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Unbundled

Added on by Chris Saad.

How the breaking apart of traditional, rigid structures is creating a personalized, on-demand future and changing the everyday interactions of people, politics, and profit.

About this post

This post is based on a theory and a book outline I’ve been chipping away at since 2010. Since I’m probably going to be too busy to ever finish the full thing, I figured I would massively truncate and post it here so that it’s finally out in the world in some form. In the six years I’ve been thinking about this subject, it’s only become clearer with the advent of the on-demand economy, 3D printing etc. Please excuse the length!

Introduction

In Silicon Valley we’ve used the term “Unbundling” to describe the phenomena of mobile apps breaking apart into multiple separate apps, each essentially providing more focused, single purpose features. Think of the Facebook app being separated into Facebook + Messenger.

I believe this Unbundling phenomena is happening almost universally across all aspects of lifeIt’s a meta-trend that has been happening for decades (or more) and will continue for decades to come. It’s a common process affecting many of the things happening in the world today. In fact most of the major disruptions we see (loss of traditional jobs, failing record companies, terrorism, divorce rates, the rise of fringe/underdog political candidates etc) are all, in at least some way, connected to this fundamental transition.

See the full post on Medium

Declare your Interdependence

Added on by Chris Saad.

I just discovered this. It's a crime that it has so few views. Like the US Declaration of Independence, it is a manifesto for a new era. And this new material supersedes it.

I am a citizen of the world. Not of any country, dogma or outdated institution. We are interdependent and our common goals must now be broader than just life, liberty and happiness.

Watch it, share it, live it.

 

I am pro life

Added on by Chris Saad.

NOTE: It has been brought to my attention that the intent of this post has been mis-interpreted. I am *actually* 'pro-choice' to use the standard terms. This post is trying to highlight hypocrisy and the corruption of emotionally charged language to mean very narrow political things while ignoring the broader definition. I am trying to explain that the 'Catch Phrases'  paint liberals (of which I am one) into unnecessary corners. We should reclaim that language and re-broaden its definition to mean what it REALLY means.

Something that frustrates me about liberals in general and Democrats in particular is that they seem content to take the carefully chosen language constructs the Right manufactures and paint themselves into the corner that was laid out for them.

With the Health Care Reform bill they managed to smash out of that corner and get the job done anyway, but they still failed to take control of the debate and wrestle it like the true wordsmiths and salesmen the Republicans are.

They need to take control of the language and redefine it for us or they will continue to lose elections even if they have found the courage to stand up for legislation they believe in...

I am pro life

I believe in life. I believe in allowing people to have the life they choose and make choices about their body. I believe in the life of a mother forced to make a terrible decision.

I believe in the life of the mother that might have prevented her unwanted pregnancy if only actual data from real life was listened to when we're told that teaching abstinence doesn't work. Life tells us that condoms and sex education works. So I believe in listening to life.

I also believe in lives that are out on the street because we fail to look after the poor. We fail to provide for their basic needs like shelter and healthcare. I believe in the life of people in foreign countries - life that is equal in value to my own. I believe that you can't invade their countries or prop up their dictators without having violent reactions. That's just how life works and how people protect the lives of their families. When life gets desperate you take desperate actions.

I believe in life. I am pro life.

The life of undifferentiated cells, however, is only one form of life. I believe that abortion should be safe, legal and rare because I am pro life, and life happens. Abortion is horrible, however, abortion is going to happen if it is legal or not. We need to safeguard the lives of the young mothers involved. There are many, many lives to consider.

You know who is pro choice. Republicans. They believe that the government should get off our backs and let the free market decide. They choose to believe that making money is more important than providing basic checks and balances to make life a little easier for people.

They believe that we should have the freedom and choice to pick an insurance company and they should have the freedom to choose to screw their customers. That is pro choice. They believe that gays and lesbians had a choice when it came to their sexuality. They choose to believe it matters to them.

I am Strong on Defense

I believe in defeating those who would hurt us. I don't believe in fighting a tactic. Terrorism is not something you can defeat any more than you can defeat walking or shooting a gun. A war against terrorism is not being strong on defense, it's being weak on language skills.

