Spying 2.0: What I will & won’t be saying at SXSW

Tomorrow (Friday) I’ll be speaking at SXSW Interactive. I’ve never been to SXSW (yes, I’m a SWirgin) and I have no expectations. The truth is I’m not one of the people you see on the “panel circuit” – in general I prefer to listen and learn – and then assault panelists/speakers with my typical barrage of questions:) My friend submitted the topic and when it got accepted, he asked me to speak and I said yes.

The topic of my talk is Spying 2.0: Can America Compete With Web-Savvy Enemies? For the record: I’m not a spy, most defintely not a Mrs. Smith. I’m a senior research analyst for LMI, a not-for-profit strategic consultancy committed to helping government leaders and managers reach decisions that make a difference.  We work with every federal department, agency, and military service on a broad spectrum of issues and opportunities.  At the beginning of my talk, I will be making the disclaimer that I will not be speaking for any of the clients LMI represents. As a contractor, I cannot refer to any of the projects I work on and as an employee of LMI, my thoughts and opinions expressed during my talk are strictly my own and do not represent those of LMI nor any of the clients LMI serves.

I have a “robust” set of restrictions on what I can and cannot say but the best part is the format of my talk is a Salon, which I’m told is a “tad less formal” and  an alternative to the rigid speaker versus audience format. If you ask me, it sounds like a cocktail party discussion (refreshments will be available) where I present a topic and the objective is to stimulate some good discourse amongst the participants.

I am not an “expert” in anything detailed in my Salon description:

Accelerating technology cycles leave the US intelligence community gasping. Twitter, cloud computing, folksonomies, Loopt… can America’s sclerotic intelligence machinery compete as our enemies adopt cheap, fast-evolving open-source and web 2.0 intel strategies?

Fortunately for me, I don’t have to be. My experience has shown me my network, more times than not, is smarter than the expert.  I do plan on tweeting during my talk and I’ll have my peeps @immunity & @robotchampion in the room. I hope to see some other familiar faces but really I want to generate solid discussion and ideas on the topic.

I have some general thoughts on what I plan on saying, including asking what it means to be a “spy” in today’s day and age when everyone and anyone can take a picture with their cell phone and post it to the internet. And I also want to share something Rod Beckstrom said when I first met him last year: “We’re not safe until we ALL are safe.”  This is not limited to just Americans and our allies.

Dennis Blair, U.S. Director of National Intelligence, recently made the following statement about cybersecurity: “It’s a crew race. The offense pulls ahead -– you find out -– then the defense pulls ahead. We’ve got to keep stroking, faster, better, with more teamwork.” This doesn’t seem to be, in my opinion, a very good long-term strategic plan.  Something has to change.

If you look at the current U.S. administration’s agenda, the breadth of intelligence issues has broadened to include things such as the economy (the President now receives an Economic Daily Briefing) and energy and the environment. My plan for the talk is to share what I can, ask questions, listen and have everyone tweet the hell of it during and after:)

Excuse me while I get my boots on

Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game

Madoff, the SEC, hedge funds & the IC

After reading the testimony of Harry Markopolos, the whistleblower in the Madoff Ponzi scheme who crafted such a compelling reconstruction of events he deserves a Nobel Prize in Literature simply for the writing itself, I thought, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” Markopolos’ 58-page confessional and call to arms illustrates a process so painstakingly onerous, it invoked an image straight out of Kafka’s A Message from the Emperor:

The messenger started off at once, a powerful, tireless man. Sticking one arm out and then another, he makes his way through the crowd. If he runs into resistance, he points to his breast where there is a sign of the sun. So he moves forwards easily, unlike anyone else. But the crowd is so huge; its dwelling places are infinite. If there were an open field, how he would fly along, and soon you would hear the marvelous pounding of his fist on your door. But instead of that, how futile are all his efforts. He is still forcing his way through the private rooms of the innermost palace. Never will he win his way through. And if he did manage that, nothing would have been achieved. He would have to fight his way down the steps, and, if he managed to do that, nothing would have been achieved.

Markopolos began investigating Bernie Madoff in 1999, but due to consistent inadequacies and roadblocks, he was unable to elicit any action that could stop Madoff from his carrying out his odyssey of deceit. As easy as it would be to burn Madoff at the stakes and line up all the individuals guilty of inaction and ignorance for the firing squad, I’m more interested in the future of hedge funds.

