Sunday, February 26, 2006

Edge Perspectives with John Hagel - "The Real Significance of the Dubai Ports Controversy"

Top billing post. I have to say that despite my hardline views on the War on Terror, the recent furor over our ports management and Dubai Ports World has left me totally unimpressed and Mr. Hagel here explains why. I'm also intrigued by his reference to "...We suggested that public policy in many different domains should be reassessed in terms of implications for accelerating talent development " as a general operating concept. This pursuit of niche dominance would be the natural national strategy for a market-state world, especially for smaller powers like Singapore which is currently devoting itself to becoming a world leader in biotech research.

The Eide Neurolearning Blog - "King of Charts: Visual Thinking with Diagrams"

From the post title I almost expected that the Drs. Eide might have discovered tdaxp ;o)

I liked this post not merely for the substantive links, of which there were many, but the quote here that drives home the proper use of diagrams in teaching or communication - which if more people were consciously aware of we'd have shorter, better designed, more effective lectures, business presentations and policy briefs:

"The authors add, "diagrams reduce memory load and cognitive effort by computational offloading. Self-explaining is a challenging activity that many learners do not engage in spontaneously. Diagrams free the limited resources of learners to engage in meaning-making activities. Diagrams limit abstraction and aid processibility by restricting the learners' interpretation of the situation"

Bingo. The diagram isn't just an illustration or a transmitter of concepts but it sets the parameters for your thought process and reduces tangential errors.

Curtis Gale Weeks at Phatic Communion -" Murder I Wrote"

Curtis likes long, comprehensive, posts that consider a wide range of variables and perspectives but his musings here on comparative ideological paradigms, he arrived at a profound observation:

"One last note: I do not know that we should be more afraid of the totalitarian, linear, static system than the complex, chaotic, dynamic system — or, the other way around. BYF’s implication, and one notion circling all of the above ideas, is that ideologies because they are straight lines are far more dangerous, potentially, that pluralistic or diffuse and complex systems. The Jihadists follow the straight-and-narrow (we think) in their advocacy of death, but in America, murder “just happens” or emerges from the general chaos. Which is more frightening? Which is more predictable? "

That was good. Additional questions would be " Which model is more psychologically attractive ?" and " Which better reflects reality ? "

That's it.
Thanks for pointing this Hagel fellow out to me. Interesting things.

The really painful takeaway here is (i) in DPW's world, the US is in many ways marginal,
(ii) the hissy fit being thrown is not only illogical, but damaging to longer term interests (including security). Meanwhile I have commentators at Aqoul pissing and moaning about 'what if 'they' cut off cargo over cartoons.' As if 'they' did not already have oil, were 'they' so inclined to cut off the nose to spite the face.....

I do, however, have some issues with his perception of Dubai.
Hi Col-

Hagel doesn't post all that frequently but his pieces seem to be pretty sharp. A systemic and emerging trends type of thinker for business; nice for me to read because it is out of my field.

The fit is indeed illogical. My state congressional delegation appears to be deep into a rare bipartisan tantrum on the subject. While some of this is manufactured theater by Democrats to get a few easy shots in at Bush I think it also signifies:

1) Widespread ignorance regarding the complexity of a globalized economy as it functions in reality.

2) A deep sense of being fed up with Islamist extremism in all its manifestations which in this case is being generalized into "Arabs" by the public that doesn't really grasp the difference ( Congressmen though, should know better).

I also note that Martin Kramer, not your favorite academic, had some kind words for Dubai.

Thanks for the link, Mark.

I've been mulling over your two questions, trying to find the answers.

I think that, insofar as the linear, static system seems more threatening, it becomes the most psychologically attractive for some people: through transference, people who align themselves with such a system may feel more protected within that line/ideology. So it's about aligning with the dictator or powers that be for security.

On the other hand, if the chaotic, complex system seems more threatening, some who fear it may emulate it: 4GW (and perhaps 5GW) activity would ensue. Of course, I'm thinking of al-Qaeda. I think the emulation may be partial, however, and not a true love of complexity, since any direction of force is really the extension of mutliple lines rather than the formation of a truly chaotic, complex system.

I think that few people are attracted to complexity out of love for it. Complex, dynamic systems actually require some submission -- to forces outside us, beyond our control, either to other peoples' whims or to other unknown forces. An entire people who love it would truly be "meak" or sheep relatively unconcerned by wolves -- or else a race of saints.

But these are only the initial thoughts sparked by your first question. The other question is much more difficult to answer with "fingertip feeling."

I forgot to mention another result of attraction/loathing: the complex, dynamic system may become the most attractive if the totalitarian and static system is greatly feared. I.e., we are attracted to a complex and dynamic system most, perhaps, when we fear the formation of a totalitarian system which will not benefit us personally. (Plus, heh, I suppose that advocacy of complexity may sometimes come from those who most wish to establish their own totalitarian system: knock all the pieces down so we personally have freer movement to rebuild the board. Thus, revolution is a desire for chaos which may precede a new order.)
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