And there is also an extremely large and committed progressive community that cares passionately about sustainability, the environment, and the dangers of climate change.  And, there are many people who haven’t made up their minds yet about climate disruption, and who probably haven’t really thought a lot about it.

The community includes many, many people who are very knowledgeable about these issues, and also many people who are expert in facilitating group dialogue and deliberations.    I also believe that Asheville includes both progressives and conservatives who are not only knowledgeable, but who are also open enough to engage in a fair dialogue.  (Note:  dialogue does not equal debate.  It is not about winning, but about listening and reaching a truth that all sides can get behind.)

I haven’t done the due-diligence yet (mea culpa) but I strongly suspect that these groups aren’t really talking to each other.   Like everywhere else, the progressives seem to mainly interact with progressives, and the conservatives mainly interact with conservatives.  And when people from the two groups do interact, it’s very hard to talk about this issue without getting frustrated or mad or giving up.

I happen to believe that climate disruption is happening and is a grave danger.  But in order to really prevent the catastrophe that we see coming, don’t we need to talk to people like Mike, and to others who currently don’t agree, as well as to people who don’t know what to think?   Yes, that includes me.  I need to talk to Mike.  But how many Mikes can I talk to?

We need help.  In order to really break through the frustrations and make progress, we need a structure, skilled facilitators, and a group of honest people that both sides can relate to.

I can easily envision local climate talks, involving real people – citizens and neighbors – of all persuasions, and all over our country.   Each side sharing opinions, sharing evidence, and, most importantly, honestly discussing how to make collective decisions about the evidence, and how to evaluate and respond to crucial issues where there will always be unknowns and unprovables – and yet, in the place of absolute certainties, where there will still be scientifically valid levels of certainty.  (As one person said recently, “Would you put your child on a plane if 90% of industry engineers said there was 75% chance that the engines could fail anytime in the next year?  Or even a 1% chance?”)

I can easily envision these local climate talks.  But how to actually make it happen?

I can’t think of a better place to start than Asheville.

Collective Consciousness and Compassion

Compassion was the first round of global awakening.

Collective intelligence is emerging as the second round.

Compassion was the key trait of the Axial Age (roughly 900 BC to 300 BC) that brought forth the great world religions and philosophies, and which led to the great principles of Vedanta, Yoga, Taoism, Greek philosophy and democracy, Judaism, Buddhism,  Christianity, and Islam.  (Good reference:  The Great Transformation)

Compassion is a crucial seed for collective intelligence and collective consciousness.  Compassion is a recognition of the Other – including the other’s needs – and resources.

But true compassion is not feeling sorry that someone else is different.

An important extension of compassion is to realize that differences are natural, good, and are in fact built into the way Nature and Universe works.  For those who believe in a divine Creator, differences can be realized to be a key part of the Creator’s plan.

Compassion sets the stage for appreciation.  Compassion is most often focused on recognizing suffering of another and wanting to help relieve it.  (The Axial Age was an especially brutal time.)   Appreciation is a much bigger recognition of the other, by seeing the other’s gifts, and the gift of exchanging gifts:  Knowledge, abilities, wealth, ideas.

True compassion brings with it a great deal of humility.

Arrogance is to believe that you have been told by God or by your own brilliance, and in great detail, that which is good and best for all people and all beings, and for all times.

The key here is “in great detail”.    At the deepest levels possible, there appear to be true absolutes, true for all people.  These truths can be experienced, but are very hard to express in ways that make sense to all others who have not had all your experiences.  Thus “Truth” naturally contains a healthy amount of Mystery.

But when you start adding details prescribing particular practices, beliefs, rules, and laws, then that is when humility becomes especially important:

“These are the beliefs and practices that I have found to be most helpful.

“These are the beliefs and practices that my people have found to be most helpful.”

Thank Heaven for Left Right and Center

Who else can we thank?

Another way of saying it:

God is not on the Left, Right, or Center.

I know that is blasphemy to millions. But they seem to be worshiping tribal gods. Tribal gods are OK, but brittle.

Thank God, or the creative nature of the universe, that we are not all on the right, or all on the left, or all in the center. We are only all human, and only all earthlings.

If we were all on the right, or left, we would certainly hurtle over the cliff of our choosing, even faster than we’re now approaching the cliff that no one is choosing.

