Synergy verses Permaculture, Information Age moving towards the Conceptual Age!

Synergy verses Permaculture

Information Age moving towards the Conceptual Age

Research in Development


Lisa Jayne Kassner

Synergy networks systems to work together for greater efficiency. The discussion of permaculture is to combine systems such that they compliment each other there by investing energy into one system making it the most efficient of all concepts currently.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Synergy or synergism most often refers to the phenomenon of two or more discrete influences or agents acting in common to create an effect which is greater than the sum of the effects each is able to create independently.

The opposite of synergy is antagonism, the phenomenon where two agents in combination have an overall effect which is less than the sum of their individual effects.

Synergy has origins as a theological term describing the cooperation of human effort with divine will. In the 1960s it was first used to describe supposed economies of scale in business, reappearing in the the 1990s as a common business buzzword. See also gestalt.

Synergy has also been described as:

  • The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
  • The difference between the combined effect and the sum of individual effects resulting from the interaction of a group of humans, agents or forces.
  • “Synergy means behavior of whole systems unpredictable by the behavior of their parts taken separately” as given in Buckminster Fuller’s book “ Synergetics“.

Permaculture is a design system which aims to create sustainable human habitats by following nature’s patterns.

The word ‘permaculture’, coined by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren during the 1970s, is derived as a contraction of permanent agriculture, or permanent culture. The idea of permacuture is considered among the most significant innovations developed by Australian’s in the century since Australian federation [1]. However like “nature”, the permaculture concept evolves with time making its definition difficult. For example, consider the words of Bill Mollison,

I guess I would know more about permaculture than most people, and I can’t define it. … I’m certain I don’t know what permaculture is. [2]

Nevertheless, today permaculture can best be described as an ethical design system applicable to food production and land use, as well as community building. It seeks the creation of rich and sustainable ways of living by integrating ecology, landscape, organic gardening, architecture and agroforestry. The focus is not on these elements themselves, but rather on the relationships created among them by the way they are placed together; the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts. Permaculture is also about careful and contemplative observation of nature and natural systems, and of recognizing universal patterns and principles, then learning to apply these ‘ecological truisms’ to one’s own circumstances.

Information Age

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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Information Age is a term applied to the period where movement of information became faster than physical movement, more narrowly applying to the 1980s or 1990s onward. One could argue, though, that it actually began during the latter half of the 1800s with the invention of the telephone and telegraph. It is often used in conjunction with the term post-industrial society.

A Typical Informtion Network Hub


A Typical Information Network Hub


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Early Information Age

Main article: Digital recording

In 1837 Samuel Morse created a device which converted physical movement into electrical impulses that could travel over large distances: the telegraph. In 1844, it was used to transmit data along an experimental telegraph line from Washington DC to Baltimore, Maryland. Slightly more than 20 years later, the first telegraph cables were stretched across the Atlantic, in 1858, but failed to stay in operation, however in 1866 the uninterrupted trans-Atlantic cable service began.

This invention set off a stream of devices used for the processing of information, the typewriter, the mechanical calculator, and finally, the telephone in 1876. “Informational-idolization” of previous devices occurred, such as the player piano. By the end of the 19th century, analog recording had begun.

The ability to distribute large runs of printed material had created the means for information transmission to change economic and social behavior. Telephones and ticker tape machines would be part of the infrastructure for the growth of stock markets, particularly the New York Stock Exchange or Wall Street, as well as the ability to trade precious metals, such as gold. It was the telegraph that made the news of Krakatoa‘s explosive eruption spread around the world rapidly.

Recording added a new means of distribution: namely that of sound. However, the distribution was either person to person, as in the telegraph, or through the distribution of a physical object. Since atoms are thousands of times heavier than electrons, the next stage of information technology was to be able to transmit pure information, as the telegraph did, but with mass reception.

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Main article: Broadcasting

The information technologies of the 19th century allowed faster and wider dissemination of information than previously possible. However, ultimately such information had to be reduced to the same form which had been the final form for centuries: paper, whose analogs go back to stone and clay tablets. With the development of what was called wireless transmission, when combined with the ability to transmit voice and sound from the telephone, and recording technology, a new medium began to be born, which placed a different final result in the hands of the individual. These technologies would eventually become radio.