I know that being strong means having the courage and conviction to know when I am wrong, to understand my enemy's motives properly (and not the characature some might choose to paint) because I know that without understanding their true motives and methods I am just flailing around like a defenseless fool.

I am strong on defense because I understand that defense is not hurting defenseless people, but rather helping those people defend themselves against ignorance and violence.

I am strong on defending the freedoms and liberties that I believe in. I am strong enough not to let 'Terrorists' scare me into compromising my way of life.

I am strong on defense.

I believe in protecting a flag

I am against burning Flags. Actually no, not flags, but rather the things those flags represent. The American flag represents the freedom to burn flags. So I believe in protecting the flag by letting people burn it. Because in burning it they are demonstrating the power of that flag to transcend any moment and last forever. By performing the symbolic act of burning the flag those people are at once making their point and undermining it. I believe in the flag to transcend its own burning.

I believe in Civil Unions and defense of Marriage.

I believe all marriges should be civil unions. Why is a religious institution handled by the Government? Why can't any two people (including heterosexuals) form a civil union in order to confer certain basic rights to each other and leave the government out of it. Why is marriage not protected by and sacred to the church instead of allowing it to get corrupted by Government.

If you want to get Married in the eyes of God, then go to a church. If you want a legal contract to confer rights onto another through the state, get a Civil Union. They should be two, separate things and the church can make up any rules it wants about Marriage, and the state shouldn't discriminate when it comes to unions.

I am a regular Joe

I hate being elitist, I don't like reading books and I sure as hell don't like to over think problems. That's why I am not a politician. I also can't run very fast or very long, that's why I am not an elite athlete either.

I'm sure as hell glad that elite people run our government though, and run our races, and practice law and do all the other important and hard things they do. I am glad that the elites who run for office think through problems properly and consider the complex systems that make up our society rather than knee jerk reactionary 'ordinary people' who would easily let their emotions and mob rule guide them.

I love regular people, I want to have a beer with them. But I don't want them running any country I live in.

I have faith

I am full of faith. I believe deeply in the things I believe. They are different from the things you believe but that does not make me a 'non believer'.

I have a strong moral compass - one I spent a great deal of time thinking about and defining for myself. In some ways, I might have given more thought to morality than you have.

As a wise man once said, You believe in things that have not been proven; Well I believe in people despite abundant amounts of evidence to the contrary. That is faith. I have more faith in the divinity of people (something Jesus taught) than you do.

I might not believe that Jesus (or anyone else who has been elevated to his status) was God, but I believe in his message. His actual message of unconditional love and forgiveness for all. I believe he taught us to look after the least among us and to turn the other cheek. That means that bombing other countries, allowing the poor to persist and judging others for their sex, race or geographic location is the exact opposite point of having faith in his teachings.

He also taught us to be free thinkers, not to believe in institutions just because they are there. He was a rebel who blasphemed the religious institutions of his time.

I have more faith than you in the actual words and deeds of Jesus. And that means I am not afraid of all the scary gays and terrorists and flag burners out there. If you question my faith you are simply showing a weakness in your own.

I could go on and on... but you get the idea.

What words would you like to reclaim for reality?

SPOILERS: Understanding the deeper meaning of Avatar

Added on by Chris Saad.

"...some of the darkest chapters in the history of my world involved the forced relocation of a small group of people to satisfy the demands of a large one..." Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek Insurrection

All the writeups I've seen about Avatar have focused on the timeframe it took to make it (something like 10 years), the cost (most expensive film ever made), the CGI (the most realistic CGI and motion capture ever), the 3D (yes you get to use those cool glasses), the fantastical imagination of James Cameron (the world presented is fully formed and utterly believable) or the theme of mother earth and symbiosis with the life around us.

In my mind, the film is not really about any of those things. It is in fact about what Jean-Luc Picard says in Insurrection and I have quoted at the top of this post.

It is about what all great works of art are about - the fallibility of the human condition.

Avatar is about a race of humanoids that could not be more alien from us and yet, by about half way through the film, it manages to completely convince us of their reality, their plight and their humanity.

The trick is so thoroughly executed that by the time SigourneyWeaver's character is brought to the tree to be saved (unsuccessfully), she looked thoroughly alien to me. The blue CGI creatures around her seemed more real, more noble and more sympathetic than her tiny pink body. She could have been a little green man.

