[extropy-chat-test] Extropy Institute "Exponent" Newsletter

Extropy Institute exi-info at extropy.org
Fri Oct 17 12:58:32 UTC 2003

Extropy Institute Newsletter
DESIGNER future (10.08.03)


It's about time we did!    Designer business 
strategy, designer stock options, 
designer drugs, designer vitamins, designer babies, 
designer relationships.  This is the wave of the future. 
When I first started taking Kronos's designer vitamins, I 
knew it wouldn't be long before consumers 
requested designer everything. From "Five Gay Guys" 
helping men shape up their aesthetic sensibility, to top 
rated TV programs like HGTV's "Designing for the Sexes" 
and "Sensible Chic", around the corner to customized 
telecommunications systems, we all want to be in the 
design-know-how.  This year, The Cumulus "Value in 
Design" Conference, held in Tallin, Estonia, gathered 
the European and Chinese leading design schools to 
discuss the future of design.  From customized 
furniture and prosthetic designs, to the future of 
cleaning, we experienced the handiness of having it 
just the way we want it for our own specific needs.  
Is this monopolistic?  No.  Not a chance.  What it all 
means is 
that we want to simplify - to make life a little bit less 
trying and a bit more accommodating.  Designer comic 
Jerry Seinfeld pinpoints the design of news "It's amazing 
that the amount of news that happens in the world 
everyday just exactly fits the newspaper."

It's amazing that the amount of everyday spam fits 
exactly into our in-boxes - taking up avilalbe space.  
Speaking of spam and news: ExI's email 
list, "Extropy-Chat," is facing heavy net spam.  "Dave 
McFadzean has tracked 
this back to the policy of the ExI ISP limiting the 
volume of email traffic. The reason for this problem is 
most likely 
due to the individuals
or organizations that are sources of SPAM," advises 
Robert Bradbury.  A plan to resolve the problem is 
scheduled for this weekend.  It looks like we will 
be moving to a new ISP. When it's all-go, we will send 
a message to everyone from the old "Extropians" list as 
well as the "Extropy-Chat" list.

In this Issue: Virginia Postrel's "The Substance of Style" - New Council of Advisor Member Dr. Fiorella Terenzi - EAT Team; and more!
* DESIGNER Markets
* DESIGNER Commerce
* DESIGNER Culture
* DESIGNER Aesthetics - Talking to "VP" - Virginia Postrel

Virginia Postrel's new book, "The Substance of Style" 
(HarperCollins 2003) takes a long aesthetic look at the 
marketplace of style.  Since when did aesthetics creep 
into Americana?  Did the whole world become stylish, 
thanks to corporate logo design?  Was it a tipping 
point, or a clearly planned strategy 
designed to blend the hard edges and rugged lines of 

"As soon as the 
Taliban fell, Afghan men lined up at barberships to have 
their beards shaved off.  Women painted their nails with 
once-forbidden polish. Men traded postcards of 
beautiful Indian move stars, and thronged to buy 
imported TVs, VCRs, and videotapes.  Even burka 
merchants diversified their wares, adding colors like 
brown, peach, and green to the blue and off-white 
dictated by the Taliban's ship-wielding virtue police. 
Freed to travel to city markets, village women 
demanded better fabric, finer embroidery, and more 
variety in their traditional garments."

Postrel suggests that the sense of 
things - the look and feel, tone and texture - of our 
environments is substantially more important than we 
give it credit.  These sensorial elements in the form of 
aesthetic structures, have great influence on where our 
culture is heading.  But is 
the high barometer on aesthetics making us a vain 
culture, a new high art elite, or followers of a cookie 
cutter "marthastewartism?"  Postrel argues that the 
enhanced aesthetic appeal is healthy for culture and 
claims that Abraham Maslow's seminal writings 
on psychology which argue that humans have 
a 'hierarchy of 
needs' and will obtain essentials, such as food and 
shelter, before moving on to less vital items, including 
aesthetics" leads to "a false conclusion: that 
aesthetics is a luxury that human beings care about 
only when they're wealthy."

