Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Adam in IraqAdam Curry is blogging from Iraq as you all must know, but I wanted to say how great his stuff is and how it just gets better every day. Don't miss it.
Weinberger on Politics As UnusualAnd as I was saying below, David talks about "Ralph and Howie" over at his column Loose Democracy at Corante.
Politics As UsualThere isn't any more politics as usual. I was chatting with friends yesterday about all the weird and wild transformations going on in the political arena these days and we were left with the feeling that ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN and even the thing you least expect can happen.
Extraordinary KindnessIt's nice to be turned on by people who make a conscious choice to show not only their sexy and romantic side, but also their extraordinary kindness. Rare enough in this world.
Hit The MatsGetting back into working out now that my surgery is over and I can really exercise. The eye doctor doesn't go into any bloody details, thank goodness, but after eye surgery they don't want you jumping around or throwing your head down and over suddenly, putting pressure on your healing eyeball. So all the aerobic stuff and much of the yoga -- think downward dog -- is probably not good. I didn't want to risk it, but I hate my flabby old February butt. Time to get ready for the beach! Worked out hard this morning from 5:30 - 6:30.
Working At Blogging, Blogging At WorkI'm heading up to the North Shore for lunch with Ray Ozzie from Groove today. Maybe I will get a cheese sandwich for lunch after all. I want to hear what he has to say about blogging at work, as he still seems to be the one CEO who condones the practice. A lot has happened with blogging since both of us worked on the piece in Harvard Business Review about an employee who blogs last fall. I wonder if he feels the same way -- or if I do for that matter. I'm not working at the same place anymore, but I didn't leave because of any blogging issues. I'll report back on all cheese sandwiches consummed.
Monday, February 16, 2004
New DayI am awash in feeling blessed this morning. For one thing, my eye is NOT awash, which is to say, yesterday was the last day of eye drops I had to take every day for the last month since my cataract surgery. In the week immediately following the operation, you do drops more than six times a day. I had three little bottles. I had to stop whatever I was doing, lie down, do one drop in my eye --- wait 3 minutes -- do the next drop -- wait 3 minutes -- do the next drop -- wait 3 minutes. Doesn't sound like a big deal, but it reminded me of breastfeeding schedules, which when you read them BEFORE you have a baby sound reasonable, but once you have your baby, you suddenly realize, "Oh, I get it, I'm going to spend every minute of every day breastfeeding this baby!"
So after a week of three drops six times a day, you go to a week of four times a day and then a week later you go to two times a day. This was a very weird transition -- unexpectedly difficult -- by the time you've done this intense two weeks of drops almost at every meal time, to cut back to twice a day makes you feel very confused, sad, a little thrown off, you MISS your drops -- it's so odd. So week three is twice a day -- you realize you're healing, you're getting back to normal -- and even this makes me feel different -- maybe it was kindof special to be the "patient" and get special attention from family and friends, or at least some sympathy -- but now you're on the road to normal. You should be thrilled, but just as the new mom starts weaning her baby eventually, you lose a special status in the world.
And after twice a week, you go to that most strange last week of once a day eye drops. You've been carrying around three little bottles everywhere for a month and now the three little companions are about to desert you -- for your excellent eye sight -- as they should and as you should be more than happy to welcome, but life is a funny moody roller coaster, isn't it and even blessings can be mixed.
And you might have noticed how little I have written about my new eye. And there's a very big reason. Just as my first eye's improvement was so dramatic and I was gushing daily about it, this second eye's improvement as been ALSO extraordinary. But it has taken me down a path much more difficult to walk. My eyesight is so good now, I am seeing things that I just don't want to see. I am seeing very line, wrinkle, blotchy mark, scar of every face I encounter -- especially mine -- and that is sobering I must say. Sometimes it's not beautiful.
When I got eye number one fixed I went from terrible sight to a front row seat at a deliciously beautiful and colorful circus. I was seeing Cirque de Soleil from the best seats in the house. When I got eye number two fixed, I found myself backstage in their makeup trailer, seeing every imperfection of their faces before they applied their makeup, every slight unraveling or tear of their pretty costumes, every old clown trying to look young, every terrified grimace (usually hidden) when an acrobat makes a landing the audience never sweats but the team knows is viciously difficult and could result in harm. I am WAY up close.
It's not easy to get used to, but finally, I admit, it is a blessing in disguise. It lets me see a real world; a real world of work and worry, of disappointments and tears, but also of real love and real hope and real people. I guess that's the best word to use -- real -- my new eye says, "get real" and real isn't so easy every day -- but what it might lack in shimmering fantasy and trompe l'oeil artistry, it more than makes up for in truth.
I live in a world of bumps and scratches and arrive newly born, nearly age 50, with my old face in the mirror, wonderfully blessed to see the world as it is, and tell the tale.
Sunday, February 15, 2004
Tuning In LateI saw a concert on TV of this great woman singer, but they didn't put her name on the screen or even have a commercial break mentioning who the artist was. It was driving me crazy trying to figure it out. I didn't know who she was but I did know I loved her music. I remembered one song and scribbled down the words because I liked them so much.
"But this just the beginning
We're already wet, and we're gonna go swimming
Why can't I breathe whenever I think about you
Why can't I speak whenever I talk about you
It's inevitable, it's a fact that we're gonna get down to it
So tell me
Why can't I breathe whenever I think about you"
Of course, it was Liz Phair -- someone I keep hearing is so great and I guess not only did I tune in late to the concert on TV, but tuned in late to how terrific she is.
Saturday, February 14, 2004
Have Yourself A Very MerryA very merry Valentine's Day to all!
Friday, February 13, 2004
Fly BoyGo on, surprise someone in a distant city with a big heart-shaped box of chocolates. It's a risk, but maybe worth taking. Life is short.
Heart SoreBittersweet candy heart for those of you down ON love, instead of down with love.
FrissonA good word for today -- frisson -- a sexy shiver of anticipation.
Too Much TroubleOn the day before Valentine's Day, Erosblog points to a very funny piece about why kinky sex is just too much trouble.
Since blogs are all about innovation, the writer is helpful enough to imagine a new service industry:
I think there should be a kinky sex van that roams around the neighborhood like an ice-cream truck - but instead of a white van that plays "Pop Goes The Weasel," it should be a jet-black limo with a stereo system blaring "Pull Up To The Bumper." The kinky sex van would cruise through the neighborhood as adults flocked out of the house and ran after it. Eventually - because the Kinky Sex Driver would be like all sadistic f***ing ice cream drivers, who would drive an extra fifty miles just to watch the kids collapse in exhaustion behind them like the Bataan Death March - it would pull over, and everyone would get their wish.
For a mere fifty dollars, the Kinky Sex Van Driver would walk into your home, chloroform your kids, tie your wife to the bed in a very professional manner, and walk out, leaving you to f*** with eagerness and joy. When you were done, he'd come in, gently untie all concerned, collect all of the chains, clean up the chocolate sauce and whipped cream - and leave, saving you all of the effort. If you wanted extra partners, there they'd be in a box in the back! Not prostitutes, mind you, but just happy-go-lucky folks who liked to have random sex with droopy middle-aged fat people.
Kerry -- Who Cares?!I used to have a boyfriend who would blame me for everything. I could do no right by him. My mom told me how to combat this ridiculous guy (and to dump him). If it was a "you left the toothpaste cap off the toothpaste tube" allegation, she suggested going into the bathroom and leaving about 5 or 10 other lids, caps, tops off of any available bottles, tubes, jars, and tell him how right he was to accuse me, that I was guilty as charged and point out that my behavior was far more egregious than he even imagined. Whenever he wanted to play "You're so bad and I'm so righteous," she taught me wisely to play "Oh, yes, you're so right and I'm so much worse than you know." With her good advice, I drove this guy crazy and drove him out of my life.
The Kerry rumors, and all these political rumors remind me of my mom's good advice. It's time for all politicians to fall on their swords and say, "Oh, yes, yes, yes, we're so bad, bad, bad." It's time for us all to start flooding this silly system with so many ridiculous rumors that none of them matter at all anymore. Time to say, "who cares?!"
Time for America to grow up and remember the guy is running for President, not Altar Boy.
And remind me, are all Americans squeaky clean and above reproach in their private lives, and therefore can demand the same from a leader?
Why do we require an unstained boy scout to run our country?
And when (and if) there's any solid evidence that Kerry or anyone did anything wrong -- send me a telegram. Otherwise I'm hitting the snooze button -- the story's already a bore.
Thursday, February 12, 2004
Hugs And KissesAlways a good thing, right?
Eric NorlinJust added Eric to my blogroll. He's in a good neighborhood -- better than Marvin Gardens and Ventnor Avenue -- right there between Ed Cone and Erosblog.
The Star You AreDavid Weinberger and I were coming back from a meeting I'd set up for him, not that he couldn't have done it himself, but we had a conversation about why the folks were willing to meet with us and ended like this, "You're famous," he said to me. I hated the idea. "No, I'm not," I said, "if anyone is, you are. Not me!" I told him. "You are," he insisted. I still disagreed.
David and I met when he needed help editing the book he was writing two years ago, "Small Pieces Loosely Joined" and I was finishing up some projects helping people write, edit, shape book manuscripts. We became friends. We would meet in Chinese restaurants -- actually one Chinese restaurant in Brookline -- and I would give him my notes on his chapters. Were we famous? No. He was better known for sure than I was then, if we have to discuss degrees of alleged "fame" but I only thought of him as my friend. I thought of us as just two people having lunch in a Chinese restaurant -- one writer trying to help out another writer.
