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    nmw 14:23:18 on 2016/12/18 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , goals, , , , , , mission, mission statement, , , , ,   

    The Rationality of Literacy 

    Over the past couple months, I have worked on developing a mission statement for one of my overarching goals – something like a „life goal“. Initial attempts were quite abstract, and I was greatly helped by the very considerate feedback of friends.

    In the intervening weeks since those first trials, I have kept the general aim present but I have focused on it much less. Over the past several days, I have received several ideas from other sources – more or less haphazardly, which have motivated me to reconsider this particular life goal again from a new perspective.

    For people who have been following my writing for several years, it should be no surprize that literacy is really at the crux of my thinking about many topics, and also with respect to this particular life goal for which I want to craft a mission statement. One thing that has been „bugging“ me for the past year or two is how my focus on literacy is considered by many – indeed, including myself – to be a non-human matter. In this view, reading, writing and arithmetic are technologies and therefore lack the warmth of flesh-and-blood human beings. Code and language are inert, not living things, and they cannot ultimately provide meaning in the same way as interaction with other humans can – as humans (so this argument) we are, after all, social animals.

    This view, however, interprets technology from a very parochial point of view. According to this perspective, technology is merely an artefact, a curiosity, a product… albeit of human ingenuity. We pound nails not because there is anything interesting about doing so, but merely because doing so makes our lives easier from the results of applying such technologies. There is nothing interesting about iron or steel per se, but rather such materials are only interesting insofar as they can be manipulated into helping to make nails, just as nails are only interesting insofar as they can be used to build more things. As an aside: It might make sense to think about how the technologies we use also create threating things – such as global warming, nuclear waste, AIDS and/or many other problems.

    Yet let me not drift away from the current issue – crafting my mission statement. I view language and literacy somewhat differently than most… and over the years, my thinking about these things has also undergone continued development and refinement. While I have long known (or believed) that language cannot be owned (e.g. by a monarch) or dictated (e.g. to the masses), I am now at a point where I feel it may be useful to extrapolate beyond this rather mundane and obvious fact to recognize a „rationality of literacy“, in which people make a rational decision to engage with each other via linguistic technologies. In this vein, literacy is also not simply owned or attained, but rather it is practiced (or – in the case of illiteracynot practiced).

    This is important because it redirects our attention away from the ownership of resources to the actual use of such resources. To give a concrete example: In order to engage with „cars“, it is not necessary to own cars. Engagement with cars can also happen when someone references cars. Statements like „cars are good“ or „cars are bad“ are social expressions insofar as there is agreement within a society regarding what these words (and expressions) mean.

    Likewise, our level of engagement with a topic can be as small or as large as our involvement with various other social institutions related to that topic. We might simply talk about cars with very little engagement, or we might become much more involved with cars by joining organizations that deal with them and associated technologies. Our involvement with „cars“ may lead us to become involved with „pedestrians“, „streets“, „roads“, „highways“, „infrastructure“, „pollution“, „global warming“ and many other topics, too.

    We do not need to become dictators in any of these arenas. It is completely sufficient to simply engage – to participate in the social construction of the reality related to each of these terms. It ought to be quite plain to see that the reality we thereby create in one arena might not be the exact same reality created in another arena. There might be nuanced differences, but there might also be meaningful relationships between and among the various arenas.

    Increased engagement in more and more arenas goes hand in hand with increased literacy. These two phenomena are crucially related: You cannot have one without the other (that is, at least, a hypothesis I am venturing here).

    This thinking is what leads me to venture that the mission statement I need probably goes something like: My mission is to promote literacy – in order to increase community engagement and social cohesion, and also in order to motivate humans more towards alignment and harmony with natural evolution.

     
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    nmw 14:10:51 on 2014/10/09 Permalink
    Tags: , Categorical Imperative, , collabortive, , , cooperation, cooperative, , dystopia, dystopian, economic development, , , , goals, , , Immanuel Kant, , , , Kant, , , , , , , , , , , utopia, utopian,   

    Kant’s Big Mistake? 

    In my previous post I referred to Kant’s “Categorical Imperative”. Here, let me entertain the following suggestion: That Kant made a big mistake.

