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Playing Catch-Up

Okay, back from DC and a long weekend trip away. Rested and ready, as it were. Here are a few items piled up in the old Intertube drift net. More serious stuff coming.


• My Old Workplace: Stephen Colbert discusses a scenario report from Global Business Network, describing the document in this way:

The Future of Arctic Marine Navigation in Mid-Century, written by Global Business Network, the world leader in vague, uninspired names for organizations. [...] It’s like a futuristic disaster movie where only the rich guys survive. Mad Max meets Wall Street … on ice!

Yep, that's GBN.

• Artifact from a Win Scenario: It's all-too-easy to come up with scenarios and narratives outlining just how badly things are falling apart, the center is no longer holding, and mere anarchy is getting ready to be loosed upon the world. Positive futures, "win scenarios" as I sometimes call them, can be much harder to imagine. That's why this page, which offers a vision of what a Google News page would look like in a wonderful near future, is so terrific.


Headlines include "A New Era Dawns for China and Tibet," "Long-awaited spray-on solar coating now available," even "Music publishers: DRM has been unprofitable". Nearly all of the headlines offer at least plausible stories, with some being clearly based on work already underway. The author ("Andrea") created the page in 2007 as a way of dealing with relentlessly depressing news.

What's notable about this page is that we read it and immediately see it as a fake; if someone had mocked up a Google News page with nothing but horrible news, we'd be much more likely to accept it as true.

So, my question: why? Is it because the media culture focuses on negative stories? ("If it bleeds, it leads!") Is it because we're acculturated to expect negative outcomes? (And if so, why?) Or is it because our brains are wired to pay the most attention to threats, out of sheer survival instinct? (And if so, how do we adapt around that?)

• My New Motto: "I am aware of all internet traditions."


ie: no news is good news.

But surely, if we're wired for threats, we must be wired for opportunities as well? Maybe these tend to occur at a more individual level.

One suspects we are wired to secretly take opportunities for ourselves or our kin. If we shout about them someone else may get there first. Whereas we must shout immediate threat warnings to help our kin (and incidentally others nearby).

Good news happens, but not all at once.


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