Is there an "A List" of Bloggers? Are they famous? Are they stars? This notion is swirling around the ETech Conference in San Diego this week -- that there is an elite set of bloggers and that they are an exclusive community, perhaps not receptive to less "famous" folks' desire to engage in conversation or discussion or dinner with them. It's really a complicated issue.
I think you must examine two things to begin with. First of all you have to define what blogging is as a medium. Then you have to open the larger conversation about what social software is and in particular the social network software of which Friendster, LINKEDIN and Orkut are examples.
As for what blogging is, you could say at one end of the spectrum, blogs are simply online journals. But you might go to the other extreme and agree with what Alan Webber of FastCompany Magazine once told me, "Blogging is performance art." It's not the definition everyone would use, but it points to something important about this "fame" discussion. It would be a lie to say we aren't trying to draw attention to our sites, our selves, our writing here on our blogs. I'll personally take Joi Ito to task on this point. When he posts pictures with him, his fiance and Steven Spielberg on his site -- come on, Joi, get real, you can't say this is to make you look like Joe Regular Guy or Mr. UnFamous, right? He and I have talked about this stuff. And I would say I'm guilty of the same name-dropping and "guess where I've been and what cool people I'm hanging out with" blogging. Still, when we are at a conference, we have our friends there and since we rarely get to all be in one place at one time, perhaps the time we spend with them can look exclusionary of others. I'm waffling here, unwilling to say we were snobby or we were justified in our behavior, but I can see it from both sides. It's hard to explain what it feels like when you just want to talk to 3 friends, but 30 strangers also want to talk to you. And you know those 30 might be equally fascinating, pleasant, and articulate but there are THIRTY of them.
There's another subtle level to it. Joi Ito the person and Joi Ito the blog are different. Halley (me in my skin here) and Halley's Comment Halley are different. When we take our bodies for a visit to a conference and we meet with our friends who we chat with, email with, blog and comment with, we are being ourselves mostly. But people are also reacting to us as our blog performance art persona. It messes with your mind.
I was at the Bloggercon event last October and at San Diego for ETech this first week of February. Something has changed in the world of bloggers since October. It may be the fact that blogging is getting much more attention in the national media and that many more blogs have been set up and there's a larger community now, but the effect Clay Shirky had forecast seems to be happening, i.e., due to power law distribution, many more bloggers makes a few very very famous.
A persistent theme among people writing about the social aspects of weblogging is to note (and usually lament) the rise of an A-list, a small set of webloggers who account for a majority of the traffic in the weblog world. This complaint follows a common pattern we've seen with MUDs, BBSes, and online communities like Echo and the WELL. A new social system starts, and seems delightfully free of the elitism and cliquishness of the existing systems. Then, as the new system grows, problems of scale set in. Not everyone can participate in every conversation. Not everyone gets to be heard. Some core group seems more connected than the rest of us, and so on.
Now, notice if I'd said "the effect Clay had forecast" instead of "the effect Clay Shirky had forecast" -- the former obviously makes it sound like Clay's my big buddy and we're in the same social circle, the latter merely a conventional attribution to an original source by the writer's name. This small omission makes all the difference. In fact, I have not met Clay, so it didn't seem appropriate to suggest that proximity.
It's not unimportant to note that the claims by some folks attending or hearing about the ETech Conference that there was an elitist and exclusive parading around of the so-called A-List bloggers, comes right on the heels of the big brou-ha-ha over Orkut, a new social software network.
To return to the format and intent of my essay mentioned above -- define blogs and then define social network software like Friendster, LINKEDIN and Orkut. At their best, these social networks, collections of people's names and profiles that supposedly facilitate community, give members the chance to make contacts for work, fun, family. At their worst, they are one more lame attempt to name and categorize who's cool and who's not. That "cool" game, and privacy issues, were the reasons I did not join Orkut. I don't like that kind of exclusive club. I haven't used Orkut so I have no right to criticize it, but it feels just like the local country club that won't invite jews, blacks or women, depending on the decade.
If there's any justified fame to be found here on blogs, it should be a "fame of talent." If you write well and people value your writing, that should be the beginning and the end of it. That people want to see, study, talk with, flirt with, drink with, point at, dance with our real live blogger selves is something else entirely.
The place I find interesting is where the two overlap and create disappointment -- where blogs and social networks create a false zone of "intimacy" -- making all parties feel they really "know" one another. Perhaps when we gather together in the real world, there's a sense that if we've played and chatted in Orkut or IRC, read the most personal details of a blogger's life and have had one another's email addresses in our address books for years, we should have equally intimate access to those same people in the lobby of the hotel. As many have written lately, social webs are just a lot more complicated than that and very hard to reduce into a flat software app, and as we stumble our way along, we'll have to watch social network software evolve and take on some of the complexity of real life relationships, or vanish from the scene.
Sheets For V-DayWhy doesn't anyone give bed sheets for Valentine's Day? Just too obvious I guess, but what a great gift. And why not spend the day in bed. Just too John Linen I guess, I mean John Lennon.
Tuxedo JunctionA tux is always nice. Like this one.
I Think He'll Get The MessageTry being subtle like this. If that doesn't work, maybe you need to go with the birthday suitt, I mean birthday suit.
L-O-V-EL is for the way you look at me. O is for the only one I see. V is very very extraordinare. E is even more ...
What A Card!You are such a card, you kidder!
Affairs Of The TartGood weekend to cook heart-shaped cakes.
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Don't AskI have some of the weirdest searches in my referrer log. And sometimes when I'm done cleaning house, giving my kid a bath, watching SpongeBob SquarePants and doing my other daily routines, I go take a peek at the weird crap that ends up in my log. And sometimes a most unusual search, like this one tonight in what looks to be a German Google, brings my site up and even better, puts me back-to-back with another site that I would never read if not for the weird search. So tonight, I ended up next to Margaret Cho's wiki and she has some of the most hilarious stuff there. So don't miss it.
Homework Wars BackgrounderThere's a lot already written on this subject. I come at it from a few directions. First as a former elementary school teacher who gave very minimal homework. Then from a perspective of a tired, hassled parent who has little to no time with my kid every night anyway -- but is forced to spend a good part of our precious time fighting about doing homework -- only straining our relationship and if you're not a parent, you don't have any idea how bad it can get. I also come at the issue as a former KID who had time to imagine, read, think, play outside and use my non-school time in much more free and productive ways.
Here's some thoughts from Harvard Grad School of Education.
Disney's got some of that reasonable, happy, upbeat, TOTALLY BOGUS ADVICE under their Family Fun site. You have to wonder about them -- just the idea of putting homework under the heading "Family Fun" ... hmmm ... I wonder if they have their advice on ROOT CANAL under "Family Fun" as well. They start by referring to a "project" -- the word most terrifying to parents. When ever overenthusiastic educators assign a project, we all want to run for cover. The expectations for a "project" these days are so over-the-top. Notice how the Disney advice pretty much assumes the existence of that charming imaginary character "At-Home-Cookie-Baking-Mom" available to spend endless hours with junior doing homework and challenging projects. Get a life. And it's not just about moms -- I know some terrific single dads who are spending WAY too much time they don't have, engaged in exhausting homework warfare.
Mocha Sofa is an interesting site and has this pleasant advice, obviously written by a single person with no children.
The Homework WarsI am going to have to break down and finally really blog about the homework wars. It will be frightening. It will be shocking. It will be a story better left untold, but I think I'm going to have to bite the bullet and tell the tale of nightly parental torture known as THE HOMEWORK WARS.
Now Is The Time To WorshipThere is this TV commercial about Christian rock n' roll that I find very strange. I guess there's no secret that I love God and write about it around here. And I love rock. But I totally don't get this stuff. I don't know anyone who listens to it. Maybe someone reading this does and they'll tell me why they like it.
I Just Don't Get ItHow can anyone have this attitude? Apparently, Andrew Sullivan gets a lot of email about his website being "unreadable" because he is gay and writes about gay issues. Would anyone dare say this about blacks, jews or women ... wait a minute, actually, I guess, come to think of it, this does happen.
As a writer, you have to figure this is an audience you're more than willing to LOSE.
IM ME ALL NIGHT
CU ON IRC
RSS FEED ME
Democracy Door-To-DoorDoc points to Micah Sifry's insightful comments about how political blogging tools and political organizing are two very different animals and require very different levels of committment and I couldn't agree more. At our panel, I answered one question on that topic and said that taking whatever we've learned out into the real world, working with real people and really organizing is the way to go. Here's the link.
And thanks for the pointer to Joe Trippi's blog. This speaks right to the notion I blogged about here last year in my post "This Is Not A Political Campaign" at this link.
Catherine Zeta-Jones Too HotThey ended up playing two movies yesterday on the flight home to Boston, both Chicago and Intolerable Cruelty, so as Jack slept, I got to experience a Catherine Zeta-Jones immersion process. She really is so hot. This morning the news is that she'll join the Ocean's 11 crew for the new Ocean's 12 -- which will be all the hotter now that she's in the mix. She's great. And she actually has a woman's body -- a lot of curves and none of this Calista Flockhart Auschwitz look.
Women Over 40 Playing Games Past MidnightWow, I guess I'm missing all the fun. I'm playing the wrong games after midnight -- I should be online!
More than a quarter of those women, the survey found, play their favorite games between midnight and 5 a.m. Women in the poll tended to favor word and puzzle games.When, may I ask, are these women getting any sleep?!
AOL also did research on gaming habits in major cities, finding that people who play games online in Los Angeles are far more likely (31 percent) to form off-line relationships than the national average (18 percent).