    Kant wrote a lot. If he was consistent in his thinking, that would mean that he wanted everyone to write a lot. Now since he lived several hundred years ago, Kant never had to face the prospect of having to read dozens, hundreds, thousands or even millions of volumes of text, with rarely one of them rising above the level of completely ephemeral blather (in my opinion, this is primarily due to how the coincidence of copyright law and mass production of printed paper had not yet taken its course into its swirling destiny of mind-numbing confusion). Had Kant ever envisioned the world we live in today, he would have probably immediately had a heart attack and died on the spot right then and there.

    There is some irony to how my main goal in life is something quite similar to making this frightening, horrific vision actually come true — but to do so in a way that might satisfy the hopes and dreams of literate people everywhere. One of the main reasons why I am so focused on literacy is that I do not feel that publishing hogwash improves anything anywhere (except, perhaps, for people who “make money” that way — and in particular only insofar as it fulfills their financial obsession and their fetish for cash).

    Yet I feel optimistic enough to believe that everyone is particularly literate at something… — what’s your thing?

     
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    feedwordpress 16:58:04 on 2014/02/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , , goals, , , , , , , , ,   

    Life Mashups: Business + Love 

    Yesterday’s acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook (and the subsequent reporting about the 19 billion dollar deal) has underscored something I have been thinking about a lot lately.

    Most people have 2 distinctly separated compartments in which they live out their lives: work and play, or maybe they call it business and family… — they have career goals and life goals. Very few people talk about enthusiasm or love, but such passions permeate every minute of every day.

    People are very happy loving others irrationally, but when it’s a matter of business, work, jobs, etc. then they expect mathematically precise logical analysis (however: such expectations are usually relaxed at the executive level — anyone who asks a CEO “why?” can expect to be unemployed in short shrift).

    As “tech companies” such as Facebook acquire companies with huge databases of highly irrational and often incoherent data, the question of “why?” — and also of “how?” (as in: “how to make sense of this mixed-up confusion?”) — poses itself.

    Another question that could be asked, though, is: Why do we separate and compartmentalize our lives this way at all? Yet I would advise investors not to hold their breath waiting for an answer to that one. ;)

     
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    feedwordpress 15:38:17 on 2013/12/25 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , coach, coaches, coaching, , execution, executive, executives, , , , , , goals, , , , , , , podcast, podcasts, , purposes, , Ted Ernst Sarvata, , ,   

    Looking Back, Looking Forward 

    Listening to some Dire Straits, I figure I might as well go down to the water line… ;)

    This year has been tremendous! :D This year has been stupendous!! 8O This year has been a blast and a half!!!

    I won’t recount everything, mostly because I don’t want to embarrass everyone. :P I will stop with the stupid smileys, though — in case you’re almost ready to pull out all of your hair ;) )….

    I choose to highlight one thing in particular: My friend Ted Ernst Sarvata‘s new podcast, the Purpose Podcast. I’ve been listening since he started it this past summer, and now I think I’ve figured out one of my purposes in life: To get people out of the way — of each other, and also out of the way of other forms of life. I have been deeply influenced by very many very smart people in this… and it was not a completely straightforward insight (at least not for me), and so I’d like to explain my thinking at least a little bit… or at least I’d like to try to do that!

    So here goes: There are (surpise, surprise!) some people who are simply letting their badness run wild, they don’t seem to be able to reign it in, and they make life difficult for us nice guys! I simply want to get them out of the way.

    One of the people who has influenced my thinking is entirely unknown to me. This person wrote an article titled: “Why I’m Not a Leader (and Why You Shouldn’t Be Either)“. I hope Sean Werkema will get a trackback (and maybe even sign up / join TAGSEO — and I also think you should join, too!).

    I think Sean put it very well, and whatever school turned him down must have too many too conservative thinkers to be a place to learn some new tricks!

    For Ted, I would add that I now guess that the Wisdom of the Language is probably a tool to achieve this purpose — but I am not sure. Maybe someday we can chat on the phone, and if he can record it, he can ask me questions and I could try to give somewhat coherent answers and/or explain something that still seems to be stuck in my brain as if it were molasses or some other strange gooey syrup.

     
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