Friday, August 31, 2007

Life Imitates Mathematics

I viewed this program last evening on the Mandelbrot set and was struck by the "common sense" implications a mathematical theorem has on life, social organization, and in general, how all things are created and are "self-organized" from simple beginnings.

Which led me to think that if we on Long Island can create the right set of circumstances for positive change, positive change will not only occur but remain "self organized" and "self renewing."

Not that we are remotely in the same league as Benoit Mandelbrot but what we are proposing with Long Island 3.o, the Long Island Congress, the Long Island Constitution and Long Island Meta-democracy is similar to this concept.

"A body in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted on by an outside force"

If we can construct a set of circumstances on Long Island for positive change, then the positive change should continue unless interrupted by something highly unusual since, if done properly, Long Island 3.o should be pretty well protected from the run-of-the-mill "outside forces."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Nice to see ...

... NY - Alert now has XML/RSS feeds

Hopefully this will start a trend for all New York Political Subdivisions and other public entities (federal, state and local) as we stated in previous posts on this site.

Let's hope this is the beginning of an integrated communications platform.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Long Island as a Meta-Democracy: Part Two

Long Island as a Meta-Democracy: Part One

First a few definitions of "meta-democracy" none of which is 100% on point for our purposes but helpful nevertheless here, here, here and here (although one could argue democracy is by its very definition "meta").

For Long Island to make significant, positive change, the change must be based upon knowledge. Knowledge is essential to an educated and motivated Long Island citizenry. Education requires participation. Long Island 3.o offers, among other things, a method to encourage participation (virtual or otherwise) in a simple yet robust and effective manner. Hence, the "virtual" Long Island Democracy (Long Island Congress, Long Island 3.0, Virtual Long Island Constitution) leads to a Long Island Meta-Democracy.

This is not a political solution nor does it replace current institutions (at least not for the foreseeable future).

It is a form of "self governance" within the framework of a "self sustaining and self correcting" system.

It is not enough anymore to depend solely on current organizational models. For Long Island to progress and remain vital in the world at large, it will need an active and educated public to do so.

"If you want to change the culture, you will have to start by changing the organization." Mary Douglas

"There is an inverse relationship between reliance on the state and self-reliance." William F. Buckley, Jr.

More in part two.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Modular Long Island ...

By way of review, a significant part of our Long Island 3.0 project requires us to use as many "open standards" as possible so as to accelerate our ability  to communicate clearly and with purpose. 

While the Long Island Congress is a "virtual think tank" model in many ways, the end game here is results and "applied technology" which we can use to make Long Island a regional powerhouse throughout the world. 

We need a system that is simple and "modular" so that all its components are designed to connect with one another and to readily accept and integrate new designs quickly and effectively, both within the Long Island framework and with the world at large.

Like a carbon molecule easily joins with other molecules to form complex organisms, so too must our Long Island 3.0 projects easily bond with one another to create a "symbiotic diversity" which allows Long Island to prosper.

There are links between almost every endeavor we undertake on Long Island. Long Island 3.0 will allow us to uncover them and use them for the common good.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A good model for the Long Island Congress?

  1. As a service organization, CCRL is committed to helping its primary customers, collaborative regional organizations, to achieve their fullest potential success in improving the economy, environment, and social equity of their regions. CCRL must always strive to understand clearly their needs and wants, and to deliver high-quality direct support, whether through information and other resources, technical assistance, training, brokering, or promotion.
  2. As a constituency-based organization, CCRL is committed to representing the interests of the network of regional collaboratives with the public sector, particularly the state government, and with other public interest organizations. In general, this involves advancing new policies and programs that support the goals and strategies of the regional organizations.
  3. As a leadership organization, CCRL is committed to the generation and promotion of new ideas, strategies, policies, and programs that will challenge the thinking and actions of the CRI network, and ourselves so that we might continue to learn and to improve our effectiveness.
  4. CCRL is committed to collaboration, inclusion, innovation, boundary crossing, accountability, and continuous improvement."

This model seems to encapsulate one way a "Long Island Congress" might be structured although it is not as dynamic as we would like (as far as I can tell) and it might be too bureaucratic for our needs. 

