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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Iphone 5, Facebook, Google+: A New World

What can Facebook, iphone 5 and Google+ tell us about our motivations and our economy?  You spend hours on Facebook, eagerly search for friends on Google+, and you would sell all duplicate  organs to any black-market organ dealer with a dirty butter knife to get the iphone 5.

Wikipedia Link About Google Plus
These things have one thing in common, one primary motivator. They're all social. This is remarkable for one reason. Generally, we motivate people with secondary reinforcers which are not social. We use grades, money and threat to keep people doing what we think they ought to do. Hell, we think we need them to keep us doing what we think we should do and even what we want to do. 

We're trapped by tertiary tokens. They're tertiary in that they don't have an intrinsic link to what we do for them, and their tokens because they're meaningless outside our agreement (except threats). For instance, a grade is given as a signifier or achievement, of getting beyond a class, but it doesn't contain any direct motivation to learn. In fact, you could get great grades without learning anything meaningful at all. 

Money is the same. We think we need to pay people to achieve greatness. But, psychology shows over and over that great financial incentives might actually hinder productivity and creativity. So why, considering all the problems with tertiary tokens, and all the considerable amounts of time we spend on Facebook,  Google+, all the money (or organs) we hope to spend on the new iphone 5 do we think we that money and grades are the best reinforcers and motivators---why when it's obvious that the greatest reinforcers are social in nature. 

Why haven't we moved to an economy that takes advantage of development for the sake of mastery in social context, and why haven't we moved from educational systems that work on grades to systems that facilities the intrinsically social nature of knowledge to have learning in motion? It seems like laziness. No, it is laziness--and it is fear. 

We say, "It's the best we have!" but we've deluded ourselves. It's not the best we have; it's the best we had. We just don't have the character and strength to apply the knowledge that we've gained over the last 100 years to our world. It might inconvenience us. By us I mean: Those who have the comfort of a developed system. We made it the old system and we don't want to learn another even if it is better for the world. We feel safe there. 

So while the world and the market goes on revealing the nature of a healthier more productive world with sites like Facebook and Google+, and products like the iphone 5, we continue in our old ways, sacrificing a better way because we made it in an old world. 

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