A blog about things that concern me and things that do not.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Social Dialogue and Designing for Choice
Ok, everyone. I'm still looking for ideas on finding some wisdom. Getting some wise thoughts, or even better a wise person that we can all sit down and listen to.. ( Diogenes said it takes a wise man to find a wise man, but didn't talk about the wisdom of me, ie. the guy who's looking for the wise man to find the wise man. )
When I fall short in my web walk for wisdom, I end up on Ribbonfarm.com and today's article reviews 'legibility':
The more I examined these efforts at sedentarization, the more I came to see them as a state’s attempt to make a society legible, to arrange the population in ways that simplified the classic state functions of taxation, conscription, and prevention of rebellion. Having begun to think in these terms, I began to see legibility as a central problem in statecraft. The pre-modern state was, in many crucial respects, particularly blind; it knew precious little about its subjects, their wealth, their landholdings and yields, their location, their very identity. It lacked anything like a detailed “map” of its terrain and its people.
It's pretty clear what he's describing but it seems to me, though, that there needs to be a state of readiness for legibility to be undertaken. Even for public choices to be designed, there need to be some options being discussed. If you want to pave the cow paths, then there have to be cow paths to being with.
If there is a need for some direction, but we don't have even paths yet - don't we need to have somebody architect those choices for us ? To plan a space for discussions to occur ?
Maybe our directions will be clearer once people start talking about the failures in dialogue - lack of public fora, no tools to build consensus, mass one-to-many communication rather than public discussion. And to talk in a progressive and constructive way requires design - not the authoritative design that Scott describes, but design that iterates on and enhances humans' natural social and problem-solving needs.
There are examples, after all, where social tools were designed as such - I'm thinking of money as an example here.
I think the question of choice architecture is an interesting one, but in terms of public discussion, we don't even have a path or an open square today, far from a home.