The point, however, was not to demonstrate the power of CGI or storytelling to convince us of an unreality, but rather to show us something that is all too real in our world; An all too pervasive inability to understand how those we perceive as 'other', as 'aliens', as inhuman, are just as human as ourselves.

Most of the Human characters in Avatar were perfectly happy (at least for the most part) to force the re-location or destruction of these blue creatures for the acquisition of 'wealth' from the ground on which they lived. The way they rationalized this inhuman treatment was to label them 'savages' and later 'the enemy'.

The human characters could not understand how smashing their trees and destroying their homes - terrorizing them - could result in acts of rebellion and resistance. Acts of Terror.

Does this sound at all familiar to anyone? Are there any people in our world (who at first glance seem inferior or strange) that have been relocated, interfered with, oppressed, suppressed and generally toyed with for decades for the purposes of ensuring and 'securing' access to stuff in the ground - to oil?

Have those people become desperate? Have they fought back? Have they perpetrated acts of Terror? Have we perpetrated those acts in return? Has the cycle continued unabated with each side blaming the other?

Of course it's all too unpopular (or downright unpatriotic) to suggest that the violence taken against 'us' in the west is somehow justified. In fact I believe that no violence that is not in immediate self defense or in the defense of others is really justified at all. Not ours, not theirs.

Avatar didn't just manage to thoroughly convince me of the humanity of these blue CGI creators, it also showed in stark terms our ability to be inhuman to those who appear different from us. To justify killing by minimizing and demonizing the 'others' amongst us. To forget the acts of the recent past and justify the acts of the present and the future.

Avatar is a film that should go down in history as a feat of genius on every level of story telling and political commentary. Its deeper and much more profound message, however, like the message of the Matrix and other masterful works that balance popular culture, mass market appeal and important truths, will probably be lost on most movie going audiences.

It wont be lost on those in our world who seem Alien to us though. They probably won't see the movie, but they are no strangers to throwing stones at tanks, being crushed in the name of valuable resources and being so oppressed and desperate as to resort to extreme interpretations of religion and acts of violence.

I wonder what our excuse is when we use our religious views (both of faith and commerce) to justify killing them.

Let me end on two notes of positivity.

Read my (naive?) post about how Social Media may help

And watch Barack Obama speak about the potential for a pragmatic and persistent peace

A special thanks to Michael Arrington and Techcrunch for kindly hosting us for a screening of the film.

Climate Crisis over, nothing to see here

Added on by Chris Saad.

WARNING: In case it's not clear, this post is satire

The climate crisis argument has finally been debunked as fear mongering by tree huggers and polar bear lovers. These exposed email threads show the true nature of the forgery that has been perpetuated by these 'scientists' on an unsuspecting world. These few scientists discussing this random data set in some random out of context conversation have totally and rightly undermined all the years of debate and research. Of course, the visible aspects of change in our environment are just part of some cyclic, non-human generated climate change. It's normal! Pollution in the air, extreme droughts and floods, record breaking hurricanes and the death of entire ecosystems under the ocean is perfectly fine. We don't need to breathe, grow crops, live on dry land or have a food chain.

Also, the fact that our current energy 'solutions' are based on a resource that is about to run dry, located in a region of the world that hates us (in most cases for our 'energy protection' actions) is ideal also.

As we all now know, Climate Change is fake. Sure the precarious resource and geo-political struggle fossil fuels continues to place us in are clearly real but instead of investing in clean alternatives, we should continue to destroy and re-build nations half way around the world. That's a much cheaper and more productive alternative than investing in our own infrastructure and innovating our way out of the very real logistical and foreign-policy problems we've created for ourselves.

Speaking of cost, we can't afford to save the planet or invest in our future. That could hurt the economy and we can't risk that. We can just switch planets or go back in time when the planet dies. At least the economy will be safe though. There's no possible way that comparing the needs of the economy to the whole planet is a false dichotomy. Sure, the economy depends on the fact that our world remains as it is today - No mass migrations due to new extreme climates. No real shortage of energy. No resulting wars (well, not too many anyway). Land to grow things. The status quo is the most likely future scenario right?

