The irresistible strategy for saving the world

You’d have to be daft to pass this opportunity!

Peacock flying on rice field, at Karaikudi, Tamilnadu. Image taken on 12th November 2012, by Haribabu Pasupathy. CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22719490

Publicly editable Google Doc with this text is available here for cases where you want to easily see the updates (using history), or ask questions, to comment, or to add suggestions.

Roland Pihlakas, February 2008 — July 2010

A distilled and updated version of this text can be found here: “Solving the AI race: Starting a human self-sufficiency movement. The handicap principle.” The current text is not about solving AI race, instead it is about a solution to the general consumerism, providing the needed social and environmental responsibility. The referred new version of text is slightly focused on AI race topic, but also contains the original main themes from the current text, in a distilled form.

Abstract.

The main objective would be to take one of the most flexible evolutionary strategies, almost a primal need, if you like, although one that you would not find in the Maslow’s pyramid in its current definition, and incorporate it into a world-saving general plan.

(Hereby you will not find another government/religious propaganda for yet another method of self-sacrificing or guide for placid contentment with what little one can get…..if you happen to be a masochist, ludite or unabomber, searching for new ways to feel worse than you already do, feel free to seek out appropriate texts elsewhere.)

This strategy is already being exploited by car-salesmen, banks etc., whereas my aim is to divert it into a much more eco-friendly and social cause. Especially given that in such a case it would be supported by numerous other primal needs and strategies and have a decent footing as a memetic virus, which is something that the “bad guys” can not boast with, try as they might.

What would distinguish my approach from the multitude of other world-saving enterprises is: 
- First and foremost, the lack of need to provide a logical argument as its basis or to tap on anybody’s conscience. 
- Secondly, the nature of this approach enables to stress, or even benefits from stressing its “resource-costliness”. 
- Thirdly, it is contagious and will not simply eradicate or replace current behavior, but rather will alter the world-view of the people involved. The approach is an affirmative proposition, not a negation. 
- And last but not least, it will offer the participants a sense of higher purpose, something that is increasingly sought after in our bleak material world.

The approach could be called “the intelligent handicap”.

Imagine your typical banner or leaflet:

“Wanna be tough? Drive a bicycle!” or “Tough guys walk” or “Prefer home-grown”, “Care for the environment” “Recycle” etc. Why? BECAUSE YOU CAN AFFORD IT. And to drive the ball home, another banner with a meathead in a Hummer suddenly discovering that he’s, all of a sudden, the “wimp”.

The theory.

A handicap (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handicap_principle) shows an individual’s state of welfare, strength and adaptability, despite the negative circumstances they might be experiencing. I would like to add to the previous that these difficult circumstances (or the handicap) have often a subjectively pleasant, appealing, even beautiful form in the eye of an onlooker.

For example — the huge antlers of male deer are more than an efficient fighting tool. Not only are they heavy and uncomfortable, but they are also a burden metabolically, requiring good nutrition to be grown. Big antlers send the signal of a “hardy organism”. The same goes for the cumbersome tail of the peacock, which not only hinders free movement and thus escaping from predators, but requires stable and steady nutrition to be maintained.

The term handicap is generally used to indicate an inability, but it also means a deliberate rendering of the odds, for example in sports.

The same goes for people — fancy cars, expensive watches, mortgages and excessive consumerism, but also sports, creative arts, design and beauty, can all be perceived as forms of handicap. Natural world is full of handicap and indicates that there is more to life on this planet, than existing in the mere “survival mode”. In the case of humans, there are fields that are considered superior, for example fashion, but belonging to the elite is in itself a form of handicap. Even smoking, and the fact that it can prematurely kill you, is handicap. I have always perceived the warning “smoking can be hazardous to your health” as a devious sales argument. (Smoking is a handicap in the sense, that despite the fact that it ruins one’s health, one is still able to function undisturbed, the same way driving an expensive car insinuates well-being despite the wealth and resources required to acquire such a commodity.) Working for low wages could be a handicap, provided that the person is satisfied and has enough resources to do something meaningful with their lives.

