Nicolas asks, “What about Wal-Mart….?”

Nicolas asks:

How do you see business enterprises that have historically done much harm to people and the environment as fitting into your claims about enterprises? For example, sugar and cotton production on the backs of African slaves in the New World, or the fossil fuel industry and its accompanying environmental degradation and military interventions in the Mid-East, or Wal-Mart-style corporations and the extinction of small businesses, or sweatshop commodity production? Are these enterprises just incredibly misguided?

Thank you for the great question(s)! Let’s explore:

  1. All of the examples fit. Each of the institutions you mention was constituted as a collection of historical communities to take care of particular concerns, constituted itself in networks of commitments, and accumulated capital (power is a good synonym) of various sorts – financial, pragmatic, symbolic or political. Continue reading

What IS a Business Enterprise?

Last night I attended Caryl Churchill’s play, A Number, at ACT in San Francisco. I found it valuable, challenging, sometimes funny, pithy, and short. A father confronts, one by one, several sons, all but one of them clones. So, they are the same, and different. The father attempts to figure out what mess he created by allowing the cloning, in his incautious desire to have more of “his son.” The sons are working out emotions ranging from a desperate ambition to discover “who they are,” to curiosity and enjoyment of the situation life is presenting.

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Designing Conversations

So, Greg asks me, what do you mean by “design” and “designing” here?

In the first chapter of their book Understanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design, Terry Winograd and Fernando Flores bring the question of design.

… the interaction between understanding and creation. In speaking here of
design, we are not restricting our concern to the methodology of conscious
design. we address the broader question of how a society engenders inventions whose existence in turn alters that society.

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