We'll continue to research other models for all the "Long Island 3.0" projects although my gut feeling is that we'll have to develop some sort of hybrid model to suit our needs.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Just another way to look at Long Island 3.0 ...

Click for larger image.

Clearly, as I've explained in previous posts, I think this dynamic model will help solve some of our regional issues and perhaps even lead to a unified  "Long Island Philosophy" of some type.

Additionally, in our new "virtual" Long Island, we may want to consider engaging our students in activities which will reflect and help shape the Long Island they will inherit. While many schools, colleges and universities have very fine "Long Island" studies programs, we do not have a "dynamic" common thread to engage our young people in the process. All avenues, including interactive "gaming" specific to Long Island should be developed by our universities and business accelerators to encourage active participation. 

In short, only focused education and active participation from an engaged population (student and otherwise) will win the hearts and minds of Long Islanders and allow substantive, positive change to take place. 

How far into the future can we reasonably plan?

"Language, actually, was developed in response to these tools--writing, too. My point is that the key technology that runs through all of this is communications. Humans, in essence, are a communicating organism. We started as a very dispersed species, became more organized in cities, and then came mass communications. The invention of the printing press brought books to large populations. Then, in this century, radio and television completely changed the psychology and social setting of most of the world's people."

Friday, August 17, 2007

Creating a "Virtual" Long Island Constitution: Part Three

A simple graphic to illustrate the new Long Island "triad."

Unlike a traditional WIKI (Wikipedia for example) our processes can not be anonymous if they are to be effective.

If you can't put your name to something and be willing to discuss, explain or debate your position, then you probably don't feel strongly enough about the process to participate.

More in Part Four.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Creating a "Virtual" Long Island Constitution: Part Two

We should view the "Virtual" Long Island Constitution as a hybrid creation. Part legal, part ethical, part technical: organic, dynamic, reality based.

How do we start? 

We could, of course utilize existing "constitution" models out there. I would prefer to create from the ground up (although this one, while not directly on point, isn't too bad).

Let's start with some sort of Long Island Constitution "WIKI" or other easy to use collaborative model. This, I think, will generate the most diverse and creative beginning.

Remember this is a collaborative effort. It will encourage us to think out of our "own silos" and to concentrate on "global" Long Island issues and how our piece of the puzzle fits into the overall scheme. 

More in Part Three.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Creating a "Virtual" Long Island Constitution: Part One

Great ideas, for the most part, transcend the forces which try to hold them back. It may take awhile, but the ideas generally  prevail.

Great ideas need, however a structure which allows them to be heard, develop and, ultimately, become reality. This is the genius of the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. It allows for ideas not contemplated at the time of the creation and modification of those documents to eventually find a voice and have the opportunity to succeed. Long Island requires its own type of  constitution;  a "Virtual Long Island Constitution."

What do we mean by a "Virtual Long Island Constitution?" 

If we view the nature of the universe as one of constant change ("Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal.Arthur Schopenhauer) and with apologies to the "strict constructionists" out there, then we must be prepared for change and have instruments which allow us to negotiate change as simply as possible. Luckily for us we live in an era in which great change is occurring, so the tools are readily available to us.

What will our "virtual" constitution look like and what will it contain? At the outset it should contain some type of reasonable, broad ethical framework which governs the way we interact with one another, individually and organizationally, to promote positive change on Long Island. 

Our "virtual" constitution is a living, dynamic, document. It is easily modifiable to fit the rapid change which will be a constant in our lifetime and beyond. 

We may look at this "virtual constitution" as the third leg of the Long Island Congress and Long Island 3.0 process. It helps hold the entire process together and allows it to remain stable and secure. It permits us to overcome the "extraneous chatter" and concentrate on the core issues and processes which will help Long Island move forward.

More in part two.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Thinking About Long Island

What is Long Island? 

A geographic region to be sure.  A series of interconnecting communities or a series of random communities? A place to come from or a destination? 

There are many ways to view Long Island.

But how about Long Island as an idea? Not as a means to an end but an end in and of itself?

