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Optimism as a revolutionary act
August 23, 2004 11:34 PM   Subscribe

Change This - We're betting that a significant portion of the population wants to hear thoughtful, rational, constructive arguments about important issues. We're certain that the best of these manifestos will spread, hand to hand, person to person, until these manifestos have reached a critical mass and actually changed the tone and substance of our debate.
posted by dobbs (11 comments total)

 
Point: Stop Child Executions.

Counterpoint: Kill Your Children.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:06 AM on August 24, 2004


"In the old days..." I'm not convinced they really remember the old days. I applaud the group's enthusiasm but they sound precipitously self-congratulatory. The manifestos I've read so far (Kawasaki's for example) are a bit too power-pointesque?
posted by josephtate at 2:38 AM on August 24, 2004


Seems like a good idea. For me it's necessary to be an optimist even when it sometimes seems to fly in the face of reality, because otherwise I would go insane. These guys have it in spades.
posted by louigi at 8:16 AM on August 24, 2004


We're certain that the best of these manifestos will spread, hand to hand, person to person, until these manifestos have reached a critical mass...
I like this site, but isn't "hand to hand" like 10,000 times less efficient than the INTERNET? Isn't this like wishing for a gigantic step backwards, to the days of broadsides, little magazines and mimeography?
posted by Faze at 8:36 AM on August 24, 2004


Broadsides, little magazines, and mimeography are cool.

Precisely because they're anachronistic.
posted by kenko at 8:52 AM on August 24, 2004


Faze: I like this site, but isn't "hand to hand" like 10,000 times less efficient than the INTERNET? Isn't this like wishing for a gigantic step backwards, to the days of broadsides, little magazines and mimeography?

There are a couple of social problems with the internet that make the hand-to-hand strategy still useful.

1: people generally don't seek out media that represents differences of opinion. As a result, most web sites just end up speaking to the choir.

2: unsolicited email is ignored at best and resented at worst.

3: reduced inhibitions can make discourse where both sides have their opinions valued difficult.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:10 AM on August 24, 2004


"We're certain that the best of these manifestos will spread, hand to hand, person to person, until these manifestos have reached a critical mass..." - Maybe, but I feel quite strongly that humans - unless driven by dire pressure of poverty and basic survival concerns, and even then perhaps - have an inherent, possibly instinctual tendency towards conservatism.

Usually "best" and "worst" practices coexist within close or even contiguous regions of time and space. Meaning : my town's "transfer station" (which sends refuse to an incinerator and recycles a low to moderate amount of material as well) costs at least several hundred thousands, US$, a year to run. Twenty miles away, as the crow flies, another transfer station has trained it's town residents to sort their trash into an elaborate number of categories (including a "take it or Leave it" section). This enables that station to eke out a small profit and - further - the biggest trash day, Saturday, is a festive social event at the station. Free coffee is served, and people hang out and chat. Trash, in that model, has become a net financial and social community resource.

My town's station is far from an example of "worst" practices, but it's relative backwardness is noteworthy because my town - which is extremely well run in most respects, and which has quite progressive priorities in it's channeling of town funds towards addressing needs of children, the elderly, and to the town library - is, above all, fiscally prudent : to the extreme. So, I wonder, why has so little priority been placed on saving money at the transfer station ? I suspect both laziness, lack of creativity, and inherent conservatism which ever casts a wary or even baleful eye towards the new.

In many industries and in many human fields of endeavor, the spread between best and worst practices can be very wide and the best, proven but cutting edge practices of the day often only gain widespread acceptance over the course of, literally, decades.

The growth of the Global economy may now be exerting some welcome (to my mind) pressure on this type of sluggish embrace of new, better ways. Still, my working hypothesis is that this aspect of human nature - habitually driven and expressed in general as a free floating fear of change - is the main anchor at work here.
posted by troutfishing at 1:26 PM on August 24, 2004


Coincidentally, they've just posted their second batch of manifestos.
posted by dobbs at 1:28 PM on August 24, 2004


troutfishing -- the problem in your town might not be conservatism or fear of innovation, but a kind of general weighing things by relative importance, and the decision that they don't want to expend the energy it takes to separate their garbage into an elaborate number of categories. In other words, they don't want to make taking out their garbage their career. In making the choice between life and garbage, they choose life.
posted by Faze at 1:55 PM on August 24, 2004


Faze - The question is, does sorting garbage have to take very long? Also, people in my town - many of them anyway - are from New England farming stock and come from a cultural tradition of fixing everything and - in general - "making do" . They are VERY frugal !
posted by troutfishing at 3:44 PM on August 24, 2004


i love manifestos--this site should link up with all the idea sites (even halfbakery), and then we'll see.

Unfortunately, there's some kind of law where the better your idea, the less power you have to actually implement it (evidenced here daily). : >
posted by amberglow at 4:10 PM on August 24, 2004


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