Friday, July 27, 2012

"for the good of the whole"

On my commute to work, I used to be able to open my laptop, read a book, or take a nap when I used the commuter rail. Using my car is the only practical option these days so I have found some internet radio shows or podcasts to listen to while driving. One of the regular listens is to Krista Tippett and her On Being podcast. In this show she talks with David Sloan Wilson about the evolution of a city. Binghamton, NY is where he lives and works. Binghamton has a population of about 50,000. Not too much larger than Franklin which is reported to be about 33,000.
Ms. Tippett: Again, this is another thing that you point out that just makes logical sense, but it's a thought that I hadn't quite conceptualized before. You know, you say cities decay like other organisms and Binghamton, as you said before, is a place that's like many places and has some of the same issues now that many American cities are struggling with, unemployment, an industrial base that's shifted. You say cities decay like other organisms and also the people take their cues from environments and that they behave in disorderly ways when they're in a disorderly environment. 
Dr. Wilson: Yeah, that's a great point and there's a lot of science which is showing that our instincts for what we do are largely subconscious. So our conscious decisions about how to behave are the tip of an iceberg of decisions that take place below the surface of consciousness.
They talk of an experiment and the insights it provides into how our first impressions, instincts, help to drive our behavior. Not terribly surprising if you really think about it. The implications of this and how it can be used in his 'pro-social' terms are interesting.

Later in their conversation, David outlines the 8 design features for well functioning social group. If you only review this listing, it should be worth your time.

The full text transcript of the podcast can be found here

You can listen to the audio podcast here

Additional information and more links can be found here

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