We need to think of Long Island comprehensively rather than as a series of issues to be addressed or problems to be solved.  We must think of how one issue influences all relevant issues. 

Some might view those types of question as being obstructionist, that we are simply against building. This is not the case. We must have a comprehensive, long term approach to Long Island and the influence our decisions will  have on successive generation. 

In short, we need to use our intelligence and resources to think about and plan for what Long Island is and what it reasonably may become. Not just what we think it should be, but as a practical matter, what are our limitations and how do we overcome those limitations. How do we achieve balance.

We can never know how to achieve a balanced existence on Long Island unless we view Long Island as one entity, as a sort of "dynamic idea accelerator" which may have many moving parts (diversity creates a constant stream of new ideas), yet operates in a cooperative and positive manner.  We should not continue to rely on the "great man (person) theory" to find a solution to our problems. No one individual has all the answers.

We must also encourage our Long Island schools and universities to train our young people in the great possibilities of what Long Island can become. Not in an isolationist sort of way, but in a way that gets them thinking about how all the parts work on Long Island and how they can make them work in a better way. Because if they can do it in their own back yard, they can do it anywhere in the world.

The Long Island Congress and Long Island 3.0 attempt to offer some initial structure to this concept, to "create a pot" or "build a house"as it were to fill with whatever our imagination and abilities can conjure up and to create a new Long Island we can all be proud of. 

It won't be perfect and it is an ongoing process. But thinking about Long Island is a good first step and continued thinking will keep Long Island alive and well as a region, an idea or both.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Long Island Congress: Breaking the Cycle of Stagnation

What will it take to break the "cycle of stagnation" that affects so much of what we do here on Long Island?

It is probably no secret by now that communication and accurate information play a large role in any type of significant, positive change.

Those of us who have been observing communities, government and organizations here on Long Island (I'm into my 25th year of observation, a mere child compared to some!) are continually struck by the "themes" which continue to appear time and time again with different players playing the same tune. Whether its taxes or development or energy or any of a thousand issues, we never seem to make the progress we feel we should, or can. This feeling is obviously not unique to Long Island and Long Islanders (many of the themes in this blog are transferable to other regions), but it is what we are interested in and will continue to focus on.

It is not that our leaders (from whatever discipline), are "bad people," corrupt or are misleading us or that the general populous of Long Island is unwilling to change or that we don't have sufficient resources and brainpower to make the changes. It is just that we are not organized properly and have not empowered ourselves with the right tools to get the job done.

There are no short term, magical solutions to addressing Long Island's issues. For example, comparing Long Island to other regions to find solutions may be part of an answer, but it will never be the entire answer. Why? Because each region, including Long Island has a uniqueness, sometimes easily quantifiable, sometimes not that requires us to use a higher level of analysis (which is why we need diversity of opinion).

Additionally, making pronouncements that changing a part of the problem is in fact the answer to all our problems is equally destructive ("The greatest enemy of progress is not stagnation, but false progress." Sydney J. Harris). We all have a desire to have people say good things about us and obviously those in power have a need to maintain the staus quo to some level (even while appearing that they wish to change it!). Why? Ego, power, fear, money, ambition ... you name it. This hasn't changed since the beginning of human existence. This does not make them bad people. It makes them, and us, human.

So how do we change?

First we have to accept that we can and must do things better. Here there is probably universal agreement.

Second we have to identify what the primary and secondary issues are. Here we can probably get a substantial majority to agree.

Third we have to design an approach to address the issues. Here we have a problem.

We generally don't speak the same organizational language and probably can't even agree on a way to get started. Sure we convene a "task force" from time to time on related subject matter that issues a report that sits on a shelf somewhere and we make a stab at bring folks with a "common" issue together for a common purpose, but it's kind of like being invited to a dance with no music. Everyone looks at each other, says nice things (generally) and goes home without ever truly interacting. There's no rhythm, no dynamism and therefore ultimately no purpose, in a real sense, to the dance.

So how do we begin to change this "lack of rhythm" on Long Island?

By first agreeing on some way to communicate in a dynamic way. Long Island 3.0 can give us the tools. Long Island Congress can give us a non-confrontational organizational structure.