Atlanta and Boston were the most game-happy cities overall, at about 8 hours per capita per week, the survey said.
Monday, February 09, 2004
Ten Trends of Political BloggingHere are some trends in political blogging and the politics of blogging that will really matter this year.
1. Political blogs are simply political. Regular-people-telling-the-truth-about-their-lives blogs are subversive and radical.
2. The blog swarm giveth, the blog swarm taketh away. (What bloggers write about -- jump all over -- swarm all over -- put at the top of the charts -- these issues can define the discussion, not because they are necessarily more correct, more fascinating or more important -- but because they are so FAST AND FRESH.)
3. FDR: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Bush: "We have nothing so profitable as fear and fear itself."
4. Cheney is not, and never has been the Vice President.
5. "It's the credit card economy, stupid."
6. There are no more Democrats. There are no more Republicans.
7. We should kiss Europe's ass for reminding us who we are as a nation and who we must be and who we can not be.
8. Remember the video of the LA Riots -- dads smashing store fronts, moms carrying away jumbo pack diapers.
9. The Diebold Riots will not be pretty.
10. Blogs opened our hearts, our minds, our lives. Dean opened our hopes. Meetup opened our homes. Can you spell C-O-M-M-U-N-I-T-Y? There is no going back.
O'Reilly Schedule TodayHere's the agenda today. I'll update it if it changes.
Down from the Mountain: My Experience with the Dean Campaign
Time: 8:30am - 9:15am
Location: California Ballroom C
Q & A with Joe Trippi - Moderated by Ed Cone
Time: 9:15am - 10:00am
Location: California Ballroom C
Meetup and "On the Ground" Organizing
Scott Heiferman, CEO, Meetup.com
Jonah Seiger, Visiting Fellow, Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet at George Washington University
Time: 10:30am - 11:15am
Location: California Ballroom C
Effective Political Blogging
Doc Searls, Senior Editor, Linux Journal
Mitch Ratcliffe, Editorial Director, InnovationWORLD LLC
Halley Suitt, Halley's Comment
Time: 11:15am - 12:30pm
Location: California Ballroom C
Gatekeepers No More? The Grassroots Challenges the Journalist Priesthood
Dan Gillmor, Columnist, San Jose Mercury News
Jeff Jarvis, President & Creative Director, Advance.net
Jay Rosen, Associate Professor of Journalism, NYU
Time: 1:30pm - 2:15pm
Location: California Ballroom C
Electronic Voting and Transparency
Phillip J. Windley, Publisher & Editor, Windley's Enterprise Computing Weblog
Gary Chapman, LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas
Bill Stotesbury, Vice President of Marketing, Hart InterCivic
Time: 2:15pm - 3:00pm
Location: California Ballroom C
MoveOn: Bringing Ordinary People Back into Politics
Wes Boyd, Co-Founder, MoveOn.org
Time: 3:30pm - 4:15pm
Location: California Ballroom C
Advocacy as Application
Jon Lebkowsky, President, EFF-Austin
William Greene, President, Founder and Director of RightMarch.com
Adina Levin, EFF-Austin
Jonah Seiger, Visiting Fellow, Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet at George Washington University
Time: 4:15pm - 5:00pm
Location: California Ballroom C
Emergent Democracy Worldwide
Joichi Ito, Founder and CEO, Neoteny
Ethan Zuckerman, Founder, Geekcorps
Time: 5:00pm - 5:45pm
Location: California Ballroom C
Sunday, February 08, 2004
Venice BeachWe drove north to LA yesterday on a super sunny day. With my new eyes (sans cataracts) the lush California landscape is so exquisite, I can't keep my eyes off it. The boats, the ocean, the shiny cars, the hills, the fruit trees, the Mexican paint colors of naranjas and lavendar -- this state is like a big candy-stuffed pinata I'm wacking open to see more and more sweets and treats inside. I've never seen a California like this.
At Venice Beach, we hooked up with my sister at her Dean booth on the beach. She's expertly positioned next to a sexy 4-man band playing salsa and jazz -- they sound so good I have to wonder if they were session musicians dressed down for the beach -- studio refugees. The ocean was wavy and wild, hosting three daring parasailors, their half moon shaped sails, blown full bore, nearly exploding full of a choppy hard wind, surfing at wreckless speeds, and doing fantastic flips a good 20 feet high into the air, crashing down into waves but landking lightly and skateboarding along, through water like it was a friendly sidewalk. On the boardwalk all the characters are there, rollergirls, rastamans, henna tatooists and insense vendors. The wind was blowing all our Dean brochures away, but we weighed them down with rocks. Rowdy teenagers skate by and yell "Vote Edwards!" at me as if this will un-Dean me. I yell back at them , "Hey, just VOTE!"
We ended a long day at the Reel Inn on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, sipping a sunset, then watching the diamondy coast show off a necklace of lights stretching to Palos Verdes, the Santa Monica pier ferris wheel pulsing and bright like a shiny button.
LegolandHeading out to Legoland. The weather here is so bright blue, the flowers so bright red, the sun so bright yellow, it feels like the whole town is made of shiny Legos!
Saturday, February 07, 2004
DinnerLast night, with little planning, I managed to have a perfectly lovely dinner with Ole from Aperio here at the Westin in their Sports Bar. The waitress came over to ask how everything was -- both of said PERFECT so emphatically, I think we scared her -- but it was perfect. The big booths had a private TV where my kid could watch Sponge Bob Square Pants while we talked tech and the food was out of this world. Nachos, great salad with goat cheese, mahi-mahi and my secret favorite thing in the world that people who live in warm climates take for granted, but once the cool weather rolls in the Northeast disappears from the menu -- ICED TEA!!!
And did I mention ... it was my birthday and what a great birthday surprise to have dinner with this great new friend. Perfect ending to the perfect day.
San DiegoGot here. Just lovely, lovely, lovely. The view out my window at the Westin of San Diego Bay -- shiny bright blue water, battleships and sailboats, hacienda red tile roof houses and bleached white stucco apartments, palm trees with full heads of green hair.
And the warmth ... well, it was quite a day yesterday starting off in a blizzard on the runway in Boston watching them hose our plane down with slightly pink tinted de-icing liquid before we could escape the freezing breezes for this tropical paradise.
Friday, February 06, 2004
Words And Music: Capt. Alfred H. Miles U.S.N. and Charles A. Zimmerman (1907)
Anchors Aweigh, my boys, Anchors Aweigh.
Farewell to college joys, we sail at break of day-ay-ay-ay.
Through our last night on shore, drink to the foam,
Until we meet once more:
Here's wishing you a happy voyage home.
Stand, Navy, out to sea, Fight our battle cry;
We'll never change our course, So vicious foe steer shy-y-y-y.
Roll out the TNT, Anchors Aweigh.
Sail on to victory
And sink their bones to Davy Jones, hooray!
Stand Navy, down the field,
Sail set to the sky
We'll never change our course
So Army you steer shy-y-y-y
Roll up the score Navy
Sail, Navy, down the field,
And sink the Army, sink the Army gray.
Thursday, February 05, 2004
CandlesThey can light the way.
They can look just right, right around sunset.
They can save you from a sinking feeling as night rolls in.
They can look lovely, after a lousy day.
They can make you look lovely.
They can be the perfect thing for a birthday party,
even an all-by-yourself quiet one.
Birthday candles, always just right.
And candles can make you make a wish.
Just RememberedI had a dream I was drinking beer last night and it tasted so good.
Kick Back But Not For LongI've been working so hard today and got two out of three deadlines hit, all before I leave tomorrow for San Diego. I somehow managed miraculously to pack yesterday -- THANK GOD -- and trying to pull together warm weather clothes (seriously buried in the closet) and sandals (wow!) and bathing suits on a winter's day was quite an exercise.
Now to run do about 15 errands, but at least I can get away from the screen for a while. My new eye is going to go on strike pretty soon, expected to work so hard, barely two weeks after surgery. Sorry eye guy. You've got a week hiding behind dark shades and sipping bright pink drinks coming up, so hang in there.
Something FunI want to blog something fun here. Be back soon to add it.
Wake-Up CallI get the funny feeling there is a lot more that will happen between now and November 2004 and none of us has yet seen what this election will really be about.
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Gay Marriage At My CHURCH?Massachusetts just ruled in favor of gay marriage and our church issued an "open and affirming" statement last year that the congregation supported in a nearly unanimous vote.
HOWEVER, what's it like when it happens in your back yard or your own church. Will we see a NIMBY backlash? Or should I say NIMC (Not In My Church!) backlash? I whispered to someone in the pew next to me, last year after the vote, "Do some of the older folks realize this means we'll be having same sex weddings in this very room?"
They may know sooner than later. I'm all in favor of it. It's a beautiful church and would be a great church for gay weddings.
Seitz SiteJust what the doctor ordered. So it ends up that Bill Seitz started a site -- actually a wiki -- exactly like I was wishing for below in my post about a Candidate "Cheat Sheet". Check it out. We could all add updates to it and create a very useful tool. Thanks Bill.
Other SmartiesSpeaking of Clay Shirky being too smart, here's another list of smarties.
Dean ReduxI've been so damned busy and haven't had a chance to respond to Clay's excellent piece about Exiting DeanSpace, nor to David Weinberger's take on it (and many others' thoughtful responses) Clay's too smart, we need to stomp on his oyxgen tube, starve his brain a little so the rest of us bloggers can take a day off now and then.
I actually do more than sit around here eating bon-bons. I've been finishing up a few projects before I head to San Diego for the O'Reilly Conference.
