“Bien étonnés de se trouver ensemble” [= surprised to find them there together] that is what the French say when people with very different political opinions exhibit the unlikely: some things they agree on.
Today, July 14, marks the celebration of the start of the French Revolution in 1789 by the storming of the Bastille Prison in Paris. The population started to turn (revolve) the tables on the aristocracy and the power of the roman catholic nomenclatura. I have the honor on this day to announce my guiding principle to help us get into an era of synergy and wealth creation. This principle may not start a revolution but at least it may change the mindset of many people, away from pure inward looking & self centeredness.
I define my Principle of Maximum Well-Connectedness as: “Connect and cooperate with the most extraordinary, the BEST – maximally different and unexpected; because the Vitality of an Entity (*) depends on the Quality of its EXTERNAL Relations; which can make it part of something bigger, a P2P Ensemble with shared unique contributions in scope and scale” ~ Jaap van Till, July 14 2014. (*) such an entity can be: an individual or a team, a skilled professional, a device (IoT), an IC, a computer, a smartphone, a car, a family, animals in herds, birds in swarms, fish in ‘schools’, a tribe, a house, a neighborhood, IT systems, Social Media, a business enterprise, a city, a P2P Commons, an organization, a nation state, an empire.
People, individuals or in groups, have difficulty with this principle because generally they can more easily communicate and cooperate with those others that have the same closed cultural, corporal or religious filtered views and they tend to exclude others who do not only & purely confirm their views. The hate towards “those on the other side of the bridge” in Mostar (former Jugoslavia) even led them to blow up the ancient bridge between muslims and christians.
This isolation of groups by boundaries is not very constructive since for ages on squares and bridges (like in Italian cities) people have mixed and matched while crossing to find skilled craftsmen to do tasks and ‘outsource’ jobs other people are better on. Not to mention Romeo and Julia who considered their connection more important than the fight between their tribes. The trick seems to be to distinguish clearly what you share (do together, non competitive) and what not (competitive, differentiator). And then: let “Les extrêmes se touchent” !
1. To explain this “Van Till’s Principle” (VTP) let me start with the caption on the picture above. The now extinct huge dino’s grew feathers and evolved into…. birds. But do not underestimate the small birds, they flocked together into swarms, their next evolutionary state of entity. So did bacteria, fungi, ants, trees, fish and dolphins. Together they can scale up, see, match patterns & react quickly to unexpected & complex changes in their environment. And what they learn is transferred to next generations of their cooperative. Links between their components transport food, energy and information. As Renan’s Law tells us: “everything wants to be connected”. Now the question for mankind is; can humans evolve too, and how, in a similar network-flocked way? Do we have a future on a global scale? Or will we be just another harmful extinct species, just a brief blip in the history of Nature? There is urgency here!
Not only in society distinct groups of people find it difficult to cooperate and even fight eachother, like football tribe hooligans do. In science and engineering they do not automatically understand each other in trans-sector/ cross discipline projects, with each their respective languages and mindframes and implicit assumptions/ prejudices. This phenomenon struck again in the Brain Function Simulation project of the EU. Neurologists and computer scientists at present seem to live on different planets . If I show a simple math formula in a PPT presentation to sociologists they go berserk. Same with graphics shown to legal people in my effort to explain tech, makes them stare in disbelief of dazzling complication. But other projects between specialists with different contributions from several universities and multiple small enterprises DO work together quickly and fruitfull partly online. Each participant must be proven to be one of the best in a particular skill AND willing and able to listen and correlate with the other unique participants. So Van Till’s Principle to constructively cooperate CAN work.
Indeed it seems that to make it work through DIALOGUE or not: by fighting is a conscious decision by the individual or groups. The late Ryszard Kapuscinski explained this eloquently in Encountering the Other. I will post his speech in full in my next blogpage since I consider that text to be very important for our future. Remember that the opposite of love is ‘fear of the unexpected’, the uncontrolled, the extraordinary or the unrecognized. Hate is but a byproduct/ symptom of fear of the other(s).
From the fact that there is a conscious choice made between (binding or segmenting) or in other words: between [a constructive upwards spiral with help of the VTP] or [a destructive downwards spiral], it follows that those who made that choice can be held accountable. This IMHO must be applied to the [Dick Cheney vs. Taliban] conflict and the [Israeli vs. Palestinians] conflict. And if the VTPrinciple is applied those spirals can be bend upwards.