For over a decade I have been fascinated by hedge funds – mainly due to the lack of transparency and oversight they have enjoyed since their inception in 1949. In reading Mr. Markopolos’ testimony, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to the Intelligence Community, who after 9/11, has been accused of “failing to connect the dots” (even though the dots in many ways were connected). Like the Intelligence Community, hedge funds are a dark market in that:

“…they do not trade on exchanges, they are not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, they are subject to few regulations, and their investors are not extended the same consumer-protection benefits that are given to investors in mutual funds and other entities that fall under the 1940 Investment Company Act.” (Knowledge@Wharton)

My greatest curiosity concerning hedge funds revolves around who benefits from them (and how greatly) and how have they continued to operate in such opaque circumstances after bombastic failures such as Long-Term Capital Management which required bailout supervision by the Federal Reserve. Whenever staggering amounts of money are involved, as is the case with hedge funds and the intelligence community and national security/defense, I sometimes wonder if the breadth and reach of the implications of who benefits and how becomes such a quagmire that any effort to address them with transparency seems disastrous and humiliating at the level of The Emperor’s New Clothes.

In his 30-page course of action to address securities fraud, Mr. Markapolos offers insightful, well-defined, and reasonable solutions; however, he omits two important components: 1) hedge fund transparency/regulation (which is currently being tackled by the Grassley/Levin Hedge Fund Transparency Act and 2) information technology.

If the SEC can learn one thing from the IC, it is the benefit of an integrated information technology system. The SEC, with its twelve offices across the country, along with agencies such as the IRS and DoJ, needs a better way to “talk to each other” (akin to an Intelink) – so the organizations can fluidly share information and utilize communal services to detect fraud. Markopolus’ idea of providing all employees access to a Bloomberg machine (a top-of-the-line financial, regulatory, and market database) is a plainly obvious one, noting that “most SEC offices are lucky to have even one Bloomberg machine for the entire region’s use.” The IC, via the DNI‘s Intelligence Community Enterprise Services (ICES), is provided a set of solutions that include enterprise search, a commnunity-wide wiki, blogs, instant messaging, social bookmarking, document sharing, video sharing, image sharing, and more. Our regulatory agencies need a common suite of tools, the same ones used by private/commericial financial institutions, that allow for greater analytic and data access capabilities.

If the IC can learn one thing from Markopolos and the SEC, it’s that if speaking truth to power is tough, bringing action against power is damn near impossible. Markopolos notes factors such as fear, lack of competence and vested interests as contributors to the abject failure of the regulatory system. His recommendation of creating an Office of the Whistleblower to “centralize the handling and investigation of whistleblower tips” is something the IC could implement to solicit and centralize anti-collaboration activities that would allow all IC members to contribute encountered instances of hoarding and/or resistance to knowledge-sharing in a systemic, protected manner. This would be in line with ICD 501 that strengthens the “sharing, integration, and management of information within the Intelligence Community (IC), and establishes policies for: (1) discovery; and (2) dissemination or retrieval of intelligence and intelligence-related information collected or analysis produced by the IC.”

If the IC and SEC can learn one thing from each other, it’s that while black markets will exist, there needs to be mechanisms to shed light on them.

Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game

Madoff, the SEC, hedge funds & the IC

After reading the testimony of Harry Markopolos, the whistleblower in the Madoff Ponzi scheme who crafted such a compelling reconstruction of events he deserves a Nobel Prize in Literature simply for the writing itself, I thought, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” Markopolos’ 58-page confessional and call to arms illustrates a process so painstakingly onerous, it invoked an image straight out of Kafka’s A Message from the Emperor:

The messenger started off at once, a powerful, tireless man. Sticking one arm out and then another, he makes his way through the crowd. If he runs into resistance, he points to his breast where there is a sign of the sun. So he moves forwards easily, unlike anyone else. But the crowd is so huge; its dwelling places are infinite. If there were an open field, how he would fly along, and soon you would hear the marvelous pounding of his fist on your door. But instead of that, how futile are all his efforts. He is still forcing his way through the private rooms of the innermost palace. Never will he win his way through. And if he did manage that, nothing would have been achieved. He would have to fight his way down the steps, and, if he managed to do that, nothing would have been achieved.