Of course if any of those things happen then our economy, and the world as we know it, will be over. Maybe we can switch to trading Water. At least you can drink water! Have you tried drinking money? Yuk! I'm so glad that climate change is now finally debunked.

In the mean time, we get to keep spending money on killing people. It makes for better TV and it's easier to understand. You fire the missile, something blows up. Easy.

Causality between dirty, finite energy and climate change, health and war are way more boring to think about. More important, but definitely more boring. I'd much rather watch Fox News than the West Wing after all.

I'm so glad that debate is over - back to more important things like gay marriage and keeping marijuana illegal. Those things really affect my life.

 

A conversation about impending World Peace

Added on by Chris Saad.

A friend and I just had a wonderful 1:1 chat, and I wanted to share it here (with her permission). She asked me to remove her name because she thinks she was off her game - I think she's crazy - but I will respect her request none-the-less. Please excuse the raw nature - this is a straight copy+paste chat log from Adium.

Also, for clarity, my timeframe for this world peace is not days, weeks or even decades. There are also all sorts of things that can screw my assumptions up. But this is an interesting thought exercise none the less.


9:11 - My Friend:

Chris, about your idea that our connectedness will bring world peace... someday?

9:11 - Chris Saad:

yes - most people think i'm crazy … i think it's already happening

9:12 - My Friend:

Do you think that it's making us more moral?

9:13 - Chris Saad

no… i think it's broadening the set of people we apply our morality to

because we are coming to the obvious revelation that everyone is human, everyone has the same fundamental desires (safety, love, hope) and deserves a fundamental level of respect and dignity

9:14 - My Friend:

do you think it's changing our ideas of what morality is?

9:14 - Chris Saad

… i think humans are always fundamentally selfish - but they prioritize themselves first, and people like them second

… all i'm saying is that people will increasingly realize that there are a lot more people like them than they originally thought - i.e. everyone

9:15 - My Friend:

I think yes we are redefining our standards of morality b/c of the connectedness

9:16 - Chris Saad

I think it looks like that at the surface … but it's only because we are applying our same morality in different ways

9:16 - My Friend:

interesting

9:16 - Chris Saad

which sort of creates a new morality or at least a different looking morality … but its probably the same morality more broadly applied … e.g. we'd never bomb a state of the US … that's morality … so why would be bomb a state of the world … that's 'otherness' which is dissipating … but its the same morality … man i speak a lot of shit like i know what i'm talking about … i should get a bullshit award … i do believe it though

9:21 - My Friend:

maybe it was the wrong question. do you think moral codes are changing morals w/i established groups

9:22 - Chris Saad

can u give me an example of a moral code and how it might have changed?

9:23 - My Friend:

Churches granting priesthood to homosexuals, for example

9:24 - Chris Saad

see i still think that's a broadening of application of an existing morality

… the original moral code was to grant priesthoods to those who worked for it and were pihas  (sp?)

9:24 - My Friend:

maybe it's just a swinging back of the pendulum

9:24 - Chris Saad

… i could be wrong - this is just my opinion hah

9:29 - My Friend:

… but to everyone

you posit then that it's a broadening of moral code - a shedding of the sense of "other" for a set of fundamentally understood values

9:29 - Chris Saad

a broadening of the application of moral codes … but yes

… we're not broadening the scope of the moral code, we're broadening the group of people who fit inside the original scope.

All they are doing now is applying it to a broader set of people - people once considered 'other' … We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. … this is our fundamental morality … its only just being applied more broadly … to more people - not just americans, or males, or straights

9:30 - My Friend:

and this is one of the contributions to a more peaceful world?

9:30 - Chris Saad

its sort of like the big bang, planets and solar systems are not moving - the space itself is moving heh … like dots on an inflating balloon … the dots aren't moving - the balloon is

9:31 - My Friend:

we're on the whale. I just wanted to better understand your view.

9:32 - Chris Saad

presumably it does lead to more peaceful world yes - just like *most* people would not rape their daughter, they would also not rape their neighbor or their countrymen or a foreigner

… we would not embargo our family, or our neighbors or our states or our foreign neighbors - even the word foreign becomes obsolete

9:35 - My Friend:

what about the big brother aspect of all this connectedness?