There is no need for the handicap to be perceived by others. Accomplishing something difficult or even ending a strenuous training session makes one feel great, feel very potent. Handicap need not be a conscious choice or thought. It is a way the organism distributes energy. I am certain that handicap is a primal need, one that Maslow has overlooked and only partially refers to in other, irrelevant parts of his work. Maybe the reason lies in the nature of handicap — at the same time being a need and a strategy. Maybe this was what Freud had in mind, when talking about “death-drive” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_drive).

The typical advertisement for cars would not be complete without a gorgeous babe in the picture. Are they selling gorgeous women? Of course not. Are they indicating that only fantastic-looking women would enjoy driving this car? Not likely. It is not so much the specific object that they are promoting, but the lifestyle, the statement what is needed in order to be happy and fulfilled in life.

Handicap shows: I’m wealthy enough to afford it!
Handicap is appealing and enjoyable for the executor.

There are not many prerequisites for handicap. It seems to me, that it is not the specific nature of the object/approach, but the strength of conviction, which determines whether something becomes a handicap or not. People pick between the handicaps on the market. They choose what they are offered. Few of us construct our own, unique handicaps.

Cars, shopping, various services offered by banks are handicaps that are brought to us on a platter, are comfortable to use and are offered as such (though not explicitly defined as handicap). The bearer of handicap is not interested in the originality of their handicap but the connotation of superiority. Therefore the dumb-user will choose what is offered (or what others have chosen before them) and after the initial easy selection is willing to labor painstakingly in order to acquire what he has chosen.
Even being a maid can be a handicap, provided that one leaves the impression that they chose this willingly.
Handicap is a special kind of success.

Is handicap a form of vanity? Probably not, in its typical sense, for handicap as a primal need touches everyone. It would rather seem that vanity is one form of handicap.

Proposal: Handicaps based on real needs and deliberative selection — the “intelligent handicap”.

A handicap should be burdensome, but not meaningless. The main thing is that it should not be a necessity, it should be a choice, an urge that people can somehow pleasantly alleviate.

When we promote values that are inevitable for the welfare of our planet and its’ inhabitants as handicap, they should reach the “guy next door” in a palatable form, and, with the aid of publicity it will be clear to him that everybody considers this approach to be hard but also superior (thus a handicap). Which is exactly what we need. This is the central notion of the whole theory.

Handicap is a virtue? Handicap is seductive.

Handicap is also an explanation how fabricated needs for various products and services are formed.
People, who can not afford the intelligent handicap but do afford other kinds of handicaps, may be strong, but at the same time they are fools — since intelligent handicap would be in everyone’s interests, in its own way.

According to the handicap theory, there is no need to give up something, there is only to gain. The proposed theory of intelligent handicap does not suggest that we should give up our privileges and go back to the stone-age. It only suggests, that some choices are erratic and can therefore be amended, without fundamentally altering the whole picture.

Here is an exerpt from D. Quinn, which illustrates the point to some extent:
Far from thinking about ‘giving up’ things, you’ve got to be thinking now about releasing just such another outpouring of human creativity — one that is not directed toward turning out product wealth but rather turning out the kind of wealth you threw away to make yourselves the rulers of the world and now so desperately crave.”
… you can’t have a negative revolution. Any revolution that thinks of ‘going back’ to some ‘good old days’ of imagined simplicity when men tipped their hats, women stayed home and cooked, and no one got divorced or questioned authority is founded on dreams. Any revolution that depends on people voluntarily giving up things they want for things they don’t want is mere utopianism and will fail. You must have a positive revolution, a revolution that brings people more of what they really want, not less of what they don’t really want.
They don’t really want sixteen-bit electronic games, but if that’s the best they can get, they’ll take it. You won’t get far in your revolution by asking them to give up their sixteen-bit electronic games. If you want them to lose interest in toys, then you must give them something even better than toys.

The heart and mind of the matter — logics and conscience.

