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Truth and Advertising

I know this seems like an easy target, but I am less interested in taking the gratuitous Mickey at the expense of the ad industry (though, what the hell), than in I am in hearing what other people think about the relationship between advertising and truth. Feel free to chime in as you will, but I actually am deeply interested in serious thoughts on these matters (though fun-poking is absolutely welcome, too).

Ever since I saw an outdoor ad for The Canadian Code of Advertising Standards and almost choked on my tongue at the obvious and egregious lack of irony of the campaign’s enthusiastic embrace of, of all things, Truth, I have been dying to blog about it. Talk about people swingin’ outta their weight class.

So I want to test my assumptions about what advertising is and what its value is: especially as the industry expresses more and more interest and investment in social media and even talks about the importance of reframing marketing as conversation,

Below are an interesting catalogue of “critiques” of advertising, created by (to the one, I think) people in the business and in at least one case in the service of the business. What do people think of these?

I believe that increasing advertising much answer for three things:

1. It is the world’s largest producer of garbage: from magazine waste to packaging, directly or indirectly this industry is easily one of the world’s largest polluters. We need to start considering that fact in the context of sustainability.

2. Advertising’s holy grail is mind control rather than persuasion. Huge amounts of money go into tactics and research into how to literally short-circuit people’s thinking and not just influene but cause purchase behavior.

3. Advertising’s effectiveness has not only been called into question by the  rise of digital marketing and analytics, but the innovation around increasing effectiveness (thing like neuromarketing) seems not just potentially, but actually sinister.

Here are the EXHIBITS. Watch, reflect, and post!




The Pirate Bay 4 Convicted: who does that make safer?

The conviction last Friday, 18 April 2009, of four young men who are part of the team that runs The Pirate Bay is an important signal. But of what?

For the MPAA and RIAA, along with the publishers and producers and other copyright owners they represent, the signal is that the battle against those who would steal and redistribute copyrighted material is progressively being won by the existing industry. Is this either true or good?

For people in the geek community who either use torrents to find and share media or whom maintain, either materially or ideologically, the means of sharing, the peer to peer networks, the signal is that the media industry still doesn’t understand that their business model has become indefensible. It also suggests that even progressive jurisdictions like Sweden have joined the defense of existing industry.

What is The Pirate Bay? The short answer is that it is the world’s largest bittorrent tracking site. It allows users to search for the files that contain metadata which makes it possible for client applications like Bittorrent, Vuze, Transmission, μTorrent to download media files: music, games, and video.

The Pirate Bay, along with an ecosystem of bittorrent tracker and search sites and their users, represent the worlds largest marketplace for digital media content. And to the consternation of media publishing and distribution business owners, this content and the means to access it are provided and available for free. This is a crucial point: the economy of sharing is non-monetary, it is what some call a gift economy.

Software developers for the torrent-net, those who make the client applications, offer their programs for free (though some, like Vuze have paradoxically adopted another old biz model and pump ads into the application framework). The tracker sites also contain ads, but their are no fees to users and users do not pay the site or each other for content. Those who create the torrents themselves, files which refer to the ultimate media file a user wants to download, are the “citizens” of this emerging media ecology. They copy files, music, TV (with ads removed), games and movies and post the torrents to a tracker site. This takes time, some skill, knowledge and effort and people do it for nothing: which is to say, they do not do it for money. This is vexing behavior and not only flies in the face of rational models of human interest and behavior, but clearly confounds the industry who increasingly treats this potential group of customers as criminals.

The sad fact which the existing media industry seems to acknowledge yet ignore is that people are willing to pay for media. We are no longer willing to simply let industry set prices, however, nor to determine how, where and why we use the content that we pay for. In other words, we are revolting against the media industry’s control over the market for media.

Who gets hurt by this? Ridiculous industry sponsored ad campaigns try to persuade us that we are taking the food off the stuntman’s table, that the key grip won’t be able to pay her rent and that writer’s won’t be able to afford bus fare to get to the movie set. These scenarios are pure nonsense and they leave unanalyzed the economics of an industry that spends $200 million producing Michael Bay action picture that lose money. Who are the real criminals here? Am I alone in thinking that an industry that pays Tom Cruise upwards of $20 million a picture has created its own problems?

