Can we direct slow unconscious change processes?

In his TED talk, Seth Godin defines change leaders as heretics looking at the status quo and deciding that it is not for them. He is talking about consciously choosing to change something and doing it.

There is also another type of change that happens without realizing it, sometimes without wanting it.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Inhotim, a contemporary art museum and beautiful garden. If you ever are near Belo Horizonte, do visit this small park, it is amazing!

To be honest I am not a big fan of contemporary art, but one of the art pieces there that spoke to me was Samson (1985) by Chris Burden.

Samson (1985) by Chris Burden

Samson (1985) by Chris Burden

From the explanatory sign:

Samson (1985) consists of a 100 ton jack connected to a gear box and a turnstile. The jack pushes two large timbers against the walls of the gallery. Each visitor to the exhibition must pass through the turnstile and each input on the turnstile ever so slightly expands the jack, and ultimately, if enough people visit the exhibition, Samson (1985) could, theoretically, destroy the building. (…) The institutional critique in Samson (1985) is brutal and subtle simultaneously: by forcing spectators to pass through the turnstile in order to satisfy their curiosity, Burden assigns them equal culpability in the potential destruction of the gallery space.

A couple of parallels from life outside the museum come to mind immediately: we are slowly destroying our basis of living. It is not the single act of driving 500 meters to get milk or buying a new cellphone every 6 months, but the sum of all these small things that add up to destroy the natural resources we depend on.

Another example is social media: Tweet by tweet, share by share, wall comment by wall comment, digg by digg, we are changing the way we communicate and work with each other and this already has profound implications for the way organizations and governments work, hire, and communicate.

Can Seth’s heretics give this unconscious change direction so we create value for each other instead of destroying it? What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Can we direct slow unconscious change processes?

  1. Is there an ecology of human contact? And how it is changing with online media?

    That is what your piece made me think when you used a negative example of unexpected change and one positive.

    It is not easy to track things that we are losing when we are too much excited by the novelty of new media.

    Samson is a good and tragic metaphor!
    thank you for your text.

    best wishes


  2. @laputean, what do you exactly mean by ecology of human contact? some traits that we share as humans, such as the need for social belonging?

    You might find the Cooperation Commons group ( interesting. It is a groups that explores cooperation and collaboration in all its facets and across disciplines. There are a couple of people interested in and working on the links between music, internet and cooperation :)

    Also, even though we would consider the examples I gave negative (environment) and positive (social media), you have also losers in both examples who would not necessarily agree with us.

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