logo Ming the Mechanic - Category: Culture
An old rigid civilization is reluctantly dying. Something new, open, free and exciting is waking up.


Friday, April 18, 2003day link 

 S&M Aerobics
picture Aerobics classes in New York run by a dominatrix. here and here. Hey, why not, I bet those guys get into great shape, and aerobics is a bit like BDSM anyway.
"If you don't keep up, you get punished," she warned her students at a recent class, which she oversaw with a nonstop string of insults and orders. "I don't want to hear any whimpering. You're here to suffer.

"I expect complete obedience, or I'll give you a good spanking," she said. "Do what I tell you to do. I don't care if it hurts..."

Clad in face masks, dog collars, rubber suits and other sartorial S&M paraphernalia, Mistress Victoria's students run through the exercise regimen, knowing any slacking off will bring her wrath down upon

[ | 2003-04-18 22:55 | 1 comment | PermaLink ]  More >


Tuesday, April 15, 2003day link 

 Lost heritage
picture In relation to the plundering of the Baghdad Museum of Antiquities Scott Rosenberg says:
"For a war that wasn't about oil...
I imagine the planners in Washington consider the looting that has wrecked Iraqi cultural edifices, including the legendary National Museum of Antiquities in Baghdad, in the wake of the U.S. "liberation" to be so much minor "collateral damage" -- eggs that have to be broken to make the omelette, that sort of thing. "Regrettable," you know. "Can we move on to the next question?"

But I can't help thinking about this: While U.S. forces were unable to protect museums in Baghdad (or Mosul, as Salon's Phillip Robertson reported) from looting crowds destroying millennia-old artifacts, it seemed to have plenty of troops available to protect the Iraqi oil ministry in Baghdad. And of course seizing and protecting the oil fields in both southern and northern Iraq was not beyond the capacity of our forces. Priorities are priorities!"
Raven mentions some of what was lost. Scroll down. The picture is a mask of the Mesopotamian goddess Inanna. 5,500 years old and one of the earliest known examples of representational sculputure. The list is long. 10's of thousands of items. Well, some of them will come back, I'm sure, after spending years in somebody's garage. But it is a mess.
[ | 2003-04-15 14:22 | 10 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 The Blue Oxen Vision.
From Seb Paquet, well worth quoting in full:
Blue Oxen Associates - that is, Eugene Eric Kim and Chris Dent - had a launch party in San Francisco last week with their first official piece of output: a 20-page research report on how open source communities function. The report features case studies of the communities that have formed around the TouchGraph and SquirrelMail software development projects. It was sponsored by the Omidyar Foundation, the very same foundation that awarded a grant to Tom Munnecke's GivingSpace initiative a few months ago.

On the occasion of the launch, Chris wrote a statement of what motivates him in this enterprise. Here it is in full.

We live in a time when the decisions of our governments are made outside any appreciation for reasoned and reasonable consensus. Information is delivered to us, packaged, shiny, and full of persuasive power but often lacking in the awareness of past, present and future required to make wise, lasting and honorable decisions.

I am tired of this. I'm tired of feeling powerless and listening to my self, my friends and my colleagues, filled with good ideas, swing in and out of a lonely and ineffectual desperation.

While it took me some time realize it, helping to start Blue Oxen is my small way of saying I've had enough, it's time to do something. I'm here to suggest that we can make the better world we believe is possible: one where people truly communicate and communicate truly, one where ideas are shared, one where the goodness that is our nature is allowed to emerge, in concert with one another, our neighbors down the street and our neighbors around the world.

I want Blue Oxen to catch and enhance the building wave of people who have acknowledged that sharing ideas, openly and frankly, is a creative force for improving the world and for motivating action. I seek not a free marketplace of ideas, but a free community of people collaborating to create and refine new thought.

Collaboration is a fully buzzword compliant term these days yet it is still an xx discipline. Eugene and I connected over a casually tossed phrase that I made in response to the question of what is augmentation for. I said, "To make me less dumb." It's now several months later and while I still believe this is an important aspect of what collaboration is for, my close association with Eugene and the members of our first collaboratory and the looser collaboration with disparate voices discovered by the simple act of making some noise has revealed a larger focus: Less dumbness emerges from open communication.