Handicap should be burdensome, yet feasible and should require neither logic nor conscience to manifest. The proposal should not be built upon the notion of „improving” people, making them better than they have been so far. Or making them more noble or labouring or in any way magnifying their current good characteristics. One should not try to change the world with rules and regulations, do’s and don’ts, because that could only be achieved by force — by the old carrot and stick method and it is only common sense that the most persistent resolutions sprout from the inside-out, not vice versa. Conscience is something that will be gained as an „extra”, without having to make the effort to change one’s own psychological composition.

(Another excerpt from Quinn’s „My Ishmael”, using the same principle in a slightly different context: “This was the tremendous strength of the tribal way, that its success didn’t depend on people being better. It worked for people the way they are — unimproved, unenlightened, troublesome, disruptive, selfish, mean, cruel, greedy, and violent”. A thorough explanation waits for those who are intrigued enough to contact me).

Also the logic behind this approach would simply be a bonus for those who crave intellectual stimulation. This seems to be a matter of taste, though I am hanging on to the hope that one day people will be able to think logically and be enlightened.

Other bonuses.

My world-saving handicap would also offer other bonuses besides mental titillation. So far, most handicaps have simply been sales arguments based on sexual or affective implication. Still, there are other similarly primal alleys yet to be exploited. That are directed towards impressing the attractive sex and also improve one’s own mood, but are currently put on hold and latent.

One of them would be „sociality” in the sense of caring about the group, others, nature or the planet. Everybody wants to be perceived to be „good”, and even though that alone might not be motivation enough to actually alter one’s behaviour, it could be a significant part of the equation and eventually help to tip the scale over to the other side.

Another bonus would be dominance — a prize reserved for those who become the driving force of the ideology, either spreading the current approach or expanding and improving it. They would be the ones who direct the course of the future.

And this brings us to the third extra bonus of the deal — the dimension of creativity. The world-saving handicap enables the participants to use their brains and imagination, to create countless new ideas how to utilize this main principle even further. Being the spreader of ideology or creator are different dimensions, which may occur in the same person but not necessarily.

The virus.

I call this meme (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme) a virus, for it is contagious, leaping from one person to the other, yet not explicitly or singularly beneficial for the carrier and can mutate or recombine in various creative ways.

The spread of this virus can be:
1) Implicit — banners, leaflets, fashion (in other words addressing activities and behaviours that can be observed by others)
2) Explicit — the further development of the current theory by more original and competent thinkers, which would then again be distributed by the creators of the implicit methods.

Want to be hip?
Create a new song, or show, or banner. You can even draw a worldsaving-handicap-enhancing graffiti! Since ingenuity/resourcefulness is a highly valued trait in our society, the approach will give ample opportunities to use this characteristic and gain the respect of others.

As I already mentioned in the abstract, the structure of this approach is affirmative . The reason is simple — social psychologists have long disclosed that for a proposition to work, it should be presented in the positive. Here’s an illustrative thought: http://www.orkut.com/Main#Community.aspx?cmm=17577372 : I wish you understand that when I ask against violence or pollution it doesn’t work as I really want..can’t find any results..but what really matters is to see the positive side of things..then, peace comes as a consequence.

On top of everything, the world-saving handicap will provide people with a higher, more spiritual cause, a chance to rise above the material and the mundane. In that sense it could be compared to religion and subjectively validate a life otherwise deprived of a driving force. Many studies indicate that the search for meaning is an irrefutable human need.

A few specific ideas to promote.

1) Inspired by the book „Ishmael” — we do not need to conquer the world or other nations in order to be right or worthy and tough men and women.
2) Inspired by NVC (non-violent communication) — we do not need violence. We can be eloquent speakers (expressive and comprehensible), considerate towards the needs of ourselves and others, attentive listeners and immensely creative in our expression, understanding and problem-solving and when the need arises, even yielding. Being macho is not so cool. NVC is a beautiful and creative method, which still requires time, effort and resources — it is not simple — but will eventually blossom into an elegant way of perceiving and interacting with the world, thus being a handicap. At least for those who do not realize it’s practical nature.
I also think that the realisation that some handicap is actually practical will not diminish its value. It’s all about looking good and feeling good!