If we were all in the center, we would still be getting closer and closer to the non-chosen cliff, because there is too much investment in the status quo, and too little appetite for change.

But we’re not all in one place, one ideology, one proclivity, one style, one perspective.

That’s not a design flaw; that IS the design.

Even though that’s the design, we rail against it.

Even though, by our nature, we’re not all of one perspective, we’re in huge trouble now because enough of us haven’t waked up to realize that all our perspectives and peculiarities are needed to survive and thrive.  Or, that is, all are needed to be part of our on-going conversations, deliberations, adaptations, and innovations.

My heroes (dual gender) are those who have waked up to that, and who are able to speak well, and model well, in ways that are convincing to large segments of center, right, and left. Not just talking and inspiring (though those are important) but demonstrating – not as in protesting, but as in showing how.

Memories, Immortality, and Tulkus

Bodies are memories, constantly remembering how to recreate and repair themselves, with slight deviations, gradually noticed as age.

Bodies – appendages, organs, cells, and genes – also retain a memory of millions of years of evolution, passed offspring to offspring.

Even rocks retain memories of ancient sediments deep in long-gone oceans or in churning fiery depths inside the earth.

Organizations are memories, also remembering how to constantly recreate, repair and maintain, all while learning to adapt.   There are restaurants in China that are thousands of years old, governments and their agencies, corporations and their offspring and mutations, all persistent memories.

Without memories, no continuity, no underlying stability, no identity.

During sleep I forget, forget who I am, and dream of strange new identities and settings, shifting from one to the next.  I lapse into deep sleep and forget even my dreams.   I wake.  My body is still here.  All my memories are still here – reminding me of my identity, my ambitions and desires, my plans, my worries, my friends and enemies, and what’s in the refrigerator.   From  nothingness during the night, each day “I” am reincarnated.

And via the Internet we can find how many times and how many people have recorded variations of these thoughts.   Together we are the memory of our species.

Now to the most recent reason I started thinking about this:

Tulkus – Passing Memory and Identity from Life to Life

Continue reading ‘Memories, Immortality, and Tulkus’

What do Meta Networks Need?

(Continued from Basic Case for Meta Networks and Global Transformation)

Meta Networks are:

  • Decentralized networks of people, organizations and networks,
  • Bound together by shared goals, values, and experiences.

Meta networks are crucial for fixing global problems before they overwhelm us.

Meta networks need passionate, committed, and talented people, plus ideas, funding, and other resources.   But they also need methods and tools to make the individuals, organizations, and network as a whole more intelligent and effective.

Here are four types of methods and tools that meta networks need:

1.  Connecting people and organizations.

a.  Connecting people to people and organizations to obtain:

– Ideas, expertise and help (employees, partners, consultants, advisors, volunteers)

– Funding (investors, grants, donors)

– Inside Intelligence & Influence (related to potential customers, partners, investors, employees, and suppliers, and agencies, policy makers, communities, etc.)

Examples of tools:
Job, volunteer and consultant matching sites and databases; professional social network platforms for finding needed expertise and affiliations and obtaining trusted recommendations and referrals (e.g., LinkedIn).

Examples of methods:
Network weaving and social network analysis.

b. Connecting people to content
(to obtain news, ideas, opinions, research, experiences, knowledge)

Examples – Generic and specialized Internet search engines, content management and knowledge sharing applications and portals.

2. Sources for Reputation, Fact-checking, Due-Diligence.
(Supports other needs, e.g., connecting people, decision-making, etc.)

Examples:  Generic Internet search engines; professional social network platforms for checking professional experience and getting personally trusted insights and recommendations; reputation sites (most are not very mature yet).

3. Messaging campaigns to spread awareness and actions
(e.g., awareness and actions related to voting, contacting policy makers, talking to neighbors, donating, buying or boycotting)

Examples:  Social media sites and tools (Facebook, Twitter, messaging tools, etc.)

4. Collective Thinking and Action (big category!)

a)  Removing barriers to communication and collaboration.
(Dialogue, listening, finding common ground, consensus-building, conflict transformation, use of stories, symbols and rituals, collective consciousness effects)

b) Identifying, understanding and solving problems
(Collecting facts and perspectives from all relevant sources; Innovating (exploring/scanning/brainstorming); Integrating perspectives to reach consensus/decision on best strategies and tactics; Prediction; Deliberation and planning (evaluating ideas from different perspectives, consensus building); and Getting commitments for action.)

c) Collaborative Action – requiring complex coordination of actions by many people and organizations.