The harms that are produced by sharing media files are surely nothing as against the economic damaage that has been done by the auto industry and the finacial services (…IS global economic collapse a service?). These are industries that we allow our governments to bail out to the tune of billions of dollars. But we are supposed to feel safer now that four young Swedish men have been convicted to a year in prison and required to pay damages of almost $4 million?

Who does that make safer?

Thinking about Design Thinking: an emerging literature?

For all the talk about design thinking, it is more than a little bit difficult to pin down just what it actually is. Who would be the definitive authority on the matter? Where is design thinking’s authoritative publication, its approved reading list, the schools which teach its tenets, organizations that instantiate its practice, or the guilds of bona fide practitioners of design thinking?

Does design thinking need all or any of these things in order to be considerate legitimate? And to be considered a legitimate what, exactly?

If, as many seem to assert, design thinking is indeed an important new capability, one that deserves a place alongside other strategic practices of business and management, then it seems reasonable that we ought be be definite about what it is exactly. That sounds easier than it is.

In line with Clay Shirky’s idea that we can now “organize without organizations” and David Weinberger’s notion that the mess of Internet culture and the disorder of our ideas is not something we necessarily have to fix, I am inclined to suggest that design thinking is not broken just because we can”t fit it into a neat schema of boxes (and arrows?).

But, neither can we accept that design thinking has no boundaries at all. Because for it to be even an idea, whatever else it might be, we have to have some minimal formula or criteria for what the idea includes, as well as what it rules out.

I recommend here a kind of light weight empiricism. Let’s start by looking at where we find the idea showing up and see what sense we can make of it as we follow it on a path from its emergence into language and along its way to shaping or informing behavior, practice, and, well…thinking.

There seems to be some consensus that the current usage of the phrase traces back to IDEO and to Tim Brown, in particular. It seems likely that instances of the term may pre-date the IDEO vernacular, but I’m happy to credit them with the genesis of the idea to give a baseline to what we all mean when we say or refer to design thinking. But, when push comes to shove, what is it precisely we are referring to when we use the phase in a sentence?

With all this in mind I offer up my very crude experiment into trying to identify the literature of design thinking, which I conducted on Twitter this morning (13 March 2009). I asked a network of people who have more than a passing interest in the currency of the idea of design thinking, what they would vote as their own top three books in the “field”.

I’ve ended up with an eclectic list of nearly 50 books from just over a dozen people, so far. What’s interesting is that only a very few books (most hits were on Roger Martin’s The Opposable Mind and John Maeda’s Laws of Simplicity, hmmm) were mentioned more than once.

I hope commenters will add still others, offer up reasons for why their choices belong on this list, suggest patterns and thoughts about emerging or organizing memes.

Mostly, I want to thank everyone who responded to my Tweets on this question. The list includes many titles I did not know, which I am now looking forward to becoming better acquainted with as I continue to puzzle over and think about design thinking.

P.S. As I get time and comments come in, I will both add to this list and link titles and authors as much as I’m able. I will also try to post the list with link text visible so others can borrow, add, remix, and share.

Ten Faces of Innovation, Tom Kelly
Business Model Generation, Alex Osterwalder (forthcoming)
Mental Models, Indy Young
Art of Innovation, Tom Kelly The Art of Innovation - Tom Kelly
Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda
Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz
Design Methods, John Chris Jones
15 Things Ray & Charles Teach Us, Keith Yamashita
Design Management, Borja de Mozota
Small Change, Nabeel Hamdi
A Whole New Mind, Dan Pink
Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs.
Abstracting Craft and/or Digital Ground, Malcolm McCullough
The Question Concerning Technology, Martin Heidegger
After Postmodernism (critical realism),
The Social Construction of Reality
Writings on Cities, Henri Lefebvre
Understanding Material Culture, Ian Woodward
Real World of Technology, Ursula Franklin
Macroshift, Evin Laszlo
Web of Life Fritjof Capra
Heart of Enterprise, Stafford Beer
Cradle to Cradle, William McDonough
The Opposable Mind, Roger Martin
Artful Making
The Green Imperative, V. Papanek
Massive Change, Bruce Mau
Designing Interactions, Bill Moggeridge
Difference, Scott Page
Insatiable Curiosity
Innovators Dilemma
Naked Innovation
Consilience, E.O.Wilson
The Creative Priority, J. Hirshberg
Design Thinking, P. Rowe
Art&visual perception, Arnheim
Homo Ludens, Huizing
Mechanization Takes Command, Siegfried Giedion
Inquiry by Design, Zeisel
Sciences of the Artificial, Herbert Simon
A Simpler Way, Wheatley
The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp
Sketching User Experiences, Bill Buxton
In the Bubble, John Thackara
Design Research, Laurel
Innovator’s Solution
Critical Path, Buckminister Fuller
Design Methods, Peter Jones

