Technology is problematic. During the heyday of technology (1990s), it seemed it had the democratic direction Lewis Mumford said it should have in his seminal Technics and Civilization.
Today, we are effectively stuck with Windows as Linux is poor on the desktop and has cultured a maladaptive following. Apple is prohibitive, and all other operating systems lack drivers, including Google's Android, an offshoot of linux.
In the late 90s there was hope for new kernels such as LibOS and ExoOS that would bare their hardware to programs, some of which would be virtual machines such as Java uses. Another important player was the L4 system that is a minor relation to the code underlying the Apple's systems. It was highly scientific but fell into the wrong hangs, apparently, and has suffered from having no progress on the desktop. There is a version, "SE" that is apparently running in many cell phones as specialized telecom chips, but is proprietary. SE's closed nature was only recently revealed, which is important because it is apparently built from publicly-owned code as it is not a "clean room" design it may violate public domain protections, and most certainly violates the widely-accepted social contract.
Recent attempts to enjoin into L4 development as an advocate for "the people" have been as frustrating (and demeaning) as previous attempts with the usual attacks to self-esteem by maladaptive "hacks" being reinforced by "leadership" (now mostly university professors).
In short, this leaves us with Windows, which is quite a reversal if you have read earlier posts here. But, upon Windows, we have free and open software development systems in the forms of GTK+ (the windows usually used on Linux) and the Minimal GNU Windows (MinGW and MSYS) systems. It is very likely this direction that development should go (that is, on Windows) such that s/w can then be ported to a currently-valid microkernel system that includes a driver system that can be adapted by hardware developers to reuse of their windows and apple drivers.
From a brief survey of L4, it appears that the last clean copy was the DROPS system of the early 2010s, was a German effort that used the Unix-like "OS kit" from an American University.
If we are going to be stuck on Windows, then it seems that a high level approach to free and open systems integration, such as creating fully transparent mouse communication between apps so that they can seamlessly work together as a single desktop (rather than deliberately conflicting). This would be very helpful for GIMP and Inkscape, both leading graphics programs that are strong in the special ways, but suffer from an inability to easily interrelate.
Another important issue is the nature, if you can call it that, of the "geek" or "hack." Technology is formed democratically but "harvested" authoritarian-ly --if I can coin a term that Mumford might use. Authority is plutarchy: a combination of aristocracy and oligarchy that is kept alive after all these millennia by using, or maligning, the information society as a part of the civilizing (or law-giving) process that embraces the dialectic as its method. Democratic restoration, that is to put humanity back on an evolutionary (and not de-evolutionary) track, I think, will require the exclusion of the "geek" from decision-making. As is, the free/open s/w culture attempts to give leadership to those who write the most lines of code --irrespective of their comprehension of the real world or relationship with normal users. We need normal people to somehow organize around common sense (rather than oligarchic rationalism) to bring to life useful and cohesive software and communications systems.
Interestingly, the most popular page on this site is about Carl Rogers' humanistic psychology, and has nothing to do with technology.
Monday, April 18, 2005
"Where there is mystery, faith is aroused. Where there is faith, there will be heaven"
Yagu Menenori, Samurai ~1650
Knowing the common history of labor and the nature of truckers, it seems incredibly simple to understand the power and survivability of the world's largest labor union, the Teamsters, named for the horse drivers that preceded the engine age. Their symbol is a pair of horses over a shield.
Trucking, in its most respected version, long haul, is a fundamental American culture. Over the road truckers live in their trucks for three to five weeks before returning home, work long hours but the work is not necessarily physically demanding. The job is as hard as staying awake and holding a steering wheel for long hours, and chatting on the short-distance CB radio. Difficulties in the profession are related mostly to health and that results from diet and lack of exercise. The food of the truck stop kitchens is good but rich. Truckers can easily look forward to a truck stop meal, they may even be friends with the restaurant waitresses and very often a whole roast or side of pork is waiting to be sliced. Conversely, a truckstop cannot afford poor service, word will get around via the CB radio. Discipline of the road requires picking up loads, delivering them hundreds or thousands of miles away, and a return to a truck stop awaiting to be dispatched to a new load. The concept of going for a jog or a hike is unheard of. Some junior truckers strap bicycles to their rigs, but this is rare. Truckers do very little for their hearts and suffer disproportionately as a result, heart disease being the biggest killer in America.
Discipline seems to be a word rarely associated with trucking, truckers are felt by common society to be low life's and time spent listening to a CB radio near a busy truck stop will very likely give that impression. This is a false impression however, truckers are generally some of the better paid members of their communities as they often come from poorer parts of the nation, specifically the Deep South. Trucking is a Southern industry and a Yankee will have difficulty getting into a conversation on the CB radio. Dinners including diverse members of the same company will usually be dominated by the South with Yankees fighting to get a word in edge-wise. My stock come-back to any Yankee comments is “I resemble that remark” (from Groucho Marx) which gets a laugh and relaxes the atmosphere.
The psychological nature of trucking is unique. There is in my opinion a benefit to the functions of the brain from long distance driving. I am certain there are boosts to the production of necessary chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine which is its own "natural high." Many truckers simply can't wait to get back on the road after a short stay at home. This gives truckers unusual self confidence. Combine this with the influences of a rural background you can create a very ornery and potentially loud crowd at a truckstop, especially during a televised ball game or car race in a driver's lounge.
Truckers, within their culture, enjoy unusual camaraderie. Striking up a conversation is as easy as talking and any common topic will do, road conditions, friction with enforcement, load rates or recent experiences. The joke is that the difference between fairy tale and a trucker story is that a trucker's story starts with.. “you just ain't gunna believe this” rather than “once upon a time.” Truckers stop to help one another at the side of the road, their trust is implicit.
When it comes to the concepts of freedom and independence, truckers present a double jeopardy, even a triple threat. America, as the most western of nations, is based on independence, our sacred documents derive from Native American law as much as from European Enlightenment, where the word freedom decorates virtually every political statement. Truckers, especially those who own their trucks, seem almost perplexed at the concept of infringement on their personal freedoms since examples of social control are so few and far between. Rebel still defines the Southerner nearly a century and half after the Civil War. The final factor in the freedom equation is the reason for that rebellion, a struggle for an particularly extreme freedom, the right to take rights from others. I am, of course, referring to African slavery in America. I have learned that much of the past still remains in the cultural mindset and regional loyalties seem to defy societal logic.
The combinations of this extreme self-confidence with rural self-reliance, our native natural character and a history of labor victories through the Teamsters union implies that the over the road truckers could very easily disrupt the flow of all goods around the nation for just a short time and guarantee an increase in rates to the industry making truckers some of the better paid labor workers in the nation. Truckers are by in large armed as well, almost all having had military experience and own a disproportionate number of the several hundred million guns in America right now.
The single most mysterious fact about life over the road is that truckers have failed to organize, and have instead been compliant with an industry where the governmental forces are closely related to a trucking industry obscenely known for corruption and every imaginable abuse. Laws controlling truckers are designed to appear to attempt to protect the motorist public from irresponsible truck drivers but are really there to provide the industry with the cheapest possible human resource and to stress truckers continuously to deny them the where-with-all to organize. When truckers succumb to the stress, (true to the corporate style of control) the trucker is vilified if there is a tragic accident. Trucking is presently the only growing industry in America yet the largest trucking companies show worker turnover at about 120%. Ironically, in the present transportation and communication environment, the vast majority of common goods could be dispatched to drivers via the Internet by the shippers themselves. In particular, produce movers, (called garbage haulers in the industry) could be instantly and completely eliminated by the use of laptops, websites and the creation of freight information clearing houses to assure shippers that drivers will take care of the goods and they will arrive on time.
Companies operate in what are called authorities where they are given governance power by federal law. The results are what one would imagine where companies control workers as if they themselves are autonomous enforcement agencies. Abusive dispatching and corporate deceptions are enforced by the safety officers with demeaning and threatening language. The largest produce hauler in the country is the Prime Corporation of Springfield Missouri. In a previous incarnation they were called Midwest Trucking and ran out of Texas until they were dismantled by the State of Texas and the federal government for the crime of literally stealing trucks from their owner operator drivers through dishonest leasing practices. They found a home in Missouri, however, in a city controlled by the former chief federal attorney, John Ashcroft, who was fired by the present conservative president for his reactionary attacks on the basic rights of Americans following the World Trade Center attack. The abuses at Prime continue, where Prime finances the purchase of a truck for an owner operator and then puts the the operator on the beach for long enough to prevent the driver from making the last payment. The truck then gets repossessed. Local Missouri courts are clearly Prime shills and Prime invests a lot in creating false impressions among the citizens of Springfield. While Springfield is an important city for freight hauling services, native Springfielders rarely work for them. Prime has countered this by creating a seemingly "mom and pop" hauler called Wil-Trans. Truckers applying there they are avoiding corporate Prime, and are told they will be part of a independent brotherhood of truckers. They will, from time to time, pull Prime trailers. Because of this Prime, they say, handles their driver testing and the drivers are sent to the Prime orientation sessions. Reality strikes when Prime human resources hands the prospective drivers Prime's tax forms and contracts.
Independent truckers, owner operators, are affected by a caveat in the law. They are small corporations and therefore cannot legally organize to influence their rates. Doing so enacts laws designed for huge corporations to prevent the formation of trusts and monopolies. The struggling family trucker is held to the same standards as Microsoft, while Microsoft is allowed to operate the world's largest monopoly and family truckers are denied even the possibility of testifying on their behalf in congressional hearings.