When the internet reached the public, it was hailed as a compelling democratizing force. The power of personal publishing was going to alter the face of society. It didn't quite happen like that. I remember being disillusioned as the significance of my own web server faded in the face of the shine, the gloss and the money of centralized media.

We are, today, thanks to motivated and idealistic people, in a new phase of enthusiasm. Systems such as weblogs and wikis and the developing genre of social software are birthing dynamic social networks that produce new understandings. In and of themselves these tools are nothing, it is the people who use them and what they do with them that matters. People are exploring, communicating, generating and accepting feedback; using their freedom to generate more freedom.

I want Blue Oxen to be an experimental gardener in this realm. Our task is to participate in the discovery, engenderment, development, evolution and facilitation of the patterns of behavior and process—and the tools the patterns use—that bring the ecology of collaborative evolution we need as a society. Our challenge is to see that the communication facilitated by collaborative systems continues, stays open, and creates artifacts that are accessible and reusable by others. Openness leads to shared and knowledgeable understanding, shared understanding leads to shared goals. Goals lead to motivation and motivation leads to action. Let's do what we can.

Chris is interested in the politics of collaboration, which seems like a hugely interesting topic. A later post of his is titled Anarchic Emergent Collaboration, and reflects on the ways in which we structure collaboration. Chris speculates that "emergent and loose collaboration is the most natural style." (which seems to resonate fairly well with Chris Corrigan's musings on Open Space Technology). Chris Dent writes,

"So I wonder if there are threads of connection that we can draw between extremist political theory (and history), systems theory and discussions of collaboration. Even if the threads prove ephemeral the exploration will probably be productive."

Right on. Count me in on the revolution.
[ | 2003-04-15 13:57 | 8 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Sunday, April 6, 2003day link 

 BlogShares
I started playing with BlogShares. Joi Ito said:
"Blogshares just went beta. It is a site where you can trade shares of blogs using fake money. The price is based on trading and a valuation of sorts is derived from links weighted by how valuable the links are. (Kind of like google page rank.) This price/value spread is sort of a P/E. Obviously, this fuels the "popularity content" aspect of blogging. Having said that, it's fun. I wish I could short sell blogs. ;-) It will be interesting to see whether the blog prices predict new popular blogs accurately since people should buy blogs that are new and cool but people don't know about yet."
Indeed, this if fun. A stock market for blog. I don't totally get it yet. But people have already bought shares in ming.tv, and I picked a bunch of blogs with good potential, so let's see what happens.
[ | 2003-04-06 22:01 | 2 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Thursday, March 20, 2003day link 

 Waging Peace
Heiner Benking announces Waging Peace, a WIKI for peaceful activity, in part inspired by Robert Muller's words.
[ | 2003-03-20 12:26 | 13 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Salam from Baghdad
Salam Pax (a pseudonym) is a Baghdad native and is still blogging.
"The all clear siren just went on.
The bombing aould come and go in waves, nothing too heavy and not yet comparable to what was going on in 91. all radio and TV stations are still on and while the air raid began the Iraqi TV was showing patriotic songs and didn't even bother to inform viewers that we are under attack. at the moment they are re-airing yesterday's interview with the minister of interior affairs. THe sounds of the anti-aircarft artillery is still louder than the booms and bangs which means that they are still far from where we live, but the images we saw on Al Arabia news channel showed a building burning near one of my aunts house, hotel pax was a good idea. we have two safe rooms one with "international media" and the other with the Iraqi TV on. every body is waitingwaitingwaiting. phones are still ok, we called around the city a moment ago to check on friends. Information is what they need. Iraqi TV says nothing, shows nothing. what good are patriotic songs when bombs are dropping
around 6:30 my uncle went out to get bread, he said that all the streets going to the main arterial roads are controlled by Ba'ath people. not curfew but you have to have a reason to leave your neighborhood, and the bakeries are, by instruction of the Party, seeling only a limited amount of bread to each customer. he also says that near the main roads all the yet unfinished houses have been taken by party or army people."