9:35 - Chris Saad

I'm not sure it's strictly related

… although if most things are public, then 'big brother' becomes more like 'social consciousness' - taboos break down and privacy based on fear (taboos like health conditions, weird sexual interests etc etc) begin to lose meaning

9:36 - My Friend:

Interesting.  Why not?

9:38 - Chris Saad

well privacy is still a right - social media is not about giving up privacy but it does somewhat diminish the need for and the value on privacy because as I said above taboos begin to evaporate

A conversation about impending World Peace

Added on by Chris Saad.

A friend and I just had a wonderful 1:1 chat, and I wanted to share it here (with her permission). She asked me to remove her name because she thinks she was off her game - I think she's crazy - but I will respect her request none-the-less. Please excuse the raw nature - this is a straight copy+paste chat log from Adium.

Also, for clarity, my timeframe for this world peace is not days, weeks or even decades. There are also all sorts of things that can screw my assumptions up. But this is an interesting thought exercise none the less.


9:11 - My Friend:

Chris, about your idea that our connectedness will bring world peace... someday?

9:11 - Chris Saad:

yes - most people think i'm crazy … i think it's already happening

9:12 - My Friend:

Do you think that it's making us more moral?

9:13 - Chris Saad

no… i think it's broadening the set of people we apply our morality to

because we are coming to the obvious revelation that everyone is human, everyone has the same fundamental desires (safety, love, hope) and deserves a fundamental level of respect and dignity

9:14 - My Friend:

do you think it's changing our ideas of what morality is?

9:14 - Chris Saad

… i think humans are always fundamentally selfish - but they prioritize themselves first, and people like them second

… all i'm saying is that people will increasingly realize that there are a lot more people like them than they originally thought - i.e. everyone

9:15 - My Friend:

I think yes we are redefining our standards of morality b/c of the connectedness

9:16 - Chris Saad

I think it looks like that at the surface … but it's only because we are applying our same morality in different ways

9:16 - My Friend:

interesting

9:16 - Chris Saad

which sort of creates a new morality or at least a different looking morality … but its probably the same morality more broadly applied … e.g. we'd never bomb a state of the US … that's morality … so why would be bomb a state of the world … that's 'otherness' which is dissipating … but its the same morality … man i speak a lot of shit like i know what i'm talking about … i should get a bullshit award … i do believe it though

9:21 - My Friend:

maybe it was the wrong question. do you think moral codes are changing morals w/i established groups

9:22 - Chris Saad

can u give me an example of a moral code and how it might have changed?

9:23 - My Friend:

Churches granting priesthood to homosexuals, for example

9:24 - Chris Saad

see i still think that's a broadening of application of an existing morality

… the original moral code was to grant priesthoods to those who worked for it and were pihas  (sp?)

9:24 - My Friend:

maybe it's just a swinging back of the pendulum

9:24 - Chris Saad

… i could be wrong - this is just my opinion hah

9:29 - My Friend:

… but to everyone

you posit then that it's a broadening of moral code - a shedding of the sense of "other" for a set of fundamentally understood values

9:29 - Chris Saad

a broadening of the application of moral codes … but yes

… we're not broadening the scope of the moral code, we're broadening the group of people who fit inside the original scope.

All they are doing now is applying it to a broader set of people - people once considered 'other' … We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. … this is our fundamental morality … its only just being applied more broadly … to more people - not just americans, or males, or straights

9:30 - My Friend:

and this is one of the contributions to a more peaceful world?

9:30 - Chris Saad

its sort of like the big bang, planets and solar systems are not moving - the space itself is moving heh … like dots on an inflating balloon … the dots aren't moving - the balloon is

9:31 - My Friend:

we're on the whale. I just wanted to better understand your view.

9:32 - Chris Saad

presumably it does lead to more peaceful world yes - just like *most* people would not rape their daughter, they would also not rape their neighbor or their countrymen or a foreigner

… we would not embargo our family, or our neighbors or our states or our foreign neighbors - even the word foreign becomes obsolete

9:35 - My Friend:

what about the big brother aspect of all this connectedness?

9:35 - Chris Saad

I'm not sure it's strictly related

… although if most things are public, then 'big brother' becomes more like 'social consciousness' - taboos break down and privacy based on fear (taboos like health conditions, weird sexual interests etc etc) begin to lose meaning

9:36 - My Friend:

Interesting.  Why not?

