More Flat Thoughts

Here's a look at some of the conversation sparked by Doc's commentary on our Flat New World.
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Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal

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A Philosopher, a Politician, and MS Culture

Noah F. San Tsorbutz's picture

I took a Philosophy class in college with a prof who wasn't shy about his opinions regarding the over-valuation of intelligence. He asked, "Should we teach our children to be good, and hope that some will also be highly intelligent, or teach them to be intelligent, and hope that some will be good?" He also mentioned that in his experience, the number of good and highly intelligent people was notably lower than the number of those who are good and of average intelligence. There are exceptions of course, he was speaking of ratios.

Once I heard a politician speak at an interdenominational religious meeting, on the importance moral training. He said that it is not possible to put enough police on the street to make citizens "be good". It wasn't very politically correct at the time for a Jewish mayor in a prediminantly conservative Christian culture to say such things, but everyone in that room knew exactly what he meant, and his thesis was irrefutable.

I bring these point up simply to contrast another feature of Microsoft culture, that is perhaps the common case in "big business" in general. Fairness, justice, truth, and any number of similar warm-fuzzy sentiments have no place. It seems that ethics is just a class that business majors suffer through so that they can get on with the slaughter. Whatever the cause, the consequences leave me in the position of struggling mightily just to respect Bill Gates as a human being with the same rights as anyone else, let alone as a "business genius". As an old book says, "When the devil lies, he speaks his native tongue".

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Good or intelligent

Anonymous's picture

Unfortunately, neither.

My son is a good person, and he's also pretty intelligent, not genius or near-genius, but inconsistently above average.

Unfortunately he doesn't come across well at first impression, either. He's not polished, in the least. But behind that, he's a gem, and will deliver what so many of his classmates won't, these days. I just wish he could get past that first impression. (It's not just a matter of neatness, or haircut, etc.)

Emotional Intelligence

jim wilde's picture

Hi Doc,

Great series, thank you for sharing it with us! I do a lot of work with OSS developers from all over the world. I never ask their IQ, age, or what schools they've attended. In fact, sometimes we don't even speak the same language, but that never stops us from working together, building relationships, and getting things done. There always seems to be a developer or two in the forums that can transcend any language barrier. I learn about their families and dreams; what they want to do and what they are good at. I learn meaning with context. I try not to take any of the relationships I've cultivated for granted. I suppose you would call this reputation currency or as Cory Doctorow's calls it whuffiewhuffie. In bizspeak, the real and intangible transaction costs are fair and just - all parties win. With the help of these great people, I've been able to develop a cool, inexpensive product/service - Ideascape - around an OSS model that makes a system available to businesses that would normally cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Our mantra is "Ideas Are EVERYWHERE"; which was reinforced while developing the software with the help of the OSS community.

I think what is missing from this discussion is emotional intelligence. I came across this article about corporate
psychopaths"
at management-issues blog. "In March, we reported that Australian psychotherapist Glyn Brokensha had come up with the term "power-pathic" to describe manipulating managers who are bent on attaining power for its own sake – and that one in 10 managers displayed similar behaviour." Which got me to thinking about the The
Talent Myth
" from Malcolm Gladwell, author of "The Tipping Point". So, obviously, if IQ is the sole measure of one's abilities - we can expect serious consequences in the Flat World.

Anyway, with all of the publicity given to Mr.Friedman's ideas, which are fascinating; what concerns me right now are a couple of disturbing warnings from Peter Drucker, Niall Ferguson, and John Hagel about the Globalization
- Handle With Care
". Here's my blog post "Globalization - Handle With Care". Although Mr. Friedman goes on to explain Dell's awesome supply chain, what happens when Encore,
CSIR roll out $200 computer
" or China knocks them down to $99 bucks and Mr. Dell, HP, et al start seriously missing those quarterly numbers? Does this fall under free markets or creative destruction? Let's face it, not all of the people in high places are the smartest, or emotionally intelligent, even though thay might have high IQ's.

Hiring by IQ

Anonymous's picture

One argument for not hiring by IQ is that now you don't have to hire at all, according to Paul Graham.

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