What is needed to apply the VTP and create a New Renaissance, is on a wide scale, bottom up P2P civil society :
– Open up !! Drop the mental and physical boundaries.
– Apply Empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of the Other and see things from his/her maximum different VTP position perspective. Swap observations and ‘network’, which creates incentive to form an networked array telescope. Empathy leads to the Golden Rule, embedded in all religions: treat others they way you want to be treated.
– Have Courage instead of fear;
– Disobedience versus dictatorship (as explained by the non violent action ideas of Gene Sharp: FDTD) and conservative vested interests;
– Large doses of Curiosity for extraordinary outliers and black swans that lead to research into nature, explorations and visits to far away lands, like the travels of Marco Polo or the Odyssey.
2. However, most “Western” people are egoistic, self centered and can not even see things outside a very small (group) circle and timeframe. And recent political history is not encouraging. Shocked by the flaws encountered in pure global neo-liberal capitalism, whose recipes do no longer seem to work, a kind of Retro Dreaming pops up. The idea that we can go back to the (slightly idealised):
* Old times of the 1970’s of middle class success and prospects reflected in old age parties.
* Inwards looking nationalism, which became visible in the last national MEP elections, especially the winners in the UK (UKIP) and France (Front National). Rather strange since borders are fading between ‘nation states’. The team members of the countries that competed in the World Championship Football are not all born there and in practice play in other countries. Nation states are outdated. People from many countries died in flight MH17. Most scientists are in ‘transnational teams’ until they get a Nobel Prize, which is a boost for national prestige and identity.
* The British Empire, see the legislation surrounding surveillance by GCHQ
* The American world rule by control, power and law-enforcement. See the handling of the NSA revelations.
* Retro Emperor Putin with his ideals of NovoRussia (Retro USSR) , invading Crimea and Ukraine.
* The declaration of IS (Islamic State) a Caliphate which is established by asking the civilians in its occupied territories four questions and if you can not answer them right, to show that you are a pure Sunni Moslim, your head is chopped off. So ALL other humans Kafirs (“unbeliever,” “disbeliever,” or “infidel”) must be killed. Even some Sunni tribe members are less than happy about this ISIS project.
* In Europe in several places Fascism is rearing its ugly head, like often in history when regimes have failed and or lost wars.
What have these trends in common? Closing off to the outside world, crushing of those with different views than the “leaders” have, beginning with journalists. And a never ending process of “ethnic cleansing” aka “religious purification” resulting in uniformity and obedience. In other words, the exact opposite, and possibly the mortal enemy, of the VTP approach. They separate , hunt down and crush exceptionals instead of binding them by VTP links. But they will fail. You can not go back in time. The “we against them” choice is the approach of losers. It does only destroy and it does not scale up. At he same time many governments are praying that things that where in crisis since 2008 will re-start (NL: Her-stel) again like the booming times before the crash. And they seem to be focussing on tangible goods and financial figures only, without looking at know-how values and by whom & how value is created. Money and its models are a simplification which gives controlaholics a comfortable feeling that they are relevant. Many layers of management and huge office buildings full of administrative zombies are getting less and less relevant, since the added value of the overhead is minimal. You can read in the Flashboys book and in The End of Power in what weird ways the big banks and governments have tried to stay on top of the power hierarchies. 1% blues indeed!
Below the failing retro symptoms is the real problem which is facing us all. The real world is much much more complicated, non-linear and dynamic than our present governance and management systems can handle. They run into the limits imposed by Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety. The terrifying consequence is that those failing systems and their central rulers do decide to cope with the weird dynamic complexity by simplifying reality by brute force and “stabilising” it by freezing any changes. “Shoot down anybody who is not part of your tribe or can be submissed by angst and force”. Former revolutionaries like pres. Tito where good at that. The ISIS wants to go back to the 11th century, why? “Stability”, the favorite situation of dictatorships favored by the CIA. At the same time it reduces countries to prisons and stagnating societies, unable to live, learn and evolve constructively.
3. Do we have a future instead of a repeated past? IMHO we can cope with dynamic, non-linear complexity by employing the VTP of inter-connection and cooperation of many decentral and authonomous parts of the reality in the world. Such “Worldwide Weave” . like an array antenna (e.g. LOFAR of Astron) can scale up and cope with complexity and quickly react to unexpectedness. It can employ economies of scale and scope.