Markopolos began investigating Bernie Madoff in 1999, but due to consistent inadequacies and roadblocks, he was unable to elicit any action that could stop Madoff from his carrying out his odyssey of deceit. As easy as it would be to burn Madoff at the stakes and line up all the individuals guilty of inaction and ignorance for the firing squad, I’m more interested in the future of hedge funds.

For over a decade I have been fascinated by hedge funds – mainly due to the lack of transparency and oversight they have enjoyed since their inception in 1949. In reading Mr. Markopolos’ testimony, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to the Intelligence Community, who after 9/11, has been accused of “failing to connect the dots” (even though the dots in many ways were connected). Like the Intelligence Community, hedge funds are a dark market in that:

“…they do not trade on exchanges, they are not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, they are subject to few regulations, and their investors are not extended the same consumer-protection benefits that are given to investors in mutual funds and other entities that fall under the 1940 Investment Company Act.” (Knowledge@Wharton)

My greatest curiosity concerning hedge funds revolves around who benefits from them (and how greatly) and how have they continued to operate in such opaque circumstances after bombastic failures such as Long-Term Capital Management which required bailout supervision by the Federal Reserve. Whenever staggering amounts of money are involved, as is the case with hedge funds and the intelligence community and national security/defense, I sometimes wonder if the breadth and reach of the implications of who benefits and how becomes such a quagmire that any effort to address them with transparency seems disastrous and humiliating at the level of The Emperor’s New Clothes.

In his 30-page course of action to address securities fraud, Mr. Markapolos offers insightful, well-defined, and reasonable solutions; however, he omits two important components: 1) hedge fund transparency/regulation (which is currently being tackled by the Grassley/Levin Hedge Fund Transparency Act and 2) information technology.

If the SEC can learn one thing from the IC, it is the benefit of an integrated information technology system. The SEC, with its twelve offices across the country, along with agencies such as the IRS and DoJ, needs a better way to “talk to each other” (akin to an Intelink) – so the organizations can fluidly share information and utilize communal services to detect fraud. Markopolus’ idea of providing all employees access to a Bloomberg machine (a top-of-the-line financial, regulatory, and market database) is a plainly obvious one, noting that “most SEC offices are lucky to have even one Bloomberg machine for the entire region’s use.” The IC, via the DNI‘s Intelligence Community Enterprise Services (ICES), is provided a set of solutions that include enterprise search, a commnunity-wide wiki, blogs, instant messaging, social bookmarking, document sharing, video sharing, image sharing, and more. Our regulatory agencies need a common suite of tools, the same ones used by private/commericial financial institutions, that allow for greater analytic and data access capabilities.

If the IC can learn one thing from Markopolos and the SEC, it’s that if speaking truth to power is tough, bringing action against power is damn near impossible. Markopolos notes factors such as fear, lack of competence and vested interests as contributors to the abject failure of the regulatory system. His recommendation of creating an Office of the Whistleblower to “centralize the handling and investigation of whistleblower tips” is something the IC could implement to solicit and centralize anti-collaboration activities that would allow all IC members to contribute encountered instances of hoarding and/or resistance to knowledge-sharing in a systemic, protected manner. This would be in line with ICD 501 that strengthens the “sharing, integration, and management of information within the Intelligence Community (IC), and establishes policies for: (1) discovery; and (2) dissemination or retrieval of intelligence and intelligence-related information collected or analysis produced by the IC.”

If the IC and SEC can learn one thing from each other, it’s that while black markets will exist, there needs to be mechanisms to shed light on them.