I'll be back to talk about all this and about a bucking bronco I've been witnessing. This is going to be some helluva political summer. Can't wait to read the tea leaves for you.
BTW, I'll be working a Dean booth on Venice Beach this weekend. Hope to see you there.
The Culture of Male Narcissism At WorkZuboff in FastCompany this month has a lot to say about how we ended up culturally East of Eden, I mean East of Enron.
Cheat SheetDave points out the excellent table on CNN with JUST THE FACTS, M'AM from the yesterday's primary results. When political blogging and political journalism can be fact-based like this, then you're looking at something valuable. I need "cheat sheets" to help me cram for "the exam" -- voting. The web is made for this. I want journalists to provide this kind of information for the public -- set up a page for each candidate with bullet points on
-- Health Care
-- Women's Issues
-- Gay Issues
-- Senior's Issues
-- Minority Issues
and pack it full of information. It would be especially useful for it to have quotes and links with DATES to public statements candidates have made about a given issue, and then another link to a contradictory statement they made more recently. Sidebars with voting records, etc. That would be good information.
I'm sick of all the horse race reporting. It's not about that.
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
ElectionsSo when do we really get the election results -- really late I guess with the Western states.
Elizabeth HurleyThinking of E women today. What's Elizabeth Hurley been up to I wonder.
Ellen DeGeneresIsn't she great? Just the best and a good lesson in career ups and downs, as she is currently WAY UP.
Edith PiafBeen listening to Edith Piaf in the car lately. If you don't know about her, start here. She was one of the most passionate French "chanteuses" -- torch singers -- the world has ever known. She shares the same attitude as the verses I blogged last Sunday -- 1st Corinthians 13 -- without love, you have nothing.
La vie, l'amour
Paroles: Michel Rivgauche. Musique: Robert Chauvigny 1960
La vie, la vie ça se trouve
L'amour, l'amour ça se perd
Dans la vie.
La vie, la vie ça se donne
L'amour, l'amour ça se prend
La vie, la vie ça rêve
L'amour, l'amour s'éveille
A la vie,
Car la vie, mais c'est l'amour.
Oui la vie, c'est l'amour
Et l'amour, c'est la vie.
Pas de vie, sans amour.
Pas d'amour, sans la vie.
Notre vie pour l'amour,
Notre amour pour la vie.
Mon amour, tu es ma vie.
La vie, la vie ça chante
L'amour, l'amour ça crie
Dans la vie.
La vie, la vie nous donne
L'amour, l'amour nous prend
Toute la vie.
La vie, la vie ça meurt
L'amour, l'amour ça vit
Pour la vie.
Et c'est la vie...
Freedom FROM ReligionTom Wolfe was on the CSPAN BookTV program on Sunday, talking about Mark Twain at the Mark Twain House Museum. During the Q & A period he talked about the era we are currently living in. He called it the Era of Freedom From Religion.
As is his style, he had a slightly irreverant tone and flippant attitude, but what he said made enormous sense. He started off by describing how America was founded by our forefathers seeking freedom of religion and freedom from the monarchy of Britain, then went on to talk about Freedom from Want under FDR, with some other stops along the way I missed and then came to the notion that in the last 20 years or so, the social fabric of the US is stretching a great deal and we are not in an Era of Freedom FROM Religion (read: religious guilt).
The notion is that church and your mother used to make you feel guilty when you broke moral barriers; i.e., if you stole something, you were fearful of your mother's (or father's) wrath and censure, so you didn't do that. As an adult in that same vein, the church could shame you into "good behavior" and you would not go around coveting your neighbor's wife or other sinful things which your neighbors might consider amoral.
He said that we are leaving behind the era of religion having a moral hold on most Americans. In 1970 he said an astronaut was given the right to go into outer space if he was divorced and BEFORE this, he was not. He went into a totally hysterical description of trophy wives and how now it's not only permissible -- to be a successful older Alpha Male who dumps his wife of 20 odd years for a babe -- but practically de rigeur and that the only real social discomfort it creates is the time it takes to find out how the new wife spells her name -- suggesting that girls with names such as Brittany may spell it as many as ten different ways and you must get it right and scribble it in your address book where the old wife contact information had once resided.
I think (and he did not make this connection) it's absolutely true that this Bush White House (witness this flap about Janet Jackson's breast, much less Ashbrook's weird bare breast covering activities) is all about trying to fight this freedom from religious morality and reinstate an antiquated notion of marriage, feminine virtue and all things "good" of course by THEIR definition. They find themselves in a Dantesque Hell of going to war with religious fundamentalists out-moralizing their endless moralizing. They deserve it. Ironically, Bush and his relgious right and the Moslem fundamentalists are more in alignment on religious issues than they might want to admit. Do we need their bosom burqua? Do we need their narrow view of marriage? Do we need their old time religion? I don't think so.
Talk About Exciting!Rumor has it Joe Trippi may be at the O'Reilly Conference in San Diego! How terrific! I hope it happens -- I think he's amazing. And I'm wild about his wife Cathy too, hope she comes!
Last NightI got a chance to do a reading of some of my "Alpha Male" pieces last night at a coffee bar called CopaCafe in Lexington. I do like reading aloud, although it can be semi-terrifying at times. No matter how well I know the piece, and I know my own writing fairly well, I have to make an effort to calm my nerves, read much more slowly than seems humanly possible (and even then there's a chance people will tell me I was racing along ... it's so unusual how that time warp exists when you're doing public speaking) and force myself to pause for people to take things in and the most annoying thing (of course, I love it secretly) not keep going when people laugh. The first time I ever read aloud and someone laughed, I found it so disarming. It was like being in a forest with animals making scary noises all of a sudden. I almost never expect people to laugh at things I write, even very funny things, as no one laughs when I read the stuff to myself in my own head and therefore I never really expect it.
John Irving was one of my professors in college and I used to hear him read his stuff quite a lot. He taught me a ton about reading aloud and he was top notch. He was a great fan of Dickens who did many public readings -- very entertaining ones from what audiences of the day reported -- and knew it as an art form different from writing fiction and more akin to theatre. Irving really knew how to pause and let people walk along with him, keeping a good pace in his reading. Pausing and stopping are so dramatic and important. Mark Twain was an amazing public speaker too. I heard Tom Wolfe talking about that this weekend on CSPAN and want to blog about it in more detail soon.
It was a fun evening. Thanks to all for coming out to listen to me. It was great to see you. Also thanks to all the other writers on the program, even more of a treat for me to hear all your great stuff.
Weinberger On Social SoftwareI was being a little flippant yesterday when I blogged that "David's wondering if he's hot or not" when he wrote this piece. Later I read the same piece on the grey and black and Harvardian crimson-colored Corante and had a different feeling -- as if this was a more serious venue and I should take his words more seriously there. So David, liked your essay very much and didn't mean to sound dismissive. When I go to Joho, I expect some joking, you know like "ho ho jo ho!"
Chopsticks Even For Ice CreamI like Eric Gower's essay on why he likes chopsticks even for ice cream here. My son, being half Chinese, is getting hooked on non-stop chopsticks too and we have these insane competitions where we try to pickup un-pick-upable items with chopsticks and he usually wins.
He likes to steal my very tall cooking chopsticks (about double the length of regular dinner chopsticks) and do tricks with them, but I don't like him taking my kitchen tools, especially those and we get into a bit of a fight when he does that. My kitchen tools are HANDS OFF!
Read ThisSo is Meetup social software? I guess it is. And after saying software doesn't change anything in the post below, I will say Meetup has been there to support an emerging social networking experience, where it has provided an unobtrusive infrastructure to allow for that.
Meetup knows its place. It plays a background role to whatever people have in mind to meet about FIRST, similarly to Ebay playing a support role to people trading their junk and jewels. It is a servant to a social urge.
It has had a profound effect in political terms. Read this.
[Disclosure: I know several people who work at Meetup and know an advisory board member there. I've attended Meetup's for the Dean campaign.]
Dean And Social SoftwareMost of you have probably already read this great piece by Clay Shirky on Dean's Campaign. I think Clay makes an important distinction between the movement and the campaign.
In the same way, talking about Dean's third-place showing in terms of 'momentum' and 'character' the P/E and EBITDA of campaigns, may miss the point. Dean did poorly because not enough people voted for him, and the usual explanations -- potential voters changed their minds because of his character or whatever; seem inadequate to explain the Iowa results. What I wonder is whether Dean has accidentally created a movement (where what counts is believing) instead of a campaign (where what counts is voting.)The power of this "movement" back to democracy is something I referred to here as well in This Is Not A Political Campaign. I agree that Dean AND JOE TRIPPI in particular, tapped into a powerful desire of many disenfranchised voters to reconnect with democracy -- social movement yes, but I don't agree that social software was as big a player in the game as some might think.
And (if that's true) I wonder if his use of social software helped create that problem.
Removing Joe Trippi from the Dean camp was all about that realignment -- away from "the movement" and back to "a campaign". It was a fearless 360 degree turn and it remains to be seen if Dean can decouple from that runaway freight train of democracy and ride the rails to a simple nomination as the leading Democratic nominee. I hate to rain on any social software parade, but I think the operative word of the two is SOCIAL, not SOFTWARE. When you think software is the important part of any radical change in the way people live -- no matter how exquisite and elegant that software may be -- you're focusing on the wrong story.
I often found the Dean campaign software a bit complicated in places. Call me crazy, but if it were willing to step behind the scenes and assume it's subordinate place in the story, that is, simple software simply facilitating social connection, it might prove even more valuable to the Dean campaign.
The mistake the Dean Campaign isn't making anymore is thinking software saves the world. People save the world and software can help people do that.