With so many human dignity issues and so much potential for organization, laws can be changed to deal more proportionately with the family-owned business. Exactly what is holding back truckers from organizing today is a deep question that goes beyond the industry itself and into the psychological nature of the rural United States, especially the core South. While traveling as a trucker I trucking visited as many cultural venues as I could, including museums, against the backdrop of the trucking culture.
During the first three months of 2005, I drove with a senior driver from North Louisiana, and I listened to him speak admiringly about the Ku Klux Klan. I barely need mention his lack of respect for Black Americans but what surprised me was his denigration of the French speaking Americans, the Cajuns. While we in society think of Cajun and Louisianan culture to be synonymous he referred to them as swamp animals. His biggest regret in history seemed be the infiltration of the KKK by German Neo-Nazis in the 1980s.
He painted a picture of the old school Klan far different than the one I had read about, it was moral enforcement organization respected by both Blacks and Whites. Differences between one kind of race hate crime and another kind of race hate crime are irrelevant to me. My co-driver non-the-less fit a more human pattern that Carl Rogers mentioned in relation to political situations, that there can be two layers in a person. One exterior is designed to please the surronding culture and another, deep inside, satisfies the soul. He told me of how he would escape from his church worship on Sundays and sneak into the Black church to hear the gospel choir. He also told endless stories of how "the old colored woman" cooked this or that, a pretty endless list of Lousiana farm and swamp animals. There was an amusing incident when the boss's wife asked my co-driver what she should do with her goat. Not realizing she meant the goat was a sick pet, he suggested barbeqing him with a certain sauce. They got passed this guffaw.
I also wondered at many of the Southern Black attitudes where regional loyalties override common sense. Blacks at times seem to enjoin in anti-Northern sentiment. This is confusing to people from my area of New York since we have a proud of a history in fighting for Black causes from Freedom Riding back to the ending of slavery.
As a trucker I wonder what can break this historical trend to get truckers to follow the democratic process of petitioning the government to, for the first time, do the right thing with respect to over the road freight.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Empathy, Part One
Through empathy, understanding, genuine trust and a personal connection Carl R. Rogers helped many people overcome emotional difficulties. He showed therapists how to become close and caring friends to those they where helping. He carefully structured his beliefs and methods into concise paragraphs creating clear guidelines for both therapeutic help as well as common everyday life experiences and interactions. He went beyond helping individuals to create similarly sincere therapeutic groups, concepts of participation by students in education and he also sought to help join the world together by facilitating genuine and candid interactions.
Rogers, with his colleagues, created a thought process of understanding unique in the world in that it seeks to find within the individual person all the components necessary for what he termed the “good life.” The therapeutic technique is generally know as “client centered therapy.”
In his most successful clients (as he refers to those he helped) he showed that life is not the goal but the journey. The healing process is the living process and that happiness is not necessarily just feeling good but constantly growing and fulfilling one's potentials. The most common term for this is self-actualization.
Within life, he felt, is "an energy" with gives life direction. His focus was on finding this energy within those he worked with but he said that he was frequently reminded of an early experience. Potato plants that had grown in the basement of his childhood home. They were kept in a box by a dirty window that allowed minimal sunlight. There was no hope for these potatoes to blossom, yet they grew towards the light anyway. These plants were symbolic for the spirit of life that every organism has to succeed to its greatest potential. He found that patients hopelessly forgotten in back wards of mental institutions sought each day to do their best even though they had little hope of a normal, happy life. This energy, he proved, reaches throughout humanity and his well developed concepts are still waiting a vehicle of communication to facilitate the dialog, sharing of feelings, and reduction of hostilities which will be necessary for greater successes for all of humanity.
Within the world of therapy there are many rivalries. Each philosophy diverges from the other and claims to be the only true solution. No modern therapeutic technique, however, discards Rogers' concern for a genuine relationship between therapists and clients. Rogerian therapists are always open to learn from other therapeutic strains so long as they adhere to the openness and genuineness required for the helping and healing relationship.
As I began to explore Carl Rogers' life experiences (to Rogers, life is the dynamic interaction of experiences), I began to realize that he, and his colleagues, created a philosophy which is the foundation on which rests many of the better parts of our society. Clearly, our society is based to a large degree on information and knowledge, so much so, that the wealthier nations can be termed "Information Societies" where a good portion of the workers labor with knowledge. Rogers and his colleagues created a mindset as part of their efforts, which allows this process of communication to exist openly. Today's Internet is the most impressive aspect of the "Information Society", yet it may not have been possible for all the computers of the world to communicate with genuine trust as they do if this philosophy of openness had not been created.
What strikes me with resounding solidity is that society can greatly benefit from the vast open matrix of computer communication by allowing the flow of genuine empathy and regard between all peoples along the digital pathways. The same healing relationships that successful therapists have with their clients and groups can be used to stem the suffering from pain caused by humanity's more dangerous members. Proactively, this philosophy can be shared to allow those who have contributed to this pain to find a better path for life; this was Rogers' goal as much as any other. He believed that the path to improvement lies within every human as a condition of our species, even in the most seemingly hopeless examples of humanity.
Rogers put all the conditions and expected results in very simple terms, almost in a handbook format. All through his life, he returned to his basic principles though as he became more experienced, his phrases became simpler and more succinct and their application to humanity grew in scale. He started his career thinking very scientifically but moved to include a more human approach, yet he adhered to the importance of science in as an component of psychotherapy.
He gave these conditions as necessary for creating a healing environment for his, and as he contends, guardedly, all successful psychotherapy.
- The client perceives himself as faced by a serious and meaningful problem
- The therapist is a congruent person in the relationship, able to be the person he is
- The therapist feels unconditional positive regard for the client
- The therapist feels an empathic understanding of the client's inner world and communicates this
- The client experiences to some degree the therapist's congruence, acceptance and empathy
The client has determined that there is something wrong that is profoundly impacting life. To help him, the therapist has to have a genuine interest in the client, there has to be realness to his concern with out a professional front. The therapist has to be congruent himself, meaning his awareness has to be aligned with his experiences. This congruence is a key to Rogers' belief, that all the experiences of life, memories, good or bad, give us the ability to deal with everyday life, to tell us how we should behave with every circumstance. If all these experiences are in congruence with the present awareness, then the therapist is “being” and able to help the client.
The therapist has to have genuine respect for the humanness of the client, “an unconditional positive regard.” Another basis of Rogers' belief is that humans are very remarkable and deserving of respect. He sees them (or us) as “incredible forms of life”, people “have the most exciting potential” for the “greatest possibilities.” He places his “primary value” on the individual. The “unconditional positive regard” includes also therapist's willingness to be for the client “whatever immediate feeling is going on.” Unconditional regard “prizes” the client in a total rather than a conditional way to be “whatever the client is at the moment.” His approach, he says, is built on basic trust in the person.
Empathy is also a very key component and its meaning to Rogers is the same as Webster's second definition, “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.” The etymology is more telling, deriving the word from the Greek empatheia, literally meaning passion.
Openness required too; as part of the genuineness, the therapist has to relate his own feelings about the client's concerns, not as advice, but as a reflection based on his awareness and experience.
The healing process, or the motion forward to a better life, begins with out motivation from therapist, but as a process Rogers believes is common to every organism, the tenancy for life to be as good as it can possibly be. This tendency, called “self actualizing”, is for an organism to “flow in all the different channels” and to “grow, develop, to reach its full potential.” In application to physical healing, he cites studies of
terminal cancer patients who where encouraged in this process by being given “meditation and fantasy training” focused on overcoming their malignancies. Many were able to experience remission.
The successful client moves from profound distress to what he calls “the good life.” This not necessarily a happy, contented and blissful person who feels good, but a person rich in experience and awareness. “Significant movement in therapy”, he says, “may bring greater awareness of pain but also of ecstasy, anger is more clearly felt but so is love, fear is known more deeply but so is courage.” The client has greater confidence in themselves as the have developed “trustworthy instruments for encountering life.”
Since a client in motion has a clearer understanding of his experiences, particularly bad ones, he can feel more comfortable with them and move away from definitiveness towards openness. He is more aware of himself and what is going on within as much as he is aware of what is going on within others around him. He is able to “live fully in each moment” and experience life as it is rather than living by some “preconceived self-structure.”
Personally, I feel bliss, content and happiness in those rare moments that I feel such congruence, but that is not the point. Life is, to Rogers, clearly the journey and not any form of goal or conclusion. Or as he might have said “Life IS.” He developed these simple yet profound beliefs in many parallel yet equally simple paradigms as he applies it to many aspects of human life.
Rogers had an strongly negative view of teaching, in fact he seems to have hated it. In contrast to his benignly positive view towards therapy, he suggested the following:
- Do away with teaching ... people would get together to if they wished to learn ...
- Do away with examinations ... they measure only the inconsequential type of learning
- Do away with grades for the same reason
- Do away with degrees [which] mark the conclusion of something [where] a learner is interested only in the continuing process of learning
- Do away with the exposition of conclusions [since] no one learns significantly from conclusions
Learning he says, was more that the accumulation of facts, quoting a professor he had in an earlier incarnation as an agronomist, “don't be the ammunition wagon, be the rifle.” Whatever this professor taught Rogers was lost over time but the professor's old-school approach appealed to him greatly. Most educators, he said, believed that “Knowledge exists primarily for use.”
