Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Institutions are networks with the past. We expect ties to transcend potential change. We hope earned reputation transcends future weak points or that it inspires the present to press on in the face of challenges.

As networks melt, it will be harder to maintain institutions. Identity politics is suffused with "we" in our schools, our nationalities, faiths, brands, races, etc. These alignments must melt with interaction, and the best people will be least likely to matter how "best" comes to be defined. More will be in the pool of the weakly aligned. Speed and interaction do that.

Globalization at first heightens tensions and causes a force something like magnets repelling. But greater familiarity dissolves. It must.

Alternative cases of coming together using technology (say a wiki or Twitter) are much more fluid and weakly bound groupings. One thinks of Mark Granovetter's work but also something continuously reforming in ways I have not seen Granovetter describe.

The "social," such as it is, sits at the precipice of a phase change--like water freezing or ice melting. It bounces back and forth in the presence of phase change with little or no discernible trend. For there to be a trend, phenomena would demonstrate a social that is wholly more unitary (what I call structural) and singularly progressive (rather than amoeba-like) than what likely will exist or what I see now in places where things are moving relatively fast.

For institutions to thrive, they must lead, but in high velocity frameworks, they are likely only to be sources of security and resource banking.

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