The Contexts of my Work

This is early stage #WorkingOutLoud as i consider the ‘Contexts of my Work’. Throughout this year i am taking a pause, to look back at my work so far, exploring the context of the Social Age, and to look forwards, as i pivot into the next stage of this journey. This illustration is a first consideration of the ‘lenses’ through which i may carry out that examination of my core work: the ‘historical’ and ‘technological’ contexts, the ‘social’ and ‘cultural’ ones, the ‘intellectual’ landscape, and my ‘personal’ worldview, and finally the ‘moral’ dimensions of work and the Organisations within which it is framed.

There’s a lot here (which is partly why i am around three months into what i anticipate will be an 18 month journey to do this). Today i just want to use this space to sketch out a few thoughts around each of those areas:

Historical: there is a historical context to my work, as it explore some of the notions around how we construct the post industrial Organisation. This perspective can potentially track back to the medieval feudal system, where power and ownership became set and directly led to patterns of ownership and social structure that powered the Industrial Age. Similarly, there are geopolitical aspects as social collaborative technology challenges notions of Nation and national governance and reach, as well as questions of national culture and identity. And finally, economics becoming more multi dimensional, and potentially abstracted from legacy geopolitic structures.

Technological: there are clear themes to explore my work that relate to the evolution, proliferation, and democratisation of communication technology, and hence into distributed and tribal collaboration (and latterly Human/AI dynamics in this), then there is the shift in manufacturing to the ‘infrastructure free’ Organisation, and brand and Organisation. Encryption technology distributes trust, and hence tribal structures of power. Finally, transport technology erodes notions of Nation and identity, as well as facilitating strong social ties that are increasingly distributed – transport and communication technologies are probably paradigmatic to the concept of the Social Age.

Intellectual: the cumulative effects of the Social Age may be leading to a redistribution of intellectual cartography, with legacy structures of Universities succumbing to emergent Guilds or Salons, alongside probably technological impacts of AI driven narrative engines, and synchronous machine translation removing or crossing legacy cultural contexts of the intellectual sphere (e.g. breaking down barriers between geographical/cultural ways of knowing – with accompanying concerns about erosion of culture and appropriation no doubt). I write widely about the nature of knowledge, and it’s evolution, alongside it’s abstraction in favour of the creation of meaning. Mechanisms of validation are also shifting, distributing, away from formal, central, and codified structures into more socially co-creative ones. I could argue that #WorkingOutLoud shifts the veil of intellectual life away from a purely performance one, into a more continuous dialogic one? And the relationship between legacy models of publishing (where ownership of the press counted), and contemporary ones. The evolution and fragmentation of publishing feels important.

Cultural: in the technological context above i think we see unity being held in different cultural structures, again moving away from legacy formal and geographic ones, as well as the strong and dominant emergence of global cultural narratives and structures (e.g. Marvel and KPop), my work also considers Dominant Narratives as a structure of understanding and these are strongly related to cultural structures i think. Also: the roles of ritual and artefacts, in that technological context, probably form a useful lens to look through, and relate also to evolving relationships between ‘stuff’ and power (e.g. buildings, cars, books etc).

Social: my work documents the ‘rise’ of community as a core theme and aspect of the Social Age, so to look through this lens at how power and protest operate, and the structures of tribes as trust bonded entities. This is essentially a view of the re-wiring, or reweaving, of social structure.

Personal: i will need to consider my personal lenses, my worldview, and individual experience, as this forms a filter on my analysis and interpretation, as it does for us all.

Moral: this last one is challenging, but i think it relates to questions around ‘why we work’, and the nature of our ‘duty’ into systems, as well as broader questions of the fairness of our systems. Potentially this is more an ethical lens.

These are really just ‘notes to self’. My aim is to use these in some rapid analysis to see where i get i said, this is very early stage #WorkingOutLoud.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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