Real answers based on accurate information presented in a dynamic format.

It's up to us if we want to change. There is really nothing else preventing it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Some interesting material ...

Innovation Focus


Question. What would happen if all Long Island school districts, municipalities and other political subdivisions utilized UPS (or some other company) to "insource" operations?

Among additional questions: Would it save money? If so, how much? How can it benefit Long Island business? Can it be used to promote Long Island as a region to the rest of the world? What elements do we need to do an accurate cost-benefit analysis?

Just one of the many questions the Long Island Congress "think tank" project may help us find a straight answer to.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Simple. Not Simplistic.

The key to the success of our Long Island Congress/Long Island 3.0 project is to design a "launch" that is easy to understand and immediately engages a "critical mass" of relevant individuals and organizations.

We see many in the public theatre make statements that, while on the surface may sound logical, are in fact rife with inaccuracies and "half truths" which ultimately undercut what the individual or organization may be attempting to accomplish. Simplistic, counterproductive and potentially dangerous.

It bears repeating. The Long Island Congress (despite its name) and Long Island 3.0 are not "platforms" for individual or organizational "advancement." The goal is to create an environment where good work may be accomplished for the advancement of all Long Islanders. 

Is this "egalitarian" view possible? Can we keep it simple yet make it effective?

Yes, if it is organized properly from the beginning. Make no mistake, it is a large task subject to many pitfalls. But, as we've said previously, what's the alternative? To continue to issue "static" reports unconnected to one another or to wait for the next "great individual or organization" to come up with a thunderbolt of an idea that will save us all? Haven't we seen by now that approach usually fails miserably?

No, the truth is much more basic. Great changes come slowly, through hard work, good organization and mutual cooperation.  The key is to create something that transcends our own existence and ambition and that remains a viable entity  continuing to produce positive outcomes for Long Island for the foreseeable future.

We'll start to lay our some of our "specific" methods soon as we get more folks on board. 

As always, all ideas and comments are welcome.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Baldrige Program: A useful idea for the Long Island Congress?

Baldrige and Local Government: Isn't This a Private Sector Program?

"Although the Baldrige program began as a way for American business to compete more effectively around the world, the framework was developed to promote quality and excellence, not simply to drive profits. The seven criteria form a set of values and core concepts that any organization—public or private—can use to its advantage.

Public school systems, colleges, health care organizations, and numerous service businesses have won Baldrige awards. There is no reason to believe that cities and counties would not benefit from the framework and the rigor associated with the process. In fact, it is probably more accurate to say that local government has a lot of catching up to do if it wishes to be compared with the best Baldrige organizations, regardless of sector.

Baldrige for government can work because the seven criteria are built on a set of interrelated core concepts and values that promote organizational excellence. Here are brief descriptions of the core values and concepts that underpin the Baldrige model.

Visionary leadership. The management team should serve as role models through ethical behavior and personal involvement in coaching and developing future leaders. Both strategy and customer/citizen goals need to be aligned. Commitment and initiative are built throughout the organization.

Customer-driven excellence. Customer- or citizen-driven excellence is a strategic concept. It is devoted to obtaining and retaining citizen support as well as maximizing competitive position. It is critical to understand and develop citizen-focused outcomes.

Organizational and personal learning. Learning results in a more satisfied and versatile employees who stay with the organization. Bright, innovative employees provide a distinct advantage in meeting the needs of the community.

Valuing employees and partners. An organization’s success depends increasingly on the diverse backgrounds, knowledge, skills, creativity, and motivation of all its employees and partners, including both paid staff and volunteers.

Agility. A capacity for rapid change and flexibility is a key to success. Organizations face ever-shorter cycles for introducing new or improved programs and services as well for meeting expectations to deliver them more rapidly.

Focus on the future. Creating a sustainable organization requires under-standing the short- and long-term factors that affect the organization and its environment. Developing employees and partners along with creating opportunities for innovation are key concerns.

Managing for innovation. Making meaningful change improves your services, programs, processes, and operations to create new value for the organization’s stakeholders. Innovation builds on the accumulated knowledge of your organization and staff.

