The Geekonomy And Institutional Memory

Geekonomy and Institutional Memory

Ah, Institutional Memory.  If you aren't familiar with this concept, it's basically the knowledge transmitted inside an institution – like a religious organization, club, or business.  In the business and career world, it's vital to preserving process, policies, and appropriate technologies.

In the high-speed Geekonomy I'm starting to wonder if we've got a problem with not having enough of it.  Not enough good business processes, not enough preservation of good ideas and designs, and not enough learning lessons.

Think about every time you looked at an insane game controls scheme and wondered if the designers had learned anything from the last twenty years.  Look at all those times a technology company made a boneheaded maneuver that any other company made decades ago – and learned how to prevent.  Consider every situation where some supposedly innovative new tool or idea had been done to death before.

I think the Geekonomy is having issues with Institutional Memory.

Consider the situations:
1) We have companies forming out of stretch that didn't exist a few years ago – or a few months ago.  In some cases they're doing cutting edge technology so they not only have to invent themselves, they have to re-invent themselves for things that never existed.
2) We have huge amounts of technical churn in todays Geekonomy.  Things change, evolve, and get forgotten.  Companies, people, and organizations not only are inventing and discarding technologies, they may not fully be aware of what they're creating and discarding.
3) We have companies entering spheres of business they didn't do previously.  In many cases, sure they may hire people or acquire companies that have some Institutional Memory.  But as we've seen . . . sometimes they don't.
4) We have sudden onslaughts of interest in various media that were once purely limited to geek culture – games, comics, etc.  Does it seem that the same thing gets re-invented?  Like say the superhero origins that are all the same or the standard game adaptions . . .
5) We have young people going into business and companies that are also new and cutting edge – and they have, despite their talents, not an in-depth idea of the lessons of the past.  They may not belong to the associations or groups others do, or even have had the same experience.

I think you get my point.

For we progeeks, let's keep this in mind – because frankly, I do think this is a problem.  Certainly every time I see the repeat of a lame game design or a company making the same mistake, I wonder if anyone is learning here.

Let's remember that this means for us progeeks:
1) If you're an older geek (like myself), you can't count on Institutional Memory at a job or company.  It may not be there – or you may have to provide it.
2) People that can maintain – and leverage – Institutional Memory will have a real advantage and be valuable in the Geekonomy.
3) Companies that have a strong Institutional Memory and can apply it – and move with the times – will have a serious advantage in the modern economy.  You may want to work there . . .
4) There could be a whole business opportunity for you in working in Institutional Memory for Geekonomy-based companies.  Who maintains process, analyzes lessons learned, ensures communication . . .

Institutional Memory is vitally important for survival of a business, and indeed an economy.  In the Geekonomy, you can keep that in mind as it just might provide you some opportunities . . .

– Steven Savage

Reboots, Remakes, and The Total Tolerance of The Public

A new Superman movie.  A new Spiderman movie.  New Star Trek.  Reboots and remakes raining down rapidly on us in a seemingly endless procession of "let's do it over again."

Now I'm not necessarily against remakes.  I find them appropriate at some times, and at other times at least intriguing – seeing how material is handled by different people.  But it seems like we're really getting swamped in start-it-over stuff as of late.  This led me to a question.

"What are the limits on remakes?  How many years can you go between remakes?  How many times can you remake something?  In short, when does this not become profitable and accepted and just becomes a joke or worse?"

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Frustration Friday: Can The Recession Keep People From Hating the Unemployed?

One thing I'm hoping about in the Great Recession is that people will finally get over the idea that The Unemployed Are Bad People.

I know that's probably a naive hope, since people without jobs appear to be the favorite whipping boys/girls of any politician who wants to score quick points in the "personal responsibility" category, or preachers who want to single someone out as worthy of their god's wrath.  But I'm hoping, perhaps beyond hope, that people are going to learn the valuable lesson that people without jobs are not Bad People.

I'd like to hope that this comes about from empathy.  As people see their friends and family suffer unemployment, they will understand that the unemployed are all of us.  As we find ourselves encountering the unemployed, we will realize they're like us, they're trying, and things are hard.  As we see more of this suffering, we will come to understand it.

Of course for the case of some people, that is a terribly naive idea on my part.  So I also figure that some people will learn that the unemployed are not Evil Incarnate by joining their ranks for awhile.  It's hard to claim some legion of people are a faceless bane on existence when you're part of them.  If anything, it'll at least take a few egos down a peg and humble them a bit.

Sadly that may be naive as well.  I suspect those who need to believe that others are Bad People will cling to the idea the unemployed are Bad since they make such easy (and powerless) targets.  Those who wish to paint the unemployed as bad people, even if they are unemployed, will find ways to claim they're different.  Their egos can't handle anything else.

But, hey, I can hope – and write rants like this with the hope of helping people change.

– Steven Savage