To the end of this list, he adds, “I think I better stop there ... I do not want to become too fantastic.” He was painfully aware of his advanced thinking especially within the time period he experienced them for the first time. Even today these would very likely be considered “fighting words” to many traditional administrators.
“Teaching to teach is futile”, he says, “because anything that can be taught has no significant influence on behavior.” Discovery would therefore be the only legitimate learning path and people, if they want, can “learn together.” Testing is a total waste in his view, as it tests only a students ability to take a test. Since life is so dynamic in its constant changes, degrees, credits and even conclusions are limiting. They prevent the process of learning from its natural tenancy to continue its process.
As one may guess, many of his conditions for therapeutic environment would apply to learning as well. Therapy is growth as is learning. Genuineness on the part of the teacher is necessary for successful students and he cited many studies as proof. Greater class participation and independent thinking were achieved when teachers showed greater “empathy, prizing and realness.”
While his therapeutic approach is called “client centered therapy” this wider application of his beliefs is called the “person centered approach.” It extends farther and wider as he grew personally. Sharing power and control in an education environment is daring. What if it backfires? Students might find it much easier to conform rather than take responsibility for their own education. There exists an obvious threat to the daring administrator; “responsible freedom and shared power”, Rogers says, would be perceived as a “revolutionary force to be suppressed.”
As an example he cites a group of tribal natives in New Zealand who were labeled as slow learners. Their teacher asked them to ask about words that they wanted to know about and she provided information cards describing them. They built their own proper vocabularies that were relevant to their own lives and did so with excellent progress. The teacher, no doubt, felt herself isolated in the educational system especially having done this in the first half of the last century.
Another example of his is the sad story of a brilliant, yet technically unqualified, administrator who was hurt for his successes. He was given control of a dysfunctional school and by obtaining the participation of students, teachers and parents and giving them power of policy, he was able to allow them to create a splendid school. As soon as the school was economically more viable, the school board was able to hire a “more qualified” administrator, and the school's daring savior was fired.
Freedom in the Person
Rogers believed very strongly in personal freedom especially with respect to the choices of direction and growth. He quoted a “confused psychotic man” whose healing had begun to grow as saying, “I don't know what I am going to do, but I'M going to do it." This man's goal, however nebulous, is significant to Rogers. His freedoms, choices and personal goals have profound meaning. behavioral sciences, he felt, had made such terms meaningless, especially to someone suffering from psychosis. Such concern for the respect of the inner direction and freedoms so unconditionally is unique in our society. In its inner journey it goes well beyond the common scope of the concept of freedom, no matter how liberal.
Freedom in Groups
As his experience grew, he conducted ground breaking experiments with group dynamics. His results were almost always predictable, most participants would be delighted at the experience, yet some would be upset with having been given so much freedom.
In Basil he experimented with leaderless groups in a seminar context. His audiences where well into the hundreds and they were all given the opportunity to share their feelings and exercise leadership. “Most daring” of these group meetings he said, “was the forming of a large circle of eight hundred people.” “It became a mammoth encounter group” where people experienced learning greater than they had every before in such a short time. After “much initial chaos” people all began to communicate and listen to one another. These successes led to more ambitious challenges where Rogers very likely influenced the world we live in. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize shortly before his death.
Rogers was remarkable in his respect for science and his belief in the scientific method of discovery in a balance with the needs for understanding and empathy in psychotherapy.
In his usual and simple concise format he developed a short list of conditions he recommended as the basis for scientific discovery. He says that “sensing a pattern of relationships is a the heart of true science” and that great scientists such as Kepler, Einstein and others have learned to trust this intuitive sensing. He finds that beauty in the natural world is an indicator of fruitful discovery.
- Keen and alert intelligence
- Dedicated immersion over time with a broad range of phenomena
- Commitment to finding out
- Fresh non-defensive approach, laying aside previous knowledge
- Openness to all avenues of knowledge
- Trust in the total organismic sensing
- Recognition of beauty or elegance of the perceptions of the pattern
- Recognition that unity in the pattern is likely to provide fruitful discovery
To become legitimate science, every hypothesis has to be tested. He had “deep respect for the methodologies that scientists have developed” and was not shy about measuring the effectiveness of his own therapy. From the earliest success in his career he integrated whatever testing systems were available. Some seem complicated even by today's standards especially the Q- technique. He used it to measure the results of therapy as expected and realized by clients. In one example, the “client perceives herself as having become very similar to the person she wanted to be ... (rIB*SF2 = .70).”
Rogers was not shy of emerging technologies either. He immediately integrated the magnetic tape recorder into his therapy as well as film as soon as it became available to him. Computers were intriguing to him as well, the concept of fuzzy logic caught his attention as a possible way to enhance therapeutic science. Since it deals with the area of inaccuracy one might think that chaos theory may have had even more appeal for him. He encouraged young psychologists and social scientists to explore all these exciting new avenue.
Different Focuses of Therapy, Part Two
In identifying different kinds of therapy to understand how therapy can benefit a newer world, I looked at four branches and looked at each of their founders in varying depth. Therapeutic schools of theory seem to fall on two axises. One axis defines the importance of either self, where much of life's experiences spring from within, or, conversely, exterior stimulus or lessons control the personality. The other axis defines the level of importance of the experiences of life of the person in therapy (here called a client) and the level of importance of empathy and genuineness in the therapeutic relationship.
In terms of benefit to the human race in general, the method of therapy has to scale, meaning that it has to effectively work with groups of people as well as individuals and it has to benefit from the newer two-way communications technologies available. Since the therapist, or activist, needs to expand his influence, the method of healing would have to be something that would be popularly accepted world-wide.
Freud began a search within the human to find a reality within the individual that defines the patterns in life, which is stronger than life's experiences. (Rog-Skin, 91-92) On the simple axis, this puts him in the “self” category. However, in his interviews with his clients, he did not really believe them directly, he interpreted what they said in ways that would reveal symbols of inner conflicts. He was also harsh in his assessment of humanity in general, almost cynical and was compared to Hitler by Carl Rogers when he said that humanity “wants to be oppressed and to fear its masters”, and that “the human is at its deepest level untrustworthy.” This places him high on the “self scale” and low on the “empathy scale.”
B. F. Skinner, who came later, applied the operant behavioral conditioning theories of his experiences with experimentation on rats to the human personality. He showed how conditioning, life's carrots, is the strongest force in the development of the human personality, and he believed that by only offering positive rewards for good behavior he could reform the human mind to do what it ought to and not what it is doing that is wrong. He attempted to scale his theory to the level of social engineering by creating the fictitious Walden II community. Skinner loved the Earth and could probably be called an environmentalist. To meet the goal a society that does not impact the planet negatively, Walden II used positive reinforcement, and social fairness, to obtain the best results from its citizens. The protagonist of the story, Walden II's leader, was an engineer by trade and his operational philosophy can only be called “social engineering.” In the end the Utopian community seems to resemble some cultist religions, but the most important feature about it was that the conditioning process was done without the knowledge of the citizens; they had no say over their own fate, having no autonomy or independence. In terms of the simple axis, Skinner was below the line on the “self scale” since behavior is controlled by the stimulus of life, and low on the “empathy and involvement” scale since he advocated reaching humans without their knowledge or consent.
Aaron Beck's cognitive school of thought is very useful in defining the behaviors in people. His theory lies a layer above Skinner's, he believes that experience's in life make learning impression on the mind which can be good or bad, depending on the quality of the learning. It seems to resemble old-fashioned learning where what is taught is to be believed and not questioned. To help a client, re-teaching wrongly learned lessons is the way to psychological happiness. Sometimes a phobia, such as entering an airplane, is preceded by an “automatic thought”, almost a quick movie of a bad experience that suddenly instills fear, preventing the person from entering the airplane. All that has to be done, he says, is to identify the automatic thought and relearn a better thought through mental exercises controlled by the therapist. He works closely with the client to determine what is causing problems and the client is a key part of the therapeutic process, he strongly believes in empathy in the therapeutic relationship. He stops short, however, of giving the client too much credit for his own knowledge and experience. One of his examples for the uses of empathy is to show the client that the therapist, as an authority figure, is warm and caring; therefore the client learns to trust authority. The client's experiences with authority would presumably be replaced with a better outlook. He studies the client's experiences, but does not think they are a necessary component in moving forward, so the self axis would be low. Empathy is somewhere in the middle, it is not as genuine as it could be. He is using it to achieve a goal, and having done that, the empathy has served its purpose.
For Rogers, life experiences are key to the personality, he accepts genetic and behavioral influences as making key contributions but relies entirely on the concept that the personality springs from within and that it is a good thing trying always to reach the best possible potential. He sees it in all living things, often referring to it with Maslow's term of self-actualization. Of the therapeutic schools, Rogers’s theories rate highest in both respect for the self and the involvement of the client and his experiences.
More on Beck
In applying therapeutic models to the world at large, it has to be understood that the many nations would need to have to accept the process as being beneficial to them, therapeutic methods would have to rate high in both empathy and in respect. There has to be good feeling, and there has to be a genuine effort to achieve the respect necessary for acceptance. Rogers and Beck both seem to have philosophies that would scale well to the world at large.
Beck's strength is in giving insight into how humans think when things go wrong. He very scientifically carries out meta studies combining the experiences of many therapists along with his own.