25 things…

You may or may not know about Steve aka the @robotchampion:

  1. He wears black socks to gym. Somehow he manages to make this look good.
  2. He wears a pink sweatshirt with a lion on it and doesn’t understand why guys hit on him.
  3. He’s completely monogamous.
  4. He is an office lady-charmer.
  5. He does get jealous but tries to never let it show.
  6. When he’s really excited, he says “omigod!” with a Brooklyn accent.
  7. When it comes to our relationship, he has repose. I’ve been with him after his car’s been towed, while I’m freaking out about how closely he is driving behind another car on the beltway on route to the WIRE/ICES conference, and after I’ve yelled at him for failing to communicate with me – and he did not respond with the typical human knee jerk response of anger or aggravation.
  8. When he’s stressed or completely engrossed in figuring out something, he gnaws on his fingers.
  9. He likes to touch – almost like a blind person communicating through his fingers (I think this is why he loves Apple products so much).
  10. He denied my advances not once but twice and is the only man (that I recall) who has done this.
  11. He’s able to organize virtually anything in a wiki (and is known as “Wiki Steve” by colleagues).
  12. He is insecure about his body.
  13. He’s intimidated by pretty girls.
  14. He cried upon receiving churros at the Mexico/California border and during Obama’s acceptance speech.
  15. In California, he was a boogie board surfer, not a long board surfer.
  16. He will be an amazing father.
  17. He loves that he gets the pretty girls and guys have no idea why.
  18. He intentionally asked me to hold his passport at the airport b/c he knew my ex always handled everything, including the holding of the passports and was psychologically challenging my historical construct of relationships.
  19. He’s an incredible teacher – one of the best I’ve seen.
  20. He has an amazing family (and his brother Spence is quite possibly one of the coolest, most “truest” people I’ve ever met).
  21. Sometimes he’s afraid of me.
  22. He feels so deeply that he’s trained himself not to.
  23. He’s the only man besides my dad who I never get bored talking to and is able to throw humor at me from left field.
  24. He thinks I will somehow help him become President of the United States.
  25. I met Steve the day after I had given back my engagement ring to my then fiancée. It was a point in my life when everything was in flux and I knew what needed to change and where I wanted to go but I wasn’t sure how. I had spent too much time trying to please other people, to be something I wasn’t or didn’t want to be, and without trying, by just being himself, Steve showed me how to be me. I am who I am today because of him.

The 8 questions

Below is a list of 8 questions that was given to me by Bill Jordan, an 80-year old man I met while waiting at the Ritz Camera in DC. He was wearing an Obama cap and holding an iPhone.  We started talking about iPhones, Apple, and travel. His blind 12-year old granddaughter convinced him to buy stock in Apple  when it was selling at $42/share. He has visited over 100 countries and handed me a slip of paper that read: The doom of a profligate nation is certain – having been foretold by all of recorded history.”~Bill Jordan

  1. If you had unlimited time and unlimited money, what three cities in the world would you like to visit?
  2. If you could be present on any one day in the history of the world and participate in the events of the day or simply observe what happened what day would you choose?
  3. If I would reserve a table for four tomorrow night at 7pm at the very best restaurant in town (I would agree to pay the bill) and you could invite three people (now living or you could bring them back from the dead), what three people would you choose to visit and converse with for several hours?
  4. Please give me your three most negative impression about America or Americans.
  5. Out of 1000 people selected at random, how many do you believe are capable of original thought?
  6. Do you believe in life after death?
  7. If you believe in life after death, is there anything that you can do to improve your status in the afterlife? If so what?

Feel free to leave your answers as a comment:)

One Human’s Minutiae is Another’s Munificence

For thirty years, Albert Einstein struggled to produce a unified theory that would provide an explanation for everything in the physical universe. This quest for a single blueprint for life would accompany him to his grave and in his last years he admitted, “It is so difficult to employ mathematically that I have not been able to verify it somehow, in spite of all my efforts.” He finally conceded, “Someone else is going to have to it.”

For several decades in the 1500s Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe diligently recorded the positions of the planet Mars. Every day at the same time  he observed its position and noted it, and while this might have seemed like a trivial acquisition, qualifying it as minutia even, he eventually observed that Mars drifted from west to east, “but every two years roughly the planet would take a brief diversion, slowing down, going backward and doing a loop, before regaining its senses and continuing its normal motion.” (The Social Atom)

After Brahe’s death, Johannes Kepler studied Brahe’s notebooks, and eight years later he concluded that Mars and Earth were rotating on elliptical tracks around the sun, with Earth on the inside track. This served as the foundation for Issac Newton’s laws of gravity and motion.

The scientific method for gathering data, identifying patterns and finding a mechanism to explain them is the same one that social scientists today are using to find solutions to problems such as global warming and the spread of infectious diseases.  People, like the physical world, fall into very explainable patterns and these patterns reveal regularities that the seemingly complicated just isn’t so.

