Sep 28, 2010

The starfish vs the spider

Jonathan Rauch on the Tea Party movement.
The Starfish and the Spider, a business book by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom, was published in 2006 to no attention at all in the political world. The subtitle, however, explains its relevance to the tea party model: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations.

Traditional thinking, the book contends, holds that hierarchies are most efficient at getting things done. Hierarchies, such as corporations, have leaders who can make decisions and set priorities; chains of command to hold everyone accountable; mechanisms to shift money and authority within the organization; rules and disciplinary procedures to prevent fracture and drift. This type of system has a central command, like a spider's brain. Like the spider, it dies if you thump it on the head.

The rise of the Internet and other forms of instantaneous, interpersonal interaction, however, has broken the spider monopoly, Brafman and Beckstrom argue. Radically decentralized networks -- everything from illicit music-sharing systems to Wikipedia -- can direct resources and adapt ("mutate") far faster than corporations can. "The absence of structure, leadership, and formal organization, once considered a weakness, has become a major asset," the authors write. "Seemingly chaotic groups have challenged and defeated established institutions. The rules of the game have changed."

Sep 9, 2010

I beg to differ

Megan McArdle:

FDR lived in a different era. His speeches come across so well today precisely because they were designed largely to be read; Obama is making speeches for an era when most people get their news from television, and so naturally, his speeches read flat and uninteresting. FDR's speech delivery, by contrast, was surprisingly poor for an audience used to taking in most of its news in audio or video.


FDR would do just fine on video:

Sep 2, 2010

What not to wear to court

T-shirts with slogans, flip flops and wrinkles.

Hell is other people

The existential crisis of Obama supporters:
According to Maureen Dowd, “Obama is the head of the dysfunctional family of America — a rational man running a most irrational nation, a high-minded man in a low-minded age. The country is having some weird mass nervous breakdown.” Jonathan Alter argues that the American people “aren’t rationally aligning belief and action; they’re tempted to lose their spleens in the polling place without fully grasping the consequences.” And Slate’s Jacob Weisberg has written that “the biggest culprit in our current predicament” is the “childishness, ignorance, and growing incoherence of the public at large.”