With Beck's explanations, problems in the world become surprisingly simple. He sees global strife as following the exact same equation that marital strife follows. If looking for a simplistic explanation, then he would identify extreme misunderstandings, biases, as causing most of the worlds problems. People, especially in groups, get wrapped up in misconceptions to the point where their anger and the anger of a group simply takes over and people behave in ways that cannot be explained otherwise where they abandon all of their innate human beliefs and ethics.
He is, in this way, very forgiving to the average person, no matter how caught up in violence they are. A soldier, he says is faced with the prospect of killing or being killed (PoH, 12) He identifies leaders however, as not being so innocent in rationally developing national policies of “instrumental violence” that result in the deaths of millions. And he also seeks justice and punishment for their lieutenants describing their crimes as “procedural violence.” These contrast with the more reflexive and emotional violences that occur at more common levels. (PoH, 18)
He believes, like Rogers, that there is a good force in people that makes them sociable, but he calls it an “innate program” rather than the more soulful concept of self. It “reinforces sociable behavior.” Optimistically, the dynamics within groups that he cites for causing violence can also be very positive in enjoining groups and creating peace. The problems in aggressive or angry behavior between persons and groups that stem from close mindedness, intolerance for those who are not exactly the same, or who are not members of the same group (PoH, 144).
On a more personal level, anger can be produced by a number of causes, both seemingly reasonable and others unreasonable. Deliberate attacks of course cause anger, but perceptions of slights, or repugnance with another's behavior possibly based on social biases. (PoH, 71) Anger can be triggered by concepts of entitlement; those who are not of a certain quality cannot behave certain ways.
Interestingly enough, he views bias, positive or negative, as being equally harming. By having too high a regard for a group or society internally, there would be a tendency to view others, outsiders to the group with lower regard, thereby creating potential conflict (PoH, 144).
More on Rogers
Rogers book, On Personal Power, provides many answers to facilitating healing in the world, it reads like a friendly and lively manual for peaceful action. Unlike many, he does not shy away from the need for some to take risks in resisting their oppression. There is as he experienced much risk in creating harmony in the world. He was very effective in bringing many political forces to the table and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunately, he passed away shortly thereafter.
Rogers strength was not in finding specific explanations for specific problems but creating an environment for facilitating the joining of concepts, be they right or wrong, so as to compare opposing views and to allow people to come to an understanding that he referred to as congruence when practicing individual therapy.
When discussing social solutions, Rogers brings up the idea that many of his clients have suffered from a schism between their inner selves and the self that they present to the public. They claim that their friends and families and associates knew their real selves then they would not be liked. Outside they may be sociable but inside they have bad thoughts and anti-social impulses. In laying this observation over Beck's group control descriptions, it sounds almost as if deep down, there may be a rebellion occurring against some of the unhealthy dynamics groups may have. Rogers helped his clients by showing them that they can reconcile their two selves and work for acceptance in groups while maintaining inner self dignity.
With scientific research, Beck supports many of Rogers belief's of the individual, though unintentionally. With so many problems in the world caused by belief systems and government policies where people chafe under unreasonable rules, where even the participants who are drawn into the process are not really acting out of their own beliefs, then the concept that the inner self has many of the answers is very important. Beck confirms that there is much altruism, especially in America, where individuals, as a result of their own good feelings do good for others. Beck reserves his experimental approach leaning towards Skinner's theories, where he agrees that these good feelings are solely the result of positive conditioning.
Tapping the good in people has been a spiritual quest, and the concept of self-actualization as described by Maslow seems very religious in comparison to Beck’s perspective. Maslow mentions “fate” as having a hand in contributing to the self-actualized person, but sometimes I feel he refers to the hand of God.
Communication between peoples and bridging individuals is the goal of Roger's theories facilitating large groups to create better results. People in conflict can always find paths to share their experiences, and in so doing, wash away many of the biases associated with race or gender. As soon as the individual person is discovered as the common component of the group through open communication, superficial differences become unimportant.
As in therapy, Rogers gives point by point conditions that must be met for successful progress towards openness in groups especially in international issues.
Facilitative attitudes (and skills) can help a therapist gain entry into the group
Freedom from a desire to control the outcome, and respect for the capacity of the group, and skills in releasing individual expression
Openness to all attitudes no matter how extreme or unrealistic they may seem
Acceptance of the problems experienced by the group where they are clearly defined as issues
Allowance of the freedom of choices in direction, either for the group or individuals particularly in the near future
A healthy group will result and the openness and flexibility will produce:
- An outpouring of long suppressed feelings, in particular negative, hostile and bitter expressions
- An acceptance and understanding of attitudes as more and more members feel free to express a range of experiences
- Recognition for individuals' uniqueness and strength, mutual trust will develop
- A defusing of irrational feelings as they are fully expressed and as the group the experimental knowledge of the members overlaps through welcome feedback
- Feelings based on common experiences by group members will clarify issues and strengthen resolve
- Growth in the self confidence of the members and confidence in the unity of the group
- More realistic consideration of the issues with less irrationality
- Greater mutual trust and fewer ego trips, as in the completion for leadership
- Motion towards innovative, responsible and revolutionary steps
- Dispersion of leadership in the group as individual members realize what specific leaderships skills they have
- Constructive and actionable steps, where there is significant progress in changing the situation
- Enough mutual support within the group to assure members that the group will support them even when taking steps that might be perilous
While describing good leaders and comparing them what he considers well developed people, Rogers finds some interesting differences. He finds a good manager "dependable, productive, serious, candid, someone you can lean on but not a dreamer nor an entirely autonomous person."
But describes a self actualized as one who “engages daydreams, expresses hostile feelings directly, enjoys sensuous experiences, sensuous experiences, thinks and associates to ideas in unusual ways, has unconventional thought processes, is concerned with philosophical problems, has insight into own motive s and behavior, is skilled in social techniques of imaginative play, pretending and humor values own independence and autonomy”
While these personalities seem contradictory, and a professional relationship would very likely result in friction, Rogers stresses the communication skills and the empathy of his more ideal person as augmenting the skills of a good leader.
Encouraging the good in people, not only creates a better human society, but can actually be profitable. A friend of Rogers, a social consultant for a major factory operator, was allowed to apply the humanistic approach to a series of plants while holding other plants in the stat quo as control groups. The emphasis was on building two-way communication in all directions and the fair delegation of the responsibilities of making decisions. In a word, productivity tripled. The managerial staff was reduced to twenty percent. It is not surprising that cooperation among the staff would produce such increases in output and likewise reduce the need for straw bosses, but it works against the basic concepts associated with the management.
In describing self-actualized people, Maslow developed an idea he called being values. “Self-actualizing people are, without exception, involved in a cause outside their own skin, in something outside their selves. The are devoted, working at something, something which is very precious to them -- some calling or vocation in the old sense, the priestly sense" (Farther Reaches, 43).
A spiritual guidance in groups within groups that creates a self actualizing drive was described by Ruth Benedict when she used the term synergy to describe the tendency for groups to follow a beneficial path. In a high synergy society, the members engage in supportive behaviors, those who have, share, and those who share are considered wealthy for their generosity. In a low synergy environment the self-enrichment of those who already have is the primary dynamic. The have-nots work to support those who have. There are poor social conditions and the spirit of the group is harsh, where religious figures are often cruel. In higher synergy environments, spiritual symbols are much more giving; Benedict cites a card game in a secure and closely knit tribe, the players were consulting their protecting spirits for advice on playing their hands (Maslow, 201-208).
In our modern society, we may assume we are nationally here in the wealthy world but, if we are members of an unfortunate group having a hard time for economic or social rations, we don't feel our nation is so strong and healthy. As described by Benedict's synergy, we live in a mixed society, but as long as there are fundamental unfairnesses our society is not whole and its values are a sham. Certainly there is some sharing from the rich to the poor, but this may not be an indicator of high synergy so much as simply to prevent social upheaval, or a reaction to the guilt associated with depriving citizens necessary resources. Mumford in "Technics and Civilization" talks about professional sports as funneling a great deal of resources and energy into a game where winning at any cost is the goal rather than the fun and beauty of the game. Historically, nations that have been suffering from low synergy have supported sports that were violent, the Romans being most notable (Mumford, 303). Today, one sport, car racing has developed in a modern day version of chariot racing where there is a possibility of death to the drivers, much in the way gladiators fought. The man who brought greatest fame from this sport, NASCAR, was known as the terminator and was killed in accident. In watching a replay of the fateful accident, it was obvious that he was killed while trying to cause another car to crash at speeds of over two hundred miles per hour.
In the streets of the city I live car accidents are far too common, several occurring very near to my car. The cause seems to be the aggressive driving practice of driving too closely, or tail-gating. It serves no purpose except to intimidate the person in the car ahead, and, despite the thought that the car ahead might be driving too slowly, the tail-graters rarely pass it. Deaths on the highway are a considerable cause of death and economic loss. There may be a direct relationship between the aggressive racing and driving habits in the street, but a greater overall force seems to be a work. Many, if not, most members of society are pushing in an aggressive manner in a way that probably does not benefit them, and is definitely an overall detriment to the society.
Rogers describes the changes he desires as revolutionary and co-authored a book about himself with that title. He respected people who worked purely based on their own experiences and gives them credit in advance for what changes will take place in the world. He calls them the emerging persons of the quiet revolution. He gives them credit for much greater awareness that has existed in previous generations, and describes their quest for inner space through meditation. This new generation that dedicated so much energy to opposing racism and protesting the Viet Nam War, also created environmentalism. They have been newly empowered in protesting globalization by embracing communication technology and will very likely benefit from personal relationships developed with people from all over the world as part of bridging differences as Rogers did in his time.
