It’s fair to say 2020 wasn’t the year most of us were expecting, and it’s not over yet. It’s a long 2020.
As well as the culmination of the self-inflicted BoJo/Brexit/Trump insanities that meant UK and US were distracted from what really needed attention in the world at large (Chinese Uyghurs anyone?) Covid took over any remaining attention-spans we had left.
The effect was compounded for me personally, because towards the end of 2019, after a decade of mostly home working – visiting colleagues and clients in person as and when necessary – I’d just committed myself to near-full-time working at offices ~120 miles from home. Back to a previous life on the road and mostly in hotels a couple of nights a week. The particular job was (is) complicated enough in scale and complexity of partners and stakeholders, that the switch to enforced total homeworking has been a hammer blow.
Mostly home working as-and-when is a flexibility. Enforced total home working is a millstone to progressing shared understandings of a novel approach to information architectures for digital transformation – to use the jargon of my current day-job. Remote working works well with people with whom you have significant shared understanding and trust, but not when you’re still trying to get on the same page under complex work pressures. That requires human dialogue and contact beyond the formal transactions.
Anyway, this isn’t about me and my day job, it’s about the relevance of information & communication architectures to the full context. The information environment and decisions made by us and for us about Brexit, Trump, Covid etc. Decisions which are themselves reflected in everyday life and day-job choices. Follow-the-science & official advice vs fake-news & conspiracy-theories at its most stark.
Since the 1940’s – before electronic computers – that’s been known as Cybernetics. These days it’s called Systems Engineering – human systems to manage the organisation & governance of human affairs – biological, social, business, political – you name it. In my day-job it’s primarily about business systems and operations, but all human life is here in any complex business.
Just before I committed to that job in Sept 2019 I posted about identifying a new potential hero in terms of systems architectures, systems which go right back to biological evolution of our sentient and purposeful selves. Our human architecture. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Last night was the US day-after the Trump rabble(*) insurrection of 6th Jan 2021 and social media was full of “takes” and updates. That whole melee of information, official & individual, fact & opinion, real &”fake”. One thing’s clear, a large part of the Trump mob angle comes from the QAnon all-purpose anti-establishment conspiracy-theories end of that spectrum, whether it’s rigged-elections, anti-vaxxers, white-supremacy vs antifa or whatever.
(* I say “rabble” – but with the actual intent and planning, and a little different chances on the day, it was close to being a mob bloodbath.)
Deciding – or simply having an opinion about – the best thing to do with or about Trump and his mob is tricky to say the least at many levels across many timescales. Obviously for most of us there’s a general bias towards justice, but that still leaves many options. And none of the choices is independent, eventually they’re integrated into an objective reality and a collection of perceptions we have to live with. In my previous post I started to bring in journalists that get the significance of the information communication architecture – how the information flows affect the actual knowledge content, when the consumers are democratically (individually) controlling them, as we are in social-media environments. (It’s an idea as old as McLuhan, but …) Transparency that bypasses the idea of professional media is ultimately and inevitably degenerate. (Read the Jay Rosen 24-tweet thread linked in that post.) All issues degenerate to binary / unstable extremes, with all stable / nuanced options crowded out.
Last night – in a pause from the Trump traffic – I happened to watch the lecture by the potential hero I’d blogged about in Sept 2019. John C Doyle. Apart from capturing the link and my reasons for doing so, I’d completely forgotten I’d watched it before last night. Looking at my on-line activity, it seems entirely random that I did.
Conclusions re “Bad Meme Controls”.
Biggest human problem – we’re not very well evolved to deal with viral information.
— What, Why & How do we know? (@psybertron) January 8, 2021
“System architectures for massively enhanced evolvability” is spookily close to my day-job agenda, but that’s a story for another day. The game changer for us humans more generally is this:
Human systems architectures are well evolved
to deal with bio-genetic viruses. (And deal with mountain-biking down steep rocky paths.)
Human systems architectures are not well evolved
to deal with info-memetic viruses.
The latter is our bigger problem right now.
Has been (my main agenda) for two decades.
It’s been apparent since the rise of personal email, compounded in the days of bulletin boards and email exploders, and gone nuclear thanks to real-time “unmoderated” social-media. The human system can’t handle it for in-built design reasons. The information channels are too fast for our internal system dynamics and instability is inevitable.