Essays by Title

Cooperation, Competition and CoercionWhen we contemplate the society in which we live, we often tend to frame our disagreements in terms of cooperation vs. competition: Are we working together collaboratively with others, or are we competing with them?
Core Design Principles for TeamsLet's talk about the fundamental organizational principles that make for effective cooperation within groups of humans.
Cultural EvolutionLet's talk a bit about cultural evolution to find out why this idea is so important.
DemocracyDemocracy is a means of governance over a society that places the reins of power in the hands of the people being governed.
Dethroning the False God of User Experience DesignBack in 1990, Jobs pointed out that what a human needed to beat a condor in a race was a bicycle; today, the human might have a better chance if he gave the condor an iPhone and downloaded a few apps for him – the condor would never even make it off the couch.
Developmental Levels

A number of authors and systems of thought espouse one or another series of developmental levels, in fields of study as diverse as psychology, sociology, economics and organizational development.

Developmental Levels as Evolving Social StructuresAs human society has evolved over the centuries, we have developed different types of social structures. None of the later structures replace earlier ones, yet each new structure has been devised in order to confer some new sort of evolutionary advantage to our species – in other words, to help us survive and thrive more effectively.
Diving Back Into Our American Muddle

I came across a story in The Washington Post recently about a nurse in South Dakota haunted by memories of patients who were dying from Covid-19.

Evolution and Its ImplicationsA belief in evolution means quite a bit more than simply a denial of creationism. We also mean to imply that we believe in natural selection as a process for improving things, including human culture.
Father Christmas - Song by The KinksMuch like Jackson Browne's “The Rebel Jesus,” this Christmas song from The Kinks is also focused on the needs of the poor. And although the children in this tale seem to come more from the Oliver Twist/Artful Dodger tradition than from “The Christmas Carol,” Dickens would still recognize their predicament and their motivations.
FruitcakesI've always considered “Fruitcakes” to be Jimmy Buffet's masterwork. The musical backing is infectious, swaying and danceable, and the background vocals add depth. The words are cleverly crafted, and perfectly suited to Buffett's conversational, wisecracking delivery.

The history of Leonard Cohen's song “Hallelujah” is a fascinating one.

Have We Passed The Point of Maximum Useful Tech?What happened between 1990 and 2018? Who stuck the playing card between the spokes of the bicycle for my mind, turning a mental enabler into an annoying distraction?
Have Yourself a Merry Little ChristmasThis is a favorite yuletide tune that has been recorded by almost everyone at least once. Note that the lyrics have varied quite a bit since the song's original composition. Written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, the song was introduced in the 1944 MGM musical Meet Me in St. Louis, as performed by Judy Garland.
Help! Help! The Robots are Coming!

Many pundits today are predicting a future of robots equipped with artificial intelligence so powerful that they will essentially render great swaths of humanity obsolete.

Holiday in Harlem

Christmas may be a time for returning home to see family and friends, but not all of us pine for snow-covered hills in the country.

How to Fix Big Tech

We all sort of know the problems, right?

Monopolies. Lock-in. Stream addiction. Reality bubbles. Billionaires seeking market dominance. All other values taking a back seat to growth.

Human Nature

What does it mean to be human?

This must certainly be a foundational question for all of us, when contemplating almost any aspect of our existence.

ImperfectionIt may seem odd to advance a belief in imperfection as a key idea to be embraced, but there are several reasons for its importance. First, as Voltaire wisely said, “Perfect is the enemy of good.”
In Defense of Balance

Let me give you an example of what I mean by striving for balance between competing concerns.