Quoting Einstein, who said described the path to understanding the Universe as being built up purely from deduction, by no logical path, resting on sympathetic understanding of the experience of taking this path. This form of meditation can derives truths by allowing consideration and comparison between concepts and possibilities in an open and flowing consciousness. A model is internally built within the mind by comparing and constructing perceptions in the mind and, until now, only in the mind. Computer systems presently being developed by the quiet revolutionaries of the free computer culture will create the computational power to actually make all these comparisons based on a vast sea of data collected provided from all over the world.
Einstein described the path to his understanding the Universe as being built up purely from subjective deduction with no logical plan. His knowledge rested on a sympathetic understanding from the experience of taking this open path. Like meditation, he freely learned the truths of the Universe by freely allowing consideration and comparison between concepts and their possibilities in an open and flowing consciousness.
A computational model can internally be built within the mind by constructing varied perceptions and comparing them. In Einstein's time this could only happen in the mind. But now, Linux and other computer systems are presently being developed by the e-mutualists and quiet revolutionaries of the free computer culture will create the computational power to actually model the vast sea of data from all over the world to create all possible perceptions and make all the necessary comparisons to allow us a life where technology can make us as free and caring as it can make us efficient.
New to the world is a networking concept called Meshing. Technically defined, “a Mesh network is a collection of autonomous nodes or terminals that communicate with each other by forming a multi hop radio network and maintaining connectivity in a decentralized manner”
This means that computers with wireless equipment can transfer information between themselves on behalf of other computers, effectively routing the information across a fabric of connections. As the number of wireless computers (or other devices) increases, the speed of the meshed network increases at a greater rate. Since all these privately owned computers are helping each other independent of any government or corporation network, they are all truly autonomous. They are also very reliable. As soon as a better path through the fabric of radio connections is found for information, that one becomes more commonly used. Any node can drop out (or be shut off) without impacting the network. It is really a matrix rather than a connection of networks that the Internet really is.
In terms of information sharing and the sharing of the code that makes up computers, meshing would enhance the users' experiences many factors over what is available now, however remarkable present computing power may be. Because an increase in density creates an ever more efficient network, it would not take long for users to start transmitting voice over the meshed networks. This would effectively eliminate the need for local telephone service, and as the meshes interconnected, assisted by the Internet itself for long distances, even long distance telecoms would be threatened.
In the third world, the change would be even more significant. Communication would be done on these very cheap computers. Over long distances, aircraft could easily store packets picked up in one location and then deliver them as they pass over another more remote location. Requested information would never take more that an hour to get a response anywhere in the world.
If corporations would attempt to deny service by exploiting the digital divide, then e-mutualists would develop their own systems. If governments continue on their support for the monopolization of intellectual property in the form of skewed patent and copyright laws, then the same phenomena that defined the MP3 revolution may rise in these networks, their potential is so powerful. Hopefully the e-mutualists will prevail and the society at large will see that their democratic involvement in their digital future is necessary, will be very rewarding, and the technology itself will be the vehicle for democracy.
There were a few lawsuits but the likelihood of being sued by the music industry was even less than that of being struck by lightening. Eventually the music industry relented by allowing listeners to download individual songs legally, for a dollar each, rather than being forced to buy CDs, which are expensive, inefficient with respect to space and contain second-rate filler songs most listeners don't want to hear.
This small rebellion by such a large portion the people from wealthy nations was remarkable in many ways. It showed that a “Robin Hood” mentality exists with many people. The record industry, represented by examples of waste and hedonism such as scenes of rap stars dumping thousands of dollars of champagne on the floor to display their wealth could no longer hold the high moral ground. Possibly more important, this new Gnutella network represents a computer paradigm that is truly open, where all the different represented nodes of computers work with each other in total trust and, most important, there is no central controlling computer system or network. It is truly democratic and it benignly forced the controllers of the music to meet their needs for face tremendous losses.
Still more uses may come from the Gnutella network, it will very likely help independent artists to get a start in conjunction with web related promotions and fan networking. Also music historians can share access to rare and obscure recordings bringing back important examples of music that would otherwise be forgotten. Social networking would help enhance the computer networks effectiveness.
Moving away from the benefits of sharing music, a concept of sharing “computer abilities”, where the very code that runs the computers can be provided by neighboring computers. In combination with networking breakthroughs and more efficient code design, this distributed form of sharing would keep every computer up to date. Smaller devices, such as the "wearables", whose storage is limited, could throw away less used code and replace it with recently accessed code, and then throw away that code and get other code, giving them unlimited capabilities despite their small size and limited resources.
The very first technologies brought humanity away from a life of wandering looking for food and killing wild animals to survive. In adapting nature to make life better, domesticated animals started to change the farmers, making them more civil and able to create human society. Tribes in Africa who have just started to use metal plows have suddenly experience factors of growth in their ability to live richer lives. Small improvements can provide great strides for groups of humans, creating the beginnings of advanced civilization, possibly leading to artistic renaissance.
Not all humans took advantage of these strides, and with the creation of tools came weapons. Humans who continued to hunt rather than work with the earth and build villages, had no particular respect for life as killing was their main business (Mumford, p. 82). The paranoia and sadism of a life-long hunter tends towards a culture of killing that does is not limited to animals. For safety they form into groups, and these groups direct their killing instincts. Nature is benign; there are no real dangers that don't exist anywhere else, with the exception of folly with respect to the weather or other human error. Common sense should keep people from antagonizing large predators.
5000 years ago, a hunter finished a meal of red meat and bread in the Alps. It should have been a happy moment for him, but he was shot in the head with an arrow by a fellow hunter. With few real threats in the world, even at high altitudes, humans create all of their own threats.
Growth of Control, Paranoia and Armies
With time, armed bands grew into armies and their leaders where able to accumulate wealth and land and even other humans with the use of weapons. The weapon is the ultimate labor saving device, armed men can obtain wealth without working, they can obtain wives with out being kind and charming, they can gain power without any social or organizational talents. All they have to know is killing. Technologies that brought benefits to civilization have been shadowed by advances that have advanced killing to the point of terrorism. In the human experience, peace and prosperity have grown in parallel with terror and annihilation.
The great empires that grew prior to our modern age of the last millennium, were spread out and managed to diffuse their power structures so as to prevent socially equalizing forces from having a point to focus on. But in being so spread out they where vulnerable to a breakdowns in the information and communication systems that they had created to build their empires with their achievements. The breakdown of early empires such as Egypt and Rome allowed local nation states to grow without the fear of attack by an empire and the poverty caused by tribute.
At a certain undefinable point magic became science, alchemy becomes metallurgy. “Merlin” as it were, empowered by a kind and just “King Arthur” was able to move beyond “waving a magic wand” to the scientific method, moving beyond a childish desire to make things happen instantly to the hard work of understanding nature in the laboratory and embracing it to create significant technological advances.
Experimentation was the most important of all inventions and the scientists and inventors who embraced it defined a new type of human, one who, for the first time could easily navigate the social classes. Even small technological advances can make huge improvements across the whole of humanity. “The machine is both an instrument of liberation and one of repression. While creating apparent order it has caused global chaos.” (Mumford, p. 238)
The lock, the clock, and the gun
Machines define the growth of our technical age, and the early machinists where the clockmaker's, blacksmiths and the lock makers. Clocks in particular defined the standards for mechanical design and along with the blacksmith's weapons, defined a culture of regimentation control which passed from the military to the early capitalized industries. Clocks coordinated the efforts of man. No longer did the craftsman work when he felt inspired, he had to fit his work into dictated pattern. The lock too, is important in defining the cultural features of this growing and changing civilization. A regimented culture will create surpluses that the controlling organizations would want to store without necessarily revealing the quantity of the stocks. The locks on storage sheds provided a veil of secrecy, security for information much more important to its control of the culture than protection from theft redistribution by Robin Hood types. This kind of system is often called a “Machine” but is better described as a an exploitation system dependent on mechanical devices to control the people and society around it.
None of these inventions seem necessary for life itself, but only for the control of it and, specifically, for the control of society. With the influence of armies, regimentation becomes necessary to maintain control over society. Regimentation is perfected in the military and passes into society to allow control to perfect itself in the newly invented capital economies.
Movable Type and the Book
There was invention that was so different and wonderful that it seems today necessary for life, and it is only a recent invention in archaeological terms. This is the movable type of the printing press, creating the book as we know it today. The printed page suddenly brought information about all the other important developments within the grasp of the average person. Embracing it could also mean the mutual sharing information as well, any talented reader could easily publish his thoughts.
Coal and Iron
The Black Age
Energy also defines the growth of human society and technology. The discovery of coal combined with advances in metallurgy bring about an age where much of society is filled with huge machines. These advances where not necessarily good, as a culture of economic exploitation brought about the deliberate destruction of resources, the most important to industry being the human resource. Descriptions of these early industrial age are appalling -- women, kept naked, were used in English mines as beasts of burden since mules were too tall to pull carts in the narrow tunnels of coal mines. They were raped by their supervisors.