What about designer MONEY?  The da Vinci Institute in 
Denver, Colorado is focusing on the future of money.
John Naisbitt, ExI member and long time fellow futurist, 
will be speaking (Currently working on his next book, "A 
World Between Eras").

Design of ORGANIZATIONS: An summary from Max 
article on "How to Optimize Disorder in Your 
Organizational Culture."  ___"According to the lyrics 
of a '70s song by The Sweet, 'Love is like oxygen: You 
get too much, you get too high; not enough and you're 
gonna die.' Imposed order has the same effect on 
organizational cultures. In the turbulent environment of 
the Innovation Economy, argues Max More, companies 
need to find a dynamic balance between uncontrolled 
change and stifling stability. The drumbeat of 
innovation, agility, and adaptability can be heard 
throughout the business literature, and for excellent 
reason. At the same time, enduring companies just as 
badly need integrity and continuity. How can they 
achieve the right balance?  More answers this question 
in three parts. The first section of this paper 
distinguishes imposed order from emergent order then 
points out five methods for systematically managing 
this mixture: Balanced Leadership; Keep It Simple 
Strategically; Compasses, Principles, and Vision; Know 
Your Network; and Systematic Surrender. In the 
second section, More outlines 8 ways to fortify imposed 
order. These include uncovering and employing 
unofficial hierarchies, defining decision rights, leading 
with clarity, grounding strategy on the few real 
certainties, and pushing systematic innovation 

The final section assembles 12 methods for 
encouraging emergent order. Far from destroying order 
and unleashing organizational anarchy, these methods 
create conditions conducive to spontaneous 
organization arising at every level of the company. 
These include introducing Innovation Economy 
budgeting processes that support innovation and 
reflect information closer to real-time; using social 
network analysis to strengthen and protect knowledge 
flows; provoking constructive conflict; several ways to 
fend off the cognitive "anchor" bias; using simulations 
to break down inventive barriers and to heighten 
flexible response; attending to failure; calling in the 
CoPs (communities of practice); and experimenting 
with 'pradoxical management.'  Use this 8-page article 
as a cheat sheet crammed with solutions to the 
difficulties of simultaneous change and continuity. You 
can explore many of the approaches through content in 
the relevant topics on ManyWorlds.com."

Is design FUTURE wise?  Designer future advocate Dr 
Patrick Dixon seems to think so in his lectures on 
global trends, designed for those interested in an early 
warning system for their future business and personal 
life. http://www.globalchange.com/futurewise.htm.

John Naisbitt speaking at Future of Money Conference >> http://www.futureofmoneysummit.com

(L to R): Jill Tarter: Director of the Search, SETI; Neil 
astronaut, first human to walk on  the Moon; Lewis 
Branscomb: three time
head of the NSF and Chairman of the President's Space 
and Science Committee

The Telluride Technology Festival is a Celebration of 
the Past, Present and Future of Technology. The Tech 
Fest is based on the historical fact that in 1891, Nikola 
Tesla, George Westinghouse and Telluride's own L.L. 
Nunn built the world's first commercial grade AC power 
plant in Telluride. The intimate mountain environment of 
Telluride, Colorado continues to be an ideal 
for discussion and reflection.

philosophy major at Northwestern 
University, stumbled across Extropy  Institute while 
surfing the net and since then has never looked at 
human potential in the same way. "I 
picked up a saying from the COD leadership program, 
"lead from where you are"; before I move on to 
meta-brain growth research, I want to establish 
systems that will catalyze other students by raising 
awareness of transhumanist ideas and issues on 
campuses and providing tools to assist them in 
networking with professionals and businesses in 
various fields."