It can improve situations and implement better solutions to problems by P2P Commons. It can handle intangibles and synthesize value by combinations and bridges between islands.
How can we construct such VTP bridges ? Key is linking [short term self interest] to [long term common interest] and let it grow by having the total of contributions exceed what the entities take out. That is exactly how a P2P Commons function. Google, eBay and Twitter are examples of that. We do the work (enter searches, garage sale stuff and tweets) and they provide the cloud platforms.
Another key is the present trend of the shifting attention from ‘nodes’ (centres) to their DUAL: external “links”.
The value of Google is in its analysis of the links between tagged information items and documents. Knowledge is in the weavelets of wires and in their patterns of cooperation, as the NSA knows, see above lecture sheet by Bill Binney. As stated the VTP does not replace internal qualities but adds its dual: external relations.
4. To start the journey to a better world I propose to take the following three clusters of actions that uses Van Till’s Principe of Maximum Well-Connectedness (VTP):
Action A. Take away/bypass the obstruction (the minimum factor that blocks or retards the whole system, like the terribly slow car in front of the row during a traffic congestion). This is a new version of Liebigs Law to other complex, non linear systems. That ‘law of the minimum’ was defined in 1828 to give directions to boost plant growth in plants, and had an enormous effect on fighting famines by improved crop growth.
Water dripping system using used plastic water bottles, see www.iriso.fr
Action B. “Cherché La Matcher”! Build or improve the Matcher(s) which is/are embedded in every successful ‘living’ system.
Action C. Respect the Imperfect, the Incomplete and fast growing Small Teams.
Action D. Be valuable to others
Nature is Strong ! So can we, employing the collective wisdom of the crowd by distributed authority networked. Connected we stand. Connected we can learn and react fast.
6 . A wonderful example of how nature has done collective intelligence for survival is with Slime Molds (or Slime Moulds) a supercell creature which consists of many thousands of single cell entities of the Amoebe family. In harsh environments it can even fall apart to let the cells explore on their own its surroundings to find food. And after some time re-combine into one creature to move as one supercell creature to a better place !! The following TED lecture tells about this creature and shows how it operates as a distributed network for food, energy and information: http://www.ted.com/talks/heather_barnett_what_humans_can_learn_from_semi_intelligent_slime_1#t-356514 What humans can learn from semi-intelligent slime
“Inspired by biological design and self-organizing systems, artist Heather Barnett co-creates with physarum polycephalum, a eukaryotic microorganism that lives in cool, moist areas. What can people learn from the semi-intelligent slime mold? Watch this TED talk”
With thanks to Stephanie Lisa Kelly who wrote on Facebook :
“A few people have mentioned slime mold to me before (notably Jaap van Till), and this talk gives a nice simple overview of its abilities. Most interesting is the way it exhibits collective intelligence (albeit fairly simple, relatively speaking), without the single-celled organisms possessing a brain or CNS…..the impulse to analyse and compare with human collective behaviour (imposed vs spontaneous) is just too tempting. And the fact that the way it networks (or explores its environment) is found everywhere in nature also suggests that this is an inherent wiring in all biological systems and should therefore also be available to humans…
And a little gem from the comments (by a seemingly hardcore scientist);
‘ You could say that microbiologists, evolutionary biologists and genetic researchers are Mother Nature’s way of looking at Herself through Her Evolutionary history ‘
Love that this perspective can be found not only in ‘spiritual’ circles but also in scientific arenas…….to me this shows the benefit (as does the SLIMO collective) of multi-disciplinary approaches and points towards an opening of [the closed-minded paradigm of the general scientific community]….at least I hope it does”
[ x ] “Creating a Learning Society: A New Approach to Growth, Development, and Social Progress”; Joseph E. Stiglitz, Bruce C. Greenwald, Philippe Aghion, Kenneth J. Arrow, Robert M. Solow Just published: July 2014
Jaap van Till, Connectivist
Version 1: July 14 2014. Version 2: July 16 2014. Version 3: July 17 2014. Version 4: July 18 2014. Version 5: July 25. Version 6: July 30.
People connecting in their grief for the hundreds of victims of flight MH17 (NL: 194) while watching plane with coffins landing in The Netherlands (Photo: Ton Versteeg)