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Archive for the ‘Org Behavior, Development, & Culture’ Category

Much speculation again about your medical leave of absence. Apple’s stock prices were down 7 to 8% in Europe today. Tomorrow Apple is reporting financials. I suspect it will be very good news.

Someone asked me recently if I thought you were a good leader. I had no good answer. I have never worked with you nor do I even know you. Yet I do know of you.

Are you visionary and you have some pretty high standards of what you consider excellence. You are focused and can be fairly intense from what I understand. You are a leader to be sure. I say this not because of the position you hold in your company or even the market position of your company. No. Rather you are a leader, like the rest of us who have a sense of responsibility and struggle with balancing that in a paradoxical world. You understand profit, but don’t seem to be driven by it – at least not as much as some of those who follow you. You seem more interested in artistic expression and creativity than in earning a buck, but you recognize that earning a buck and protecting your investment is vital.

I can’t even pretend to know all the conflicting issues you face each and every day. I can only second guess you and play the arm-chair quarterback.

Steve, for my dollar, you are not Apple and Apple is not Steve Jobs. Apple is a part of who you are and clearly a product of your influence. You gave it a rebirth – a second chance. You made some very hard decisions and many people were unhappy. Throughout your time you have been true to your vision if not always communicative about what that looked like. But I do understand that. Sometimes the vision is fully developed and we only know what it isn’t. Vision is often an unfolding – a revelation that is built on discovery. I also get that you might have clearly held a vision that has not change or evolved. But one that was so far forward that it was out of the frame for the rest of us – out of our zone of proximal learning – that you may have incredible patience as the vision unfolds for the us.

I may not always agree with all that you say or do, but seriously – thank you for your vision and the products that have come from it (oh, and yes, for nurturing Pixar).

So Steve, whether you return to Apple or not, whether you live to be 56 or 106, it is my prayer that during your current medical leave of absence that you will take care of yourself and your family. Take time to fully heal your inner man. May you know and experience, not only during this absence, but throughout the reminder of your days: peace, joy, and unconditional love.

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Nature II:  Telematic Culture and Artificial Life

Roy Ascott

Convergence 1995; 1; 23

terms and definitions:

  • telematic(s):  computer-mediated communications networking which is the result of the convergence of telecommunications and data processing systems. (note 1 p 29)
  • cybernetics: “the study of control and communication in living and artificial systems” (p 25)
  • 2nd order cybernetics:  “included the observer of a system as part of the system.” (p 25)
  • connectionism (in art); and connectivist in science
  • Consciousness:  our sense of presence in the world and our relationship to reality.

Ascott essentially starts out with exploring the essence of nature: as metaphor and as interpreted reality – that whatever nature is, “it is the first virtual reality in which the pure data of an undifferentiated wholeness is programmed, shaped and categorised according to our language, fears and desires.” (p 24)

Nature is a “virtual” reality for us humans, perhaps for no other reason than that we cannot fully experience because of who we are.  In the same way you are a virtual reality to me.  I can only experience what you do through story and metaphor as described above.

Nature II is not Nature, but a second order Nature.  According to Ascott an “emergent nature… a new creativity whose ‘engines of creation’ will embrace artificial life.” (p 24)  This nature is seen and interpreted through technology and any other observers.

Ascott recognizes that the observer brings with her all expectations, beliefs, paradigms, etc and that these influence observed reality.  That the observer is indeed part of the system and cannot be objectively separate from the observed.

And here is where my interest is piqued:  “Second-order cybernetics and Nature II share in what can be called the connectivist paradigm, which holds that everything is connected, everything interacts with and effects everything else.” (p 26).

Ascott ties the connectivist paradigm to “microstructures of cognition” (neural networks of the brain and the way in which we conduct parallel distributed processing).  By doing so he rejects the limited linear only processes (non-linear processing can include linear processes, but is not limited to such).

In looking for how Ascott defines “virtual reality” it is how we experience that which is external to ourselves.  When describing “telematic systems of global networking” he seems to slide back into traditional thought of “virtual reality”.   “… often without our knowledge or awareness of where we are being encountered or by whom, at which interface or communications node” we can be “encountered”.  While he puts this in the term “telematically”, we have been able to do this via the old technology of Guttenberg.  Without question our ability to be instantly available around the world is a much more recent experience.  Perhaps that is his purpose in describing art – as art has been around much longer.  Come to think of it as long as there has been a written form of communication we have had “virtual reality” which transcends time and space.

Ascott does acknowledge ancient forms of writing and information storage.  He is correct in that now we are able to access these and more via current digital technologies.

What does this mean to me?

For three years I worked full-time for a school of public health.  I would be considered a “virtual” employee, a telecommuter, remote worker.  I lived and worked from South Bend Indiana to a school in southern California.  My faculty, while mostly located at the school, were also distributed – around North America and as far away as Japan and Australia.  Likewise students were well dispersed, though most were located on campus.  I met both in real-time through VoIP and/or telephone; screen sharing technologies; instant messaging; and video conference tools.  I worked asynchronously through course management and social networking systems; email; voice messaging; Fax machines; and so on.

I have experienced real meetings in real time with others across the USA and Canada, and in: Australia; Kenya; Ethiopia; Rwanda; Cameroon; Malawi (text chat only); Austria; Germany; Japan; Mexico; China; Hong Kong, India; and the Philippines.  Add to that mix asynchronous methods and the list grows significantly.

I read paper based journals, books, and magazines.  I also rely on digital versions of journals, magazines, news, encyclopedias, etc.  I recognized years ago that personal memory and recall is not sufficient in the modern world.  In working with public health, nursing, and medical students it is clear that the load of information required to be proficient cannot be fully memorized.  Rather one must learn to be proficient in accessing information storage devices.  These devices are changing over time.  Clearly early storage mediums were charcoal and rock, giving way to ink forms and papyrus.  These intern gave way to other media forms.  Today we have digital forms – who knows what media we will use in the future.

I personally resist using the term “virtual” to describe real meetings.  I do recognize that many people use “virtual” to describe computer-mediated methods.  I do find however that many people view “virtual” workers as not real, or less than fully engaged employees.  As if working from a different location makes one less than complete.  My personal experience is that those who hold this view – even when they state this is a reality and “the future”, limit the contribution of remote knowledge contributors.  On the other hand I have had some experience where some were openly skeptical but open to the experience, finding new ways of leveraging technology to bridge distance, building relationships with people who could not have participated in any other practical “in person” manner.  This includes researchers in different cities, states, and/or countries, meeting both in real-time and asynchronously.  These experiences, move the mind from “virtual” to “real”.

Learning and human development has a basis of “openness”.  If one is not genuinely open to new possibilities and methods, learning and development is also limited.  Perhaps a better way to state it is that we are limited in our learning and development to the level (capacity) of which we are open.

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