Television followed, allowing video to be displayed with sound. While radio brought the world’s events to our homes, it was television that brought the first pictures of the world to many people. TVs were first used as a way to get information and news from other places, but quickly became a very important entertainment device, as well as a useful tool for learning. Unlike radio, television brought with it a whole new industry of content delivery, mainly cable providers. Not only were stations producing and broadcasting their own shows, but the broadcasting industry allowed homes to receive more and more channels. With the later advances in technology, satellite television provided the most diverse content anyone could want.

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Information technology

Main article: Information Technology

With recording technologies, with transmission, and with early computers, it didn’t take very long for scientific advances to merge everything together. Information technology is the use of technology to enhance the speed and the efficiency of the transfer of information.

At first, computers were big, costly, and available only to universities and big corporations. Before the 1990s, most discoveries in information technology were driven by full time researchers having access to the high priced equipment. In the late 1980s however, small computers started to become available, such as the early Apple systems, and PCs.

Soon after, we saw the birth of what we know as current information technology: personal computers in our own homes, using communication devices known as modems, to access information on remote servers. The first incarnation of those were BBS servers, setup by education facilities or even individual people, to store both information and allow discussion with chat and messages.

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The Personal Computer

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 An Example of a Local Area Network


An Example of a Local Area Network

A personal computer or PC is generally a microcomputer intended to be used by one person at a time, and suitable for general purpose tasks such as word processing, programming, multimedia editing or game play, usually used to run purchased or other software not written by the user. Unlike minicomputers, a personal computer is often owned by the person using it, indicating a low cost of purchase and simplicity of operation. The user of a modern personal computer may have significant knowledge of the operating environment and application programs, but is not necessarily interested in programming nor even able to write programs for the computer.

The Internet

Main articles: Internet, History of the Internet

The Internet was originally conceived as a distributed, fail-proof network that could connect computers together and be resistant to any point of failure. It was created mainly by DARPA; its initial applications were email and file transfer.

With the invention of the World Wide Web by CERN, the Internet really took off as a global network. Now, the Internet is the ultimate place to accelerate the flow of relevant information.

The information age continues to this day, and technological advances such as mobile phones, high speed connections, Voice Over IP, and many more, our lives are forever changed from what it used to be, no more than 10 years ago.

The Digital Revolution

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The Digital Revolution is a term describing the effects of the rapid drop in cost and rapid expansion of power of digital devices such as computers and telecommunications (e.g mobile phones). It includes changes in technology and society, and is often specifically used to refer to the controversies that occur as these technologies are widely adopted.

Retrieved from “

It will pay to be creative, nimble in the ‘conceptual age’

By Penelope Trunk, Globe Correspondent, 7/10/05

As thousands of jobs go overseas to Asia , the resounding response from twentysomethings is, “Who cares? I wouldn’t want one of those jobs anyway.” To this fresh-faced workforce tech jobs look boring, routine and uncreative – the equivalent of a manufacturing job to a baby boomer.

Kris Helenek is a software engineer at Student Universe, an online travel resource for students. He’s not particularly worried about losing his job to someone in, say, India, because he’s involved in discussions concerning product features – something difficult to outsource to someone lacking a deep understanding of the customer. But what about his future? Helenek says, “I’m confident that I’ll always be innovative enough and skillful enough that people will want to hire me.”

We are entering a new age in economic history, and it will elevate those who are nimble and creative. When we moved from industrial economy to the information economy, jobs became more interesting; coal miners were unemployed, tech support centers hired like mad, and secretaries became small-time database operators. Now we’re in the early stages of the “conceptual age” in which data will be less important than creativity, and jobs will be more fulfilling.

Daniel Pink presents this one-minute economic history in his book, “A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age.” He says, “Key abilities will not be high tech but high touch,” and we will value the ability to make meaning and connections in a world where information is a commodity.