Early highly capitalized industries grew in the absence of society. Glass makers was the first out to the country. As a high energy process, the need for charcoal derived from wood sent their operations farther in the the mountains. The really significant change came with the discovery of iron. Initially charcoal was also used to make a very find quality of iron, but the discovery of coal, especially in locations near to iron deposits, created an entirely now kind of economic entity, a highly capitalized industry. From this we derive today the most important market number, the Dow Index of Industrial Averages. By operating near the resources, usually high in mountains, owners and managers entirely escaped the scrutiny of society and the control of the protective guilds. Far from society, managers met others who had avoided civilization, roving bands of hunters and killers. These thugs became secured management control over people employed in the mines and smelters and, of course, eventually became the police. In a dynamic parallel with modern terror, the structure of the factory could not know anything except production at the lowest possible cost, with profits derived from the greatest possible cost to civilization.
This sudden new reality is the age of coal and iron, the black age, the cult of death. The lands of middle England and cities such as Pittsburgh had become black and devoid of nature. Extreme and inefficient over production influenced by military regimentation created a cycle where weapons become increasingly bigger and bigger. Wealthy owners and managers disrupt every international peace process and exploit fear by forcing even complacent nations to meet or exceed the arms purchases of other nations.
The Human Resource
People are the most important component of industry, we are to it a human resource. To guarantee a plentiful supply of us to industry, moral manipulation was enacted where religious leaders consistently opposed any kind of birth control, creating fervent opposition to it. Families, non the less, managed to level their birth rates. Birth control and other other important new inventions and technology helped level the playing field between owners and more common society and created more modern and healthy age.
The New Natural Age
Technology Brings Us Together
Electricity allows the home to stay lit at night; friends and families can enjoy each other's company and read after a day of work. Telegraph and telephone also become common, linking all the common people in a two way communication systems that partially define the Information Age of today. Other inventions more subtly add to the perfection of an enlightened lifestyle. Plumbing makes us clean by bringing nature's brook into the home. Glass technology grew from a way to make a house what it is today, to providing eye glasses, so important for learning, and mirrors so that we could gaze upon and appreciate themselves, adding new meaning to reflection. Copper pots in the hands of a world of homemakers can produce predictable and savory results. Wearing beautiful textiles allows expression, creating joy in the streets. Clothes become yet another communication system, mostly for attracting those we want to know better.
Technology allowed humanity to re-join itself with earlier happier time when people enjoyed the benefits of nature, before the black age, when cultural Renaissances flourished and happiness was the most common human trait.
More spectacular advances such as the growth of aviation had to wait for developments in aluminum manufacture. Among the most abundant of materials; aluminum requires such huge amounts of electricity it is now processed near the highly efficient hydroelectric dams.
Once underway, aviation truly fused the cultures of the world. Creative cultures can travel and nearly the speed of sound making the whole planet a potential meeting of the minds.
Electric wave transmission through the air gave us radio and television. Knowledge, an in particular news, is distributed universally and news journalists have for the most part have held to high enough standards. The news media remains as a contribution rather than deterrent to the increase of society's body of knowledge. But the one-way flow of information of these media has frequently allowed exploitation. The same kinds of manipulation that have turned cultures against each other have been accelerated by the media in the last century. They allow no opportunity for questioning by those receiving the information because the news media has a one-way flow of information.
Sadly, many of the horrors of the black age and the regimented control of society and factories still remain. This new world of communication and cultural fusion has not been able to dislodge the industrial concept of work that supplanted the notion of self-enrichment with the paradigm of working purely for work's sake. Controlling owners despise the workers, because as hard has the workers are pushed, the controlling owners often drive themselves even harder.
Despite the success of highly capitalized industry, much of humanity has yet to experience industrial growth periods and the benefits of the modern technological age. They remain isolated until the managers of an updated version of the black age choose their lands as targets for annexation and exploitation. Lack of defenses and capital makes their governments vulnerable to attack and corruption; beneficial and popular leaders are routinely assassinated by industrial agents.
Today's technology, which is the most important component of the modern Information Society, has to be viewed in the context of technology's history. The Human Race's growth too, provides two parallel influences. One is beneficial and enlightening, brings the best out in people. The other is destructive, controlling and abusive and seems to have no purpose except to create more mechanical power for itself.
While some nations managed to escape this dark age of natural and human exploitation, the majority of power wielded in the area which is defining how information will be used is in the hands of highly capitalized industry.
The biggest information innovation is historically an extension of the telephone and the transistor. In fact, the modern device that makes up the Internet communication nodes really descends from products created by the American phone monopoly from the 1960s until its breakup as a trust.
The protocols that bind all the communication and information machines were developed in universities in the spirit of beneficial use. This resulted from anti trust laws applied by the US government against the phone monopoly requiring the sharing of their technology.
While the Internet is thought of as a network, it is in fact a matrix of communication and computational possibilities supported by vast repositories of information. It holds the potential to the resolution of problems caused by the contradictory healing and killing tendencies in the growth of humanity.
In comparing the accessibility to information between cultures, we often use the term digital divide. It should seem reasonable that if culture and technology are so closely related, cultures lacking technology would be poor in both wealth and access to knowledge.
It is of course horrendous to assume that the cultures which have been technologically passed-over are weak in knowledge or brilliance. Tribal wisdom in its social context is probably vastly superior to that superficial brilliance of advanced culture. Tribal culture has developed without the intervention of monied classes manipulating common thought through bribery for the purpose of more efficient annexation and exploitation. Tribal and native truths have developed in natural and beautiful environments where the meditative process of conceptual modeling has always been freely available to everyone. This process is still humanity's greatest strength, communication and computational technologies only enhance what we have all been given at birth.
There are also technology and information divisions within societies and cultures. In the US, it is most notably class related in that America functions on a purely capital system providing only enough distributed support to prevent sudden social disruption.
This creates another view of social inclusion to the Information Society. There are those people who can access it through the Internet and those who cannot. This view also adds the handicapped to the equation. From this perspective technology could potentially concentrate on creating tools designed to meet the challenges of isolation where the adapted components are flexible enough to be used under a variety of favorable or difficult environmental conditions.
Innovation of the 90s Becomes a Huge Stock Swindle
Often referred to as “The Machine”, the socio-economic systems that benefit from, and give rise to' technology behave in a cycles. With each new major achievement by scientists and inventors there is also much enthusiasm about the benefits to humanity to the economy. There are benefits to be sure, but the majority of them go to the owners or capital investors. The machine runs like an “engine without a governor”, and the capital markets are no exception. Unrealistic economic surges have followed major innovations, in recent times this has been recorded by the market indexes. Stocks and other ownership notes fly high and then plunge; those not in "the know" get dragged into a downdraft losing much or all of their savings. Theoretically, the major bank of the US and the world, the Federal Reserve, is supposed to moderate the cycle, often known as the cyclical rotation. In reality, they, especially throughout the 1990s encouraged uncontrolled growth into a condition known as a bubble, and then as the impending plunge in the indexes occurred, they raised the interest rates successively from nearly giving away money free money to nearly userous rates. Meetings between a major investment firm and the Federal Reserve chief occurred just prior the technology crash of 2000. Stupidly, the partner of the firm encouraged her representative investors to sell major portions of their technology holdings. Other major traders were even more candid in the papers; such is the arrogance of the banking community. As the technology markets plunged, so did the global stocks, so much was lost that it can be measured in millions of lives and immense suffering. To this day, despite the constant shifting of resources from the average person to the wealthiest investors, the top index has yet to reach its previous highs after five years. So deep was the plunge that conservative politicians could brag that the partial recovery was the greatest surge in many decades. The irony is that the present collapse has been the most damaging since the Great Depression.
The prosecutors of the State of New York documented brokers continually speaking of “buying into companies that you believe in”, while they themselves sold these very stocks. They fabricated research information, transferring billions upon billions to themselves while personally feeling little more than slight criticism from the government.
James Watt, Inventor of the steam engine, never collected a cent
Even more ironically, throughout our age of highly capitalized industry, scientists and inventors have rarely gotten more than academic credit for their brilliance. The system failed to properly reward the inventors of the steam engine, the textile flying shuttle and radio and television technologies, all crucial to the Information Society.
Brilliance is a commodity
Information workers themselves are separated from their skills just as the original factory workers were and returned to the market pool just as recession sets in. They can never get real credit for their contributions. Corporations benefit indirectly from society's contributions, such as the educational systems and urban infrastructures, yet use political influence to minimize their obligations to them. (May, 38)
Technological copyrights and patents are being absorbed by large corporations from small innovators in much the same way the aristocracies of the past annexed common lands in building their estates and ranches. (May, 72-73) Increasingly cryptic patent and copyright laws make it nearly impossible for individual technological innovators to maintain control over their inventions. If there is technology a major corporation needs, the small entrepreneur can either sell the technology to the large corporation, losing it, or weather endless lawsuits knowing his company will be destroyed in the end and the larger predator will prevail.
Mumford, L. (1934/1963). Technics and civilization. New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace & World.
Friday, February 18, 2005
In a momentary departure from the usual cycle of the development of control systems by the Orwellian types of industries, the Internet sprang into being as a collaboration of some unusually nice folks working in the labs of the then phone monopoly, and students at the then most radical school in the world, Berkeley.
There are many versions of the birth of the Internet. It is true that it was started to facilitate military development during the Cold War, but like army fatigues, it quickly became a symbol of freedom and the free access to information as well as a democratic path to participation in the creation of information.
