Personal Blog of Joe Brewer

Archive for April, 2014|Monthly archive page

The Power Politics of Ignorance

In Cultural Evolution, Semantics and Perception, Social Change on April 29, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Did you know there are “product defense” firms whose primary mission is to confuse the public for financial gain?  These companies spread doubt about scientific findings so that tobacco companies can sell more cigarettes (which cause cancer), fossil fuel companies can delay climate action (to sell more oil), pharmaceutical companies can keep dangerous drugs on the market longer (to extend profits), and more.  Every time a large financial interest is threatened by knowledge, these PR firms step up to the plate and do their bidding.

This tells us something important about the science of social change — namely that what we DON’T know about something is part of the power politics of society. Continue reading “The Power Politics of Ignorance” »

Toward A Design Science of Cultural Change

In Complex Systems, Cultural Evolution, Global Integration, Social Change on April 24, 2014 at 8:39 am

Civilizations are complex systems that evolve and change through time.  For thousands of years they have risen and collapsed, grown in sophistication, battled and merged, and — in the 20th Century — forged together the first truly global incarnation of a human society.

Now, in the 21st Century, we have before us the difficult task of learning how to guide our civilization using intentional design. Continue reading “Toward A Design Science of Cultural Change” »

Hidden Significance of the Big Data Explosion

In Cultural Evolution, Economic Patterns, Global Integration, Social Change, Tech Innovation on April 17, 2014 at 8:30 am

The world is awash in data.  Billions of people routinely surf the web and click on links. They connect with their friends, like or block content to suit their preferences, and share information widely on social media sites.  This happens every single day.

Even more people get into cars, take buses and trains, board airplanes, or move around by human power on their commutes to work, exercise routines, daily errands, and to socialize with friends and family.  This also happens every single day. What most of us are just beginning to realize is that all of these activities (and many more) now produce streams of data.  Data that gets aggregated.  Data that is analyzed for patterns of meaning to be used by governments, research institutions, and commercial enterprises.  Data that makes visible the awe-inspiring dynamics of our human world. Continue reading “Hidden Significance of the Big Data Explosion” »