Designing for the Cognitive Surplus

Designing for the Cognitive Surplus

Clay Shirky has suggested a term for a newly visible natural resource: he calls it the cognitive surplus. This surplus is created when we turn our attention away from television and allow ourselves apply our minds to anything else. Just as we are reckoning with other parts of the digital economy and their effects, we now have to not only calculate the potential effects of the redistribution of attention and the possibility of an increasingly large cognitive surplus: we have to start designing for it.

Why single out television? Because in the aggregate we spend more time watching TV than we do doing anything else. It has long been one of the world’s most troubling statistics: the amount of time that people spend watching TV. Shirky claims that in the United States alone people cumulatively watch 200 billion hours of TV. Like so much in the media business, those numbers, and the behaviors underneath them, are changing. More people in more places are changing how they spend their screen time. In some cases, time away from telly is being bought up by the new screens: computers and mobile phones, even game consoles, which may technically use the TV screen, but have been weaning youth off the regularly scheduled programming of media networks. Where has all the attention gone?

One answer is that significant amount of the time people were spending watching TV even five years ago is now being spent online. The difference that that makes is remarkable: it is the difference between no You Tube (launched in 2005) and the fact that people are now contributing over 10, 000 hours of video a day to the service (equivalent to the output of 385 always on TV channels); it is the difference between no Flickr (launched in 2004) and the public sharing of over 3 billion photos. It is the difference between no Wikipedia (launch in 2001) and the world’s largest source of collaboratively produced encyclopedic knowledge with almost 9 million registered contributors and nearly 200,000 active contributors (people who have contributed in the last 30 days).

As much time as people are spending online, significant amounts of this new cognitive surplus is being spent in face to face interactions that people were not having 5 years ago. And while it is more and more that these meetings start and are coordinated online, it is supremely important that these people are getting together in real-time in the “meat-space”. But people are not just meeting for coffee or dates, nor are they simply meeting one-on-one and their gathering are not solely or even primarily recreational. People are organizing.

Designing for the cognitive surplus is taking surprising turns. The growth of Twitter, the emergence of massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMPORGs) being turned to serious issues like energy dependence (, social change (, or global crisis ( As we turn this cognitive surplus away from TV, we are learning, sharing and organizing in unprecedented ways and numbers. We do not know where this is going or what is coming next.

But, paradoxically, though we cannot be prepared for our future, we can design for it. It fact, that is precisely what we each and all are doing anytime we interact, collaborate or participate with others on the platfoms that enable us to search, share, organize, communicate and create.

You can find video of Clay Shirky talking about these ideas here. And a key exerpt of the talk in text here.

7 things about me, 7 People I want you to meet

I’ve been tagged by David Eaves in a kind of social media “you’re it.”

The Rules for This Particular Meme

  • Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post. (see above)
  • Share seven facts about yourself in the post. (see below)
  • Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs. (see below)
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged.

I’m not sure where the 7 things meme got started or what it is supposed to do, but here goes:

1. I started out as a child. I was a huge fan of Bill Cosby’s comedy and used to listed to his records in our basement, over and over and…

2. I’m a huge music fan, but the first record that I bought with my own money was Elvis Presley’s Flaming Star

3. I was born in Chicago, though I only lived there for 6 months

4. I am a proud graduate of Earlham College and sometimes consider myself a Quaker in virtue of my attendance there.

5. I am of Romanian heritage and will share the only Romanian joke I’ve ever hear, which I flatter myself I do a great LIVE version of: “Do you know the difference between a Romanian and a Yugoslav? Well, they would both sell you their grandmother. The difference is that the Romanian would deliver.”

6. I once named a cat after my childhood hero, Mexican American activist Caesar Chavez

7. I met my wife Moira in Kindergarten, where we were both attending the Priory School in Montreal

My 7 people are:

Alan Smith

Nico MacDonald

Rahaf Harfoush

Negar Mottahedeh

Dave Gray

Victor Lombardi

Matt Milan

A 3-minute conference on irrational exuberance

For those who recall, Alan Greenspan used this phrase to describe the
activity in the financial markets almost 10 years ago and into the
period that followed. It is a convenient piece of poetic poignancy and
oh so familiar in design discussions today.