Only slaves love being powerful!
- Hans Erich Nossack

The current situation.

As I mentioned before, handicap is not some atavism waiting to be reinstated into the civilized world. Besides, the idea has already been exploited by the „bad guys”. 
Some cars are advertised to be „environment-friendly”, buying certain goods allows one to participate in supporting a charitable cause, taking a loan will „plant a tree” (which is great, since it will no doubt fell some others :p). 
It is actually great that such efforts have prepared the way, but I still feel that people can now easily override such offers via much more objective and immediate routes.

My approach would be beneficial and inspiring for those, who do not have the resources to actually buy a Hummer, which constitutes about 99% of the humankind. One does not need economic growth to facilitate handicap. What I offer is something you can always count on.

I have spent the last 20 years contemplating, how to help people live their lives more sensibly. I does not seem possible. How about first creating the conditions and then convincing them? Not likely. Now it appears, that these steps are not that necessary after all. It actually seems to boil down to convincing people that this is going to be strenuous, but paradoxically pleasant at the same time. It is about offering an alternative, instead of cutting current actions by their roots.

[ A digression: As is told in the „Story of B”, the sequel book to „Ishmael”: we do not need programs, but a change in attitudes.
In order to better understand the current mainframe attitudes and the realistic myth that these are based on, read the books that I have suggested. But the general idea of the myth or “the teaching” is as follows: “Man is the king of nature. In order to wield it, he must first conquer it. Tame it. Civilize it. And also “civilize” (or if necessary, also kill) everyone who does not share this view.” 
In these books you can find information about customs, laws and myths, the common denominator in all major religions, which might seem superficially different, but actually spawn from the same myths.
These myths are not directly related to theory of handicap, instead they receive their “power” from another meme complex. But as an outlet for the sublimated energy from our need for handicap these alternative memes unfortunately still have worked quite well and have been durable. ]

One of the main differences between “programs” and “attitudes” is that the former deal with the consequences while the latter deals with causes. For example, when buying my computer a new, more energy-efficient processor with the same speed of the previous one, I am dealing with the consequences, by lessening the effect of my actions. But when I decide, that hey, I don’t really need all this computing power, it will be a change in attitude.

Vices are handicaps. 
Virtues are handicaps too, especially when we stop making logical excuses for them. Virtues could also exist in spite of being logically grounded and also could exist as non-handicaps, because they are based [also] on other primal needs. 
Yet, as handicaps, they will be more powerful. I might not prefer for the humankind to stop thinking and choose a traditional and archaic existence based on some kind of “honour-code”. However, in this context, this might be just “what the doctor ordered”. And maybe uniting the two kinds of needs and reasons for virtues is feasible — making them rational choices and handicaps at the same time.

The American Indians are supposed to have said “White man says, he thinks with the head! What fools they are! We think with the heart!” This was the way of the people who lived in accordance with nature, instead of conquering it. They did not strive to annex new territories or usurp other tribes, or when they did, then at least not with the aim of re-organizing the lives of their enemies. They mainly fought for honor, which is another matter altogether. And they were a civilized people.

I am by no means idealising the Native American life and worldview, for it is not in accordance with all of my values. Theirs is an approach that is by nature very “Darwinian” (even if not consciously so) and not sufficiently soulful for me. But it is nice, that what is good for “Darwin”, that is, evolution, is at often times good for the soul as well. However, it must not escape our attention, that what is good for “Darwin” (evolution via natural selection) is not automatically, without exception, good for the soul. Nonetheless, it appears that their approach was, although far from ideal, still an effective and successful one, even from the standpoint of my values. It stood the test of time for quite long.

I must admit that I have, until now, considered “honour” to be a pointless and unintelligible phenomenon. When redefining it as a handicap, it suddenly starts making more sense, and though not rational, it could, with the right delivery method, prove to be useful.