There are some patterns that are not so common, not so regular, not so obvious in their occurrence and therefore are more difficult to understand. Acts like the “random” campus shooting that took place at Virginia Tech could be considered one of these anomalies, not easy to predict given the paucity of data about the shooter and lack of similar events to which to compare it. I’m curious what a stream of this shooter’s life would have looked like in Twitter, what it would have revealed and what we could have learned from it. Given a large dynamic system like Twitter, where small variations of a initial condition can be captured, would a butterfly effect emerged? Clive Thompson compared Twitter to “proprioception, your body’s ability to know where your limbs are.” I consider Twitter a tool for social omniscience, in which the identification of natural laws of patterns can lead to the possibility of prediction.

What’s so intriguing and exciting about social patterns is the ability to change them – social behaviors are often dictated by mutable and constructed norms. However, because social patterns are influenced by norms, social etiquette “black holes” can present great barriers to revealing true patterns and ultimately presenting solutions. When I hear how I should conduct myself, what I should and should not say, by entities as imposing as the United States government and as intrusive as the “family order” – I immediately object. These formal and informal gag rules are exactly what will prevent us from solving the most complicated of issues – the ones that keep me from saying I smoked an entire pack of cigarettes this weekend, or I think the industry I work in is inherently doomed for failure and virtually no one understands this, or I do look at porn on occasion, or I like illegal aliens because they work jobs that “Americans” don’t want but I get annoyed when they don’t learn/speak English.

I laugh at the notion that technology alone will ever solve a problem; even if we lived in a world in which every person could contribute to one global database, these invisible barriers would still exist. The fact is I am regularly surprised by what I say has meaning to whom and while I myself don’t want to read every single thing a person does or thinks, I’d be willing to bet the farm that the compilation of this minutiae, coupled with other sources of data, would reveal patterns never obvious to us before and present answers to questions that have eluded humankind for ages. To do this however would require a lot of data, a lot of minutiae, all the minutiae you don’t want to hear. And yet the more information we make available, the greater our ability to understand our world and change it.

I believe with enough data, we can discover the truth in everything – and we will unveil an artisan’s masterfully ordered structure and achieve what Einstein simply did not have enough minutiae to achieve.

One Human's Minutiae is Another's Munificence

For thirty years, Albert Einstein struggled to produce a unified theory that would provide an explanation for everything in the physical universe. This quest for a single blueprint for life would accompany him to his grave and in his last years he admitted, “It is so difficult to employ mathematically that I have not been able to verify it somehow, in spite of all my efforts.” He finally conceded, “Someone else is going to have to it.”

For several decades in the 1500s Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe diligently recorded the positions of the planet Mars. Every day at the same time  he observed its position and noted it, and while this might have seemed like a trivial acquisition, qualifying it as minutia even, he eventually observed that Mars drifted from west to east, “but every two years roughly the planet would take a brief diversion, slowing down, going backward and doing a loop, before regaining its senses and continuing its normal motion.” (The Social Atom)

After Brahe’s death, Johannes Kepler studied Brahe’s notebooks, and eight years later he concluded that Mars and Earth were rotating on elliptical tracks around the sun, with Earth on the inside track. This served as the foundation for Issac Newton’s laws of gravity and motion.

The scientific method for gathering data, identifying patterns and finding a mechanism to explain them is the same one that social scientists today are using to find solutions to problems such as global warming and the spread of infectious diseases.  People, like the physical world, fall into very explainable patterns and these patterns reveal regularities that the seemingly complicated just isn’t so.

There are some patterns that are not so common, not so regular, not so obvious in their occurrence and therefore are more difficult to understand. Acts like the “random” campus shooting that took place at Virginia Tech could be considered one of these anomalies, not easy to predict given the paucity of data about the shooter and lack of similar events to which to compare it. I’m curious what a stream of this shooter’s life would have looked like in Twitter, what it would have revealed and what we could have learned from it. Given a large dynamic system like Twitter, where small variations of a initial condition can be captured, would a butterfly effect emerged? Clive Thompson compared Twitter to “proprioception, your body’s ability to know where your limbs are.” I consider Twitter a tool for social omniscience, in which the identification of natural laws of patterns can lead to the possibility of prediction.

