Like all species, humans attempt to adapt to their environment, a process made difficult because our brains handle abstraction and therefore greater awareness of time, place, and distant consequences. We think by principle, and until we find the principle behind how something works, it is a risk.
Dave Snowden created a philosophy called sense-making, which attempts to explain how we can make sense of the world so that we can act in it:
Michael Olsson, whose contirbutions to the forum have been a breath of life in the last few months, also contributed and reproduced this quote from Brenda Dervin:
…embodied in materiality and soaring across time-space …a body-mind-heart-spirit living in time-space, moving from a past, in a present, to a future, anchored in material conditions; yet at the same time with an assumed capacity to sense-make abstractions, dreams, memories, plans, ambitions, fantasies, stories pretences that can both transcend time space and last beyond specific moments of time space.
Now I love that (and I generally favour Dervin over Weick) because it combines the material with the transcendent, a point I tried to get across a few days ago.
I define it as “How do we make sense of the world so we can act in it” which carries with it the concept of sufficiency (knowing enough to make a contextually appropriate decision).
It is quite a relief that such a discipline exists, one would think, but tomorrow the world changes, requiring new actions after a second sense-making analyses, and so on. One may as well just have second or third thoughts on any issue that arises, instead of shouldering a debilitating situation caused by thousands of possible actions.
This is exactly what caused Dave Snowden to develop the product in the first place, but instead of helping the public, organizations desiring power bought the product to reduce their own complexity, which they then do by making it worse for everyone else. In other words, the entity making sense is making sense for itself, and to do that over time, it must control the public narrative on a continuous basis.
This will of course work well, until the public realizes that acting on manufactured narratives produce negative results. And since they do not control their own narrative, they will start to question the veracity of the narrative that prompted them in the first place. Because powerful organizations are almost always above the law, the only action open to a citizen is to vote for a different political approach.
Let us take a second thought on that. What if a different political party will not just perpetuate the narrative, but more importantly, exacerbate the control over it. After all, the tools used, i.e., the sense-making product, is the same. This is where political parties can get so polarized, that they themselves can split up.
For example, in Germany we see a new alternative Right wing party, and in South Africa an alternative to the ANC. In each case, these parties define themselves as alternatives, but quickly get dragged into the same old conflicts, the same taboos, and therefore, the same “solutions.”
And as always, there is the dreaded third thought. Even if one votes for a new party, how will they know what to do? Since we posit above that narrative control increases chaos, how on earth would a political science major know how to change that? Allow me to describe the size of the narrative issue by just quoting headlines based on two internet searches:
The scope of narratives indicated by the above is mind-boggling and it is obvious there is nothing in the citizen’s vocabulary to counter being treated like a child. The question is what and why to (be able) to eventually get to derived action.
In order to regain trust in elected officials, one has to inform those officials that they should not fall for the narrative control scam, in fact, they should be made to understand the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis states that the grammatical and verbal structure of a person’s language influences how they perceive the world. It emphasizes that language either determines or influences one’s thoughts.
In other words, the language you see and hear, influences what you do. Explaining that to a child would be something like this: “When Daddy talks to you, you react to his words, because you trust him”.
It is therefore important to tell your representative that he is not your Daddy, and that he will not be allowed to treat you like a child. And that is my final thought on narrative control and all its manifestations and tools, including artificial intelligence tools.