Effective Political BloggingI'm looking forward to the panel I'll be sharing with Doc and Mitch and Cameron in San Diego at the Emerging Democracy Teach-In. Here's a bit of a schpiel about it.
Blogging is the voice of the revolution. Unscripted, bottom up -- blogging lets people on the ground tell their own stories -- while syndication technology gives wide readership and lets news and insights bubble up to the top. This session will teach participants the essentials of successful blogging. What works. What doesn't. How to track the conversation flow and measure the impact of your own contributions using tools like Feedster, Technorati, Blogdex and Daypop.As for metrics and measuring and tools, I hope to leave some of that stuff to the men to discuss. I've got another angle entirely. See you there!
Monday, February 02, 2004
Last LaughYou have to figure there's no one laughing harder than P. Diddy, Nelly and Kid Rock -- finding out they are are GOOD BOYS this morning and Justin Timberlake is the BAD BOY with the Feds chasing his white ass! Well, go figure.
David, You're So Hot!I think David Weinberger is worrying about whether he's hot or not again. Now, David! It's not the way you wear your hat or sip your tea, it's the way you think!
Thanks EricI stand corrected -- yes, yes, JUSTIN Timberlake, not Jason, don't know WHERE I got that?!
Kid's JelloGreat party last night and my favorite quirky thing was little containers of kid's red jello for dessert for grown-ups (among about 50 other desserts). I made deviled eggs and potatoe skins with cheddar and bacon.
Monday MorningIt is Monday. It is February. It is hard to wake up after last night's Superbowl.
Sunday, February 01, 2004
Bush Orders Justin and Brittney To WedPresident Bush signed into law today the Timberlake-Spears bill, which requires the two stars to wed within 48 hours to spare the nation any more unusual sexual highjinks. "I think these young people need to set a new moral tone for the nation, before they suffer a total Sodom and Gomorrah-like meltdown," the President said from the Oval Office. He has made the White House available to them for the wedding with the President himself serving as best man and Laura Bush undertaking the responsibilities of Brittney's maid of honor. "They are giving our daughters very bad ideas," Laura admitted.
Justin Can't You Wait Until The Post-Bowl Party?!I once heard Janet Jackson on Oprah go into a long, drawn-out speech about why she liked nipple rings so much, I guess Justin likes them too.
"The two singers were performing a flirtatious duet to end the halftime show, and at the song's finish, Timberlake reached across Jackson's leather gladiator outfit and pulled off the covering to her right breast.Don't worry, Justin, we know how you feel. There's just something about a gladiator outfit. I've always been rather keen on tearing off Russell Crowe's, given half a chance.
The network quickly cut away from the shot, and did not mention the incident on the air.
It was unclear whether Timberlake intended to expose Jackson's breast. "
Wow! We Won!Vinatieri rocks! And as for the breast-baring incident ... funny part was only the WOMEN at the party I attended actually saw it! And the guys didn't believe it when we told them all about it! Bad time to leave the room for more potato skins!
Love In Latin -- 1 Corinthians 13
si linguis hominum loquar et angelorum caritatem autem non habeam factus sum velut aes sonans aut cymbalum tinniens
et si habuero prophetiam et noverim mysteria omnia et omnem scientiam et habuero omnem fidem ita ut montes transferam caritatem autem non habuero nihil sum
et si distribuero in cibos pauperum omnes facultates meas et si tradidero corpus meum ut ardeam caritatem autem non habuero nihil mihi prodest
caritas patiens est benigna est caritas non aemulatur non agit perperam non inflatur
non est ambitiosa non quaerit quae sua sunt non inritatur non cogitat malum
non gaudet super iniquitatem congaudet autem veritati
omnia suffert omnia credit omnia sperat omnia sustinet
caritas numquam excidit sive prophetiae evacuabuntur sive linguae cessabunt sive scientia destruetur
ex parte enim cognoscimus et ex parte prophetamus
cum autem venerit quod perfectum est evacuabitur quod ex parte est
cum essem parvulus loquebar ut parvulus sapiebam ut parvulus cogitabam ut parvulus quando factus sum vir evacuavi quae erant parvuli
videmus nunc per speculum in enigmate tunc autem facie ad faciem nunc cognosco ex parte tunc autem cognoscam sicut et cognitus sum
nunc autem manet fides spes caritas tria haec maior autem his est caritas
La preeminencia del amor -- 1 Corintios 13
Si yo hablase lenguas humanas y angélicas, y no tengo amor, vengo a ser como metal que resuena, o címbalo que retiñe.
Y si tuviese profecía, y entendiese todos los misterios y toda ciencia, y si tuviese toda la fe, de tal manera que trasladase los montes,
y no tengo amor, nada soy.
Y si repartiese todos mis bienes para dar de comer a los pobres, y si entregase mi cuerpo para ser quemado, y no tengo amor, de nada me sirve.
El amor es sufrido, es benigno; el amor no tiene envidia, el amor no es jactancioso, no se envanece;
no hace nada indebido, no busca lo suyo, no se irrita, no guarda rencor;
no se goza de la injusticia, mas se goza de la verdad.
Todo lo sufre, todo lo cree, todo lo espera, todo lo soporta.
El amor nunca deja de ser; pero las profecías se acabarán, y cesarán las lenguas, y la ciencia acabará. 9 Porque en parte conocemos, y en parte profetizamos;
mas cuando venga lo perfecto, entonces lo que es en parte se acabará.
Cuando yo era niño, hablaba como niño, pensaba como niño, juzgaba como niño; mas cuando ya fui hombre, dejé lo que era de niño.
Ahora vemos por espejo, oscuramente; mas entonces veremos cara a cara. Ahora conozco en parte; pero entonces conoceré como fui conocido.
Y ahora permanecen la fe, la esperanza y el amor, estos tres; pero el mayor de ellos es el amor.
La Charite -- 1 Corinthiens 13
Quand je parlerais les langues des hommes et des anges, si je n'ai pas la charité, je suis un airain qui résonne, ou une cymbale qui retentit.
Et quand j'aurais le don de prophétie, la science de tous les mystères et toute la connaissance, quand j'aurais même toute la foi jusqu'à transporter des montagnes, si je n'ai pas la charité, je ne suis rien.
Et quand je distribuerais tous mes biens pour la nourriture des pauvres, quand je livrerais même mon corps pour être brûlé, si je n'ai pas la charité, cela ne me sert de rien.
La charité est patiente, elle est pleine de bonté; la charité n'est point envieuse; la charité ne se vante point, elle ne s'enfle point d'orgueil,
elle ne fait rien de malhonnête, elle ne cherche point son intérêt, elle ne s'irrite point, elle ne soupçonne point le mal,
elle ne se réjouit point de l'injustice, mais elle se réjouit de la vérité;
elle excuse tout, elle croit tout, elle espère tout, elle supporte tout.
La charité ne périt jamais. Les prophéties prendront fin, les langues cesseront, la connaissance disparaîtra.
Car nous connaissons en partie, et nous prophétisons en partie,
mais quand ce qui est parfait sera venu, ce qui est partiel disparaîtra.
Lorsque j'étais enfant, je parlais comme un enfant, je pensais comme un enfant, je raisonnais comme un enfant; lorsque je suis devenu homme, j'ai fait disparaître ce qui était de l'enfant.
Aujourd'hui nous voyons au moyen d'un miroir, d'une manière obscure, mais alors nous verrons face à face; aujourd'hui je connais en partie, mais alors je connaîtrai comme j'ai été connu.
Maintenant donc ces trois choses demeurent: la foi, l'espérance, la charité; mais la plus grande de ces choses, c'est la charité.
Love -- New International Version Bible
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,
but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Love -- New American Bible
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part;
But when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Love -- King James Version
1 Corinthians 13: Faith, Hope, Love
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
Does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
Does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Church Was All About LoveChurch is perfectly UN-missable, and of course, I nearly missed it. I mean by "un-missable" that the whole thing is always so worthwhile and not to be missed, but I resist anyway. And this morning was no exception as it was all about love and was really wonderful, but still it was not easy to get there.
I was having a religious wardrobe crisis, as it's cold again and I was just so NOT in the mood to go out in the freezing breezes in nice looking clothes (read: suit, with skirt, stockings, heels which I usually wear) because you end up having that nasty cold wind blowing up your skirt and we're not talking Marilyn and the subway grate on a hot day here, we're talking evil wind of freezing needles of cold going right through you like 100 dart guns triggering. So if I can't look sexy and suited up for going to church, I get kindof down about the whole holy enterprise and get cranky , as I am still way more of a Californian than I like to admit. I realized I have to wear those "hide me" clothes that most New England women swear by -- the baggy navy wool sweater, the white LL Bean turtle neck and the black wool trousers, black suede clogs. Boring boring boring. Ugly, ugly, ugly. But in fact that's JUST what I wore. And I didn't feel very pretty so I hid upstairs in the church balcony where the parents with noisy children who behave like baby baboons hang out, coloring elictedly in the hymnals and making their parents looks terribly embarrassed -- as if I could care -- I was happy to hide out there.
But some damned fool -- I can't believe I said that -- some nice parishoner, actually probably the minister, decided this should be a communion Sunday where we all came UP FRONT to share communion instead of having it served to us. Great, thinks I, I have to come up front looking like hell.
I sure sound like I care a lot about what I look like, don't I? How vain. Well, thought I'd just admit it, right here, it being a sin and all. So something kindof flipped and I realized, nobody cares what you look like. God certainly isn't concerned about you not being on the pages of Vogue. And then the minister, Judy Brain, reved up her sermon and it was all about love and it was so good. One of those, cut away everything, nothing else matters, remember what's real and what's not sermons.
