Feed on

JP’s Why I blog about what I blog about leaves a real smile on the face.

And his 5th Anniversary speech at Ariadne earlier this year is awesome.

But I am reading it and seeing clouds in all the sunny optimism.

So I write: Hey JP. I just read that one through. Bravo. A vision that sings and you are providing some answers to qustions I have spent the last hour composing.

But let me leave them here anyway. i’d be interested to know how you react. When you write about education and enfranchisement and when you say I read blogs because they’re participative, they are accessible, they help me learn. I write blogs because I want to participate. In a community. Everyone wants to make a difference, everyone wants to leave a legacy. Blogs are useful in both cases. - I know that you and I have been thinking similar thoughts.

I like your Ariadne Kernel very much. But part of it disquieted me.

Here is what I just wrote before turning to see what you are saying.

Rereading JP’s very optimistic Ariadne speech that starts this essay and noting how this plenitude of choices and tools depends on the foundation of 60 years of relative global peace and prosperity, the darker side of my training as a Russian historian rears its head. This bright future is dependent on peace and on a global economy that remains reasonably stabile. We have the freedom that JP speaks of because of this stability and its attendant economic prosperity. Generation M can have such lofty sights as a consequence of all this. Does Generation M realize what grace its good fortune rests on? Should anyone tell it?

If the world were to explode in an ugly way, this progress would be set back, although I can see no reason why it would be irretrievably lost and that is good. In fact it might be very helpful in getting people through rough times. But there is a final element of the Ariadne talk that perplexes me: its hymn of praise to Individual Capitalism. Isn’t founding a future society on the fulfillment of the desires of each individual utopian? I am getting to be an old fart. I remember very well living through the 1950 and the 60s. I can remember when people could stand up and say something was in the national interest of public interest without getting laughed at. If there are only individual interests and no public, social or national interest how can society survive? And especially how can it cope with war or economic distress. Do we need nation states? Do we need a United States, or a United Kingdom, or a united India? Do we have responsibility only for self and none for others? I read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged in 1959. I loved it – I was enthralled. Almost fifty years later I have a very different opinion and will close these thoughts by asking where is the balance between the communism and socialism and against which she rebelled and the Individual capitalism that JP writes about with such inspiration?

But look what happen two hours later: Maybe i am beginning to get it? Here I am browsing and I look at your “about me” and i see you mention Steven Johnson so I go check him out and wind up here.

Oh Ho! Of course even i did an interview with Sascha Meinrath on Katrina last September. provides a pretty good answer to my musings of worry about the system in disaster. Stronger than FEMA? You bet!

I have had the New York Times set as my browser home page for a few years now. Read Seymour Hersch in the New Yorker magazine. Bad

I’d like a plugin for my browser, that would randomly open it to the top pages of the 20 best idea blogs. I am finding ones I like. But imag9ine a piece of software that would offer users sets of authoritative blogs on ideas, sports, science, economics, politics, etc - a knowledge tree of blogs .

Tell the software what interestetes you and it might do a Myer Briggs like analysis on the way you answered the questions and come up with recommendations.

Does such exist?Anyone willing to build it?

One Response to “Here’s a Toast to the “Idea Blog””

  1. on 28 Aug 2006 at 6:22 pm Stephen Smoliar

    Gordon, Having just written my own comment on JP’s “Why I blog” I now feel prepared to pick up on our tendency to presume a global economy that remains reasonably stable. My comment to JP is at:


    You will see there that I go on (at some length?) about nouns and verbs; and the reason that I invoke this comment here is that STABILITY is a fundamental property behind how we use nouns in our conversations. However, we can only hold conversations about the world in which we live if we use verbs, too. A key reason for this is that, in the organic part of that world, the only things that is reasonably stable is the state of death (and, on a geological time scale, neither the organic nor the inorganic is EVER reasonably stable).

    The problem is that this kind of thinking is, in itself, very destabilizing. One might even say that the very concept of a deity is invoked so that there is at least one thing we can believe in that IS reasonably stable. However, even beyond the theological, our whole attitude towards science is heavily fixated on the measurement of STATE. The extent to which we can understand process at all seems to be embodied in the granuality and resolution with which we can measure state (notwithstanding what Heisenberg told us about the limitations of such measurements). I might even be so bold as to posit that the conviction that process can be understood in terms of such state measurements is as much an article of faith as is belief in an omnipotent deity. (You can probably tell that I am still on a roll from reviewing Berlin’s dogmas of Western civilization!)

    What does this mean in terms of how we should anticipate the future? Well, I think we need to begin by recognizing that our verb-based reasoning is still a lot weaker than the standards that our noun-based reasoning has set. However, I think we also need to recognize that there is at least one concept that is extremely difficult (if not terrifying) to regard through the lens of process; and that is our own personal sense of IDENTITY. Whatever we may understand about human development, we really want to rely on the reasonable stability of our own identity; and I think that the dark side of that technology-enabled plenitude of choices and tools has more to do with the dangers of undermining the sense of identify than with the risks of economic collapse. I have to admit that these thoughts are still half-baked. The last time I tried to take them on was on August 9 at:


    I suppose it is because I believe so passionately in thinking more about them that my thoughts about reforming education are so strong!

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