Integral’s State of “We”: Failing to Include Web 2.0, Let Alone Transcend It

What Next Integral released an audio clip by Ken Wilbur lamenting the fragmentation that exists within the Integral Community around the world The State of the “We”.

Fundamentally, Integral has to get over its more-integral-than-thou attitude.  Since Frank Visser’s fall from grace and the post-Wyatt Earpy days of individuals trying to out-integraling each other, there are segments of this movement that seem to be trying to corner the market and dictate how these ideas are to be interpreted and carried forward.  Many people are making their livings off this so it’s understandable that they would want to find a way to receive a exchange of value for their efforts.  But there is notable descension in the Integral ranks and not a clear feeling of desire for community.  It often seems like an Us vs Them mentality.  Maybe the desires for community are developing now, but actions towards that end are still far apart.

These turf issues will diminish as the Integral shadows are integrated and the collective Turquoise develops.

Until that happens, what can we do?

Before I continue I will concede that the internet and a computer/mobile device is a prerequisite and therefore a limitation to what I am discussing here.  Brett Thomas (@IntegralLeader) has helped create the Monthly Integral Community Calls on Facebook which are a recent addition to this development of a collective ‘we’ space.  But participants are wondering where is the collective integral archive or hub that is linking all this together.

Integral Life (@IntegralLife) would like to be that hub, but paid membership and $1300 USD conferences in Denver will only draw a small portion of the world community.  The people I work with that make $227 USD a month are left with little from which to choose (or find).   The Integral Trollz have further pointings-out on their FB posts and comments about the limitations of the current system.  On a side note, Thomas Hubl (@thomashuebl_en) successfully builds a different virtual (offline) we space with his global meditations that allow everyone to participate at once for free.

There are many other sites out there in the Integral world; blogs, journals, groups, etc.  If everyone was together in the same place/site, then others could make a choice to suit there interest, participation level, and price point.

How do we combine into a ‘we space’ online?

Where can we find everything all in one place?  How do we create an interactive clearinghouse/meeting place?  We could connect everyone in a webring like in the ’90s, where you could go from one site to the next like the porn sites (read the linked article).    But there would be no community building or central location.  Facebook  pages and groups are good at community communication but not so useful displaying individuals content on their own sites.

A hub site would solve the central location issue, display individual’s contribution from their own sites (via RSS feeds), and (housed on a private site with the addition of a forum and commenting system) would allow community interaction.  Not very elegant, but from what I’ve seen so far, a good incremental choice in the short term.   If there is a better structure, let me know, otherwise we’re waiting for more web innovation.

twitter logo map 09

twitter logo map 09 (Photo credit: The Next Web)

We’re not using Web 2.0 correctly now either.

Before we can make the jump to a virtual collective, individuals and groups need to embrace Web 2.0 social media technology first.  There are very few out there that effectively use RSS feeds, shared commenting systems (FB, Disqus, Intense Debate), pingbacks and trackbacks, or Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

A couple pointing outs include:

  • Integral Leadership ReviewIntegral Review, and Integral World do not have an RSS feeds to distribute their content or notify interested parties of new articles.  They all rely on Web 1.0 mailing lists.
  • IR and IW do not have onsite commenting to develop a discussion of the material and further understanding and relationship building.
  • ILR allows comments but it does not link it to the greater community nor notify commenters that someone has responded to their input.
  • None are using pingbacks and trackbacks to notify each other that someone else is talking about their content.

These are fairly simple fixes.  If the Integral Community learned these (and more) social media tools and actively used them, there would be greater communication between the individuals and groups.  Ideas, opinions, and plans would flow better and a deeper understanding would develop about who we are and what we want.   Bridges could be build over the seeming chasms that have emerged between factions, which by all reports, share the same worldview.  This is nowhere near what is needed, but it’s a start.

Maybe Web 2.0 is not where we need it yet.  Siloed commenting, forums, and social networks keeps the exchange of information on separate sites.  Even the communal comments (Discuss, FB, ID) that connect site running the software don’t even play nice together either.   Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are beginning to inter-operate and do show progress in co-community building.

Lack of communication (both by digital design or by individual intent) keeps integral groups from participating in meaningful discussions and decreasing fragmentation.  There does not seem to be a obvious choice to tie this all together.

Before I start to get comments and emails extolling the virtues of the sites mentioned here, my object is to point out ways to increase the communication between the sites and resources we already have and continue to build community while we explore ways to connect it all together for long term sustainability and growth.

These are incremental and not transformational changes, but it gets us closer to the communal organization that would better ensure our long term success.

Integral Hacking

hacking in a suite at clarion

hacking in a suite at clarion (Photo credit: Johan Nilsson)

Huffington Post has an interesting article by Alan Moore, To be Part of the Future You Have to Hack It.  Moore likens the computer hackers of the past with society builders of the future.  He contends that the same attitudes and skills needed to innovate and take action in IT design can be used to address larger issues:

Whether the challenges we face are commercial or let’s say are civic in nature, small or large scale, the ability to resolve those challenges means to imagine a new reality, but a reality all the same that says we can create better functioning organisations, we can create for more cohesive societies and deliver an economic vibrancy that is of mutual benefit for all, which is more humane, more sustainable and often a lot less costly.