And I started to see things a little differently, that I was there to love the people who where there, and let them love me back. Not bad, not bad at all. Good deal and it doesn't matter what you look like. And she said something great about love being brave and one of the quotes she read was "I'd rather not be living if I can not live with love" and that certainly got me thinking. And a friend there is having a memorial service for his dad and the time and date was printed in the bulletin and I'm glad I saw it, so I can tell him I'm sorry about his loss. It was a great day to go to church.
Nun Of The AboveI was talking to Chris Locke yesterday which is surely one of life's big thrilling rollercoasters and I was talking to him about ... OH CHRIST ... yes, Orkut. I just remembered. I thought it was about something else and I did not want to write about stupid idiot poopy pants Orkut again, but here I go.
Anyway he was yanking my chain about how Orkut and I were MADE FOR EACH OTHER. That it's really fun like a party and what with me being so much the social director type, I was being sorely missed over there and why the heck was I being such a curmudgeon and not joining it.
And then I was telling him about a occupational analysis thing-a-bob test I took after college when I was flopping about trying to figure out what to do with myself and this weird test and it was apparently a serious test -- I took it at Columbia University's Vocational Guidance Center or some such esteemed institution. It came up with two occupations it said I would be extremely successful in. Here's the two jobs:
-- A cruise ship social director
-- A nun
This is the unfortunate kind of thing Chris Locke extracts from those willing to have telephonic intercourse with him, strange and unusual, often unspoken weird information, deep from the depths of some subterranean neural town dump of neural activity, way under both the conscious and the unconscious and you just have to go with it. I still have never figured out what set of traits I possess that BOTH these jobs require. I suppose they are all about rounding people up and getting them to smile while they play shuffleboard or say the rosary. One rounds up bodies, one rounds up souls.
This of course proved HIS point that I should join Orkut -- which was just where I did NOT want to lead the conversation. Then we were kidding around about other jobs I might have had and of course he said something about "nun of the above" and I said, "Wait, aren't all nun's literally of the above?" A discussion of nuns followed. I've always gotten off on nuns wearing wedding rings saying they are married to Jesus. Is there a point where Jesus becomes kind of a deadbeat husband and stops bringing flowers and you can't get him to put down the Wall Street Journal and actually talk to you at breakfast anymore?
Anyway, I was thinking about these professions and how I had once tried to join Club Med to be a "gentile organisatrice" or "G.O." which are their gung-ho camp counselors but that didn't happen and then I was thinking about being a nun. Not being Catholic proves to be a stumbling block for attaining job satisfaction down that path as well. So I am neither, the tests were just not helpful at all.
Instead I seem to be a writer, and Chris was right, I've turned into none of the above. But then this morning on email I was also chatting with Jerry who pointed out that my writing was obviously my strong suit and I should ditch my Superbowl Party today and stay home to write and it occurred to me from his comment that in fact, the reason my writing is any good at all is that it's part cruise ship social director in tone and part nun and it weirdly goes in both places. If you drop in here, you honestly never know if you'll find me wearing a wimple or a bikini. Or both.
And then one more email arrived from Euan, asking me ... you guessed it ... to join Orkut! Yikes!
Thing is ...Thinking about losing my dad, losing my mom, odd word loss, strange verb to lose, strange phrase, losing people. Thing is ... they hardly seem lost. If anyone is lost, it is us, trying to understand their passing. But I do not find them gone. They are here and don't call me crazy to say so. Maybe they are made into lovely silk ribbons, long rolls of gossamer, slightly champagne color, wavering like smoke, shimmering like candlelight through your lively life and you find they weave themselves in and out of your mornings, your noons, your nights. How tricky they are to find their way into your daily day, glowing slightly, not ghostly, but they smile back in funny ways, they drop a tear here and there throughout the house, and beg one of you at unlikely times.
And as we go forward, we pray to have new friends acknowledge them very delicately, simply know that they were here and now gone, that they are embedded in our lives, these not-at-all-lost lovely people we just can't call on our cell phones anymore. Never lost, perhaps better found. And we need others to know they are present, and that we -- the schoolyard bullies of aliveness, living loudly in this noisy world -- need to shove over and make room for them, let them live in picture frames and out, let them breathe new life into all our new ventures, new babies, new houses, new loves, new days, tenderly whispering their blessings to us to just go on.
Twelve DegreesIt's morning and I don't want to get up, I'm in bed thinking of a few great conversations I had yesterday. I put on Nat King Cole, "Sentimental Reasons" and roll over, not wanting to get up. I'm thinking of my day. What I have to do. That gets me thinking less about yesterday, more about today. I'm thinking about beer. I'm still not drinking ... haven't had a thing since last ... October or November, I don't remember. Not wanting beer, but I have a task to take care of -- to make some warm beer cold.
I get up. In my bathrobe, I start the bath, lots of bubbles, lavendar bath gel, then shuffle barefoot into the kitchen to find a 12 of Rolling Rock beer and a bottle of Kendall Jackson white wine from a party before New Year's. I'm going to a Superbowl party later and it needs to get cold. I put a plastic bag around it. For some reason I'm keen on this plastic bag idea, having thought about it in great detail as I was lying in bed thinking about my day, the plastic bag is key, as I know if I put the beer outside to sit in the snow, it might get the cardboard beer box wet enough to fall apart if I don't put something plastic around it. I go to the livingroom, dragging the beer and wine, unlock the back porch door, it's so cold. I was thinking it would be about 30 today -- warm for us -- but this is not 30. My bare feet are blown by an icy breeze, they cower.
I shove the bag full of semi-booze out on the snowy porch. The teak porch chairs look like boney dinosaur carcasses, frozen and snowed over in their steps. They can't escape. Close the glass door. Lock it.
Flip on the Weather Channel -- 12 degrees -- that makes more sense. Full moon Feb 6 on my birthday. Nice. Leave the weather on in MUTE. Run into the bathroom to dive into a hot soapy tub. I do a jackknife from the high dive. Land with grace and agility in a lavendar ocean.
Saturday, January 31, 2004
Hey Bacchus!Good Saturday stuff over at Erosblog. Let's throw the guy some traffic. I love his ongoing story of this woman he met via email and blog, finally getting to meet her in person a few weeks back. He posts some rather wild stuff over there, but his tale of his new love -- the "nymph in my net" as he calls her -- is the sweetest thing.
First a nice post about how much she loves to touch him and vice versa.
Then a post about ... how to describe it ... two views of marriage. Start with one from The Importance Of Making Myself Available:
It is wonderful when we have sex and I am on fire with passion or I pick up that passion during the act, and it is an important part of our marriage and sex life, but I think the other times are just as important and, in another way, wonderful. Those are the times when it didn't matter if I was in the mood or not, because he either needed so badly to have that pressure relieved or he just found me so adorable that he had to express it by taking me on the spot.and a rather different take from Why Your Wife Won't Have Sex With You:
Those times I do not get any orgasm but I have the pleasure of having a husband who is happy and cheerful and humming. And sometimes he is even able to help decorating the table for a dinner party just because he has got it. To see him like that is a much more quiet and subtle satisfaction than an orgasm, but to me it is just as good.
Maybe I am more practical about it because I am the farm girl I am, but to me it is and always was a very natural thing that the male has different sexual needs than the female. To meet those needs and even enjoy it as much as I can ? in some way or another ? has always been a natural thing for me, because I believe that a wife has a duty to be supportive and loyal, to let her husband feel loved and appreciated, to please him and make him happy, and to comfort him and cheer him up and help him to regain his confidence and self-esteem when he needs it.
To me it seemed simple: he wanted me to be his sexual appliance, the handy-dandy love machine that could be switched on and off at his command. I felt no desire, and I didn't want to "submit" to being handled and penetrated when I wasn't in the mood. If he really loved me, this sex thing, this "merely physical" part of our lives, wouldn't be such a big freakin' issue. His pissy, furious responses to my refusals only made me more sure that he didn't really love me. He just wanted to use my vagina. He clearly thought I owed him sex.
Hilary Duff Is Very SexyShe's really a cutie I think. Good actress and that video of her in the rain -- well, she is very sexy in that. Oh, yes, it's called Come Clean. She could do some seriously well-paid endorsements of waterproof mascara if she played her cards right.
Wish I Were A NurseSome girls have all the luck. Imagine showing up for the graveyard shift to spend the night with Russell Crowe. Wouldn't be the worst thing.
What To Do TodayHere's some things to do today in Boston. Thanks to Craig's List.
Good Enough For Instant PuddingI suppose if Instapundit can put out the tip jar, so can I. Paypal's right there on the left. Feel free, however, if you are a really devoted Halley's Comment fan to send pretty pink boxes with black ribbons from Victoria's Secret full of pretty lingerie as a certain fan did this week.
Donations of $25.00 are fine if I ever made you laugh with anything I ever wrote. If you fell off your chair laughing, send more. If you peed in your pants, you are a Platinum Halley's Comment Supporter, just send the top limit for PayPal, $2000.
Friday, January 30, 2004
Levitra Proves DisappointingI was so excited to see all the ads for this new drug called Levitra -- just what I needed. Especially with Super Bowl weekend coming up, I thought, I oughta get some of that stuff -- a drug that really improves your knowledge of football and will let you throw a football straight at a target, like the tire swing they feature in their ads.