Clearly, design has been liberated from its former life, in part due
to a climate that hungers for alternatives, also out of a need to fill
a growing void that is emerging before our very eyes, the unfamiliar.
Is what we notice different or are we noticing differently? I presume
both are in play. For those who find comfort in certainties this is a
growing hell and for others who thrive on curiosity and creativity it
is heaven’s gate. Of course the void resides in you and I – we are the

Certainty is a shell game.
The library has no walls.
I am the laboratory.
Transparency is the new ego.
Too little knowledge invites inaccuracy.
Too much knowing invites delusion.
And finally, “Knowing the answer” is the beginning of the end. (Easter Island’s
last epiphany)

Back to the regular program - the bad syllogism.
Designers can design. All things are designed. Designers can design
all things.

This simply is not true. My fear is that designers who pretend to be
masters of the universe, without boundary or discipline, are actually
damaging the credibility of whatever design is to become. It is an
intriguing seat that we occupy at the moment, I see it in the
diversity of my role, in the ongoing discovery in my process and in
the different forms of value that I now bring to the changing
environment. However, I am cautious of my own irrational exuberance as
I go forward, as design goes forward, in my effort to define the
boundary without diminishing its trajectory.

Guest speaker:
To know that you do not know is the best.
To pretend to know when you do not know is a disease.

Closing Remark:
“To not know you have the disease is the potential for an epidemic.”

Posted by Robin

Who Needs Unfinished Business?

Umair Haque made a bold post on his Edge Economy blog on the Harvard Business Publishing site this week. In it he calls for the development of next generation businesses that will challenge the rot he sees at the heart of the institutions of business, most lately indicted by the fall-out of the Sub-Prime crisis.

Haque proposes that there are five steps in the process toward building next generation businesses.

  1. realize that we moved beyond “strategy decay
  2. understanding how the global economy is really changing
  3. understanding that next-gen businesses are built of new DNA
  4. infusing that DNA into all levels of economy
  5. putting meaning back into business

I think that Haque’s diagnosis is sound and that it shows the relevance, even the necessity of the Unfinished Business project.

Beyond strategy decay: The simple claim here is that the issues at the heart of the current financial crisis do not represent failed strategies or unsound business models per se, but a fundamental (genetic) corruption of the very institutions of business. What does this mean, other than rhetorically claiming that these businesses (e.g. investment banking) are beyond saving? The evidence for this is the core meltdown of the underlying financial system that the failure of several of these businesses over the last two weeks has set off. When the profitability and growth of these institutions of business has become so leveraged to uncertain and ungovernable forces, the volatility of the system itself suggests these intitutions are fundamentally unsound. As Haque puts it: “poor incentives, near-total opacity, zero responsibility, absolute myopia - that was the problem. The rot [is] in their DNA, in their institutional makeup, not in their strategies or business models.”

The global economy is really changing: This powerful charge is that the world that institutions of capital were designed to address no longer exists at all or at least is in irrevocable decline. Globalism has been disrupting business and economy like mad for the last decade. Starting with the collapse of the Russian economy in 1998 and the expansion and acceleration of the economies of India and China in its wake, it has become a truism that the fundamental global economic order has shifted profoundly. Does this mean or entail that the underlying principles of the economic order are no longer tenable? It does seem reasonable to assert that the ability of nation states to control their economies and for global financial insititutions to efficiently and securely allocate capital is now in serious doubt. “The centuries-old institutions of orthodox capitalism cannot support the transition to a hyperconnected global economy. They are increasingly unable to allocate capital efficiently, much less grow it productively. And so what we are seeing nothing less than the wholesale deconstruction of the global financial and economic system.” This is a bell, it seems increasingly clear, that cannot be unrung.

Next-gen businesses have new DNA: This rests on the claim, like the one David Weinberger makes about the shift in the order of order of knowledge and information, that fundamentally new forms of business and economy are emerging. These new forms, this DNA (though I personally do not love this metaphor), is very clearly an emergent phenomenon of the scaling of the Internet, though it is not reducible to the “thing” of the Internet (if that’s even a coherent idea). Michael Porter’s conception of strategy, that it “requires a strong focus on profitability rather than just growth, an ability to define a unque value proposition, and an ability to make tough trade-offs in choosing what not to do,” does not seem to hold with the same force that it once did. The investment banks did all these things and are failing, Amazon and Google do few or none of these things and are challenging Porter’s orthodoxy about competition.

