Social Architecture and its enemies

More from the floor at Corante’s Social Architecture meeting in Cambridge (details above).

To illustrate his contention that politicians use a different "operating system" from the rest of us Andrew Rasiej said that he asked Mayor Bloomberg about a wireless New York and the Mayor replied (something like), "oh, that’s great. Would we have to dig up the streets for that?"

As funny as this is, there is a larger problem here.  It’s the "they just don’t get it" accusation that certain parties like to level against the political and the power incumbents.  Sometimes this is exactly right, and it makes it clear that nothing less than a fundamental cultural shift and change of incumbents will get the job done. 

But sometimes, this language (and the terms that just were used by someone asking a question from the floor, "technophobic," and "techno ignorant") actually obscures the opportunities for rapprochement.  There is a larger performative objective here that I dislike, that with this language we construct, we annoint ourselves as smart, attached, people who truly "do get it."  This is self congratulation and when it licenses a refusal to engage with power incumbents, well, it’s just stupid.  I do not level this charge against Rasiej who runs for office and advises politicians. 

5 thoughts on “Social Architecture and its enemies

  1. Jenny Attiyeh

    You said it, Grant. Any attitude that creates greater distance between the netizens of this world and those who don’t “get it” is only going to make it harder to protect the freedoms of this new medium. Or to achieve the objectives of those who believe in its transformative power. As far as politics is concerned, money opens doors, and if it’s attached to an idea, that’s great. If there’s no money, there’s no motivation for action — there’s not even a means to act. Great ideas are generally far ahead of commerce, but one of these days, commerce will catch up, yes? No?
    Jenny Attiyeh
    p.s. It was fun to meet you. I “interviewed” you at the symposium cocktail party, if that rings a bell.

  2. Grant

    Jenny, of course, I remember. It was a lively conversation, Burgundy enabled, at least for me. I agree with you that money helps turn ideas into practices, another reason self willed estrangement from the world is a bad idea! Thanks, Grant
    p.s., where could I find that interview you did at the end of the conference?

  3. Jenny Attiyeh

    Was that really a Burgundy? No wonder I liked it. Far better than the usual slosh. My interview, which was conducted with Stowe Boyd, Chris Nolan and David Weinberger, can be accessed on my website at It’s the first post. Hope you like it!

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