In response to 'A Visit With the Brainstorm' (or see a more current similar document).
Also: Beware Consensus Facilitation.
From: Aaron Agassi [agassi@#####.###]
Sent: Sunday, October 24, 1999 5:23 AM
To: Phil Bartle
Subject: RE: Is Criticality truly antithetical to creativity?
"Training for action" should not be training against thinking. Though, as you say, your motivation and reasoning is the opposite of dictatorial, your practice is, quite tragically and dangerously, quintessentially Totalitarian.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Phil Bartle [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Sunday, October 24, 1999 3:38 AM
> To: Aaron Agassi
> Subject: Re: Is Criticality truly antithetical to creativity?
> The /IP/cds subdirectories are no longer needed in the url.
> The objective is more in terms of participation than creativity.
I only recently had an unpleasant experience of a brainstorm where participation was prioritized over creativity. Those least contributing where supported in their complaint that creativity stifled their participation, and ran ruff shod "hanging on to dysfunctional traditional practices".
This is no model for community or democratic value that I can endorse, oh Bartle of Borg! Non-Orthodox my foot that I could not put down!
"Participation takes precedence over creativity. Creativity of the group as a whole takes precedence over individual creativity." Oh, double-plus good!
Is it really a good idea to "ensure that the inputs to those decisions come from all members, especially those who tend not to participate"? In fact, is that not perverse? Is not the point to open, solicit, and if need be exhort genuine and meaningful participation? In real world application, what you have designed is a Pluralistic enablment of banal tyranny, and norming downward. You would put them through the motions of participation, without awakening in them the fire that makes for another point of light in the constellation of the body Politic. By protecting all from conflict, lest anyone be bruised or discouraged, you leave them all sleeping, even as you struggle to drag them to the helm.
Free disagreement, the competition of ideas, that is the point of the Open Society, its Politics, Commerce, Arts and Science. The facilitator, moderator, chairperson, etc. should not keep a docile peace, but ensure the civility and fairness of adversary systems. Anything less becomes partiality and abuse. Yes, "Encourage the shy ones [...] all suggestions, even the foolish ones". But encourage Criticality and Reality Testing, as well. If people do not take criticism, however harsh, personally, but are expected to take it stride in whatever spirit intended, as however useful, interesting, and true that criticism may prove to be, and so long as there are no penalties imposed, then the destruction can only be to ideas, by subjecting them to whatever rigor and selection process. The good ideas then actually grow. This is what creative brainstorming is about. And it's not just for eccentric hurly burly artistes and inventors, full of beans, piss, and vinegar, but the stifled genius in us all. Nothing less will do! Only such is the TRUE safe environment, and for the proponents of all views. The paradoxical practice of suppressing all objection to encourage vulnerable expression only opens the door to guilt by accusation without recourse.
"During prioritisation [...],the less useful suggestions are quietly dropped." But why so QUIETLY? To spare tender feelings. But it is the good ideas the truth, by conspiratorial silence, that will actually be quietly dropped. And the very shy and naive types who's feeling you so struggle to insulate, that will be worst exploited, manipulated, and "quietly" disregarded in the process. Indeed, that is exactly what I saw happen, recently, because your sort of methodology was enforced. Silence, like darkness, is shelter for scoundrels. Silence and darkness also preserve shame where none is warranted, as in sexuality, mistake, ignorance, or other destructive taboos. That is why I have no qualms in saying that Isaac Newton was mistaken, none the less his important contribution, and I never defend a woman's honor, but spring at the chance to attack the double standard of her disgrace.
Likewise the suppression of cross talk is perverse, promoting a false sense of the group at the expense of the individual who comprise the group! The oppressors, of course, do cross talk, and scheme, just not openly and publicly. This is what the facilitator, moderator, chair person really ends up promoting, behind the non partisan facade.
In fairness, in my own recent unpleasant experience, no "mobilizer" had been designated. I attempted to play that role myself. But, of course, the oppressors where not to be "mobilized", and quickly put a stop to it, even as favorable response barely began.
>See the technique in context. Of course it is induction.
Why of course?
> At 04:15 PM 99-09-25 -0400, you wrote:
> >Just browsing your http://www.scn.org/IP/cds/cmp/brainsto.htm , and I am
> >reminded of a criticism of prevailing truism with regard to brainstorming
> >that has been on my mind:
> >In the initial stages, criticism is deferred, because critical
> preference is
> >not yet relevant. But, as a rule, I find the notion of no preference
> >suspect, always. It stinks of Induction.
> >I suggest, that in practice (at least if done well), there may be a
> >preference for the ideas with the most points of departure, most
> >generating the greatest quantity of tangents and correlation's. -Not to
> >fixate on the suggestions that go nowhere, or worse, that will be
> >stultifying. These should tend to be abandoned, and in effect,
> selected out,
> >discarded. Why not so declare? Thus, there is a de facto
> critical standard,
> >and perhaps this should be embraced as a pertinent standard of criticism,
> >even if only boredom.
> >Further more, from amid the volume generated are then selected the most
> >creative ideas. This, too, suggest criteria of critical
> preference. Why be
> >ashamed of that, either?
> >Further more, how can strategies be prioritized? Only goals and objective
> >have priority, on way or another. This smacks of criticism in
> via the back
> >door. Strategies can be ranked by preference, making one the default, and
> >the other the backup plan. But this is implicit preference from
> >not prioritization per ce.