New DNA must be infused into all levels of economy: “The centuries-old institutions of orthodox capitalism cannot support the transition to a hyperconnected global economy. They are increasingly unable to allocate capital efficiently, much less grow it productively. And so what we are seeing nothing less than the wholesale deconstruction of the global financial and economic system.” If Haque is right about this, what is next? It seems clear that there is no one answer to this question, but perhaps should be our first clue. Perhaps we no longer need a single system (if indeed there ever really was one), perhaps this is precisely the first and deepest innovation of the “hyperconnected global economy”, that it enables a proliferation of forms that can each generate value and which do not have as a requirement that they must cohere into “a” system. Haque’s list of new forms of organizing and designing work, “open-source production, peer production, viral distribution, radical experimentation, connected consumption, and co-creation,” is incomplete, but suggestive. We are daily creating new and more ways of working, living, organizing and producing and we are starting to radically change what, where, how and why we produce in the process.

Putting meaning back into business: This, I would like to propose, is the meaning we should give to the word sustainability. To put it in a definitional form: Sustainability is progressive commerce, it leaves things better than it finds them, from cradle to cradle. Sustainable businesses and economies would have good as integral to their design, rather than externalized . There does not, indeed, there cannot be a single definition of what is good, but to follow William McDonough, our idea of good or successful has to be stronger than simply being less bad. We do not have a remedial task facing us as we confront the failure of our institutions of business, economy and government. We are dealing with root corruption not of individuals or of people primarily, but corruption of the very constitution (or foundations) of the systems we have come to rely on. This will not happen overnight, it will not take the form of “total revolution”. It will, I think, be a more diverse, more social, and more surprising cascade of human innovation.

Now that the old forms of business and economy have unravelled, the point is not to reconstruct them. We all know how the Humpty Dumpty story ends, not with bailouts but with a bang. The point is not only that the old economy is finished, but that the emerging economy is Unfinished.

We Have Never Been Social

For the last decade, we have been hearing about the profound changes that are either implied, occurring or foretold by the advent of the Internet. Ten years later we still continue the job of separating the wheat from the chaff of this chatter. What has changed in the intervening ten years? What was once grounds for skepticism is now almost everywhere a article of faith. But do we (most, some, any of us?) actually understand what the Internet is, let alone why it is widely believed to have changed everything, forever?!

This is not the Internet?

Imagine an image to go along with this caption. The surrealist painter, Rene Magritte, famously undid received epistemological wisdom with what appears to be an absurd, silly and/or witty little painting he made of a pipe, under which he inscribed the motto: Ceci n’est pas une pipe (this is not a pipe).

There are many ways of interpreting this masterwork of surrealism, but I want to concentrate on the one I find most clever. Magritte’s image shatters one of old Ludwig Wittgenstein’s famous dicta, “a picture must have something in common with what it depicts.” Wittgenstein was referring to words and their referents in articulating what has come to be called the picture theory of language. What does it mean to say that a pipe is not a pipe? Of course, it could mean that the image is not same as the thing. It could also be understood to call to our attention that language is always present in our experience. There is no “pure” experience, because the mediation of language can always challenge or undermine the “given” reality, revealing the deep instability of the notion of reality itself.

Back to our blank canvas and to our imaginations. What, then, do we put in to this image that we have captioned, “This is not the Internet.” It is, I think, an instructive puzzle, because it reveals that we do not have anything like the definite object of a pipe in our mind’s eye when we try to picture the Internet to ourselves. The are lots of ready excuses we could make for this difficulty. It is a complex or compound object: it components too numerous to easily represent. But is this really the problem? Or is it simply that we don’t know what the Internet is? The answer, I think, is, that both of these things are true.

We understand that the Internet is not a simple object and we (at least many of us who use it) have a rudimentary understanding of what constitutes the more complex object: wires, routers, switches and computers. We also understand (though we don’t think about it much) that while these things describe many of the necessary elements of the truth of the phrase, this is the Internet, they fall quite short of what we mean when we use the word in common enough sentences, like “the Internet has changed everything.”

So, what is this powerful force that we ascribe to the Internet or increasingly to “the web”?

