Global Sensemaking

Tools for Dialogue and Deliberation on Wicked Problems

Wired has an article related to seasteading, complete with a link to an online 300-page book on the subject. A quick glance at the book suggests it might be organized in such a fashion that it could be the target of issue mapping exercises from which a number of important issues related to the larger global sensemaking domain.

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Comment by David Horton on May 23, 2008 at 0:23
The idea seems to me well summed up in the second last para "confirming the dream that two guys with a blog and a love of Ayn Rand can land half a million dollars to pursue their dream, no matter how off-kilter or off-grid it might seem". Hasn't the Friedman family already done enough damage to the planet? But I can see that it might be a starting point for examining a whole lot of issues. For example the recent proposal from Tim Flannery (,23599,23724410-29277,00.html) for geo-engineering.
Comment by David Horton on May 23, 2008 at 0:27
Sorry, I meant to say that the Flannery proposal would similarly be the kind of lunatic idea that could generate discussion.

PS Is it not possible to have a brief period where you can edit your own comment after you press the add button only to despairngly realise it isn't quite what you meant, or that you have produced a typo that makes you look like an idiot?
Comment by David Horton on May 23, 2008 at 0:27
Comment by Jack Park on May 23, 2008 at 2:29
Well, thanks. I didn't have in mind that a sensemaking community would be up for disparaging remarks about various people, but, it's true, I did offer it as a point of departure for issue mapping many of the issues related to self-sustaining communities. I hope I'm not speaking just for myself when I suggest that sensemaking requires civil, thoughtful and scholarly commentary. If I recall rightly, you get 15 minutes to edit a post. When I click Add Comment, I'll be able to confirm that.
Comment by Jack Park on May 23, 2008 at 2:30
Nope. I can delete a comment, but not edit it. I think my recollection counts for blog entries, not comments. Note for tools requirements: let people edit their comments for a while.
Comment by David Horton on May 23, 2008 at 13:33
Thanks Jack. "lunatic" referred to the proposal, not Dr Flannery. Or are you concerned about a comment critical of the Friedmans?

Neither proposal seems to me to provide sensible solutions for the future, both could however provide case studies as to how you might evaluate such proposals in general. I was, I thought, agreeing with you?
Comment by Jack Park on May 23, 2008 at 14:01
David, i believe you are agreeing with the notion, not necessarily with me, that the story offers a substrate for dialogue. I, and perhaps I alone, simply do not believe that terms like lunatic or critical comments about individuals or groups are appropriate even if I happen to agree (or disagree) with such comments. There are several very popular social news websites 'out there' already that are terribly painful to visit, even if the subject is important, simply because of the low discourse threshold and weak filtering (if any) in place. I'm not an advocate of censorship; everybody should be heard. There's a website that uses something called a "disemvoweller", which, if the words used are not civil, all of the vowels are removed, leaving a somewhat readable post but with another message as well.

It's a metalevel notion of mine; I call it "cultural federation", where we want to find ways to bring warring tribes under the same tent to talk about what ails them. We've even got a presidential candidate in America who sees things in a similar light--look at the flack he's taking. To do that, it seems to me that first principles must include civil discourse, which, IMHO, should never include critical terminology. It's ok to disagree, but "get a life', "you're crazy", or "lunatic idea" and so forth should not exist in such dialogues. Mind you, I have no desire to be a net nanny either. I'd like to think we all can find a way to remain civil, thoughtful, and scholarly (read: not toss out unjustified "facts" to the greatest degree possible). I don't even want to have this discussion. The devil made me do it.
Comment by David Price on May 23, 2008 at 19:47
David and Jack

Thank you both for creating a rich thread that highlights some of the limitations of Ning's commenting system and raises some key process points for the group to think through.

From my perspective, reasoned, open, searching, respectful and creative dialogue is both an ideal towards which we are all striving—in our practice here and through the tools we are developing as a group—and an ideal that is challenging for us all to achieve within the existing social and technical context.

There are some interesting issues, ideas, and assertions to explore in the Wired article, the Seasteading book, and the thread above—and, for anyone who is interested in exploring the Seasteading concept further in a more formally structured form I have seeded a Debategraph here: (

Feel free to experiment with the other tools in this context too.

Comment by Andy Streich on May 23, 2008 at 23:10
I find the issue of tone and civility both interesting and vital, especially the explicit and implicit ways in which groups establish local norms in this regard. Understanding this topic is, I think, crucial in building a sensemaking community and seeding others. So let's not skip it. I'll start a separate discussion.
Comment by David Price on May 24, 2008 at 0:50
Thanks Andy, that's an excellent suggestion: and through that discussion it would be great to begin to synthesize an ethos of sensemaking that builds on the disparate learning and experiences of the group (within and beyond the immediate field).

There are clearly common themes and practices running through some of the exemplars discussed in the group so far, which (from memory) include: (the World Café, Theory U, David Bohm's dialogues, the Harvard Negotiation Project, and the work of Donald Schön and Chris Argyris.

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