[ | 2003-03-20 12:26 | 16 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Monday, March 17, 2003day link 

 A voice from Iraq
picture Seems reasonable today to hear what Salam, the lone local blogger in Baghdad, has to say. He seems like a normal, intelligent guy, who says what he thinks, but he has been very courageous in sticking his neck out so publically. He supports a regime change, but he doesn't support war, and he thinks the human shields should go home.
"No one inside Iraq is for war (note I said war not a change of regime), no human being in his right mind will ask you to give him the beating of his life, unless you are a member of fight club that is, and if you do hear Iraqi (in Iraq, not expat) saying 'come on bomb us' it is the exasperation and 10 years of sanctions and hardship talking. There is no person inside Iraq (and this is a bold, blinking and underlined inside) who will be jumping up and down asking for the bombs to drop. We are not suicidal you know, not all of us in any case.

I think that the coming war is not justified (and it is very near now, we hear the war drums loud and clear if you don’t then take those earplugs off!). The excuses for it have been stretched to their limits they will almost snap. A decision has been made sometime ago that 'regime change' in Baghdad is needed and excuses for the forceful change have to be made. I do think war could have been avoided, not by running back and forth the last two months, that’s silly. But the whole issue of Iraq should have been dealt with differently since the first day after GW I.

The entities that call themselves 'the international community' should have assumed their responsibilities a long time ago, should have thought about what the sanctions they have imposed really meant, should have looked at reports about weapons and human rights abuses a long time before having them thrown in their faces as excuses for war five minutes before midnight.

What is bringing on this rant is the question that has been bugging for days now: how could 'support democracy in Iraq' become to mean 'bomb the hell out of Iraq'? why did it end up that democracy won’t happen unless we go thru war? Nobody minded an un-democratic Iraq for a very long time, now people have decided to bomb us to democracy? Well, thank you! how thoughtful."

[ | 2003-03-17 23:59 | 14 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Friday, March 14, 2003day link 

 All Your Base Are Belong To Us!!
picture ShaktiMa posted this one in NCN: All Your Base Are Belong To Us!. It is a flash animation. Might take a little while to load if you're on a slow connection. And, well, it is not new, and has gotten a lot of attention, so some of you probably know it already. It was apparently made by a bunch of 13-14 year old video game kids, based on a game with horribly funny Japanese-to-English translations. I can't say exactly what it tells me, or why, but somehow it seems mysteriously topical and compelling at this time.
[ | 2003-03-14 19:07 | 20 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Thursday, March 13, 2003day link 

 Culture in Decline? No, Rebirth!
picture From Paul Hughes at Planet P:
"Over at tech-report.com they are having their Friday night topic on whether we are witnessing the decline of western civilization or not. Here is my response:

I think we are witnessing both the decline of the old culture, and something new emerging in the trenches. We are seeing the old structures, the old art, literature, behaviors, all of these things succumbing to rapid social and technological change. We had modernism, post-modernism, and now the death of post-modernism. We've had music, re-mixed music, and now re-mixed re-mixes. We have people like Eminem who emobdy this creative deconstructionism. We are also seeing the western (corrupted) politic going thru its last, desperate moves for total world domination, and possible destruction on a massive global scale. In part, this is simply nature taking its course with the old power elite. Their days are numbered and they know it. Thats why they are reacting with draconian legislation like the DMCA, PATRIOT 1 and possibly II, Total Information Awareness, etc. But they won't be able to keep up in the end with the highly coherent, decentralized, ad-hoc network of like minds that is emerging. We are witnessing the birth of network culture - a global brain if you will.

This new emergent decentralized global brain is more cohesive, more intelligent than anything before it. Assuming the old structures don't collapse catastrophically, we will live to see the birth of a full-fledged networked culture ushering in a new renaissance of creativity and innovation beyond everything thats happened before it combined."
Indeed. I'm with you. It is inevitable. The main parts to be decided are whether the outdated old mastodonts will morph relatively quietly or whether they'll try to trample the rest of us while they still can.
[ | 2003-03-13 16:09 | 7 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Monday, March 10, 2003day link 

 Forgetting your phone is rude in Japan
Another tidbit from the Japan Media Review article "A New Set of Social Rules for a Newly Wireless Society", written by Mizuko Ito, Joi Ito's sister:
"One college student I spoke to described leaving one's phone at home or letting the battery die as "the new taboo." Teens and twentysomethings usually do not bother to set a time and place for their meetings. They exchange as many as 5 to 15 messages throughout the day that progressively narrows in on a time and place, two points eventually converging in a coordinated dance through the urban jungle. To not have a keitai [cellphone] is to be walking blind, disconnected from just-in-time information on where and when you are in the social networks of time and place."