What is remarkable about the Berkeley effort, is that it presented a publicly owned version of one of the phone monopoly's controlling computer systems, Unix, as well as adding an important feature called sockets. With a socket system, one computer, in effect, opens a socket, and another binds to that opening to create a communication connection. A web server, for instance, offers sockets to computers out on the Internet, and user applications such as web browsers bind to them. During the development era, a server was always called a daemon and was graphically represented by a cute little devil. The Unix system they developed is the BSD Network Release. This system is still well used and continuously added to and is considered the most reliable. Linux is a similar system in many respects especially the part about public ownership but it came later. The unbelievable growth of Linux was a phenomenon to be respected, but it could not have started in void. There had to be futile ground for its sudden development.
The Berkley system was developed with the help of people using the Stanford University networks, and when they graduated, they named their company for the network, Sun Microsystems. The inspiration for de-isolating individual machines and joining them into vast networks was termed open systems and Sun's favorite slogan was that the whole network was now the computer. It was a purely capital based movement, but anyone with computer talent could easily gain employment and access to these new machines, called workstations. Because of the intentional openness of the environment, technologists formed into groups and enhanced their machines with openly developed software, creating a concept that the protection of the freedom of openness was protected by secure software, security for the first time equals freedom.
Socket software and daemons are very special. Only in cartoons and in toys have technological devices taken on lifelike traits. Because sockets work with computers and computers can attain nearly lifelike status, as in a Turing machine, and because sockets are for communication they are well loved and have been well nurtured and cared for. .
This mindset may actually be a thing of the past, affectatious connections with old computers, feel difficult. Unlike old houses or classic cars, their value does not persist, and many of the old-timers of the computer age, because they were senior and well paid, were fired during the crash of the technology economy in early 2000. It feels dangerous to think about the early days of the Internet and the networked computer, there seems to be a psychic trap of falling into the old patterns where hard work, imagination and a kindly boss would result in prestige and a good paycheck.
Nonetheless, as it happened, groups of people and their networks of computers, experienced a high level of synergy. They all worked together using the same conditions for facilitating successful groups that Carl Rogers had formulated. Other social concepts and technological philosophies also applied well to the inventions leading to machine intelligence. Ruth Benedict's synergy helps balance the uses of the machines between capital growth and social contributions. Buckminster Fuller's sophisticated geometric structures, another definition for synergy, foreshadowed the matrix of the world of Internet users. He also predicted public polling through information technology. His vision was the use of the telephone whereas today the Swiss government uses the Internet for direct polling.
Sadly, success blinded the new technologists to the darker realities of the cycle of the development of major innovations.
The 1990s experienced slow steady and healthy growth pulling the nation, and much of the world out of a recession that had really started in the 1970s as a result of debts incurred by the US because of the Viet Nam War. Relationships were surreal; bankers embraced longhaired technicians who society would have normally banished to garages and basement laboratories. International investment, in particular, took on a beneficial cause, bringing capital to the impoverished parts of the world while creating information technologies to efficiently facilitate the process. This good will was previously unheard of and any innovative and hardworking person could make incredibly good money doing only good deeds. Bringing internetworked technology to the emerging world would fuel the tide that would raise all ships.
Necessary services such as insurance and banking could be handled in the relatively uncorrupted nations of the US, Canada and in Europe. Citizens and businesses in unstable countries could function safely and the first world would presumably continue the globalization of the Internet and support growth in these nations in rational and well-conceived ways. The single biggest indicator to the immense synergy of this new culture was that the communicating and thinking machine would provide its developers huge benefits purely by creating efficiency and reducing waste in our world of eight or more billion people.
But unfortunately, things didn't work out that way, corruption in the US banking industry came to critical mass, and suddenly we were working with the older more cynical definitions of the investment industry, which is to separate good people from their hard earned money. We were wakened to the reality that jobs and workers are commodities traded by owners and managers who take possession of the inspiration that ultimately provided to us by society's synergy. The fallout was huge and resulted in a seemingly endless recession that could be called a depression at its lowest level. In the end, almost none of the corrupting forces felt the slightest punishment for record fraud and stock manipulation. The worst of the offenders, those at the very top of the banking pyramid, are oddly still protected even by the investors who lost the most, probably because the banking culture and the owners of industry have long responded to signals from above, the conditioning of vast sums of money being so strong.
Lewis Mumford, in the thirties, and Christopher May, in the new millenium, talked about the growth of technology as being the structure for the development of humanity, and information is the substance that creates technological innovation. Power, or failure, also rests in the transport of information, which is communication. Transportation and communication were virtually the same thing prior to the electronic inventions of the telephone and the radio. The big empire of the Romans died as a result of cuts in the lines of communication and was replaced by smaller cultures who where barbarian at first but then formed small nation states able to accumulate their wealth without the threat of attack by some empire. Gradually, wealth, knowledge and good intentions brought us to the most important invention of the past thousand years, the moveable type printing press. It is hard to say that a book can be bad, but not all innovation was so beneficial and ultimately some, particularly in mining and manufacturing, brought back the controlling, authoritarian and enslaving principles of long gone empires. Here Mumford and May describe cycles of innovation where common but very intelligent people, working almost as craftsmen, invent things that can potentially boost the overall value of the society. But then, control over these innovations gets taken from these common people, often without financial compensation, and put to the task of building bigger and better mechanical and financial empires.
Mumford used the inventions of the steam engine and flying shuttle as examples where the innovators were never compensated despite the strong patent laws in place at the time, and the immediate used of these beneficial developments was actually to degrade humanity. Industrial owners reduced conditions to levels far worse than the slaves of antiquity had even co-opted religious leaders to help raise the birth rates to cheapen a key resource commodity, human beings.
Because freedom is associated with the inspiration to create great and helping inventions by common people, Mumford refers to this portion of society as the Democratic Technic. The culture that dominates mass numbers of people to create singular yet diffuse empires is called the Authoritarian Technic. The Democratic Technic is more natural, where its members work everyday for the enrichment of their lives, and ultimately settle into a live-and-let-live version of the life cycle. The Authoritarian Technic functions based on principles where work is done for work's sake where effort is always pushed upward to level where benefits are only enjoyed at a higher stratum. The Democratic Technic is often manifested as the revolutionary throwing-off of the chains of empires demanding tribute. The Authoritarian Technic manages to lie dormant, often for centuries, yet always returns to assimilate the innovations, ultimately self actualizing them by advancing them completely in its own, inefficient, development facilities (Microsoft).
Clearly the Authoritarian and Democratic Technics are polar opposites in the view of history, but their differences are not so clearly defined in modern technology. While computer innovation requires liberally applied freedoms to achieve increasingly complicated solutions, its operational aspect requires near military discipline. Keeping networks online and accessible to a world of information workers requires a complete denial of self. There will be no innovative reactions to system outages, just a review of similar problems, often using just memory, where hopefully solutions will manifest themselves quickly. A good analogy could be the airline pilots union. They are democratic by definition, being loyal to a union and to their trade and not to the leaders of industry who loathe unions. Yet, when they protest in strikes, they march in precise military step, giving comfort in that they seriously follow procedure to specific detail while operating their sky vessels. There have been no unions in the major computer operations, though they would be very helpful, not so much in securing wages, but in helping prevent corruption associated with the controlling stratum by allowing operations technicians the option of obeying the law and keeping malfeasance from reaching operational levels.
In the creation of software, adherence to controlling principles is also necessary. Where an artist creates the best art for art's sake, the programmer needs to be continually mindful of how his audience will be using his creation, if others can improve it and if it can be easily fixed when broken. These needs are too often unmet since much of it is funded based on market timing analysis.
The relatively new Linux operating system is fine example as a product of the Democratic Technic. The license that governs its use and creation is actually socially inspired by a well-known figure, Richard Stallman, who has forgone possible millions in personal profits to promote free software. Quite surprisingly, important publicly developed software systems are vastly more reliable than their commercially developed counterparts. Peer review is used to assure quality and the review process can be brutal.
There appears to be a greater adherence to the disciplines of innovation in recent years. The ultimate corporate example of the Authoritarian Technic, Microsoft, who runs a monopoly that would make the Caesars blush, cannot for the life of its existence, write reliable and secure software. Only by illegally side stepping American anti trust laws can they survive. When plans to force free competition on the operating system level failed after the first election George W. Bush, the dominance of the faulty XP operating system was guaranteed. Had the Justice Department succeeded in its plans to separate the office software divisions from the XP operating system division, the much more reliable and free Linux system would have obsoleted the XP operating system, instantly halving the market value of the richest corporation in the world. This is not apply to all commercial operating systems. Some systems boast perfect reliability, especially those in aircraft and military controls but they occupy a minor computer niches, and will never touch the majority of people.
Definitions of the publicly owned software, their guiding copying licenses, have varied considerably. Richard Stallman likes to say his umbrella operation, GNU (which stands for "GNU is not Unix"), is copylefting. Software is copyrighted in the name of all people to prevent any single entity from proprietarizing this software. The use of the word left is a symbol of his socialist leanings. Another license version is Open Source, which is more businesses friendly, has been created by Eric Raymond. The differences are minor though they enjoy an annoying, yet amusing rivalry.
It should be noted that the majority of web pages come from the publicly owned and developed Apache web server.