This concept of hacking the future comes together nicely with several different ideas that have been flying around lately, the call for integral action in creating new and more effective societal systems, and the Cynefin decision making in complex environments.

Each of these are calling for creating innovative changes in complex and oftentimes unknown situations in an attempt to construct a better system.

Here are Moore’s navigational principles to hack the future:

    1. The hacker accepts the uncertainties of an ambiguous world and becomes master of them. Requiring openness and deep listening.
    2. The hacker explores how to become adaptive and agile. This ability to upgrade constantly in hardware, software, organisational structures, and business models is required at least for the time being. To be adaptive we must be constantly creating, collaborating, critiquing, communicating, by identifying key drivers we can better evaluate, and it enables the development of a new literacy to describe where we want to go and what we want to create.
    3. The hacker understands that living and working in an open culture offers mutual benefits to all.
    4. The hacker embraces participatory cultures as a sustainable form of economics, innovation, organisation and leadership.
    5. The hacker is an innate craftsman: the craftsman is always in beta, consistently using “PLAY” as a process for discovery, the development of new insight, technique and creativity.

Many of these reflect the ideals and skills of the integral framework and therefore a good addition to keep in mind while we tackle the messy issues that lie ahead.



Decision Making in Complex Social Environments: Cynefin Model

An interesting video on decision-making in complex social environments.

Simple: Cause and effect relationship exist, are predictable and are repeatable.  Decision model: Sense-categorize-respond= Best Practice.

Complicated: Cause and effect relationship exist but are not self evident, and therefore require expertise.  Decision model: Sense-Analyze-Respond = Good Practice.   Maybe several different ways to come to the same solution.

Complex: Cause and effect only obvious in hindsight, with unpredictable, emergent outcomes.  Decision Model: Probe-Sense-Respond = Safe Fail Experiments with amplification and dampening designs. Emergent practice, different, unique.

Chaotic: No cause and effect relationship can be determined.  Decision Model: Act-Sense-Respond = Novel Practice – Quickly act to stabilize the situation

Disorder: Not knowing what domain we are in.  Where we are most of the time and people usually operate with their own preferred decision making model.

Complex leaders – Battlefield commanders and politicians – lots of different people together from lots of different backgrounds in hopes someone comes up with the right answer.

Deutsch: Das Cynefin-Framework

Deutsch: Das Cynefin-Framework (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’d be interested to see how politicians these days get away with “experimenting.”  Though it seems like a valid method of solution finding in an unknown environment, I don’t think there would be much support from the populous.   People are still too comfortable and not desperate enough to put their hope and trust into something new.   Rather, they are falling back on to old, familiar, and traditional ways of doing things, even if they stopped being effective long ago.

But as present day structures continue to fail to provide the answer, new solutions will be novel and untested.  Messy times are ahead while there is a grand sorting out of values, priorities, and solutions.

I’m optimistic in the long term, but realistic in the short.  The challenge is to not fall back on to old thinking and ways of doing things but to look forward and build upon past successes to make something capable enough to handle the complexity of our world.

Framing the Argument: Integral Action

Russ Volckmann over at Integral Leadership Review in the Coda for August 2012, wrote a piece entitled: Integral: The “New” Human Potential Movement.  In it he makes some parallels between the Integral Movement and other movements in the past that are dangerous if left unexamined.

Below is my response in the comments section of the article.

You’re right. We can learn from history. Human development has always been a messy affair. There is no reason to think that this one will be any different, IF we act in the same manner as we have throughout the part.

I think any ‘integral movement’ that includes the war motif is un-Integral and ultimately doomed. It’s a divisive and destructive mode of thinking. [Managing complex environments within the Cynefin framework might be a more productive analogy]. If we are to transcend the current systems and include all aspects of world issues, we must create a new paradigm where disparate groups of unequal power can co-exist and work together towards both individual and mutual gain.

Direct militant protests result in Red power struggles, as you noted history has shown. That’s the setback realized by the Occupy movement with their noble ideas and dated methods. A 2012 movement should not look like 1969. Where is the Integral in all this? If we meet each group where they are at and then show them a new way of operating still within their own framework, there is a chance of project adoption, implementation, and completion.

An integral movement should not have anything to fight. If it does, then it’s not doing it right. That is not to say that it won’t be challenging. Any change is challenging. Just that, if it is so threatening that it needs to be taken out by the powerbrokers, then we didn’t include everything that was necessary to address.

What does that look like? No idea. Whoever does it will be picking up some bling in Stockholm for their efforts. But it makes me nervous when I read of people calling for ‘integral action’ in the wake of Occupy when a new method has not yet been realized. Old methods have had their place in history, but I suspect that the most effective one in the future won’t look anything like what we’ve seen in the past.

There is a trend and need for Integral Action, but care needs to be taken in creating, framing, and implementing the plan.  As of yet, I haven’t seen a good plan.