What’s so intriguing and exciting about social patterns is the ability to change them – social behaviors are often dictated by mutable and constructed norms. However, because social patterns are influenced by norms, social etiquette “black holes” can present great barriers to revealing true patterns and ultimately presenting solutions. When I hear how I should conduct myself, what I should and should not say, by entities as imposing as the United States government and as intrusive as the “family order” – I immediately object. These formal and informal gag rules are exactly what will prevent us from solving the most complicated of issues – the ones that keep me from saying I smoked an entire pack of cigarettes this weekend, or I think the industry I work in is inherently doomed for failure and virtually no one understands this, or I do look at porn on occasion, or I like illegal aliens because they work jobs that “Americans” don’t want but I get annoyed when they don’t learn/speak English.

I laugh at the notion that technology alone will ever solve a problem; even if we lived in a world in which every person could contribute to one global database, these invisible barriers would still exist. The fact is I am regularly surprised by what I say has meaning to whom and while I myself don’t want to read every single thing a person does or thinks, I’d be willing to bet the farm that the compilation of this minutiae, coupled with other sources of data, would reveal patterns never obvious to us before and present answers to questions that have eluded humankind for ages. To do this however would require a lot of data, a lot of minutiae, all the minutiae you don’t want to hear. And yet the more information we make available, the greater our ability to understand our world and change it.

I believe with enough data, we can discover the truth in everything – and we will unveil an artisan’s masterfully ordered structure and achieve what Einstein simply did not have enough minutiae to achieve.

I Just Don’t Understand an Open Mind

I woke up this morning with only two thoughts in my brain. First, I must listen to Electric Feel by MGMT (am listening to it now). The second thought is that I just don’t understand an “open mind”.

Curiosity ensues…

I mean on one level, an open mind is simply being able to see. I found a writing about photography where the author explores what she natively sees. Most of the time she goes in search of something directly in her mind. When she finds the beautiful shot she then ignores the possible ugliness around. Often, though, a dramatic and sad experience will force us to see the ugliness or difference, sometimes even search for it. For most the native state is baised and requires a force to see.

On another level, our city planners long ago realized that citizens need to be broken out of their workday lives. But rather than force them to go for a walk in the park, they would build them into ideal locations and just watch it happen. For example, an “open campus” in Sapporo, Japan is so open that it not only serves as campus and park, but has grown to become a vital water source for the city. Examples such as this and even New York City’s Central Park, show that parks and public places have easily become an insitutional part of any city. Strangely enough this structural addition is very easily accepted, no force required. Just place a park next to an office building and people will want to break out of their office and walk in them. For all, the need for a change in environment is inherent, institutional, and no force need apply.

A while ago I was browsing through Agust Jackson’s blog and found a TED Talk video he liked on the difference between Liberals and Conservatives (embedded below, highly worth watching). In it, Jonathan Haidt talks about openness. How liberals are not really liberals at all, they are just a group of being with a higher value of openness. Those conservatives are really folks with a lower value (theortically replaced by tradition, “the way it is”). I generally agreed with the points he is making that that some people are just going to be more open to change than others. For those that are open, change is inevitable, for those that are not open, it is worth it to fight against it.

Finally, Jeff Nolan in his post on the value of being open and honest talks about corporate values being resistant to change. In a sense this can be extrapolated beyond a business culture in into our broader society. The innate culture of almost any country on earth is very resistant to change. For some change takes the form of revolution or coup. Others like the USA have found a peaceful way to enact change (elections, term limits). Either way it shows that stasis is the ideal state of a culture or corporation because it allows folks to understand, make rules, and easily traverse the waters. For society and corporations, change is natural but dangerous.

All of this research still leaves me not understanding what an “open mind” is. What it needs. How it functions. More importantly to me, how it will act. Arggh!

The need to understand is undying.

I Just dont Understand an Open Mind

I woke up this morning with only two thoughts in my brain. First, I must listen to Electric Feel by MGMT (am listening to it now). The second thought is that I just don’t understand an “open mind”.