[ | 2003-03-10 22:51 | 13 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Friday, March 7, 2003day link 

 Integrating and Evolving a Mob
SmartMobs mentions a paper on Integrating and Evolving a Mob: The Growth of a Smart Mob into a Wireless Community of Practice. It is a case study based on activities organized via HipTop Nation
Based on experiences with Hiptop Nation, it appears that by having ubiquitous mobile data communication devices and a successful communal blog, it is possible to create an ideal environment within which a smart mob can grow into a goal-oriented mobile community of practice. Communal blogs play a critical role in the creation of three essential elements of community: the establishment of social capital, the creation of weak ties that foster creativity, and the formation of a sense of “place” within which everything can happen. (3, 4, 5). The final crucial ingredient is a complex goal.

In these special circumstances, a smart mob can not only quickly change into a mobile community of practice, but once its goals have been achieved it can just as quickly “dissolve” back into a smart mob. This is metaphorically similar to the way certain liquid solutions can quickly crystallize, dissolve back into liquid, and then recrystallize based on external influences. By adding an external influence, namely a specific shared goal, one can “precipitate” the crystallization of these smart mobs into powerful mobile communities of practice. After the goals have been achieved, during which participants have gained expertise in their particular domains, the group can dissolve back into a smart mob and be ready to rapidly recrystallize whenever new goals are introduced.

The increasing popularity of communal blogs, coupled with more sophisticated ubiquitous mobile communication devices (9, 10, 11), will most likely make this interesting social phenomenon more common in the future. A future opportunity will be the deliberate cultivation of this phenomenon, as it has the ability to create incredibly effective and creative goal-oriented teams of mobile individuals.
I like the crystalization and dissolution thing. And, yes, blogs and mobile data devices and a shared goal are good pre-conditions for ad hoc organization to happen.
[ | 2003-03-07 18:22 | 1 comment | PermaLink ]  More >

 Gifting It
picture Timothy Wilken mentions "GIFTING IT: A Burning Embrace of Gift Economy", a documentary by Renea Roberts about the gift economy at work in the annual Burning Man festival. I haven't never made it to Burning Man so far. Usually I remember about it too late to make plans. But I've been well aware how it in many ways presents a model for a new and better way of organizing society. You know, creative people think of what they feel ought to be added to the soup. What is needed, or what would be cool. They collaborate on making it happen. It is usually a gift to the whole. And it is wild and exciting, and it blows your mind. Or it is a little thing that is there when you need it. An elaborate infrastructure emerges in the middle of a barren desert. It is peaceful. It is an experience. It has the most marvelous diversity, woven into a common fabric. It all gets cleaned up when it is done, and it doesn't leave a trace. Many documentaries have been made about Burning Man, but this is apparently the first that focuses on the gift economy. On how the openness and the connection with others is what makes it work.
[ | 2003-03-07 16:51 | 16 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Thursday, March 6, 2003day link 

 Ganguro Girls
picture
Japanese teenagers seem to be a continuing source of strange and interesting trends. Here's a page about the trendy Ganguro Girls of Tokyo. The GANGURO "look" is to have dyed blonde or brown hair, plucked eyebrows, tan skin, mini-skirt, cool shoes, "ganguro gal" are the brownskin girls, "gonguro gal" are the more deep brownskin, "Yamanba gal" is silver or white or brown hair, brown or hard-drawn face, heavy makeup or panda makeup. "Yamanba gal" include "Ganguro gal" and "Gonguro gal".
[ | 2003-03-06 23:59 | 103 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


Tuesday, March 4, 2003day link 

 US=MS
From CommonMe and PseudoRandom:
"If you want to understand how the world views the US, it is probably very similar to the way we view Microsoft:

