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comment by kleinbl00
kleinbl00  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Holy shit guys. Someone is describing our lives

I hate to rain on the parade, but there are two reasonably good books about extra-structural intellectual groupings, The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom and The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson. And if Naill Ferguson is writing about it, it's old, dead, cut and dried.

Both books argue that historians tend to view the world through hierarchies because hierarchies are recorded. Hierarchies leave evidence. Hierarchies are official, have bylaws, and are operated out in the open. Networks, on the other hand, are loose, fluid, and sub-rosa. Ferguson goes as far as arguing that the Bavarian Illuminati launched two centuries of conspiracy theories simply by writing shit down and making the normies nervous when in fact, they weren't doing anything that wasn't already being done at cafes and salons all over Europe.

Starfish and the Spider points to the progress made by loose, disinterested groups of people who are linked primarily by their affinity for something, with no hierarchy or chain of command to accomplish a task. The classical example used is the Mescalero Apache, who dominated the plains until the US Government set them up as landowners, at which point their allegiance switched from the Apache way of life to the American way of life and the whole organization collapsed. Square and the Tower makes the argument that all us armchair politicos get more than our fill of Henry Kissinger not because he's a powerful politician, but because he knows absolutely everyone which means if there's a geopolitical deal anywhere in the making, everyone involved is one degree removed from Henry Kissinger.

We're not taught this stuff because it's pure elitism - after all, you got in on your merits, right? I only found out from this article:

...that a producer I've been friendly with for a decade doesn't have "old Hollywood" money because his grandfather invented the mobile as he likes to say, but because his dad invented the Back Street Boys. But let's get real: my buddy went to good schools with the kids of other people who wanted to send their kids to good schools and while we can be mad that Felicity Huffman paid for her kid to get in on a tennis scholarship or whatever, the fact of the matter is the world has been run by Old Boy's Clubs since it was Thag and Ag and always will be. Both books argue that these networks are not aberrations but are the archetypal human response to organization - you need a hierarchy for officialdom and you need a network to accomplish things in spite of the hierarchy (the "tower" and the "square" of Ferguson's book).

So of course a bunch of intellectually curious naifs are going to start chatting with each other online. I'd go as far as pointing out that the ones who are good at "online" are the ones who were able to buttress their in-person communities to the mutual benefit of both while the ones that eschewed online communities are either really good in person or really, really alone. I know both types. One is definitely happier than the other.

Sure. Networks are great. Just know that the more you celebrate them, the more you paint them up, the more you talk about how awesome they are, the more someone is going to accuse you of being a lizard person and the less you can focus on the joy of inquiry.




blackbootz  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    We're not taught this stuff because it's pure elitism [. . .]

    But let's get real: my buddy went to good schools with the kids of other people who wanted to send their kids to good schools and while we can be mad that Felicity Huffman paid for her kid to get in on a tennis scholarship or whatever, the fact of the matter is the world has been run by Old Boy's Clubs since it was Thag and Ag and always will be. Both books argue that these networks are not aberrations but are the archetypal human response to organization - you need a hierarchy for officialdom and you need a network to accomplish things in spite of the hierarchy (the "tower" and the "square" of Ferguson's book).

It certainly seems like an archetypal human response. I didn't see the connection until you point it out, but C.S. Lewis wrote much more generally about the inner ring (and then warns us that the desire to be in the inner ring is responsible for a lot of the evil):

    In the passage I have just read from Tolstoy, the young second lieutenant Boris Dubretskoi discovers that there exist in the army two different systems or hierarchies. The one is printed in some little red book and anyone can easily read it up. It also remains constant. A general is always superior to a colonel, and a colonel to a captain. The other is not printed anywhere. Nor is it even a formally organised secret society with officers and rules which you would be told after you had been admitted. You are never formally and explicitly admitted by anyone. You discover gradually, in almost indefinable ways, that it exists and that you are outside it; and then later, perhaps, that you are inside it.

This all said, I still just see the OP as a beacon to like-minded people. Not a celebration per se, but a hey, gather round if this sounds like it's up your alley and it seems like right up Hubski Road.

kleinbl00  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Are you already a member of a vaguely-defined elitist circlejerk? ANSWER THE POLL

I think my objection is that there's no there there. I mean, how's this for a manifesto?

    The I.I. is publicly inquisitive about societal changes, and promotes open discussion about what values people really consider fundamental today.

    We believe individuals are capable of acting virtuously without external intervention and judging the consequences of their own actions, and that open discussion of our life plans, decisions or progress can inspire others.

That's everything and everyone from the Girl Scouts to Tumblr. It is not a narrowly-defined exemplar of beliefs.

This whole thing is an exercise in "you are already awesome - you just need to join The Awesome Society" and I've never been much of a joiner.

_refugee_  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·  

clearly

mk  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Just know that the more you celebrate them, the more you paint them up, the more you talk about how awesome they are, the more someone is going to accuse you of being a lizard person and the less you can focus on the joy of inquiry.

I agree with this. Also, organization is a transformation followed by calcification. Whenever you create a group to accomplish a goal, you cut out diversity.

applewood  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Whenever you create a group to accomplish a goal, you cut out diversity.

The elimination of diversity can come from the creation of some unified goal or purpose, but not always. The root threat to diversity is the shunning of ideas and/or behaviors that run counter to group think. Sometimes that's good, sometimes that's bad, but either way the creation of a group identity comes with the pressure for individuals to conform unless the embracing of diversity and individuality is part of the core group philosophy. Even then though, there will always be pressures to conform, such is part of being an active member of a group after all.

That said, I wouldn't describe members of Hubski as "intellectuals." Instead, "intensely curious" stikes me as a much more accurate descriptor. It leaves room for intellectualism as a trait, but it also embraces equally important attributes in people such as enthusiasm and joy, openness to discovery, encouragement and support. Don't get me wrong, there are some very, very smart users here on Hubski but I think that on a regular basis everyone on exhibits the capacity to be much more than that.