9:38 - Chris Saad

well privacy is still a right - social media is not about giving up privacy but it does somewhat diminish the need for and the value on privacy because as I said above taboos begin to evaporate

American Politics

Added on by Chris Saad.

As many of you know - I have been visiting in the US now since the end of January (with a short stint in Europe in the middle). I am loving it. Particularly here in San Francisco and the Bay Area specifically. It's an amazing place where amazing things are getting done every day. But I have made an observation in my travels that I thought I would write about today.

American Politics is a fascinating spectacle. And I don't just mean the politics of government, but the politics of business, community and culture as well. These patterns, trends and reactions are consistent in all sorts of other political interactions here.

The themes go something like this.

If you have been doing something for a long time and talk about very practical, operational things, then you must be good at whatever you do. You typically talk about being against something than for something else.

If you are new to the process and/or attract large crowds of new people, then you are interesting and inspirational but you surely can't have any substance to your message. You typically talk about being for something rather than against something else.

These two positions are always seen as polar opposites. Many people seem to refuse the idea that someone who is new can also have substance. Or something that is experienced may actually need new blood and new ideas.

It's a politics that fights not the ideas on their merits, but the way those ideas are derived, or who proposes them.

There's also a tendency to focus on what 'has worked' rather than what 'could work' - or what has worked in other organizations or other structures outside the immediate scope of inquiry.

Universal Health care for example. Surely the government can't look after our health right? They couldn't even look after the victims of Katrina. Of course, if we look beyond the borders of the United States it's clear that every other 1st world country does have Healthcare backed by the federal government and it works well to create a safety net for their people. It's a simple observation that allows the conversation to move beyond 'could it work' to 'how could we make it work for us'.

There's often a lack of subtlety - a sense that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater rather than taking the good and building on it. Making what is work for us.

As I said, I love this country and my experience here has been amazing - I hope it continues in fact. But as always, I will continue to look for patterns and see if they can be improved. At least in my little corner of the world.

Some of this also comes down to an idea I posted on Twitter the other day - I think it explains some of my thinking in this area.

"We need to extend the time frame inside which we evaluate what is in our best interest"

Everyone acts in their best interest. It's inevitable and irrefutable. But if you open the window from 1 month or 1 year to 5 or 10 years you realize that what's actually in our personal best interest is actually in the best interest of many other people too.

But that's a post for another day.

The Audacity of Hope

Added on by Chris Saad.

In the past few months I have been reminded by many that hoping for a thing does not make it true. Watching the US Presidential Election I have heard the same theme emerge as Hilliary Clinton attempts to question Barack Obama's ability to convert lofty and eloquent speeches into real change. I even posted a Seesmic video about it recently. The question I have, though, is if hope does not make something happen, then what does?

Doesn't all action involve hope? Is not hope a key ingredient for change?

Before one can achieve a thing, they must first imagine it. Before they act on their imagining they must first dare to hope that they could actually have some impact on the outcome.

Even decisions made based on fear involve a hope to avoid that which we fear.

Hope is a powerful driving force. It enables us to act. Without hope, we are often paralyzed.

Most people I talk to who 'wish' they could do something better, or more ambitious, have a common refrain. They dare not hope that their more lofty goals are attainable. They therefore do not act.

Imagine if you could gather a large enough group of people to hope for the same outcome. If you had the right mix of participants and the right critical mass, is there anything that hope, followed by action, can not achieve?

Criticizing hope is actually a thinly veiled claim of naivety or unjustified idealism. If one's hopes are too big, too ambitious or too lofty, then surely they must be too naive to understand the complexity of the issue and the magnitude of the challenge ahead.

Maybe that's true. Maybe those who start with hope and push for change have not yet been sufficiently jaded by a broken system or violent resistance to their ideas.

Maybe, though, if those idealistic and naive people (if in fact they are those things) can somehow encourage others to hope, and then still others; maybe, just maybe, hope will turn into action, and action will turn into real change.

To paraphrase the West Wing... "Do you think a small group of dedicated people can change the world" "Of course, it's the only thing that ever has".

Hope is not empty. It can never be false. Hope, well expressed and shared, is the beginning of something new.

Dare to hope. Then act.