  • Extremely successful, much of it appears to be undeserved.
  • We are totally dependent upon them, and there isn't much of an alternative.
  • Becoming too successful in our niche simply means that we will attract their attention.
  • We like it when we see them fail.
  • We are uncomfortable when we see them fail because they just keep working at it until they get it right -- they will always be back. Unless, of course, it is determined to be an uninteresting market.
  • They don't care about us. We are just a source of revenue. The quality of their products and support is only as much as absolutely necessary to keep us in the fold.
  • We hate them, but if they offered us a job, we would join them in a second and gleefully begin to oppress our former colleagues."
  • Hm, interesting comparison. Now, what is likely to bring Microsoft down into a more humble place is *Open Source*. What does that bring to the comparison? Will the American Empire fall, just like the Soviet Union did, because new technologies and spontaneous cooperation makes it impossible to block open communication, and much more desirable to be free to gather your own information and make your own choices? Maybe it is inevitable that a slow and centralized bureaucracy eventually becomes irrelevant. Even one that controls thousands of nuclear warheads, and the mass media, and the production facilities, and the banks.
    [ | 2003-03-04 20:32 | 18 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


    Friday, February 28, 2003day link 

     Davos and private e-mails
    Jounalist Laurie Garrett wrote an informal e-mail to some of her friends while she was attending the World Economic Forum in Davos in January. A week with the planet's ruling class. It is an excellent peek into what went on there. But she hadn't meant for anybody but her close friends to read it. That prompted a big discussion and she was offended that her casual chatty e-mail got forwarded around to the whole world. Well, I'd say it got forwarded because it is the truth, and because official articles in newspapers would tend to bury it deeper. A personal account from a real person is often more desirable.
    [ | 2003-02-28 23:59 | 12 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


    Monday, February 24, 2003day link 

     The Great Pirates
    picture Some hundreds of years ago the technology of ship building advanced so that it became practical to travel the oceans for extended periods of time. Thus whole new territories were opened to exploration and possible domination.

    It became clear that it was impractical to assume that the law and order of the land could be applied to the sea. Thus the oceans became a zone of lawlessness and a battleground for whomever chose to enter the arena. It also became clear that those who fared best were those who mastered all the elements of survival at sea and who did their business under the veil of secrecy. It is those who mastered this game that we can call The Great Pirates.

    A Great Pirate succeeded because of his comprehensive command of a whole set of different disciplines. He had a high proficiency in dealing with celestial navigation, the sea, the storms, the ship, the men, economics, biology, geography, history, and science. The better the Great Pirate could understand and anticipate the whole scene, the better he would do.

    Great Pirates would travel, bargain, plunder, plan, negotiate, battle, and much more. He would use the science of ship building to amass a fleet, he would use his people skills to manage his crew and to negotiate with representatives of far away lands. He would do his activities out of sight of people on land and of his competitors.

    A Great Pirate would naturally want to maintain his position, and he had to sleep once in a while. He therefore at first surrounded himself with dull-witted but loyal men of muscle. Only he himself planned and coordinated his operations, and his men simply did what they were told. However, when the Great Pirate expanded his operations it became clear that he needed something more than that.

    The Great Pirate invented the brilliant scheme of specialization. It is both the way to expand his empire with skilled assistance and at the same time the assurance that only HE will ever know the full picture of what is going on.

    The Great Pirates started to encourage and employ people of great skill in specialized areas. There might be, for example, a greatly skilled and experienced Navigator. And there might be a master Weapon Builder, an accomplished Master Historian, a Politician, a Ship's Captain, a General, and so forth.

    Each of those people were cultivated to a high level of skill. But also, it was made clear to each one that they had better stay within their specific field, or they would lose their head.

    The Great Pirate himself would be the ONLY person who knew the whole picture. He would know the plan, he would know where ships would go and why, he would know what they would find, who they would meet, he would know what to trade and what to steal, he would know who to trust and who not to. None of his people would ever be allowed near the full picture, and none of them could therefore possibly replace him. And thus his position was safe from any coup by those close to him. He always kept the true full picture in utmost secrecy and kept the skills and knowledge of all his people perpetually compartmentalized.