[ As a digression, I suggest a hypothesis, that handicap is more prevalent in worlds or ecosystems, where resources are plentiful. Thus, via handicaps, the natural selection can artificially tense the selection between genetic variances. For example, there could be planets with low resources, which still enable to cultivate civilized and intelligent societies, but with less extravagant customs (social norms) and conflicts (low resources limiting the number of handicaps) than we have. ]

The predominant part of this hypothesis postulates however, that things that are good for the soul are a special kind of handicap. By no means am I trying to define the concept of “soul” here. I am, however, saying that the demands dictated by the “soul” bring forth complex behavior patterns and are therefore easily utilized as handicaps or handicap evaluation functions. Thus this hypothesis proposes one of the reasons why natural selection ended up connecting such a peculiar phenomenon as the “soul” or subjective perception to the brain — the computing unit in all intelligent life (and I refer to the brain as a machine or computing unit deliberately).
And the fact that the “soul” wants its own way and something else than “Darwin” every now and then is not its own fault, but an inconvenient condition “purposefully” created by “Darwin” (the evolution). Now both “Darwin” and the soul have no other choice but to accept the situation.

Further reasoning.

To provide more basis and strength to my rationale, here are some excerpts from Daniel Quinn’s books. You may skip these parts if you wish, for they do not directly discuss the handicap theory.

Here’s how old minds think of stopping us. They think of stopping us the way they stopped poverty, the way they stopped drug abuse, the way they stopped crime. With programs. Programs are sticks planted in the mud of a river to impede its flow. The sticks do impede the flow. A little. But they never stop the flow, and they never turn the river aside.
This is why I can confidently predict that if the world is saved, it will not be because some old minds came up with some new programs. Programs never stop the things they’re launched to stop. No program has ever stopped poverty, drug abuse, or crime, and no program ever will stop them.
Sticks planted in the mud may impede the flow of the river, but we don’t need to impede its flow, we need to divert it into an entirely new channel. If our culture’s river of vision ever begins to carry us away from catastrophe and into a sustainable future, then programs will be superfluous. When the river’s flowing where you want it to flow, you don’t plant sticks to impede it.
A man was found sitting in the middle of the desert in a contraption made of rocks, bits of lumber, and old, blown tires, which he was busily “steering” as if it were actually a vehicle in motion.
Asked what he was doing, the man said, “Driving home.”
“You’re never going to get there in this,” he was told.
He said, “If not in this, then in what?”
We’re like this man, busily trying to steer into the future in a Rube Goldberg assemblage of programs that has never taken us any farther.

Here’s an excerpt about Indians, their repeated attempts to build a hierarchical civilization and their recurrent failures. This worldview is not connected to the objective of the handicap theory per se, but after some deliberation one might find an applicable synthesis of the two:

… Each of these peoples began by abandoning a traditional lifestyle for an innovation that seemed to promise more of what they wanted.
When the innovation ended up giving them less of what they wanted, they abandoned it to resume their previous way of living. The innovation in each case had failed the test.
But doesn’t this indicate that their traditional lifestyles were less than perfect? Certainly it does. Natural selection is a process that separates the workable from the unworkable, not the perfect from the imperfect. Nothing evolution brings forth is perfect, it’s just damnably hard to improve upon.
Tribal life is not in fact perfect, idyllic, noble, or wonderful, but wherever it’s found intact, it’s found to be working well — as well as the life of lizards, raccoons, geese, or beetles — with the result that the members of the tribe are not generally enraged, rebellious, desperate, stressed-out borderline psychotics being torn apart by crime, hatred, and violence.
… tribal peoples, far from being nobler, sweeter, or wiser than us, are as capable as we are of being mean, unkind, short-sighted, selfish, insensitive, stubborn, and short-tempered. The tribal life doesn’t turn people into saints; it enables ordinary people to make a living together with a minimum of stress year after year…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_Is_Beautiful:

* A Buddhist economist would consider this approach excessively irrational: since consumption is merely a means to human well-being, the aim should be to obtain the maximum of well-being with the minimum of consumption…. The less toil there is, the more time and strength is left for artistic creativity. Modern economics, on the other hand, considers consumption to be the sole end and purpose of all economic activity.
* It is clear, therefore, that Buddhist economics must be very different from the economics of modern materialism, since the Buddhist sees the essence of civilization not in a multiplication of wants but in the purification of human character. Character, at the same time, is formed primarily by a man’s work. And work, properly conducted in conditions of human dignity and freedom, blesses those who do it and equally their products.
* Wisdom demands a new orientation of science and technology towards the organic, the gentle, the non-violent, the elegant and beautiful.

http://www.resurgence.org/magazine/article2885-Quantum-Leap.html:
… to address the profound needs of our time a fundamental paradigm shift is required: a shift from materialism to conscious living.

