Saturday, September 13, 2014

Yes, Virginia. We are all DEVO.

Evolution is fueled by insecurity. Referring here not only to biological evolution, but also cultural, political and economic evolution. The whole shebang. This has disturbing implications, if you think about it ...
What it means is: Lots of people must fail for one person to get better.
The evolutionary leap occurs in that do-or-die moment when you could lose everything and have to risk everything to keep it from others fighting to take it.
Thanks to that stress, things get better for everybody.
But the stress itself is pretty freaking uncomfortable for the folks in the pressure cooker.
For example, a software developer sweating his brains out in the middle of the night to come up with the right code—not just good: the next leap in code evolution. It’s do-or-die time. He has to find a solution. His alternative being losing his job, his house, his wife, his kids, everything. Somehow, in a blinding flash, his perception cracks. He sees it and creates it.
So, yay, we have some better software. The “ah-ha” moment was fun. But the “agghhhhh” moments leading up to it were the opposite. (And, of course, not everyone in the crucible gets to the “ah-ha” moment.) But that's the price for creative leaps.
What applies to software developers applies also to artists, writers, politicians, anybody.
The most horrible implication of all: when you win, you lose. Insecurity pushes you to the next leap. Your reward lets to insulate yourself in a nice, safe comfort zone. A bubble of security that destroys what made you great. Youre safe. And the fire is out.
To put it in general terms …
In terms of making everything better for everybody, we should all put everything on the line all the time and up for competition from any and all. We should live in a position of constant insecurity, constantly fighting to be better, constantly knowing anybody could take everything we have away at any time. There will be losers. The majority of people will be losers. But, in terms of the whole system, everything will get better and everybody will win.
In terms of me, myself and I, the smart thing to do is insulate yourself from competition. To carve out a zone of security where nobody can beat you at the game because you own the board, make the rules and also function as referee. What you want is security. Nobody can touch you. What you have is yours. It’s going to stay that way.
So, if you’re a politician …
You’d want gerrymandered political districts that makes incumbents untouchable. 
If you’re a businessperson …
You’d want a monopoly. And want to set the rules for the other businesses.
If you’re rich …
You’d want to stay rich.
If you’re a pundit …
You’d want to preach to the choir.
If you owned the rights to ancient characters …
You’d want every movie, book and comic book to recycle them endlessly.
If you’re in tech...
You’d like to keep creative disruption as safe and predictable as the new season line-up on Fox. Stuff gets flatter and cheaper at regular intervals: cool. Game-changing paradigm-shifts that might disrupt you: uncool.
And, in 2014 in America, your wish would’ve come true. Things are not in flux, a change is not a-coming, we don’t expect any Edisons or Teslas or Fords turning everything upside down with their inventions, voters don’t throw the bums out anymore, and most of our comic book superheroes were born in the 1930s and 1950s.
For them that has, it’s comfy. All nice and secure.
For them that ain’t, it ain’t.
All this security means stagnation, an economic ladder with the bottom rungs cut off,
Devolution is fueled by security.
And, as Mark Mothersbaugh once prophesied, we are all DEVO.

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