    Through the ingenious scheme of specialization and compartmentalization of knowledge, the Great Pirates were able to expand their business immensely. They were able to expand their influence into different lands through carefully chosen and educated front people. They would chose local strong men in different territories, supply them with what they needed to assume power, educate them to present a proper public facade, but never giving them the knowledge of all the pieces in the game. The local strong man might be maneuvered into a position of King, assumed by his people to be the utmost authority, but in essence simply being another of the specialized agents of the hidden Great Pirates. The Great Pirate would naturally also cultivate agents in the fields of religion, education, science, military, banking, and so forth, and would naturally be able to play them out against each other if any one of them ever got ambitious beyond his assigned role.

    The Great Pirate knew the world was round when everybody else were kept in the belief that it was flat. He knew about grand logistical schemes, he knew about international exchange media and trade balancing, and much more. He was the only one who saw the whole picture of the planet and its resources, and was therefore able to play his game totally unnoticed by the vast majority of the population of the planet. All through the magic of specialization ...

    --- The above is my shortened rendition of what Bucky Fuller described in his book "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth", in the chapter "Origins of Specialization"
    [ | 2003-02-24 06:03 | 11 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


    Sunday, February 16, 2003day link 

     Bank for International Settlements
    picture Few people seem to be aware of the existence of the Bank for International Settlements, also known as the BIS Bank. It is the central bank of central banks, located in Basel, Switzerland. It is no longer quite as unknown and hidden as it was. It has its own website now. When I last searched on the web there were only a few hundred entries about it, but now there's a lot more. The article below, 'Ruling the World of Money' which you also find here, is 20 years old, but gives a good overview of what the BIS bank is about.
    The membership of this club is restricted to a handful of powerful men who determine daily the interest rate, the availability of credit, and the money supply of the banks in their own countries. They include the governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the Swiss National Bank, and the German Bundesbank. The club controls a bank with a $40 billion kitty in cash, government securities, and gold that constitutes about one tenth of the world's available foreign exchange. The profits earned just from renting out its hoard of gold (second only to that of Fort Knox in value) are more than sufficient to pay for the expenses of the entire organization. And the unabashed purpose of its elite monthly meetings is to coordinate and, if possible, to control all monetary activities in the industrialized world.

    [ | 2003-02-16 16:49 | 11 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


    Thursday, February 13, 2003day link 

     Languages of the world
    Gabe Andersokn mentions Ethnologue, which shows a matrix of what languages are spoken in what countries. I'm paying a lot of attention to languages right now because I'm trying to get up to speed to speak French.
    [ | 2003-02-13 23:59 | 1 comment | PermaLink ]  More >


    Tuesday, February 11, 2003day link 

     People are different
    picture I always find it fascinating to discover the different ways that people work differently. The ways we tick by different clocks, the ways we live within different worldviews, the ways we think differently and have different instincts. Not good or bad ways, but just different ways things are right for us. To embrace all of those differences will necessarily bring about a certain feeling of unity amongsts us.

    As I'm preparing for moving to France, I'm reading a lot of books, including books about how French people are peculiarly different from Americans. "French or Foe" by Polly Platt is a delightful and very helpful book in regards to understanding the French culture from the inside.

    One of the sources of understanding she mentions is the work of the renowned anthropologist Edward T. Hall. He wrote a book called "An Anthropology of Everyday Life" for one thing. He has studied how people work differently in different cultures. One distinction is whether people are 'monochronic' or 'polychronic'. That is when talking about how people relate to time. Monochronic people give great importance to doing things on time, and they tend to do things linearly and orderly, one at a time, and if somebody throws off the schedule by not doing what they're supposed to at the right time, they get upset. Polychronic people on the other hand relate to time totally differently. Actually, they focus more on people and relationships, and they do many things at the same time, and if something doesn't happen at the specified time, they know that it is because other things came up, and it isn't a big deal. The U.S., England, Germany, Scandinavia - they're predominantly monochronic cultures. There are many individuals who might be different, though, so it is just as an overall stereotype. Most other countries are polychronic. Certainly Mediteranean countries, Middle East, Africa, most of Asia. 'Tomorrow' might mean tomorrow, the day after, next week, or next month, all depending on lots of things, and also depending on the nuances within those individual cultures.