As center for catalyzation with a business 
orientation, Ben thinks "Extropy Institute is ideal for 
certain kinds of networking. ExI boasts leaders who are 
prominent in a number of business and academic fields, 
has been covered by numerous media sources, and has 
access to extensive informal networks. That said, 
student applicants to positions posted on ExI's 
networking site will be judged on their own merits. 
What ExI's network will offer businesses and 
professionals is free advertising of positions to a 
pool of people who tend to be passionate, dedicated, 
forward-thinking, and knowledgeable in their fields of 
interest. What the network will offer students and 
people changing careers will be a free resource for 
opportunities to work under established businesses and 
professionals in their field of interest who value 
what they have to offer."  Ben  should have a web 
page finished in less than a 
month. The "Student to Professional 
Networking" web page will have an exciting description 
ExI's networking service and its user benefits, an 
organized list of offers, a section requesting new 
offers from professionals, a section asking 
professionals to join a network of their colleagues, 
and a section requesting the fields that interest 
students using the system and lists such fields.  
"We need to attract and assist professionals and 
businesses, attract and assist students, and develop 
some simple, low-maintenance mechanisms to introduce 
eager students and established professionals to each 
other. The quality will improve with time as more 
efficient mechanisms are developed, a larger pool of 
professionals and businesses offer opportunities in 
more fields and locations, and greater numbers of 
students embrace extropic ideas and seek to 
careers that actualize, protect, or inspire new 
direction for the radical expansion of human 

Telluride Tech Fest >> http://www.telluridetechfestival.com

MoTA, The Museum of Transhumanist Arts, is
curating an exhibition scheduled for 2004.  Multi-
Disciplinary - Serious Fiction/Science Fiction is the 
theme for the exhibition ("MMMDSFSF").  MoTA will be 
featuring designers and writers. If 
you are interested in working with the curators, 
contact MoTA.

New Executive Advisory Team ("EAT") members are 
Leigh Christian, Gina Miller, and Ben Hyink:  Leigh's 
background gives her an edge on what works in the 
media, whereas Gina's nano-smarts bring to the fold 
latest nano news. Ben is putting together a culture for 
students who want to learn about the future landscape 
for careers.

George Dvorsky, Deputy Editor and a columnist for 
Betterhumans and President of the Toronto 
Transhumanist Association, will be taking on the role of
Chair of the Conference Planning Committee for the 
TransVision 2004 conference to be held in Toronto, 
Ontario, Canada. George has a history degree from the 
University of Western 
Ontario and continues
to study 19th and 20th century political, scientific and 
thought as well as the history of science and the 
Enlightenment. "I'm
primarily concerned with the ethical and sociological 
impacts of
transhumanism and future technologies, and I actively 
promote informative,
honest and open discussion for the purposes of 
education."  Regarding TransVision 2004, George's initial 
tasks include facilitating agreement on the themes for 
conference, selecting a venue and dates for the 
conference and procuring at
least three high-profile speakers for the event. Once 
these have been
finalized, a call for papers will be issued.  If anyone 
would like to volunteer to help with 
TV04, please
contact Dvorsky at george at betterhumans.com

Became The New Religion"
by Brian Alexander.  Brian has been Wired's exclusive 
writer on advances in biotechnology and the evolution 
of the human future. His most famous story on 
biotechnology-a cover article which made the bold 
statement that human cloning was less than a year 
away-created a worldwide stir, launching congressional 
investigations, spurring media outlets such as "60 
Minutes," Time, and CNN to do spin-offs, and prompting 
a strange race among would-be cloners. Interview with 
Brian is scheduled for next month.  You can pickup a 
copy at Amazon.com.  (ExI members mentioned 
throughout the book.)

MoTA >> http://www.transhumanist.biz/mota.htm

DESIGNER Aesthetics - Talking to "VP" - Virginia Postrel
Questions for Virginia: 

___Was there a single incident that spurred your 
interest in aesthetics?

___VP: I wish I could say that there was, because 
asks me this question, but it was a gradual process. 
What I tend to do in my work is identify social and 
economic patterns arising from many different 
examples, and that's what happened here as well.  
you think that there should be no differentiation 
between "high aesthetics" and "mainstream 
___VP: What I find more useful is to think about 
aesthetics that is the equivalent of 
basic science, exploring the envelope of possibilities, 
and aesthetics that is the equivalent of applied 
engineering, producing products ready for market. Both 
are necessary and valuable, but they're different.

___What about building a comparable argument 
science:  Do you think the skills/know-how/aptitude of 
science on a refined, educated level could be available 
for everyone if scientists continue to be (as John 
Brockman claims) the intelligentsia and leading creative 

___VP: I'm not sure I agree with John Brockman on 
scientists play some role as public intellectuals. But 
they aren't alone.