Implementation.

Here I have gathered the ideas for implementing this theory. We should explicitly utilize the marketing strategies so far used by the “bad guys”, thus overriding them and creating recognition. This would not only advertize an alternative worldview in a surprising way — by creating a minute, yet significant change in the content, but not in the form (of a banner, for example). It will also shed light to the working principles of advertising as such. It will show that there is something else to it than previously thought, that was appealing to the viewer/prey of the advertisement.

For example, recreate the Swedbank NPNK (an Estonian debit card for youth) style banner, but with a different focal point (advertising riding bicycles, recycling etc. as a way to be cool, hip or tough etc.) Considering the variety of tastes, the more different approaches we can provide, the better. Creating diversity also has the advantage of not limiting the sources of recognition, so that socially and environmentally conscious people would not have to compete amongst each other to be recognized for their efforts. Rather, they would form a diverse counterbalance for the material wealth/career-oriented or entertainment-stupefied groups that constitute the consumer world of today. Right now we seem to have one group titled “the eco-freak” versus an illusionary myriad of representatives of “normal” existence. And who doesn’t want to be special, not in a freaky, but unique way? This subjective perception should be turned so, that there would be a multitude of world-friendly (and enjoyable) lifestyles versus (subjectively) one group of “consumerism”.

[ Though other nations haven’t as yet reached this high point, they yearn to reach it. They have no other goal. There’s only one right way for people to live, and the people of the United States epitomize it. Everyone in the world should have a house, a car, a computer, a television set, a telephone, and so on — at least one of each, preferably several. — Beyond Civilization, D. Quinn ]

We could, when appropriate, take one of those beautiful babes from a typical ad selling cars or whatnot and copy her into an ad promoting growing new trees, for example. Then you would have a drop-dead gorgeous woman hugging a tree, smiling, and in the background a meathead with his Hummer, well…..left hugging his Hummer for consolation, because he certainly isn’t getting the attention of this girl. And the under-title would imitate one of the well-known slogans — “you would be daft to pass this opportunity” or “can you do it?” or “don’t be a loser, be a winner!”

Distribution:

* Banners
* Youtube (Wasting time watching the Youtube is one of the pleasant handicaps of today’s youth, when e-mails would be too cheap)
* Stickers, pins etc. to go with purchases (when used, should get a high attention rate).
* Songs
* Chain-mails
* Discussions in thematic forums
* “Myths” (gossip), allegories, proverbs, other descriptions of heroic deeds. Here under the main text part are some links to a well-known researcher of myths, Campbell, and some others. Rationale:

“A whole new mind”, D. H. Pink: Metaphorical imagination is essential in forging empathic connections and communicating experiences that others do not share. Finally — and perhaps most important — is metaphor’s role in slaking the thirst for meaning. The material comforts brought forth by abundance ultimately matter much less than the metaphors you live by — whether, say you think of your life as a “journey” or as a “treadmill.” “A large part of self-understanding,” says Lakoff*, “is the search for appropriate personal metaphors that make sense of our lives.” The more we understand metaphor, the more we understand ourselves. (* Lakoff and Johnson, 233).

Trends to advertise:

* Walking
* Prefer homegrown, homemade, local, organic.
* Preserving nature
* Recycling
* Using recycled materials
* Cycling
* Using mass transport or at least ridesharing
* Planting trees
* Other social values and imperatives

Some links for more thorough lists of action:

* https://web.archive.org/web/20110923160919/http://www.seql.org:80/100ways.cfm
* http://www.lifegoggles.com/499/100-ways-to-save-the-planet-part-1/
* http://www.amazon.com/Ways-Save-World-Johan-Tell/dp/1934533157

Additional background information:

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handicap_principle — Handicap
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme — Memes
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khp4VWJC1FI — Daniel Dennet talks about the adaptive nature of memes and how the mere fact that some of them are very powerful is not enough reason to make them an objective in themselves.
* http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/susan_blackmore_on_memes_and_temes.html — Susan Blackmore on memes

Other things to be considered as intelligent handicaps.

* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8agG6hqnxHY — very moving video, but also exemplifies what does the term “handicap” mean in sports. More background here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Team_Hoyt

“A son asked his father, “Dad, will you take part in a marathon with me?” The father who, despite having a heart condition, says “Yes”. They went on to complete the marathon together. Father and son went on to join other marathons. The father always saying “Yes” to his son’s request of going through the race together. One day, the son asked his father, “Dad, let’s join the Ironman together.” To which, his father said “Yes”.”

Appropriate technologies for distribution.

* http://www.ted.com/talks/gordon_brown.html — Gordon Brown: Wiring a web for global good
* http://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_cellphones_twitter_facebook_can_make_history.html- Clay Shirky: How social media can make history
* http://www.ted.com/talks/rory_sutherland_life_lessons_from_an_ad_man.html- how the value of things is indeed a very subjective perception, how it is formed and how it can be manipulated.
* http://www.nudges.org/ — Thaler and Sunstein demonstrate how thoughtful choice architecture can be established to nudge us in beneficial directions without restricting freedom of choice

Feedback.

A) When you have already encountered a similar idea, I would appreciate if you would notify me. It would be great to analyze other such initiatives. My objective is not originality for its own sake, but the creation and utilization of an effective and workable mechanism.
B) What kind of ideas and values could be promoted by the above-mentioned principle? What would their slogans be?
C) Do you know some people who would be interested in writing songs, poetry, slogans and other texts for this cause? Or artists who would be interested in creating the posters and other visual art?
D) If you find the concept dubious, then why and which parts of it do not convince you? What is missing?
E) How could the text above be improved?

Frequently asked questions.

Q: I like the idea though I’m not sure what the catch was? If I would get a chain-mail like this, what would motivate me to send it further?
A: This text is not for distribution as such, it’s made to titillate.
The concept described here it not devised to be sent to the masses in its current meta-form, but to those, who would make something of it and use it as a basis for their creations.
I think this idea might be very effective if served right. Right now it is too robust and not fine-tuned, it is only a concept and an explanation as to why it just might work.
People usually distribute things that have entertainment value or are mandatory in some way. Here it is not required. It is rather a world-view or an internal compulsion. When you see a rapper performing, you do not see him calling everybody up to become rappers. It’s an ideological, not a compulsory thing. In contrast, knocking on somebody’s sense of duty would be a requirement, for example. Not an altogether bad thing, but I’m just saying there might be even better means to this end. Ones that are not, and even should not be so obvious.
Those who do choose to distribute this ideology through their creative expression, do it because they are already cool enough. Cool enough to help others get cool. Also, they possess enough resources and common sense, that they realise the value of this principle from other vantage points as well.

Ways to help.

1. Implementation of this idea needs help from copywriters and advertising designers. That is the most important next milestone to achieve.
2. If you happen to know some friendly officials who would supervise me as to where are we allowed to go with our posters and slogans, I would appreciate the information.
3. If you happen to know some organisations who would be interested in financing the production of such leaflets, posters etc, let me know. I am prepared to do it by myself, unfortunately this greatly diminishes the resources and force of impact.
4. Other suggestions?

Virusware copyright.

You can distribute this idea when deemed necessary, there is no and will be no copyright. However I would prefer to keep my (relative) anonymity for several reasons, and so do some other friends and acquaintances involved. In my case, I feel no need to be publicly recognized and connected to this movement. First of all, this should be a movement for all and by all, not the hyping of some specific group of people.

If you happen to know some environmentalist-activist who would not mind adopting this ideology and whatever honor and glory that could come with it, please feel free to introduce us.


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