Saturday, 21 March 2009

Talking about the future: strange ideas for a changing world

Warning: Rant following not about SharePoint but about MY opinions on fundemental issues of change.

Firstly I think art leads Culture and Culture leads business.

Marx got it backwards IMHO: culture does not emerge out of the means of production but rather Culture itself opens up new spaces for business to advance in to and exploit. Culture is the terrain in which tribes of business move.

The compromise between person, culture, and business is called work. Work is always established by Culture. Efforts to make people in India, Japan, the EU and the US work the same because they have the same technology platform are stupid, just as trying to define work by the needs of business will never work.

Ignore culture and its changes and you end up in court, or having a special 90% tax.

Already in late 20th Century are like Rothko we see a questing of "work", of what is a work of art and how is it valued or creates value. The work itself has a power but often confusing effect upon people who view it. The post-modernist arts examine art as a place of work, as pure place of process rather than icon or image.

And for the old school nine to fivers with the same desk for 20 years, your time is sadly over.

Well maybe not so sadly.

Smaller and smaller devices like me new mobile laptop means that people can now be connected longer and more remotely. The laptop in the picture above is a costs less than 200 dollars and can keep you connected. It has no moving parts and is designed mostly as a connection to the cloud. It uses Linux OS to reduce power and runs on a charger slightly more powerful that a PDA.

These new devices open up new spaces of Culture and some day work. Spaces like Second Life, space so strange radical books and thinking are essential.

The above picture shows people meeting in Second Life. The potential for new kinds of spaces being made in the "Internet" for work is massive, beyond what any of us can imagine. Second Life and Twitter are two sides of this possibility. On one side inventive new universes are created, on the other light weight constant flow of possible messages keep us connected to a massive network in both real time and not real time.

But these new worlds are going to require new thinking, radically new thinking. We have already seen the old thinking like Hayek and ideas about social theory coming out the University of Chicago are not only useless in understanding our world but dangerous. Sherry Turkle and Howard Reingold are just the start of must reading for future business. Marxist, Feminist, Anarchist, and Post-Colonial thinking can no long be rejected by business leaders for its political content.

The old world is DEAD. Open up the Internet and look at the news, everyone is trying to figure who to blame for the fact that the world of Reagan and Thacher could not even keep the banks running, never mind produce justice and universal prosperity. Its not only that systems of neo-liberal and free market don't work to produce just economies, they don't work to produce functional economies.

99.99%, IMHO business men will fail to see the sea change and will go down in their boats of old fashion ideas formed during the rule of Queen Victoria and outdated when the before the end of World War 2. A great effort to push thinking backwards and to impose the most conservative social thinking not only on business but on society it OVER.

Putting new technology in your business won't save it!!!!! I see so many SharePoint installations that no one in the business uses, Lotus Notes implementations which are hated rather then even tried. Dynamics systems full of BI data which is all fiction. This is no lie, every single MOSS implementation I have seen soon is not best practice at all.

IT won't save you. And our economy is not stuck in the paradox of thrift, if you cut costs and cut people along with all the other business you are just speeding up the end. You need to put your economic textbooks and business talk popular books from the 1980s and 1990s aside and ask:

1. What do our workers expect?
2. How do our workers undermine our collective interests every day?
3. How do our workers view us as the business?
4. How will global networks impact us?
5. If we outsource certain key features, is it possible we will lose control of our culture?

Its not just a matter of web 2.0 thinking or going Cloud or Grid or SharePoint. Its about trying to understand how a Network Economy of constant innovation, multi-cultural ism, and global warming will open new spaces for your business to grow.

Or at best not die.

Rant over.

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