___You seem to be saying that the aesthetic 
principle is new and that because of product design, 
advertising, marketing, etc., we are now becoming 
accustomed to aesthetics.   Indeed 
aesthetics is fairly new to America, aesthetics is the 
way of life for Italians and we learned style from Italy, 
with a pinch of France and Japan tossed in.  Comments?

___VP: The intensification of aesthetic applications, 
certainly the spread of aesthetic pluralism, appears to 
be a phenomenon throughout the developed world. 
That said, the trend is much more noticeable in the 
Anglo-American countries, whose pragmatic and Puritan 
heritages have traditionally stigmatized aesthetic 
concerns. Also, as I note in chapter two, the large 
continental free trade zone that is the United States 
encouraged reliable mass production, distribution, and 
marketing ahead of niche specialties. In many parts of 
Europe, for instance, hotels are just now getting up to 
the "best surprise is no surprise" standards of American 
blandness. That doesn't mean the hotels were better 
before; some were charming, but many were just tiny 

___You argue that the enhanced aesthetic 
is healthy for culture and claim that Abraham Maslow 
whose "seminal writings on psychology argue that 
humans have a 'hierarchy of needs' and will obtain 
essentials, such as food and shelter, before moving on 
to less vital items, including aesthetics" leads to "a 
false conclusion: that aesthetics is a luxury that human 
beings care about only when they're wealthy."  Can you 
elaborate on why that it is important to realize our 
need for 
aesthetics rather than thinking it is only for the chosen 

___VP: First, I want people to remind people to think 
of tradeoffs rather than simple hierarchies. Hierarchies 
make good diagrams, but they don't usually represent 
how life works, either for individuals or for societies.

Second, the trend I'm writing about isn't about luxury, 
as some people have inferred, but about the extension 
of aesthetic content to the broad middle class (and, in 
some cases, poorer people as well). Elites have long 
had access to aesthetics. The aesthetic objects we 
see in museums, including those from the 20th century, 
generally represent the life of a social and economic 
elite, not the general public. By making it easier for 
ordinary people to incorporate aesthetic pleasure and 
meaning into their lives, today's trend represents 
significant economic progress.

Finally, I think romanticism went badly awry when it set 
up art as a category separate from and superior to the 
rest of life. (The flip side, of course, is that "practical" 
people came to see art as silly or deceptive.) Artists 
and designers do have knowledge and skills that the 
rest of us don't, but that doesn't mean their fields 
should be completely inaccessible to people without 
similar training.

___How do you respond to the anti-globalism
sentiment that slams logos and advertising?   How do 
you view 

___VP: The general, non-ideological public distrusts 
for fear of being bamboozled. As a result, however, the 
general public is extremely media savvy and has 
developed quite a strong immunity to dubious forms of 
persuasion. The anti-globalists who are recycling Vance 
Packard and Thorstein Veblen are out of touch with 
their own culture, which is why Naomi Klein's book 
doesn't actually make an argument against advertising 
and branding. All she does is demonstrate that there 
are lots of brands and then go on to talk about poor 
labor conditions in Third World factories. Brands, logos, 
and advertising are neither necessary nor sufficient to 
create bad working conditions.

To purchase Virginia Postrel's book >> http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0060186321/qid=1065386355/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-6350465-2596132?v=glance&s=books

Quick Links...
Join Now! >> http://www.extropy.org/membership.htm
Directors, Council of Advisors, and Executive Advisory Team >> http://www.extropy.org/directors.htm
Max More's "How to Optimize Disorder in Your Organizational Culture" >> http://www.manyworlds.com/exploreCO.asp?coid=CO95039301825
Best Business News Source on the Web! >> http://www.manyworlds.com://
Brian Alexander's New Book!  Rapture - How Biotech Became The New Religion >> http://www.amazon.com
More About Us >> http://www.extropy.org
email: natasha at natasha.cc
voice: Natasha Vita-More, President (512.263.2749)
web: http://www.extropy.org

This email was sent to natasha at natasha.cc,
by Extropy Institute.

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