I am reading 'Whiplash' by Joi Ito. Its a book attempting to make sense of complexity of the new rapidly changing world. Surprisingly, it counters the complexity of the world with simplistic perspectives that are relevant only in certain situations.
I have read the first two chapters so far. The first was about 'emergence' over 'authority', second about 'pull' over 'push'. These are essentially prescriptions for alternate systems of organisations. emergence refers to the capability of living things to respond to situation by organising without authority, without visible co-ordination, animated with simple actions and reactions, not chain of commands. This occurs in nature fairly commonly - ants working together for example. The sum is greater than individual parts.
The second concept of 'pull' is variant of the same theme in a sense. pull is 'just in time' response to a situation, rather than a planned 'push' for an occasion. push is when governments, organisations work in the traditional way - orders flowing down, limited agency of people... pull is about being responsive, being able to reach out and access resources when needed, being able to use capabilities when needed.

These are valuable insights for organising in the 21st century world. But reality is not that simple, is it?
He gave example of Arab spring, anon, safecast, bitcoins... but none of these have played out well, have they? emergence of arab 'revolution' in particular feels like a very misplaced example. Academia and popular media has been fascinated (so was I) with the role of new media in revolutions. But upon reading a bit of 'dictator's handbook' and 'chomsky', it seems that the new media's role as such is hyped up. it certainly is a tool, but not a deciding factor. It is a tool to organise and as we see it increasingly, it is a far better tool to propagate propaganda. The powerful entities have been slow before in leveraging these tools, but now wield these tools far more forcefully than civilians.
The arab spring was a failure. Despots have returned with greater vengeance. ISIS emerged and still remains an annoying pest for the global being. bitcoin is mired with troubles. safecast may be useful in future, but it was not enough to respond effectively when the nuclear reactor went down. that itself tells us that certain situations need infrastructure that can respond quickly and the volunteer based safecast was not it. the emergent safecast initiative was at best a good complement to the existing infrastructure whose priority was moving people to safety.
Emergence in the world of specialisations

We live in a world where organisations are being shaped around specialisations. A certain skill set is only viable/ profitable in a certain context. How does an emergent system feed the global beast of specialised talents? who will fund the education, who will ensure livelihood in an emergent system? The freelancer economy is in a sense an emergent system. but it is subsidised by the authoritative structures of university education, authoritative system of the rule of law and so on. Without the authority based linear systems that create skilled human beings, creative emergent systems won't proliferate.

The whole argument falls apart every time you take their ideas and apply it to another field.
 what would be an emergent, pull based system to feed the world? how can agriculture function if farmers waited for demand to come through to begin sowing their plants? How will health care function if it won't plan for prevention and relied on emergent responses?

These are valuable insights, but an appreciation is needed about it being complementary and supplementary to the existing system. And as such they are useful as springboard for ideas to win in the capitalist game, not to reimagine the systems for a better world.
I just spent 900 rs for this book and feel that I could have been spent that money on something better - something that is better thought through.


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