Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Friday, April 23, 2004day link 

 Global Ideas Bank
picture Last Friday while in London with Max, we dropped by the offices of the Institute for Social Inventions, the people behind the Global Ideas Bank, the most prolific and well-known grassroots idea gathering organization. We've had a relation since 1995. I put all their books online and set up a voting system so people could rate new and old ideas, and see what others had rated well. And the site was hosted first on Max's server for a couple of years, and then I've been providing it a home since then. But I didn't always have time to devote to new programming and improvements. So now it is in new hands, and today they're launching a re-designed site. It has a new, more modern look, and it has all the same functionality, plus a range of new facilities.

The Institute for Social Inventions was the brainchild of Nicholas Albery whom I had the pleasure of working with frequently on issues around the GIB site. He unfortunately died suddenly almost three years ago, but the work is carried on by other good people. Today under the umbrella of the Nicholas Albery Foundation. There are luckily promiment supporters who will help it carry on its work, like Anita Roddick and Brian Eno.
[ | 2004-04-23 10:45 | 8 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Virtual Communities are Real
Adina Levin:
Just took an online survey for this conference on Virtual Communities. What struck me was the assumption that virtual communities are supplementary to non-virtual communities.

Perhaps this is the old bbs/usenet model, where people gather online to explore new identities; the 20th century equivalent of leaving the small town for New York or Chicago.

But my experience these days is different.

I work with a team that's spread around the US, working with customers spread around the world. We meet a few times a year. EFF-Austin people communicate daily by email, and interact in person a few times a month. I belong to a book club that meets monthly, and plans using email and wiki.

There is no such thing as a "virtual community." There are only real communities that meet more or less frequently in person.
Right on. There's really no such thing as virtual in that regard. There are communities that are more or less tightly bound together, and more or less distributed. Some "virtual" communities are more real than many "real", local communities. And just because people are next to each other every day, it doesn't necessarily form a "community". It is most often bogus to call a city a "community", as most of them aren't. Just a political sleight-of-hand from people who pretend to speak for the community, even when they don't.

But, of course, communities tend to grow stronger if one actually can see and touch each other once in a while. More dimensions to the relations make them stronger.
[ | 2004-04-23 11:29 | 11 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Triune Brain Model
picture From "Spiritual Emergency and the Triune Brain" by Grant McFetridge, here's a good description of the three parts of the human brain.
We start with a simplified version of the triune brain model, one without any controversial transpersonal elements, yet which is adequate for working with a number of spiritual emergence categories. A very neglected breakthrough in understanding brain biology forms the basis for this model. In the 1960’s Dr. Paul MacLean at the National Institute for Mental Health, expanding on the work of James Papez, described a three part concentric layering structure to the human brain. The outermost layer is the neomammilian brain, the neocortex which is the seat of thought and most voluntary movement. The next layer inward is the paleomamalian brain, composed of the limbic system, the seat of our emotions and autonomic nervous system. In the innermost portion is found the reptilian brain, composed of the the brain stem, midbrain, basal ganglia and other structures. Each brain serves different functions with some overlap, but what Dr. MacLean postulates is that the integration, or coordination between the brains is inadequate, a genetic problem in our species. For more information, see Evolutions End by Joseph Pierce, Three Faces of the Mind by Elaine De Beauport, and for summary information see Maps of the Mind by Charles Hampden-Turner. For a complete biological description see Dr. MacLean’s The Triune Brain in Evolution: Role in Paleocerebral Functions.

How does the triune structure of the brain apply to our inner experience? In everyday terms, we know these brains as the ‘mind’, ‘heart’, and ‘body’. Each brain has different biological functions and abilities. The ‘mind’, or neocortex, is the part of ourselves we most often think of as who we are. It perceives itself in the head, and it is the part of ourselves that forms judgments, handles short term memory, and does abstractions like mathematics. The ‘heart’ is the limbic system in the brain, yet perceives itself in the chest, probably because this is the area of it’s primary biological responsibility and sensory awareness. It allows us to feel emotions, and be either positively or negatively emotionally aware of the presence of others. Finally, the ‘body’ consciousness (or ‘hara’ in Japanese) is composed of the tissues at the base of our skulls, and probably other distributed systems in our body. It experiences itself in the lower belly, it’s area of major biological function. This brain gives us a sense of time and our ability to feel sexuality. We communicate with this brain when we do dowsing or muscle testing.

The most difficult conceptual jump in Dr. MacLean’s work is to realize that each of the brains is intelligently, independently self aware. Because we tend to assume thinking requires words, it’s difficult for us to realize that each brain actually thinks. In fact, unlike the mind, the heart thinks in sequences of feelings, and the body thinks in gestalt sequences of body sensations (described as the ‘felt sense’ in Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing). By this, I don’t mean that it’s as if there were three people inside of us. Instead, since each brain is so different, we might compare this situation to that of a living stereo system. Imagine if the speakers (mind), tape deck (heart), and receiver (body) were each self aware, each trying to run the show and puzzled because the other parts won’t do what they want them to. It would be hard to imagine how a stereo like this would ever manage to play music! And unfortunately, this is fairly close to the mark. Even though sharing much sensory data and awareness of each other’s actions, each brain tends to be in denial about the existence of the others. In fact, the brains often come into conflict, even to the point of overtly or unconsciously attempting to manipulate and control each other. A simple example to illustrate this occurs when you’re sexually attracted (the body consciousness) to someone you don’t even like (the emotional consciousness).
Obviously, many of our problems in the world can be explained by that split, and the failure of our different parts to be in synch with each other. And, obviously, the answer is to work towards better integration and coordination. Not that I actually believe I really AM any of those parts of the brain, or that my consciousness originates in the brain. But they nevertheless represent a split between different types of consciousness that really ought to work together. And they represent aspects we need to encompass. Doesn't work if one identifies oneself only with one's mental thoughts, and believes that the other parts are inferior. In many ways they're more capable than the conscious mental faculties, which tend to make many mistakes, and which are prone towards arrogance.
[ | 2004-04-23 14:39 | 17 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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