According to Pink, the people who will do best in this economy are those who don’t just take and give orders but also move smoothly between boundaries, like the technical guru who understands marketing or the accountant who speaks four languages. “But,” Pink warns, “you cannot get a move-smoothly-between-boundaries aptitude test, so a lot of this is about self-discovery.”

Here are some traits you need to develop to do well in the conceptual age:

  • Empathy . Think emotional intelligence on steroids. The most empathetic people have the ability to see an issue from many different perspectives. And work that can be done without infused empathy begs to be outsourced.
  • Aesthetic eye . Pink says, “Design sense has become a form of business literacy like learning to use Microsoft Excel. Smart business people should start reading design magazines.”
  • Ability to negotiate and navigate . The conceptual age will be filled with possibilities that point to no single truth. Pink says, “People must learn to do something that is not routine, that doesn’t have a right answer.”

Bottom line: You’ll have to be creative to stay employed. But really, who doesn’t want to be creative? It’s inherently more rewarding to be creative than to be an information drone.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago and author of “Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention,” says that, “Being creative is a way in which life becomes richer.

“But if you want to be creative you must learn to do something well. You need to learn a set of skills, and then, once you feel comfortable you can ask yourself how you can make it better.”

Those with no patience for climbing traditional corporate ladders, pay heed: Innovation without a basic knowledge in that area is not creativity but dilettantism. Not that dabbling in topics you know nothing about isn’t fun, but that lifestyle will not create the kind of value that keeps your job this side of the ocean. To find what you love to do, Csikszentmihalyi recommends exploration.

“A richer life is one in which you have access to different aspects of the world.” Sure, you need to find your talents to figure out where you will put your creative energy.

But Pink reminds, “Failure is a part of mastery.” So give yourself room for missteps.

This is good news for Helenek. He invested in Cambridge real estate as a way to hedge his technical career. He planned to live in half his duplex and rent out the other half. But after the deal closed a pipe burst, and now Helenek is working on a fixer-upper. Tough work, but the good news is you can’t outsource floor sanding to India .

Conceptual Age: It’s About Creators and Empathizers

I wanted to get this out quickly. I’ll update with a bit more context later. Here are some notes from the Outsource-Proof Your Career webinar with Tom Peters and Daniel Pink, author of Free Agent Nation. I’ve particularly emphasized Pink’s portion of the presentation, as it peeks into what he will cover in his new book “A Whole New Mind: The Right Brain Revolution (I’ve been noting this book for quite a while).

“[Prosperity] has made it possible to extend the quest for self-realization from a minute fraction of the population to almost the whole of it.” – Robert William Fogel, 1993 Nobel Prize winner in economics

We’re moving from agricultural age to the conceptual age.

Information Age was about knowledge workers.
The Conceptual Age is about creators and emphathizers.

CREATORS and EMPHATHIZERS! (My emphasis ;-))

Using metaphors we go from using our backs (industrial) to our left brain (knowledge worker) to our right brain. (Here Daniel Pink tries to describe right brain thinking as: holistic, big picture, intuitive, non-linear.)

From high tech to high concept and high touch.

The Six Attitudes/Abilities Needed for the Conceptual Age

1. Design
(Mentions that Tom talks about this all the time.)
2. Story
(Crafting a narrative; argument isn’t enough, logic isn’t enough)
3. Symphony
(Crossing boundaries, synthesis, metaphor)
4. Empathy
(See through other’s eyes, stand in someone else’s shoes to understand them)
5. Play
(Information age was intensely sober; inventions comes from play.)
6. Meaning
(Transcedence, beauty and meaning is being seeked even in these tumultuous times. Baby boomers have more of their lives behind them than ahead of them – what about leaving a dent in the world?)

Posted by Evelyn Rodriguez on Aug 19, 2004 at 11:13 AM in Customer Empathy , Innovators and Creators | Permalink


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Both Hugh Macleod and Evelyn Rodriguez belong in your pay attention to list if you are remotely interested in the topic of knowledge work and how it is changing the nature of the organizations we inhabit and create.

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