The Starfish and the Spider

Subtitle: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations
Co-authors: Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom

Ever and anon a book such as The Starfish and the Spider comes along to generate enough buzz to warrant a review / critique. Brafman and Beckstrom posit two metaphors. The starfish is a neural network: it can be cut in pieces, all of which will live. The spider is not so equipped: bash him in the head, he will die.

Starfish organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous are decentralized. Nobody’s technically in charge of AA: it self-propagates. Open-source software is constructed on a starfish model. The Internet is a starfish. Al-Qaeda is a starfish. General Electric is a starfish: each division is its own profit and loss center, remove one, the rest survive.

Remembering theTrailblazers: Branch Rickey & Jackie Robinson

The topic below was originally posted in my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

My first love is baseball. I am a Yankee fan. Please don't snicker. Rooting for the Yankees doesn't make me a bad person. However, as another opening day approaches, I want to acknowledge the cultural importance of two Brooklyn Dodgers: team President Branch Rickey and second baseman Jackie Robinson. This season marks the 60th anniversary of their collaboration to break major league baseball's color barrier.

Open Thread - Vernal Equinox Edition 3-24-2007

HankP's picture

Happy Vernal Equinox!

Don't be surprised if no one posts anything today.

I, for one, welcome our new Murine overlords.

I see stuff like this everytime I'm hungover.

My dream comes true - if only they could eliminate the battery.

And finally, a look at Harley's office.

Locked In

M Scott Eiland's picture

For years now, various followers of the NBA have compared Kobe Bryant to Michael Jordan, a comparison that--as with similar comparisons between other athletes and the towering figures of their sports--is profoundly unfair to Bryant. However, years before the likely end of his career, Kobe has already done something that Jordan never did--something that no one except Wilt Chamberlain at the height of his legendary scoring prowess has achieved: scoring fifty or more points in four consecutive games. Furthermore--contrary to the image of Bryant as a ballhog whose scoring spectacles are somewhat at the expense of the rest of his team--the Lakers have won all four of those games, solidifying their hold on the #6 playoff spot in the Western Conference.

OK, Here Is My View

[This is a long response to catchy's Conservatives at the Forvm diary]

I tried to mention this idea once before, yet the snarky and dismissive retort not only served to perfectly illustrate the problem, but also why I've reached the "why bother?" threshold I mentioned in catchy's diary. However, I'll give it a final shot, and see if I can make a constructive illustration of what is discouraging the more active participation of some commentators (I'll bet it isn't just conservatives by the way).

Now let me first state that this idea is based not on any notion of trying to recreate the old site, to make the site more "right" or any kind of affirmative action for conservatives. I live in the bluest of blue of areas, and I'm used to being surrounded, outnumbered and in a minority deemed to 'not get it'. All of the comments about how 'it must be hard to carry water for Bush' or 'it's tough times for conservatives' etc. are, pardon the term, simply dumb and don't even come close to mark. However, those type of comments are symptomatic of the real issue.

Anger and Fear, Hope and Charity, Right and Left

One of our local boys has lately offered a tidy summary of a view that seems to be quite widely held on the left:

"...the tone of the Right has always been anger and fear...that's what they're selling...hope and charity have always been a staple of the Progressives..."

I fear that this view angers me.


But seriously: if the popularity of this view with "progressives" proves anything at all, it is only their startling inability to see themselves as others do.

Consider, for example, the issue of global warming. Who's selling "anger and fear" on that one? Is it the conservatives, who tend to argue that it's probably not going to be that big of a deal, and in any case that advancing technology ought to take care of it? Or is it the liberals, who propound nightmare scenarios and compare those who question them to holocaust-deniers?

The Structure of Human Knowledge

I can write titles like that, I'm deep enough.

Anyway, I didn't make this ‘map of science’, someone else did. The image is currently on display at an exhibit at the New York Hall of Science. It's an interesting image:

The graphic traces the relations between the different branches of science in the following sense: the designers looked at the citations in nearly 1 million scientific papers and then mapped the relations between the field the paper was published in and the fields of its citations.

Someone suggested Lincoln or Truman, I prefer MI5

While others flutter about discussing a nonevent and Ken rolls out the "K-metrics"--they were certainly missed-- a compelling case for a domestic intelligence agency, er MI5, is made here.

That is, an organization dedicated to "after the fact" (er to catch and prosecute) isn't going to fair well in gathering intelligence, particullarly of the domestic type.

Intelligence gathering, when done well, is a mundane and laborious activity (TV will never run a series on the subject). More importantly, when information is acquired you let it go, freely sharing it with your domestic counterparts (no high profile arrests or TV interviews for these fellows or gals) and immediately get back to the mundane tasks which is your job. If you are successful, we shall never hear of you. If you fail, the beatings will begin which is far less painful then the second guessings. They will make movies about it, factually wrong but adding a little "sex" to the mix, well it was what dreams are made of.

Conservatives at the Forvm

I’m concerned about conservative departure. We’ve got plenty of excellent conservative contributors, but there’s been an unfortunate trend of right-leaning departures. Let’s think about how to make the place more congenial for right-leaners in general, especially to keep the ones we’ve got, but also perhaps to attract new ones.

HankP claims he doesn’t care about the ideology of a given poster, just the quality of his/her contribution. I also care about contribution quality, but in addition value ideological diversity. It’s one of the main reasons I come here.

The focus of this site, viz. political and ideological issues, isn’t the type of thing where experiences + culture ought to play as little role as possible. This isn’t a mathematics site, even if we try hard to be rational. Our diversity of experiences + cultural background are a large part of what we bring to the table and what makes the palce interesting.

St Pat's Day Open Thread

NCAA tourney: Buh-bye Duke!

Plame-gate and Gonezales are being well covered here, already.

Any good new movies out there?

And now I am off to buy even more new pieces for my house. Then some green beer.

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