EXTENDING THE CONVERSATION
One of the most pleasant aspects of blogging for me is receiving high quality feedback from readers or other bloggers. Oddly, it's impossible to predict which post is going to produce a high volume of comments or links so it is even nicer when a post that I feel is important strikes some readers in the same way. Even moreso as the feedback came from across the political spectrum
I'd like to highlight the responses to the recent "Applied History
From Art Hutchinson
at Mapping Strategy
Art is a premier strategic thinking consultant with Cartegic Group
who specializes in scenario planning. He doesn't post all that frequently, so I was very pleased to find that he had delved deeply into the topic of "Cognitive Maps of Future History
":"What's needed to turn the seeming surprise of today's urgent corporate decision into an historically rooted, deeply contextualized choice?
Exactly the same kind of context-setting, "map-making" capability and cross-functional engagement (deciders with academics) that Mark observes to be lacking in the higher echelons of government.
Cartegic does that with modular scenarios, wherein each scenario-building component references analogous situations faced by other industries, in other markets, with other technologies, by other clients and/or at different points in time. (Side note: the dot.com era, as most now appreciate, did not "re-invent" the rules of business; it merely made some business models more viable--and some less viable--than they had been before.)
With the view of the historian (whether geopolitical, industrial or technical) seemingly open-ended, highly uncertain, "new to the world" decisions without any apparent guideposts can be brought down to earth and seen as natural (if imperfect) analogues to things that have gone before.
As the saying goes: "there's nothing new under the sun".
, the guiding spirit of the up and coming, left of center, group blog ProgressiveHistorians
in the "Friday Open Thread
" Nonpartisan welcomed Stewart Brand's
historical call to arms:
"At ProgressiveHistorians, we've been advocating this sort of direct policy action on the part of historians since our founding, but it's nice to see the liberal icon who founded the Whole Earth Network taking up our cause. If there's one thing that unites everyone at this site, I think, it's their agreement with some portion of Brand's thesis. It's encouraging how many of us see the meaning in this logical extension of our profession
In the comments section of " Applied History" I am indebted to Shane Deichman
, Managing Director of The Institute for Technologies in Global Resilience
and Federal Historian Dr. Maarja Krusten
, formerly of The National Archives,
for their thoughtful observations, such as:
Deichman:"Policymaking, on the other hand, is not about asserting truths -- it is about influencing action. Therefore it is an inherently social and, dare I say, "complex" phenomenon that defies linear, reductionist logic. So it is perfectly understandable (even acceptable) for the policymaker to "cherry pick" conclusions that support their objectives (e.g., yellow cake from Nigeria; hostile naval action in the Gulf of Tonkin; the fictitious "Tenth Army" in WW II). This is why I believe so few historians are apt to get involved with policymaking."
Krusten:"Many thanks for posting this interesting essay on a subject that deserves more attention than it usually receives among academic historians.
There are, of course, federal historians (of which I am one) who work in civil service positions (the so-called GS 170 series). There are others who work as archivists or in other history related job classifications. (When I worked as an employee of the National Archives, screening Richard Nixon's tapes to see what could be released, most of my colleagues had graduate degrees in history.)
Since your posting centers on applied history and policy, you might find interesting this article by Victoria Harden
, "What Do Federal Historians Do?"
( Note to aspiring history PhD's - make friends with a professional archivist or academic librarian *before* you begin your dissertation. The cites they can pull off the top of their heads on the most obscure topics imaginable are stunning. They are to historians what historians are to the general public)
Thanks again for the excellent feedback!
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