When digesting all that Mumford's Technics and Civilization, and after regretting not reading his book before the technology crash (he could have saved me many tens of thousands), I compared it to humanistic thought in relation to the freedom principles of the publicly owned software movement. It seemed natural that the Technic version of the newest chapter of the Information Society should be called the Open Technic. Mumford deserves to be recognized in this way though he probably had nothing to do with computers during his lifetime. He, along with fellow technologist Buckminster Fuller, is associated with the group that organized the humanists, Maslow's Third Force.
Rogers, the leader of the Humanistic school, was not afraid of technology in any way. He pioneered the use of tape recorders and film in therapy to help other therapists learn from his experiences amid the protests of other therapists. He attributed these complaints to a fear that their therapy might not be revealed to be as successful as they claimed. He was dogmatic in systematically quantifying the success of his efforts, though he insisted that subjective feelings are often more relevant even than scientific thought. He cited how Albert Einstein had used his mind, in a form of meditation, in modeling conditions or problems, to conceive his theories describing our existence. As computer modeling came along towards the end of his life, Rogers encouraged his students to experiment. Rogers was a revolutionary, but he certainly was not prone to the Luddite tendencies of hating technology. This is a difference that helps define the Democratic Technic's efforts from, say, Anarchistic rebellion. It also helps to show Humanism as an integral part of society, whereas the Third Force's offspring had been marginalized as a result of the political and cultural struggles associated with rebellion and often with the alternative drug culture.
Strong evidence linking Humanism to the openness of computer systems, which I now call the Open Technic, is circumstantial in that it relies to a large degree on similarities of concepts and terminology, but it is possible that the idea is so obvious that it has never seemed interesting. Now that Authoritarian Technic monopolization has appeared to grab control of the Information Society in the form of unreasonable and probably illegal knowledge systems control laws, there is a call to the Humanists to continue Rogers's quiet revolution. A disappointment probably breaking the hearts of Humanists is the failure of the WSIS to enhance the clauses of the UN Charter guaranteeing the free passage of knowledge over international borders by extending it to include the electronic, packetized, passage of knowledge. They effectively denied digital communication's unique two-way capabilities for dialog as an open avenue to resolve disputes and old hatreds through connectiveness and empathy.
Here is chart comparing systems concepts with Humanism, joining them into the Open Technic.
Networked systems communicate openly
Open communication must exist between therapist and client
Trust between systems on a network frees systems and users from fear and allows open communication and mutual support
Genuineness between client and therapist, between facilitators of peace and groups in conflict.
ICTs require two way communication, allow the questioning of information presented. Allow persons to bridge as individuals.
Free exchange between client and therapist, especially where the therapist reflects feelings on the healing process. The bridging of peoples with communication to end hatreds.
Democratic Technics Quite revolution, emerging persons
Evolutionary development of open systems (Technics)
Vast new communication potential through telecom, travel and now the Internet. New person emerging since the 60s, where today’s influences are more quiet (subtle)
Internet e-mutualism Volunteerism, quite revolution, emerging people
Synergy -- Buckminster Fuller
Synergy -- Ruth Benedict
Information access (conglomeration) based on interest, without the interference of bias
Digital divide keeps some nations in a state of ignorance
Discrepancies between rich and poor creates the basis for hatred
Self discovery, experimental and experiential learning
Order in the computer and on the network frees the user by creating safety and an effective work environment. Standards are not used to judge people but create predictable systems conditions so that computers know what to expect from each other (prevent Tower of Babel syndrome)
Structured conditions for effective healing create a comfortable environment for the free expression or the client and the helper’s empathy. Similar conditions create a climate where the personal bridges can be made between individuals at meetings to resolve bias issues.
Open systems scale to the globe by their design Rogers’s solutions ultimately earned him nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize
The most important invention of the last millennium, as surveyed by Time magazine, was the printing press. While the printed book is historically a relatively new invention, hence a luxury in the long scheme of things, it is hard to imagine a world without books.
As a new technology, printing was hard to control by the controlling crafts guilds of the time. They had successfully developed monopolies of their crafts prior to the invention of the press and moveable type. Guilds provided some benefits for their monopolistic control; offering protection from foreign controllers, social benefits, economic stability, civility in trade and a good working and living environment.
Early intensely capitalized industries were established away from the civilization. Mineral mines were usually near mountains and energy, either in the form of wood or coal, was also found in remote forests. Wood was used for making glass, and metal refining first relied on charcoal and then coal. Being remote, they easily escaped the civil guidance of the crafts guilds and city governments. They where able to create local economies without having to offer the protections and support which civilized society would have required of businesses through the guild system. One mill and one mine in a forested area would create a town, but a number of mills and mines would blight the land with soot. Once powerful enough they were able to ignore any civil controls and they degraded society and the environment in their industrialized areas for centuries. With the dawn of our present age of information sharing and social protection workers finally became able to organize and create unions to engage in collective bargaining.
The printing industry existed within cities, yet it escaped the control of guilds. In its inception it was more of a craft than an industrial process, and it utilized the arts of language and print pictures as the basis of its product.
Part of the printing process was the dissemination of the music and the dance and music halls of the early industrial society. No matter how bleak environmental and economic conditions may have been, music has been alive, moved forward, and has been available to the vast majority of the people both in live performances and printed music. Music today is still far ahead of the rest of artistic culture, in recent decades every compositional potential has been explored, yet older genres still feel fresh and relevant in the popular culture.
Education certainly benefited from the printing industry where books could be used and reused giving virtually anyone interested enough the opportunities to develop a sophisticated professional life.
In the most recent era of the last century and a half, technology becomes sophisticated enough to join the contributions of renaissances, that where with educational systems and popular culture. Factors of growth in the public support system have created vast new fields of social thought developed with scientific theory. Though this social activity is very likely not entirely new, it has been buried so long as to appear to be a recent invention. Activity is certainly much greater and the exchange of knowledge has increased steadily to the most recent chapter in the information age. With the use of the Internet, information distribution has exploded to the point of being considered an overload.
All of society benefits from social support systems; even stay-at-home-moms contribute by raising children with more potential by having dialog with those who study their development. Nurses, doctors and teachers all also contribute indirectly to the daily activities of the general economy, including the vestiges of early industry that cannot be dislodged.
Probably the most important contributions bringing society into an enlightened community are the efforts of the more experience-based side of social research that seeks to make everyday life important unto itself, where everybody can share in the world’s body of knowledge. Very much linked to the revolution of the 1960s, which, in the US, centered on the Viet Nam War and equal civil rights for all, it has only so far planted a seed. Rogers states flatly that a true advances are slow to perfect and even slower to be accepted. Gestation periods can be measured in half centuries. The final stages leading to the introduction of the recent age of electronic communication where blindingly fast and society is only grasping the new breadth of potential global access. The other revolution, one to enhance the new age with enlightened principles only partly succeeded. Much of the failure in the US is attributable simply to the infiltration of gangsterism brought about by globalization and by exploitation of age old biases to continue the domination of control by the few elite, on all sides of the political and industrial spectrum.
The New Economy was probably the most obvious example of the Humanist revolution affecting technology, but it was doomed for a number of reasons, least of which is that the older economy, the one based on the destructive and exploitative industries, was not going to let it succeed. Instead the industrial capital markets skillfully translated the excitement of a new age into financial corruption where the stock trading divisions of most financial firms offered stock along with over valued perceptions while selling the stock that they themselves owned in a manner so coordinated that could only have been operated from the very highest levels.
None-the-less, the few seeds planet in the name of openness that nurtured socially during the 1960s and 1970s proved their value during the 1990s with the highly synergized growth of the global electronic network. As failure struck Humanism during the 1980s when cocaine and heroin weakened the youth culture, Humanism reasserted itself, ironically, in the high synergy of the corporate world of the 1990s.
By 2000 a recession had been engineered that resulted in mass layoffs and the transfer of stock values away from liberals interested in promoting the Information Society to the original controlling elite of the financial and industrial cultures. Workers were also stripped of their savings, sometimes with the usual corrupt methods but also because of their optimistic faith in the future of the Information Society. Particularly painful was the double loss endured by technology workers who lost both their saving as well as their jobs. All of the technology and global stocks plummeted while the main US bank raised interest rates. It was obvious that a small amount of inflation would have to be endured to maintain US domination of the information technologies, a necessity, because US capital leads the world economy. Yet the main bank continually raised interest rates starving the research community of necessary investment capital. The only explanation offered by its leader was intensely arrogant. “Investment is risk”, he said. Even more telling to the need to hurt the economy was a statement by New York’s unpopular billionaire mayor. He stated that he liked recession because it allowed him to fire teachers.
Still, progress cannot be stopped, as industrialists know. The most recent attempt to make bring the Information Society to its potential was, on the surface, a failure. The UN’s World Symposium for the Information Society was convened to strengthen the 19th article of the UN charter, to remove barriers of information caused by international borders. Instead, the controlling elite used it to confirm nationalized control of information, no matter how despotistic, and the monopolistic accumulation of information property and technology patents by those with the greatest capital resources, the elite.
The very notion that all nations could benefit form information has been enough to bring together, through the Internet, socially aware people, who will very likely adapt existing technology to in fact bring isolated cultures into the Information Society and enhance the social aspects of the wealthier nations. By virtue of the physical nature of the electron, from which information packets are constructed, there is no controlling force that can prevent its traveling through the air, across international borders.
And because of the two-way nature of Internet communications, technological and social advancement will continue to support each other. The technology of the Information Society, organized within the facilitative environments created by the Humanists, will grow along a path of goodwill by tapping into the positive resources of every individual.