Susan Sontag


Needing to have reality confirmed and experience enhanced by photographs is an aesthetic consumerism to which everyone is now addicted. Industrial societies turn their citizens into image-junkies; it is the most irresistible form of mental pollution.


It would not be wrong to speak of people having a compulsion to photograph: to turn experience itself into a way of seeing. Ultimately, having an experience becomes identical with taking a photograph of it, and participating in a public event comes more and more to be equivalent to looking at it in photographed form. That most logical of nineteenth-century aesthetes, Mallarmé, said that everything in the world exists in order to end in a book. Today everything exists to end in a photograph.

via Susan Sontag, On Photography

John Ruskin


The more I think of it I find this conclusion more impressed upon me — that the greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see.

John Ruskin, Modern Painters


In a coming book, Henry Olsen of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington divides the Republican electorate into “four discrete factions that are based primarily on ideology, with elements of class and religious background tempering that focus.”

They are: very conservative evangelical voters, very conservative secular voters, somewhat conservative voters and moderate or liberal voters. Looking at the Congress, one could wonder whether the somewhat conservative group was crushed by a hunk of Maine granite before the 2010 midterms. But Mr. Olsen says they still compose up to 40 percent of Republican voters nationally, and historically they end up choosing the primary winner.

via Waiting for the Republican Shakeout – The New York Times.

Sproull and Kiesler on The Impact of Email on Business

The full possibilities of a new [communication] technology are hard to foresee. Therefore inventors and early adopters are likely to emphasize the planned uses and underemphasize second-level effects.I rediscovered a report I wrote for Microsoft a gazillion years ago, about the unintended consequences of email use in business. It’s titled Enterprise Instant Messaging: Ethics, Etiquette, and Best Practices. Here’s an excerpt about the first- and second-level effects of communications technologies:

Sproull and Kiesler wrote a masterly analysis of the impact of email on business in Connections, and pointed out that the intended impacts that drive early adoption of communication media, such as cost reductions or organizational efficiencies, are often of less import ultimately than expected. These first-level effects may be the primary rationale for adoption, such as deploying email based on reduced interoffice mail expenses, but they seldom turn out to be the impacts of greatest consequence. In Connections, Sproull and Kiesler surfaced four central points in thinking about the potential consequences of new communication technology, and these have strongly guided our investigations into the application of IM:

“First, the full possibilities of a new [communication] technology are hard to foresee. Therefore inventors and early adopters are likely to emphasize the planned uses and underemphasize second-level effects.

Second, unanticipated consequences usually have less to do with efficiency and more to do with changing interpersonal interactions, ideas about what is important, work procedures, and social organization.

Third, these second-level effects often emerge somewhat slowly as people renegotiate changed patterns of behavior and thinking.

Fourth, second-level effects are not caused by technologies operating autonomously on a passive organization or a society. Instead they are constructed as technology interacts with, and is shaped by the social and policy environment.”

This will be one of the themes I will explore this week in London, where I am speaking at the Change Management Institute conference.