A colleague recently put it to me that the Internet is a machine. “What else could it be”?, he asked rhetorically. I saw immediately that he was right, but not, I think, in the sense used by journalist Nicholas Carr in a recent article about Google. I also saw that while my friend was right, his answer also begged the question: If the Internet is a machine,what kind of machine is it?

My answer, upon some reflection, is that the Internet is a social machine, by which I mean it is a machine for making things social. In “We Have Never Been Modern“, French sociologist of science, Bruno Latour, says that the core distinctions that characterize modernity, between the human and natural worlds, art and science, passion and reason, are in fact quite unstable in practice. An examination of ideas like deforestation and black holes suggests that these conceptions are hybrids of the concepts that are supposed to be separated by the divide of modern thought. I believe that the category of the social is just such a hybrid: neither entirely human nor entirely “natural”, the social is an artifact of a techne. Without making a long digression into Greek philosophy, suffice it to say that the social is something we make rather than something we discover.

So what? you say. What’s the big deal?

Well, for openers it means that the social is something we design, although it is equally clear that social designs are designs for emergence (whether they intend to be or not).

The big deal, I’d like to say, is that we have never been social before: not like this. Now, there are many senses in which that is not true, of course, but I do not mean this in a broad and sweeping sense, but rather that we have not been social in a set of rather precise ways. Markets have not been social: this is the true insight of Chris Anderson’s concept of the long tail. Knowledge has not been social: see Wikipedia, Google and a host of other examples. Intelligence has not been social: see any platform that uses collaborative filtering or user input to generate value, from Digg to Twitter.

Of course, we have had elements of the social in all of these areas before, but never before at the scale of the Internet, with its immediacy and the power of network effects. If you think these are trivial, consider how these things were used to raise money for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. The astounding thing about this feat was the speed at which funds were raise and by what small increments.

It was in contemplating the myriads effects of this new power of the social, I’m sure, that Clay Shirky came up with the title of his recent book, “Here Comes Everybody“.

So, if I have helped to answer the question of what kind of machine the Internet is, it now remains for us all to figure out what it is for.

Island Overlap08

The Toronto Overlap community spent a Saturday on one of the Toronto islands playing with ideas about how to “map” Overlap.

Tom Mulhern (Overlap06) put it well when trying to describe what we have in common:

“The people you meet here are inquisitive, intelligent, innovative, and sometimes indignant. And not one of them can give you a simple answer when you ask them what they do.”

This is the start of a slate of more regular Overlap gatherings in Toronto. Stay tuned for more.

Social Change: Awareness vs. Action

On May 13, Manifest Communications held an event called “Well, Well” that brought together Canadian philosopher Mark Kingwell and Canadian journalist Malcolm Gladwell to talk about social change. Happily a video of the evening’s main speaking event has been made available here, and I recommend it highly.

Both Gladwell and Kingwell make compelling and thoughtful presentations. And while there is much to enjoy and to ponder over, there are also a couple of things to complain about. First, I think it is particularly regrettable that the exchange ended up being framed or dramatized as a debate. It’s not that the framework of a debate is incapable of illuminating a complex topic, for a good example to the contrary you can see this famous debate between Larry Lessig and Jack Valenti on the future of Intellectual Property at the Berkman Center at Harvard.

Moderator Avril Benoit kicked the evening off with a quotation from Jeffrey Sachs (of the Earth Institute): “Great social transformations…all began with public awareness and engagement.” The speakers were pitted in a debate, then, over the relative impact of consciousness-raising versus more direct forms of action in creating social change. So, from the beginning the evening was a frame-up of a false dichotomy, suggesting that we must align ourselves with one side or the other and forcing thought down the reductive runnel of the either/or. Perhaps it is too much to hope that such events would not only bring together such intelligent speakers, but also to design a more intelligent platform for their exchange, but I cannot prevent myself from applying this critical standard, nonetheless.

As you might expect, given the intelligence and skill of each, many interesting ideas and thoughts were brought to bear on either “side” of these issues. What failed to happen, however, was a dialogue, a true engagement of the thinkers with each other and the grappling with each other’s thoughts that would have allowed us to see thinking in action rather than the highly skilled display of two master rhetoriticians.

All this griping aside, the video of the Well, Well evening remains eminently worth watching and a powerful example that the web is bringing us access to events and interaction that mainstream media simply can’t and won’t. Enjoy this feast of “long tail” intellectual goodness!