Curiosity ensues…

I mean on one level, an open mind is simply being able to see. I found a writing about photography where the author explores what she natively sees. Most of the time she goes in search of something directly in her mind. When she finds the beautiful shot she then ignores the possible ugliness around. Often, though, a dramatic and sad experience will force us to see the ugliness or difference, sometimes even search for it. For most the native state is baised and requires a force to see.

On another level, our city planners long ago realized that citizens need to be broken out of their workday lives. But rather than force them to go for a walk in the park, they would build them into ideal locations and just watch it happen. For example, an “open campus” in Sapporo, Japan is so open that it not only serves as campus and park, but has grown to become a vital water source for the city. Examples such as this and even New York City’s Central Park, show that parks and public places have easily become an insitutional part of any city. Strangely enough this structural addition is very easily accepted, no force required. Just place a park next to an office building and people will want to break out of their office and walk in them. For all, the need for a change in environment is inherent, institutional, and no force need apply.

A while ago I was browsing through Agust Jackson’s blog and found a TED Talk video he liked on the difference between Liberals and Conservatives (embedded below, highly worth watching). In it, Jonathan Haidt talks about openness. How liberals are not really liberals at all, they are just a group of being with a higher value of openness. Those conservatives are really folks with a lower value (theortically replaced by tradition, “the way it is”). I generally agreed with the points he is making that that some people are just going to be more open to change than others. For those that are open, change is inevitable, for those that are not open, it is worth it to fight against it.

Finally, Jeff Nolan in his post on the value of being open and honest talks about corporate values being resistant to change. In a sense this can be extrapolated beyond a business culture in into our broader society. The innate culture of almost any country on earth is very resistant to change. For some change takes the form of revolution or coup. Others like the USA have found a peaceful way to enact change (elections, term limits). Either way it shows that stasis is the ideal state of a culture or corporation because it allows folks to understand, make rules, and easily traverse the waters. For society and corporations, change is natural but dangerous.

All of this research still leaves me not understanding what an “open mind” is. What it needs. How it functions. More importantly to me, how it will act. Arggh!

The need to understand is undying.

I Just Don't Understand an Open Mind

I woke up this morning with only two thoughts in my brain. First, I must listen to Electric Feel by MGMT (am listening to it now). The second thought is that I just don’t understand an “open mind”.

Curiosity ensues…

I mean on one level, an open mind is simply being able to see. I found a writing about photography where the author explores what she natively sees. Most of the time she goes in search of something directly in her mind. When she finds the beautiful shot she then ignores the possible ugliness around. Often, though, a dramatic and sad experience will force us to see the ugliness or difference, sometimes even search for it. For most the native state is baised and requires a force to see.

On another level, our city planners long ago realized that citizens need to be broken out of their workday lives. But rather than force them to go for a walk in the park, they would build them into ideal locations and just watch it happen. For example, an “open campus” in Sapporo, Japan is so open that it not only serves as campus and park, but has grown to become a vital water source for the city. Examples such as this and even New York City’s Central Park, show that parks and public places have easily become an insitutional part of any city. Strangely enough this structural addition is very easily accepted, no force required. Just place a park next to an office building and people will want to break out of their office and walk in them. For all, the need for a change in environment is inherent, institutional, and no force need apply.

A while ago I was browsing through Agust Jackson’s blog and found a TED Talk video he liked on the difference between Liberals and Conservatives (embedded below, highly worth watching). In it, Jonathan Haidt talks about openness. How liberals are not really liberals at all, they are just a group of being with a higher value of openness. Those conservatives are really folks with a lower value (theortically replaced by tradition, “the way it is”). I generally agreed with the points he is making that that some people are just going to be more open to change than others. For those that are open, change is inevitable, for those that are not open, it is worth it to fight against it.

Finally, Jeff Nolan in his post on the value of being open and honest talks about corporate values being resistant to change. In a sense this can be extrapolated beyond a business culture in into our broader society. The innate culture of almost any country on earth is very resistant to change. For some change takes the form of revolution or coup. Others like the USA have found a peaceful way to enact change (elections, term limits). Either way it shows that stasis is the ideal state of a culture or corporation because it allows folks to understand, make rules, and easily traverse the waters. For society and corporations, change is natural but dangerous.

All of this research still leaves me not understanding what an “open mind” is. What it needs. How it functions. More importantly to me, how it will act. Arggh!

The need to understand is undying.