Is it a fence or a tree? Or both?

A friend described her experience with a therapy technique that has helped her family tremendously. She distilled the approach down to 2 sentences:

I am doing the best I can.
I can do better.

Learning to hold these two dialectical statements as true at the same time has given her family members a new sense of themselves and each other. Like so many dialectical exercises—philosophical, ideological or otherwise—a hidden power is unleashed when two opposing forces find an unexpected third place to coexist.

A few other unexpected thoughts, some of them also dialectical in nature, have crossed my transom over the last few days. Most of these were picked up at the social media/technology conferences I’ve participated in. Although not related directly to my art making life, these statements have brought me new insights and seem worthy of sharing here. (The content in the parentheses are mine.)

From Caterina Fake, founder of Flickr and Hunch, and an optimist of the down deep variety:

“Babies, pets and sunsets–the backbone of the Internet.” (And all this time I thought it was porn.)

“Strangers used to be bad and dangerous. Now strangers are the source of good things online.” (So true.)

“We now live in a culture of generosity–people everywhere spending time to put all sorts of information up for free” (All those reviews on Amazon, all those lyrics to Bob Dylan’s music entered by hand…)

Andrew Rasiej, expert on social media and its political implications:

“Soon 9 billion people will be connected by phones. It is going to create a new form of governance for all of humanity. People will start ignoring government and just start solving problems themselves.” (One dream of a better future for the planet.)

“Technology is not a slice of the pie. It’s the pan.” (I can imagine replacing the nouns in that metaphor to get some interesting variations)

JP Rangaswami, CIO and Chief Scientist at BT Design, speaking to IT professionals:

“Trying to restrict/control something that is meant to be abundant results in an equal and greater effort to restore that abundance.” (This may sound New Age-ish, but that is definitely not where he is coming from on this.)

“Once info is made digital, it will leak.” (The corporate firewall=Swiss cheese)

“It took 50 years for IBM to become evil, 20 years for Microsoft, 10 for Google, 5 for Facebook and 2 for Twitter.” (New variation on Moore’s law…)

“When I used to call my grandmother, she never had to say, ‘Can you hear me now?'” (Back when all phones were black and you could only buy them from the phone company.)

“My father had one job his entire life. I have had 7. My son has 7 all at once.” (Like the reading of books, concomitance is now king)

“If you are on Second Life, you don’t have a first life.” (Sorry if you are a SL fan)

“My advice is to always start open and then only close when you must.” (In more ways than in the design of IT systems…)

Andrew McAfee, author of “Enterprise 2.0”:

“Best practices are a recipe for mediocrity. All that means is that everybody is doing the same thing.” (Yes!)

“Decisions are the least digitized asset.” (This is the bane of knowledge management systems—how do you capture that?)

“As William Gibson has pointed out, ‘the future is already here—it is just unevenly distributed.'” (Oh ye sage, William the Great)