The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

the Art of thinking about words

March22

I’m working with a fellow named Tim Barker (you’ve read bits-and-pieces about him on this blog before) as he launches a ministry. this effort might be unique in that, through something of a community-regulating system, the most productive ministries, relative to a defined return on investment (“ROI”) is measured, scored and followed. it’s all about accuracy and accountability.

Tim has poured his heart into this effort. and, my sense is it will make a difference. I’ll likely support it financially, and back it with my name.

while coaching Tim last week, these words tumbled from my mouth:

“don’t let your mission be clouded by passion”.

God does that to, or with, me some times.

I think Tim and I are both pondering that. but, there is likely something to it.

meanwhile, I also spoke in front of a women’s executive group last night. that’s so very energizing. I got to say a lot of things. I feel some of them made sense. and, I hope the words strike a chord and help some of the listeners make better decisions, soon, or at least eventually. key words included “proactive” and “relevant”.

on the way home I was thinking of words and how their meaning(s) change with context and order.

a preliminary result was:

“my experience clouds my judgment. and, my judgment is clouded by my experience”.

more on that later. but, for the moment, it’s just a thought. maybe like the Chinese supposedly saying:

“the promise is in the punishment, or the punishment is in the promise”.

if the Chinese do say that, the words have certainly inspired a lot of self-reflection on my part. and, action.

Nana used to refer to this as: “the art of thinking”.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

jeffersonian expectations against Realities. Or, the predicted triumph of the few over the fewer

December1

It’s been a rather long, tumultuous, and educational experiential journey refamiliarizing myself with the PC (as opposed to Apples), Windows – by way of the Android Operating System – and technology in the form of upheaval; the kind that requires and creates change. “Experiential” is an interesting word for the purposes of this post. The word derives it’s meaning from a learning process at the feet of old philosophers, yet it’s also apropos to a dedicated process of learning something new by, essentially, immersion. And, here we are…

Along the way, I find myself constantly reminded that we’ve become terribly reliant upon the internet for information with it being the uncertain arbiter of truth.

So… It’s become my view that the Internet, or any technology can not, will not, and should not act as a proxy to achieve the dreams and social goals we lack the courage to propose, debate, and legislate.

Thusly, I stand firm the Jeffersonian and Heterodox.

And, not often enough, we’ve discussed what being Jeffersonian means, on this Blog. However, today I’ll add some thought around what it does not mean. There will most certainly be the shaking of fists – and, furiously, that. Possibly the gnashing of teeth. Heated words, to be sure. The portent of change, inevitable.

NOTE: Don’t be overly concerned if you are reading this and come to a bound conclusion that you’ve waded, possibly unsuspecting, into my thinking mid-stream. We must all begin somewhere, and it’s how we finish, and that likely, counts for the most.

In any event, I’ll offer this abstract to maneuver you along:

It is often claimed that Internet technology will revolutionize society by privileging the small and benefiting the individual. We term the utopian tendency to hail a new communication technology as an inherently positive, decentralizing, and democratic force. In a manner of speaking this might be referred to as an example of the: “the Jeffersonian syndrome (named in honor of my hero so often appropriated to identify the decentralized, democratic outcome – the predicted triumph of the many over the few).”

It’s not just me, mind you. Others started it…

“Life in cyberspace seems to be shaping up exactly like Thomas Jefferson would have wanted: founded on the primacy of individual liberty and a commitment to pluralism, diversity, and community” (Kapor, 1993).

And,

“…the social liberalism of New Left and the economic liberalism of New Right have converged into an ambiguous dream of a hi-tech ‘Jeffersonian democracy’. Interpreted generously, this retro-futurism could be a vision of a cybernetic frontier where hi-tech artisans discover their individual self-fulfillment in either the electronic agora or the electronic marketplace” (Barbrook & Cameron, 1998).

Huh? “agora”?

Social critics dislike paucity. For example, society (that collective you), they (the social critics) complain, suffers when there are too few firms in a market, too few political choices, or too little communication. Small numbers of firms coordinate actions to stifle entry and innovation, largely at the expense of consumers. Concentration at the most extreme results in rapacious monopolies that produce inferior products at high prices. Likewise, a small number of political parties limit voter choice, stifle policy change, and produce voter apathy and special interest politics. Society would clearly be better served, so the critics argue, by greater political choice and the accompanying increased voter participation. Too little communication is also bad for society, as limited communication precludes understanding, diversity, and community.

Weep not for the minority, although, it is that collective “they” that hold most of the power, and the wealth, under many definitions, that is part of it.

Social critics often place their hopes in technology to erode the dominance of the few and foster diversity. Many view the internet as a liberating technology. Indeed, they embrace the internet as subversive, a technology that will pry power away from the few – tyrants, censors, robber barons and phone monopolies (let’s not forget Obama, Obamacrats, and that insidious media) and return it to the people. The internet, so the critics claim, will usher in a new era of perfect market competition, more direct democracy, and greater community-building (cf. Dyson, 1997). Ultimately, it will undermine the dominant few in many segments of society, and usher in a more democratic and heterogeneous political and economic system.  A system that will produce infinite consumer choice in the marketplace, deliver true democracy in the political realm, and provide unlimited and enhanced communication in the cultural realm.

This view leads to fallacious expectations about the impact of technology. And, these misguided expectations are cyclic and predictable. Corollary to this might be  a brief historical discussion of earlier communication technologies. Jeffersonian claims about the Internet are rebutted by the three propositions:

1.  New technologies do not operate in isolation from existing organizations and systems;

2.  Valuable information is never cheap; and,

3.  The economics of information markets imply concentrated structures.

And, so… The Internets non-Jeffersonian impact on economic, political, and community structures is discussed using three cases:

1.  The online market for books;

2.  The claims made about direct democracy; and,

3.  And, political parties, and the hopes for computer- mediated communities.

It’s not that I wish to promote an opposite, dystopian perspective, nor do I consider the Internet impotent in terms of societal change.