Examples of a, b, & c:   Online and in-person methods and tools for dialogue, deliberation, and collaboration.   For a partial list see NCDD’s Framework for Dialogue and Deliberation.

What is left out of this list?  Or what would you change?

Meta Networks and Global Transformation – Basic Case

Meta Networks are:

  • Decentralized networks of people, organizations and networks,
  • Bound together by shared goals, values, and experiences.

Mega organizations (like governments and corporations) are still important.

But the global problems we now face are too great to be solved mainly by hierarchically controlled mega-organizations.

Compared to mega organizations, meta networks are potentially:

  • More intelligent and adaptive.
  • More accountable,
  • Better able to bring about needed shifts in global awareness and behavior.
  • Better at distributing ideas, resources and talent to where they are most needed

Global-scale meta networks exist and are enabling great things.

But great as their achievements are, their potential is much greater.

That is, existing meta networks aren’t yet smart and coherent enough to accelerate positive global changes to needed tipping points.   Meta networks are fragmented; and most of the people and organizations in them remain hidden and inaccessible to any given person or organization with a need for more effective connections.

We need to do whatever we can to help meta networks realize their potential.

Next:  What do meta networks need?

See also:  Meta Networks and Global Transformation (March 2009)

Collective Intelligence is Rewiring not just the Planet, but our Brains

A 6/23/09 article in New Scientist reports on “the first evidence that tool use alters the body map.”  That is, researchers have found that a human brain’s internal map of the body is adjusted to account for a tool that extends the body’s reach.  Researchers were excited to note that this means that a transplanted hand or a prosthetic limb would similarly be incorporated into the ‘body map’ inside the brain.  This is an important example of the plasticity of the brain.

What struck me about this article is the implication for collective intelligence and collective consciousness:

The more we use tools that embody collective intelligence, and tools that increase our awareness and use of the perceptions, knowledge and experiences of people in other parts of the world, the bigger and bigger becomes our brains’ “body map” — and “self map”.

As social media are evolving, they are becoming more and more tools for getting things done, visualizing and then solving complex problems, finding answers, getting support we need, etc.   A key is the shift from passive viewing of world events on nightly television news (which had its own expansive effects), to a much more intimate using of collective intelligence, and participating in it.

We are physically evolving into a new species – by rewiring our brains to encompass tools for accessing and using collective intelligence.

The two principles that shine through when collective intelligence becomes collective consciousness are:

The Whole is more than the sum of the parts.


The Whole is contained in the parts.

The gradual rewiring of human brains to encompass more and more of the whole species and planet is the physical embodiment of this second principle.

(Confession:  Whenever I write something like this, which I seem to like to do, I often hear an internal chorus of “Yeah, yeah, yeah, but now what?”  The “but now what” is the interesting part.)

In Love with Collective Consciousness, and Networks

How long have I loved thee, dear Human Network?  Let me count the years, since my birth into my loving family, and since my youthful awakening, at age 18, sitting at the feet of Père Pierre, saint of human networks, who wrote again and again about his powerful vision of the planetization of consciousness.

Every person I have loved, appreciated, talked with, liked or disliked, or noticed, has been an experience in the network of consciousness.  It is a network for loving, entertaining, trading, learning, making things and buying them, earning a living, and living.  It is a network for fighting, ha!  Competing, ha!  The network always both wins and loses.  It grows and shrinks, but now mostly grows, grows more and more threatened by its own incoherence, and ever more heartened by its own brilliance, and compassion, and inspired by its search for solutions to its – our — survival and fulfillment.

How long have I loved thee, dear Human Network? Let me count the years, since my birth, into my loving family, and since my youthful awakening, at age 18, sitting at the feet of Père Pierre, saint of human networks, who wrote again and again about his powerful vision of the planetization of consciousness.

Every person I have loved, appreciated, talked with, liked or disliked, or noticed, has been my own part in the network of consciousness. It is a network for loving, entertaining, trading, learning, making things and buying them, earning a living, living. It is a network for fighting, ha! Competing, ha! The network always both wins and loses. It grows and shrinks, but now mostly grows, grows more and more threatened by its own incoherence, and ever more heartened by its own brilliance, and compassion, and inspired by its search for solutions to its – our — survival and fulfillment.


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