Tyrants and Hippies

A while ago

It occurred to me that each wave of information technology allows flows of information outside the established hierarchy. This leads to powerful innovation and the disruption of hierarchies. I quite like that.

More recently

It occurred to me that hierarchies carry a vital signal, that being accountability. That without that signal, rather boringly, people get abused. That rather sickens me.

How awfully dull… Or should that read, democratic and balanced.

I dislike both tyrants and hippies equally. Each seeks to be unaccountable.

That really disappoints me.

I am willing to put up with a few controls.


5 thoughts on “Tyrants and Hippies

  1. I totally agree with your first point, in fact I would go further and say that, as a result of this phenomenon we are possibly better informed than we ever have been. 24 hour news coverage, real time footage from war zones, even Twitter, allow us to find what we want instantly. Thankfully I won’t be bugged on a Sunday morning while recovering from the previous night’s excesses by an overly exuberant and slightly maladjusted chap in tweed trying to flog me Encyclopedia Britannica. Google is far more portable thanks.

    But I struggle to understand your second point. Who is getting abused ? Are you referring to that recent Twitter debacle ? I think that is an isolated case and, I would argue, there are a gazillion positive examples of how Twitter is recording history, in real time, in a positive way that we should not let the actions of a few spoil it for the many.

    And don’t get me started on censorship….

  2. It’s a good question, I’m not really sure what triggered this one. I am in hols and pretty much disconnected, apart from the cricket. Frankly, once I’d dug it out of the Evernote stack and tinkered, I decided to post it so as to get back to showing off just how fabulous we are at catch to awestruck holiday makers.

    It’s another one that’s been bubbling along for ages. I’ve felt for a while that hierarchies are not much good for communication or for getting things done quickly. 

    Boringly I have concluded that we have to keep them (or establish other means of ensuring accountability) as a foundation for ethical corporate effectiveness and to sustain that thing we call civilisation.

    Day to day, in real life, I mostly operate on assumed trust. It makes things work more easily. Break it once though and it’s pretty much game over.

    It takes a very very few rogues and idiots whether through malice or mere stupidity to create a hostile environment.

    It probably was the outbreak of twitter insanity that caused me to dig this out, delete 90% of it and post it. Those cases were high profile and got the reaction they deserved. 

    Meanwhile do you fancy designing the perfect online platform ?



    • You are on hols, an otherwise disconnected, yet you not only managed to dig out something on Evernote, but then managed to post something on WordPress that, in theory, the entire world can read. I’d say that is pretty connected. On the other hand, I am currently sitting in a house where Vodafone have decided to give up. I not only have no 3G / GPRS – I literally have no signal. Nothing. Were it not for our house have Wifi, I would quite literally be cut off from voice and data in every single respect. Amazing that I’m within spitting distance of Steinville (aka Padstow) yet I could just as well be on the moon. It’s sort of liberating, but slightly disconcerting to be so cut off in such an acute way.

      I digress (I think). I think we long for accountability because it makes us feel like someone cares but, the honest truth is we left that behind at the dawn of the Internet and have been trying to get it back ever since. You remember the very early days of email when people used to send crazy, and often highly pornographic, emails to each other ? Or early days of the web in the office when you could pretty much look up and do what you want. And then along came the Information Security police, the corporate content nerds and suddenly you can’t even see your kids on Facebook in the office. Who is the accountable one here ? The corporation for heavy-handed policing, or the worker for wanting to consume something fairly innocuous ? Is that your utopian view of hierarchy ?

      I now hire people who, frankly, would be just as effective if we didn’t bother giving them corporate email at all (they seldom use it) and instead gave them the equipment they want (usually a Mac) and unfiltered or, more specifically, unrestricted internet access (SaaS and social media platforms). They understand the psychological and emotional contract required to live in this world which, as you rightly point out, a small number don’t, or choose to abuse. But what is more important is that this world has no hierarchy – in fact if would not work if there was one. There is a self-policing code which quickly shuts out those that don’t play nice. And they communicate extremely effectively. Ask Andy R.

      I think the first episode of our radio show should be devoted purely to millennials. We can even put the beer in the fridge.

      • Hierarchies are really very dull.

        In my over thoughtful way, I think of them as overlays on networks which ideally are only invoked when needed so as to let the network do its much more enjoyable and productive stuff as efficiently as possible. As ever, it’s not a choice of which to have but which to use and when.

        While the Twitter thing was yet again in the news it seems, what actually triggered this post was a passage about guards in a concentration camp in, “A Possible Life”, by Sebastian Faulks.

        I may have been a little harsh on hippies.

        The main reason for this post though, was to stop it whizzing round my head so I could get back to doing almost sod all apart from wondering how many calories there are in a Mojito (200 apparently).

        My ability to trigger a global media event in 90s from a beach in Croatia is indeed awesome. We should call the radio show, “The World Is Not Enough”.

        Lets do it. Do you know anyone sanctimonious and opinionated and anyone else with access to broadcast capabilities !?

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