    Another distinction in how different people experience the world is whether they're 'high context' or 'low context'. Again, most of the Northern countries are low context. That means that many things can be done without much pretext or context. You can call somebody you don't know on the phone, and 5 minutes later you might have carried out a business transaction and you're done with it. What is important is what is accomplished. A quick in and out and you're done. High context cultures on the other hand require much more to be involved. You primarily deal with people you know or that your family or friends know. There is a lot of codes of behavior that are important. Lots of things need to be right before one can carry out a transaction with somebody. Doesn't necessarily have to take a long time, but a number of things certainly have to be in order.

    France is described as primarily polychronic and high context.

    One thing I notice is that elements of these distinctions are found in different people within any culture, and they might appear in different environments for different people at different times. I notice that I expect one or the other in certain situations, and might be puzzled when I run into a different program than I expect. There are certain kinds of information that it is very hard to get unless you know somebody who knows somebody who can answer your questions. I.e. it is only available through high context. In Los Angeles, in business, people are monochronic, but if you invite people for a party, they're polychronic. You can't possibly know whether they will come, or when, or who else they might bring.
    [ | 2003-02-11 23:59 | 17 comments | PermaLink ]  More >


    Saturday, February 8, 2003day link 

     The Ecology of Urban Habitats
    picture From Mikel Maron's Brain Off blog:
    "Contrary to expectations, urban landscapes are some of the most interesting ecologies. The variety of landscapes and microclimates (roads, parks, gardens, rail, canals, industries), the intense flow of exotic materials for commerce and gardening, and continual disturbance, all contribute towards many opportunities for nature. Due to such variety, cities are often more biologically diverse than the surrounding countryside. Nature is astoundingly creative, and keen to exploit subtle convoluted chance.

    Nature continues to happen, in more astounding forms, even within our most artificial environments. Some bizarre relations of humans and nature from The Ecology of Urban Habitats
    • The overall result is that urbanized areas, despite a large reduction in the total vegetation cover, support a higher number of species than the surrounding countryside. [p. 11]
    • .. tropical fauna and flora occurs in certain canals where water used to cool machinery is discharged. Thermal pollution of the River Don by the steel industry has enabled wild figs to colonize its banks, [p. 118]
    • In fact all industry, as it gets tidied up, becomes less interesting for wildlife. The very features that allow a rich flora and fuana to survive - the squalor, rubbish, old buildings and machinery, derelict huts, rotting dumps, ineffiecient handling - are becoming unacceptable to management [p. 122]
    • [Oxford ragwort] A native of Southern Italy, was cultivated in the Oxford Botanical Garden for over a hundred years before it eventually escaped (1794) and soon reported as plentiful on almost every wall in the town. About 1879 it reached the Great Western Railway system where the plumed seed engaged in a new form of dispersal, being carried along in the vortex of air behind express trains, or even inside them [p. 139]
    • the reasons for caraway being limited to railway verges in Scotland ... caraway cake topped with fresh seeds was pocketed at post-funeral teas ... on the way home they tried to eat it, gave up and threw it out of the window [p. 142]
    • A more subtle effect of dogs can be observed on the base of street trees against which they urinate. This area, known as the canine zone, carries a different epiphytic flora to the rest of the trunk. [p. 162]
    • Starlings were successfully introduced into New York in 1890-91 as part of a project to establish in the States all the plants and animals mentioned by Shakespeare. [p. 171]
    • .. [an] experiment took place in Germany during the Third Reich when exotics [foreign plants] became enemies of the state and for a short time naturalistic planting flourished ... [p. 184]"
    Interesting. In urban areas there's greater diversity than in industrialized farm land, so nature has the opportunity for thriving better in many ways. Urban landscapes are aggregates of many individual choices, many small bets on different things. Varied constellations of new things being built, combined with old things decaying. Farm land is homogenized monopolistic monoculture. Maybe the worst crime against nature is not cities, but modern farming methods?
    [ | 2003-02-08 20:04 | 14 comments | PermaLink ]  More >



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