They have football coaches endorsing it, the NFL endorsing it, all sorts of good looking older guys who can really throw footballs demonstrating it, I was thrilled to find a quick fix to my limited football skills. Honestly, I suck at football. They make you feel like anything's possible, when they mention on their website "STAY IN THE GAME!" I need that kind of encouragement to really appreciate football.
But it doesn't seem to be helping me at all. It made griping a football a lot more difficult -- seems to have made all my fingers swell up -- I just don't get it. It's harder than ever to toss the pigskin. I want my money back.
I'd like to stop trusting Dean will step in shit again. That's for sure. I'd like to trust that he will continue to tell us the truth and fight to get this country back from the aristocracy and return it to common working people. I think he tells such painful truth about what is really happening in America, many people would rather look away and see pretty ads on TV that play pretty music and make them feel warm and cozy.
Dean needs to stop being so shrill and scary. I know these are scary times the country is going through. I know he feels a moral responsibility to wake us up, but I'd rather wake to a warm cup of coffee than a siren going off.
One of the earliest themes of this election was all about how the Democrats got screwed in the last election in Florida. The guy in the middle of that insanity now runs Dean's campaign. There's something interesting about that. Maybe we need to remember how that felt. Maybe Roy Neel can remind us of what's at stake.
There are ten months to go. That's a lot of months. There are a pile of delegates to go. This many.
Dean has never disappointed me in how determined he is to run this race to the very end. And I don't intend to disappoint him by wavering in my support when he obviously needs it.
Full Court PressI wrote this comment the other day on David Weinberger's excellent new column Loose Democracy at Corante as we were all talking about how the Dean Campaign's internet strategy helped or harmed him of late:
David = I think this is not about vague, sprawling "Internet Strategy" notions the Dean campaign was based upon, but specifically about the way Dean and Trippi embraced blogs and bloggers (who are nearly detested by most traditional journalists).
Underneath all the political noise and commotion of this election, there is a veritable Civil War going on between bloggers and journalists. Whatever wonderful things bloggers can do FOR a candidate, journalists (especially TV reporters) can work wonders AGAINST a candidate's image and just about destroy him. Despite the missteps Dean himself might have made, the press was out to crucify him IMHO.
I had a pleasant chat with a woman reporter from a very well-known newspaper at Dean NH HQ, all nicey-nice until I happened to mention I was a blogger and then she looked at me like I was a LEPER. Anecdotal evidence to be sure, but I think this is a big part of what was happening in the Dean campaign coverage.
And read this from Dan Gillmor -- I really like what he says:
If this is how things work, why did one candidate in 2000 not get this scrutiny? Why did George W. Bush get to announce that he'd been a bad boy before the age of 40, but that was ancient history and we should all forget about it -- and that's pretty much what happened. The press gave Bush a pass on things -- his failure to show up for some National Guard duty; questionable if not corrupt business dealings; the substance abuse; etc. -- that still smell to high heaven and would have been the topic of nonstop coverage had a Clinton or Gore or Dean been the one who'd done them.
There's a non-conspiratorial explanation for some of this. Bush, the candidate, coddled and flattered reporters. He cultivated an image of being shallow, if not stupid (he may be the former, but definitely not the latter), so that journalists would just laugh off his latest gaffe. In 2000 Gore was standoffish and didn't suffer fools. This time, Dean was the smart-guy front-runner who didn't have time for games with journalists. Who got treated better by the reporters? Guess.
Reporters are human. We are insecure by nature and susceptible to flattery, more than we should be. One of the most telling journalism images of this campaign was a news story (I can't find it offhand) in which one reporter complains that Dean didn't ask any personal questions about him, the reporter -- setting a new high (or low, depending on how you see it) in journalistic self-involvement and insecurity. Add Dean's thinking out loud and pandering, and he was bound to get pounded.
Anyway, Dean's still in this race. But I have to wonder if Bush would be in the White House at all had he been subjected to the same treatment. Somehow I doubt it.
Scream RevisitedThis admission by ABC News is pretty incredible. Try turning the noise of the crowd down and only hearing the microphone of Dean shouting over the crowd -- and not even being heard there -- and then you've got a whole other story.
Publish And PerishFascinating blog piece by Prof. Michael Watkins at Harvard Busines School.
On Not Getting Tenure/Academic Parasitism at HBS
Well I'm back after a long hiatus.
The reasons why I took a break from blogging are twofold. Family was one big factor. In early November we had our third child, a beautiful little boy named Niall. He is now 2 months old, and we are just now emerging from the fog of childbirth.
Career developments, the main subject of this posting, were the second big factor. Just before Thanksgiving, I learned that I would not be getting tenure at the Harvard Business School. Tenure is an up-or-out system, and so I needed to regroup and start thinking about what I wanted to do with my life after the end of the academic year. (more on this later).
Perhaps I am flattering myself, but I think my case raises some issues about the future of HBS and of business schools in general. In particular, I have been wondering for some time:
* To what extent are business schools producing insights of use to practicing managers?
* Is the investment that they are making in research justified in terms of results? - a straightforward ROI assessment
I believe that the answers to these questions are, respectively, little and no. I further believe that this is the result of the "capture" of business schools (including unfortunately and increasingly HBS) by discipline-oriented academics who consume more value from their institutions than they create for them. This is the parasitism to which I refer in the heading for this posting.
First here is what happened, as well as some details about the way the tenure process works at HBS.
On Not Getting Tenure
Not getting tenure was of course a big disappointment. It also came as somewhat of a surprise. (see my info) (I'm not trying to brag here, just give an indication of why getting tenure was plausible,)
Since coming to HBS in 1996, I have authored or co-authored five books and numerous articles and cases. My work has been received very well by my primary audiences - business professionals and educators (I'm admittedly not a traditional academic). My two negotiation books, Breakthrough International Negotiation and Breakthrough Business Negotiation, won the major practitioner-awarded book prize (from the CPR Institute for Dipute Resolution) in the negotiation/dispute resolution field in 2001 and 2002 respectively. My first, co-authored, book on accelerating oneself into a new leadership role, Right From the Start, has sold over 30,000 copies since 1999 and helped spawn a consulting/coaching industry focusing on executive "on-boarding " and "assimilation."
My most recent book, The First 90 Days, also on the subject of transition acceleration, extends the work that I did previously. It has sold 30,000 copies in just four months since publication, and hit the Businessweek best seller list last month. The companion interactive performance support tool that I developed, called "Leadership Transitions" is HBS Publishing's second best selling e-learning product. It has grossed over $1 million in revenue and has been licensed by 40 major corporations. Here too, I have helped launch a new movement in the Human Resources and Leadership Development communities to focus on helping managers get up to speed in their new roles. This is work, incidentally, that I was strongly advised by the head of my unit at HBS not to do, advice that I fortunately ignored.
Beyond this, I had developed a two-section elective course at HBS, called Corporate Diplomacy, from scratch to the point where 160 or so second year students sign up for it each year; developed and led the executive program HBS does for the World Bank; helped prepare Harvard to better deal with crises, etc. etc.
So I had reason to hope that HBS would recognize and reward my contributions, and I was a bit surprised when they didn't. Which gets me to how my tenure case fits into broader trends at HBS.
Academic Parasitism at HBS
Essentially there is a war going on at HBS between believers in the importance of managerial relevance and upholders of academic orthodoxy, and the former is losing. This balance is a hard one to strike in professional schools, especially those situated in leading research universities. Go too far in the direction of practice and you become a consulting/training company. Go too far in the direction of academic respectability and you become irrelevant. The latter has been the fate of many of the business schools at leading universities - they rarely produce cutting-edge thinking that impacts business practice (take a look at the top 250 books on management at Barnes and Noble and note how few are written by business school academics.) Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, for example, was essentially fired by Stanford.
For a long time, the main exception to this has been HBS, which was defined at its founding as a "delicate experiment" in bridging theory and practice. Since its founding, HBS has been a source of innovative business thinking, and there are faculty who are continue to turn out good stuff - e.g. Jay Lorsch, Clay Christensen, Robert Kaplan, and Joe Badaracco.
But my sense is that the pipeline for ideas that impact business is going dry at the school. Also the school is confronting troubling trends - in terms of increasingly "academization," reductions in the quality of executive program participants, and declining involvement of faculty in developing cases studies - the school's bread and butter - that I believe point to deeper problems
From its founding until the late 1970's, HBS operated according to its own idiosyncratic knowledge creation model. It focused on the case method and strongly valued teaching and connection with practice. Critically, it encouraged interdisciplinary research and trained many of its own faculty (including people with a lot of business experience) in the HBS Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program to conduct such research.
But the practice of training your own faculty is anathema at most academic institutions. Instead, the academy is organized into "disciplines" (economics, psychology). Most academics have primary allegiance to their disciplines and associated reference communities, and not the particular institutions in which they reside. They seek to publish in their discipline's leading referred journals, attend its conferences, etc.
But this means that they are not incented to make investments in "institution-specific capital" like developing courses and writing case studies. One important way you gain status in the academic disciplines is by having your Ph.D graduates "seeded" into other institutions. (In fact, if you view academic training to be a form of asexual reproduction, you won't go far wrong).
Beginning in the 1980's HBS's traditional model came under increasing attack. As I understand it, soon after John McArthur was appointed Dean, then Harvard President Derek Bok began pushing very hard to increase the academic respectability of HBS, using the club of the President's control of the tenure process. Unlike the Graduate School of Arts and Science at Harvard, HBS had not been subject to Harvard's "ad hoc" process - in which the President appoints an independent committee to review all tenure appointments and to treat each tenure decision as an open search for the best candidate in the world for that position.