Management by fact. An effective administrative management system depends on the measurement and analysis of performance. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Selecting key performance measures and indicators is critical.

Social responsibility. An organization'€™s leaders should stress responsibilities to the public, ethical behavior, and the need to foster improved communities. Organizations should not only meet regulatory requirements, but treat those requirements as opportunities for improvement beyond mere compliance.

Focus on results and creating value. An organization’s performance measures need to focus on key results. Results should be used to create and balance value for your key stakeholders—customers, staff, the community, vendors, partners, and the general public.

Systems perspective. The Baldrige criteria provide a systems perspective for managing your organization and its key processes to achieve results in the form of performance excellence. The seven Baldrige categories and the core values form the building blocks and the integrating mechanism for the system. Successful management of overall performance requires organization-specific synthesis, alignment, and integration."

More here ...

Long Island Supply Chain Project?

How about a Long Island Supply Chain Project?

Perhaps model it along the lines of Wal-Mart's well regarded model (whatever else we may think of Wal-Mart!).

If they can do it world-wide, why can't we set up a system for all Long Island school districts, municipalities and others which comports with New York State law and which gives preference (where practicable) to "local suppliers."

We can and we should.

We already have some smart folks on Long Island ( here and here among others ) working on these issues.

What is needed, as with many other projects on Long Island are new organizational models and connectivity with other Long Island projects.

The Long Island Congress and Long Island 3.0 projects may help in that regard.

"I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." - Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-born American Physicist

Friday, August 3, 2007

Dynamic Media Reformulation: Part Two

Preliminary conceptual chart (click for larger image).

As always we should view this in the context of all previous posts and diagrams. It all really does connect and work together at different levels.

If I could put it all in one post that made sense, believe me, I would.

On a base level, think of the LI Citizen Media projects as the  Wikinews  and Mediawiki phenomenon combined with very sophisticated meta-analysis and distribution tools. Dependent, of course on public participation, but not as dependent on "individual editing" and the incorrect results that may occur.

More in Part Three.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Dynamic Media Reformulation: Part One

OK, so there is this huge amount of information out there on a particular subject (or series of related subjects) and we want to gather it, vet it, analyze it, outline it, read it in brief, read it in detail, share it and promote it. How do we do accomplish this task?

Clearly there are search engines and software programs available today which do a pretty good job of getting most of this accomplished, but how easy is it to use? How effective? How available? 

What we're proposing within the overarching context of Long Island 3.o is a Citizen Media Network (and related integrated Citizen Alert Network) which will not only allow all citizens of Long Island to access information, but to create, in effect, their own manner of understanding the subject matter and maybe more importantly, how others are perceiving the same subject matter and to share and organize along those lines.

For example say the subject is energy which we've discussed in previous posts. How does anyone ascertain what the reliable information and facts are on the subject? Do we rely on the energy suppliers? Do we depend on the regulators? Do we depend on the media? Or ... do we depend on ourselves and our neighbors?

What if we can draw information from any sector and, among other actions, analyze it based on established protocols and algorithms (with the ability for those more advanced users to develop their own and share it with the rest of us mere mortals) and "reformulate it" to answer the questions we pose in a simple and flexible manner? Impossible?

Not impossible even with today's technology with more powerful products designed every day.

We must realize however that, with this new way of communicating someone's "ox is going to be gored." Even as "mega media" goliaths are being formed and re-formed, information has a need to become "unshackled." Traditional media is already struggling to compete with the new information dynamics. To be sure, good journalism and good journalists will always be in demand. But good journalism will not necessarily always be a profitable business. And good journalists may be found everywhere, not just in traditional media outlets.

What we propose as part of our Long Island 3.0 project is to create an outlet for this new media and information dynamic here on Long Island with the Citizens Media Network and Citizens Alert Network under the premise that more accurate information is better and more public participation is better still.

More in Part Two.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Essential reading ...

Just back from England and Wales. Read The World is Flat (Version 3.0) by Friedman along the way. 

100% on point. Essential reading for our Long Island 3.0 project.

A critique of Friedman's thesis and also worth reading, is here.