Obama’s Way

This time he covered a lot more ground and was willing to talk about the mundane details of presidential existence. “You have to exercise,” he said, for instance. “Or at some point you’ll just break down.” You also need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day. “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s why shopping is so exhausting. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.” The self-discipline he believes is required to do the job well comes at a high price. “You can’t wander around,” he said. “It’s much harder to be surprised. You don’t have those moments of serendipity. You don’t bump into a friend in a restaurant you haven’t seen in years. The loss of anonymity and the loss of surprise is an unnatural state. You adapt to it, but you don’t get used to it—at least I don’t.”

Michael Lewis — Obama’s Way

Romney’s Wife to Stand Next to Him at Debates

“I want to stand next to Mitt for my benefit, not his,” Mrs. Romney’s statement read. “Mitt is so human and so warm, I can’t imagine being away from his warm humanity for as long as two hours. That’s how warm a human he is. Really warm and really human.”

Romney’s Wife to Stand Next to Him at Debates.

To Make America Great Again, We Need to Leave the Country

According to a recent Rasmussen poll, only 17 percent of Americans believe our national government possesses the consent of the governed. These numbers may not seem shocking, because they’ve been low for so long. But not always. In 1964, Pew found 77 percent of Americans expected their government to do “the right thing” most of the time.

So the American people think our democracy doesn’t work. But there are also many objective signs that it’s failing. One is that Americans don’t vote as much as citizens of most other countries, including developing countries. In 2010, only 37.5 percent voted in Congressional elections. There are signs that young people are voting less than they used to. Why? As Rock the Vote found in a 2010 poll, it is very simple: Because they think it doesn’t matter who wins, that no real change is possible. They think the power of special interests is simply too great. And they are right.

Elliot Gerson — To Make America Great Again, We Need to Leave the Country

Jeff Jarvis on the NY Times’ do-not-track hypocrisy

Sunday’s New York Times editorializes in favor of Do Not Track and other privacy legislation going through Congress and the Federal Trade Commission. Yet The New York Times itself makes much use of personal, private, and tracking information itself. Indeed, it requires tracking.

Jeff Jarvis — Do-not-track hypocrisy

Learning from the now

This afternoon held in store for me a fast, engaging conversation with Andrew Jesaitis, a former business manager and colleague at the Whitman Pioneer, who I hear might be getting back into the journalism and media industry. He’s worked for Goldman Sachs since graduating, but will be starting an internship with The Ski Journal in the next couple of months.

I did my best to explain my understanding of how the business is changing, the forces driving the change, and what trends are solidifying for the future. Newspapers and journalism are under the influence of longer-term change because of more ubiquitous ICT, but the current cacophony of crisis is largely due to the biggest recession in half of a century and over-leveraged debt. A lot of the discussion has been centered around the lack of leadership in redefining newspaper business models, but I think Michael Nielsen deserves merit for saying that newspapers might also be failing because their institutional structures are too optimized for an old paradigm. They are too good at what they used to do, and the jump into experimental and uncertain territory is nigh impossible.

Continue reading “Learning from the now”

Internet as a disruptive force

For tomorrow night’s Fertile Ambition call, my argument is that the internet is an inherently disruptive force for institutions and industries whose business models don’t take advantage of a flattening world. Pragmatically speaking, I’ve identified the music, movie, and news industries as ones which have already been at the receiving end of this characteristic. In the near future, I see at least the political and educational systems facing serious change.

One effect of the disruption I’ve identified, but have no support for at the moment, is that the institution has a reduced capacity to fulfill its tasks through the duration of the evolution. Moreover, if there are no support mechanisms in place, then society’s capacity to function in the affected arena is seriously hindered. Alternative methods of education are abundant on the internet, but I can’t think of any backups we have for the current political process.

There are at least several questions I still have. How valid is this premise (and is it concrete enough)? What other institutions or industries are vulnerable? How do institutions take preemptive action to address the changes they will eventually have to deal with? Most importantly, what are the discrete components of each stage of institutional evolution?