The result of the ad hoc process has been very few internal promotions within Harvard's Graduate School of Arts and Science and the resulting "star" culture. (The standing joke is that young faculty are treated by their senior colleagues as if they were victims of a fatal childhood disease - kindly, but with the expectation that they will not be around for very long). This promotion system works reasonably well in the humanities and sciences, but is devastating in professional schools. (The Kennedy School, for example, is subject to the ad hoc process.)
The result of President Bok's pressure was that HBS began to hire more "outsiders," respected business scholars from leading research institutions. This set in motion a process of increasing "academization" of HBS that has continued through the administration of the current Dean, Kim Clark (himself an economist). It has accelerated recently because the school has reached a "tipping point" in terms of the declining influence of the old guard and the rise of the young academics.
The result has been increasing hiring of leading scholars into tenured positions from outside HBS, as well as much more hiring of newly minted Ph.D. from the disciplines (principally economics, psychology, and sociology) into tenure track positions rather than from inter-disciplinary business doctoral programs. [This also puts the young research faculty in the unenviable position of having to teach a very tough audience, HBS MBAs, without having accumulated much real-world experience.] The discipline-oriented academics also have "captured" HBS's doctoral programs, re-orienting them strongly to the training of young discipline-focused research stars.
The result is that HBS is looking more and more like all the other business schools with, I believe, associated negative results. The fundamental principle of business strategy, after all, is to cultivate and sustain distinctive competence. So it makes little sense to become like everyone else.
The academization trend is just one of several that I believe are taking HBS away from a sufficiently close connection to the practice of management. There also are issues concerning who comes to HBS's executive programs. In an HBS faculty meeting a year or so ago, the then Senior Associate Dean in charge of Executive Programs gave a sobering presentation on the state of HBS's open enrollment executive program offerings. The gist of the presentation, as I heard it, was that HBS was attracting fewer and fewer managers from leading US companies in growth industries and more from (1) non-leading companies in stagnant industries, and (2) international participants who continued to see the HBS brand as very attractive.
To me, this was a clear warning sign of creeping erosion of the HBS brand. I also think it has potentially dire consequences for innovation and knowledge creation at the school - if professors don't connect with the best practitioners, it becomes hard for them to learn, develop and test new ideas that influence practice.
The other primary way that HBS faculty has kept its faculty abreast of real-world practice is through the writing of case studies on companies. Here too I believe there are major problems. Many of the discipline-oriented tenure-track faculty don't appear to invest much time in writing cases. Why? Because it's an institution-specific investment (and a very time consuming one) that takes them away from their research and ability to publish in leading journals. Journal publishing is what they rightly care about, because it will get them promoted within their disciplines and give them options should things not work out at HBS.
The result is, I believe, a vicious cycle of increasing isolation of the school from practice. HBS has compensated, to some degree, by hiring professional case writers, allowing tenure track faculty to increasingly delegate the field research to others. But this simply enables the isolation of faculty from practice to continue and grow.
[These are concerns that I have had for some time, predating my tenure decision. For example, I wrote an article called The End of Executive Education as We Know it? that was published in BizEd, a trade magazine for the executive education industry. I posted an earlier version of that article just before posting this one.]
More recently, President Summers has, I think with the best of intentions, added to the pressure on the school to become more academic in its orientation.. I have it on good authority that he made it clear more than a year ago that he would no longer accept letters in support of tenure cases from faculty in non-first tier schools. This is a big problem for those at HBS who come up for tenure on the basis of interdisciplinary research, course development, and practitioner-oriented work. The people in other top-tier schools are essentially always discipline-centric research scholars. I also have it on good authority that President Summers convened the first "quasi-ad hoc" committee to look at the only tenure case that HBS put forward. [This year there were four people up for tenure at HBS myself, Stefan Thomke, Das Narayandas, and V.G. Narayanan. The other three made it.]
Certain species of birds practice what is known as "brood parasitism" by laying their eggs in the nests of birds of other species. As I see it, the academization of HBS is the equivalent of brood parastism - the academics feeding on the brand that the practitioner-oriented people in the school labored so hard to build. The HBS brand is very strong and it can be fed on for a long time before getting tarnished. The discipline-oriented academics who are hired at business schools probably benefit from the higher salaries and research support that they get compared to their colleagues in Economics and Psychology Departments. But I have to believe that the "capture" of HBS and other business schools is a negative development in terms of the creation of new knowledge about the theory and practice of management.
I also think there is an interesting governance story here, especially given that other major institutions, corporations and government, are confronting governance crises. The faculty is really not subject to much oversight concerning these major changes in direction. I suspect that HBS's alumni are unaware of the profound changes that are going on at the school. Yet they are currently the subject of a $500 million capital campaign. But my sense is that the alumni little more than superficial collective oversight or voice in the institution.
The Tenure Process at HBS
My tenure case occurred in the context of these changes. After doing my Ph.D at HBS, I went to the Kennedy School in 1991. I was hired back by HBS in 1996 into what was then a small Negotiation Unit that had developed an innovative new required course in negotiation. In 1999 this unit was merged with a larger unit, Organizations and Markets, led by Professor George Baker, one of the leading "young academics"at HBS. [Professor Baker also has led the charge to increase the academic respectability of HBS Doctoral programs. He is a fine economist who, I believe, belongs in a fine economics department, and not a business school. (see his info, click on "publications" to get a sense of his contributions)] This unit then hired two leading scholars in economics and psychology from the outside, focused on hiring young research stars, and the ascendency of discipline-oriented academics within the combined unit was complete. [The required negotiation course, incidentally, progressively fell in student ratings to very low levels, and I saw some of the young faculty in my unit suffer terribly by trying to teach it without the requisite training and experience.]
It was in this context that I came up for tenure.
The way the tenure process works is an important factor here. It works like this:
The candidate submits a personal statement outlining his or her accomplishments and plans, along with a supporting package of written materials. The Dean appoints a subcommittee of three tenured faculty to review the case and make recommendations to the tenured faculty as a whole. The candidate being evaluated does not get to know who is chosen for this subcommittee.
The subcommittee solicits written evaluations from (1) all the tenured faculty in the candidates unit (the unit's opinion is critical), (2) from others inside the school, and (3) from selected outsiders. The candidate can make recommendations about who should evaluate their case, but the decision is up to the subcommittee. The subcommittee also decides which pieces of the candidates written materials are sent to reviewers. The candidate does not get to know who wrote letters, what materials they evaluated, or what their criticisms were.
The subcommittee reviews the letters and comes to a conclusion about the candidate. If positive, it goes on to the full tenured faculty for debate and ratification, and then to the Dean who has the final say over who gets recommended to the President to be granted tenure. If negative, the candidate is informed, and advised to withdraw..
In my case, most of the senior faculty in my unit, the discipline-oriented academics, were not supportive of my case. My understanding is that my work on negotiation was sent to several leading research scholars in the field outside of HBS. In the field of negotiation, the leading scholars are psychologists who study negotiation by doing experiments with highly simplified situations. My work in negotiation, which focuses on a systems view, is a critique of theirs, so unsurprisingly they hated it.
Within HBS, select tenured faculty from outside my unit were also asked to evaluate aspects of my case. But I was told by one tenured faculty member that the choice of who was asked to read my material in their unit was "not an obvious one," the implication being that the person was not the best equipped to evaluate my case.
This is an example of how the tenure process is subject to a great deal discretion on the part of members of the subcommittee (who are themselves selected by the Dean). The process also is influenced by factional politics within the school. I've concluded that you have to have a very strong patron in your unit supporting your case, or you are fighting an uphill battle. And I wonder if this is a system that truly fosters excellence.
I also know that the letters that came back from non-psychologists in the field of negotiation and from practitioners and educators were outstandingly supportive. But my case was finished.
At this point, I was told by the Senior Associate Dean who manages the promotions process, Srikant Datar that the subcommittee had recommended that my case not go forward. He also sketched out the main criticisms of my case. Candidates in this situation are offered the chance to withdraw their case, in part to save them the embarrassment of being formally denied tenure (although many outside Harvard would consider such a denial a badge of honor) but, I think more importantly, so the school can avoid having to take contentious cases to the full tenured faculty.
Concluding I had little to lose, I did something I'm sure they haven't seen done before. Not only did I not withdraw (candidates have a right to a hearing before the full tenured faculty), I wrote a detailed rebuttal and asked that it be appended to the report that the subcommittee would send to the full tenured faculty. This request was denied by Professor Datar, and I was told by another tenured faculty member that the subcommittee would now write a "brief" that would highlight the negative aspects of my case to support their recommendation to the full tenured faculty.
I of course have no idea what actually went on the full faculty meeting concerning my case, but just before Thanksgiving, I got the call from the Dean indicating that he would not recommend me to President Summers. And that was that.
Having been at Harvard since 1985, first as a doctoral student, then as faculty, it is of course quite wrenching to be leaving Harvard. But I also increasingly see it as a opportunity for some self renewal. Fortunately there is a lot of interest in my leadership transitions work (and also in my next book, Predictable Surprises, which will be published by HBS Press next year) and so I've got interesting options. I'm quite glad that I decided to push on with this work, which I think will help a lot of practicing managers. I'm probably not going to look for a full time academic appointment for now. But I will certainly seek a part-time affiliation with a good school - I would miss the students too much.
What I will not miss is the culture of management-by-and-for-insecurity that pervades Harvard. The sad truth is that few people at Harvard are allowed, or allow themselves, to enjoy their accomplishments. The institution attracts driven, insecure people who then tend to reinforce each other. The result is productivity, albeit of a narrow form. I was able to isolate myself from its effects to a large degree, but I'm certainly not going to miss it.