Instead, I wish to call attention to the Jeffersonian-esque view of technology as a very predictable mis-perception that is a waste of our energies.

First, as a society we must, in reasoned deliberation, conclude that we are in need of one or more of the goals we have discussed here; be it less concentrated markets, greater economic efficiency, more direct democracy, a more decentralized political system, or more participatory and emancipatory communities.

Second, after a rational analysis of our goal and the changes needed in the social, political, and economic domains to approach it (addressing also the question of if and how “the” internet has the potential to aid us in these ends).

Third, and perhaps finally, we need to advance that goal through policy.

The hype surrounding technology is also predictably old: the introduction of the PC ushered in the “PC revolution” quite simply because many analysts expected the technology to usher in just that – a revolution (a revolution of what and how the revolution was to happen was never quite specified). The hype and bluster of the internet and in particular electronic markets is thus just yet another round of new technologies and anticipated revolutions.

Think in terms of what the catapult meant to war nine hundred years ago.

These technologies have had, and may yet have, a broad range of important and far-reaching implications. The question on the table is whether these technologies will deliver on the promised Jeffersonian expectations of decentralization and democratization, or whether this revolution will yet again fail to materialize. As I’ll struggle, here, in my own inarticulate manner, to have made clear, the weight of history leads us to doubt, the present conditions in electronic commerce lead us to doubt, the claims made about direct democracy lead us to doubt, and the idolatry of the computer-mediated community lead us to doubt.

This makes me perhaps not fearful, but certainly watchful of the idyllic, sophomoric generation that sees computers and the internet as the “easy button”.

While this post has approached these domains largely using an economic perspective, I’ll grimly suspect that judicious analysis from other perspectives would also cast the Jeffersonian expectation in an unflattering light. But, stay focused on me. But, as my own Mother expounded: Question everything, and accept nothing until the truth of the day is best known.

Where the drive of the heterodox crosses paths with the passion and intellectual nuance of the Jeffersonian, you’ll find that truth in the light of the seeking heart.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

the big BOX theory

November23

So… Today’s words might be “box” and “paradigm”.

Most of you know what a box is. And, others think they understand the concept of paradigm. However, just to nudge things along here is a definition:

par·a·digm  (pr-dm, -dm)

n. 

1. One that serves as a pattern or model.

2. A set or list of all the inflectional forms of a word or of one of its grammatical categories: the paradigm of an irregular verb.

3. A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

…what’s that? who’s insufferable?

In any event, I was involved in a multi-voiced electronic conversation (Cisco has some real bad-ass communication technology) late yesterday morning – to accommodate the West Coast, when, while commenting on my photo on my business website,  AG said: “Cork appears to be crouching in a box”. And, in response, SJ quickly retorted: “No box could possibly hold Brian Cork”.

I reasonably certain more was said, especially with those two. But, I lost track of it all as that box comment sent my thinking down an entirely different path.

I’ve never subscribed to the idea of: “thinking outside the box”. Being the contrarian and Heterodox that I am, I would often say things like: “box?”, “what box”. But, looking back, I feel that was all rather sophomoric, now.

But, circling back to what you know, and what you think you know, I believe I do know that most information, money and power are in the hands of a minority. And, I don’t believe “they” think  or see outside of any box. Instead, what if we took the position that being in a box, and possibly an VERY LARGE CLEAR box gave a select few a 360 degree view of everything and everyone?

Stand back, you. Say’s, I.

I’m calling this the Big Box Theory.

The less inspired amongst you might be thinking: “yeah… but, that means everyone can see you and there is a loss of advantage”. However, the masses can’t read my heart. They’ll only realize my actions. Much of it what I choose, and want them to see.

The media is very much like this.

My box is bigger every day. And, its clear – as in transparent. But, as it spins both fast and slow, as I decide, I can view, gaze upon, consider and ponder everything around me and choose my own course and path. The collective outside is left to gaze in and wonder as that shiny object catches their attention.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

inside the Box

February3

We were asked: “What is thinking ‘inside the box”?

We hear so much about thinking “outside the box” that it apparently made the questioner wonder if going back into the box might not be a wise thing these days. They suggested that it might “just be less crowded. Or maybe not.”

My own immediate thought is that we need to focus on core objectives relative to goals.

So, whereas “outside the box” allows for broader thinking – and, suggests open-mindedness, “inside the box” might signal that we have opened the box, come up with a great idea, and are now implementing a plan of action to execute.

This has equal applications in both business, and life inside and outside of  business (sometimes there is a difference).

That’s just me thinking. I tend to do that, sometimes, more than many people care to know.

However, I do think much of this offers an insight to the views of the Heterodox.

Peace be to my Bothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

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What’s All This About?

"What am I looking at?", you might wonder.

Lots of stuff.

Meanwhile, here, I discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

You'll also learn things about, well, things, like people you need to know about, and information about companies you can't find anywhere else.

So, while I harangue the public in my not so gentle way, you will discover that I am fascinated by all things arcane, curious about those whom appear religious, love music, dabble in politics, loathe the media, value education, still think I am an athlete, and might offer a recipe.

All the while, striving mightily, and daily, to remain a prudent and optimistic gentleman - and, authentic.

brian cork by John Campbell





photos by John Campbell

 

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