One of my aphorisms in speeches is “If you live long enough, things change!” It always gets a laugh, but damn it’s true, and it’s happening faster and faster. So as I study the arriving future, I’m starting to feel like the severely windswept trees in the photo above. It is not pleasant, because how would you plan any campaign if all the rules were guaranteed to keep changing?
The thing is, as extraordinary new things become possible, it’s increasingly impossible to anticipate the risks and threats. But the changes aren’t stopping.
Massive abuse of big data – skillful and undetectable.
Did you see last month’s new TED Talk about the Welsh journalist who figured out how Cambridge Analytica data was used to brilliantly throw off the Brexit vote? Far more clever than anything I imagined – if you care about what I’m saying here, take 15 minutes and watch this – the woman returns to her home town in Wales, which had the strongest “leave the EU” vote in the country. Look what she found:
Cambridge Analytica and the Brexit vote happened in 2016, and was only exposed a year ago. As you’ll see, this happened because of covert use of exquisitely accurate analysis of data, in exquisitely clever ways. (Watch the TED Talk.) (If they hadn’t been good at it, the attack wouldn’t have worked! But they were – very good.)
We never would have known what happened it if weren’t for one pink-haired programmer who blew the whistle on Analytica. And even then, we never would have known what they did with the data (shown in this Talk) except for a campaign finance law violation. It was all, brilliantly, invisible.
More and more stuff like this will be happening, in politics and all of life. The bottom line is that big, important, hard-to-stop changes are happening faster and faster.
Eventually this line of thought will come back around to healthcare – what they have in common is the right to autonomy and self-determination in the pursuit of one’s life. More to come on these environmental changes, mixed in with healthcare posts.
Susannah Fox says
There is a “battle stations!” feel to this post (and to the world these days) so I thought I’d share Vu Le’s recent post:
We need fewer theories of change and more community organizing
Anand Giridharadas is someone else I read & follow to get that “let’s attack root causes” boost.
Andrea Downing and Jill Holdren are community data organizers I’m supporting with advice.
I’d love to see a list of who else people are following for inspiration — or passing ammunition to — inside and outside health care.
e-Patient Dave says
Susannah! Of course I saw this comment first thing this morning but I’ve been working on the next post (and book) and didn’t click open that “NonprofitAF” post until midnight. OMG!
Where do I start?? “new executive directors can write personnel policies and grant proposals while practicing self-care, but they don’t know how to get 5,000 people to a protest demonstration or 50 parents to a city council meeting.” –YES! I hadn’t articulated it, but YES!
Or this: “Our sector, and progressives in general, has a problem with excessive intellectualization. We’ve become really good at it. There’s nothing we love more than summits, white papers, theories of change, data, coming up with new terminologies (*cough, solutions privilege), and voting with sticky dots.” <==YES! SO many meetings and white papers! I’ve developed an undeniable feeling to some people it
really isn’t a problem if they study something forever while it doesn’t change. Whether it’s Brookings Institution or Joey’s Little Study Group, the feeling seems to be “We’re not getting anywhere but I must be doing my job right, because my boss keeps giving me good reviews.”
I want to scream “WAKE UP! YOU JUST SAID WE’RE NOT GETTING ANYWHERE!”
Or this in that post, which I’ve just read AFTER writing the above:
“Summits beget committees, committees beget white papers, white papers beget summits, etc. And after exhausting bouts of thinking and talking about stuff, we feel really good about ourselves, believing and getting people to believe we actually accomplished something.”
Or this Martin Luther King quote, from commenter Uyv Habitat: “a genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus but a molder of consensus.” <==WOW
Or this from Betsy_at_Class_Action: “great book by Hahrie Han, “How Organizations Develop Activists”…”
How spectacular that this post and mine arrived the same day!
I’d heard Vu Le’s name but now I have the About page to explain why. https://nonprofitaf.com/about/
Thank you for all this!
e-Patient Dave says
Yes, re Andrea and Jill’s activism. (Those who haven’t followed them, and similar patient activists, should see why I stopped using Facebook in January https://www.epatientdave.com/2019/01/07/facebook-your-irresponsibility-with-patient-groups-has-gone-too-far-im-out/
As the Welsh journalist’s TED Talk above shows, there is nasty, nasty stuff happening in the unintended consequences of Facebook’s desire to give the world a big group hug, through extraordinarily promiscuous data leaks … this is one of the nasty changes that make it hard to plan. Because it’s hard to leave FB https://www.epatientdave.com/2019/02/28/for-patient-groups-leaving-facebook-isnt-easy-the-connections-can-be-valuable/
Another of the important changes is that with the “big four” tech companies buying up every innovator, and often then sucking its soul out a few years later, the chance of any real change getting a foothold worries me. Here’s a profane post Monday (same day!) on how many of Zuck’s past business partners feel about him now: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/05/how-zuckerbergs-billionaires-club-can-atone-for-facebook
I can’t help but be reminded of JFK’s inaugural address: “…to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.” So, what is an innovator to do?? And what about patients who want a place to be SAFE, and not have their most intimate thoughts MILKED AS A FREAKING BUSINESS ASSET?
What a gift to have you commenting, with spot-on links that provoke thought. Next time I won’t wait 16 hours before clicking your links.:-)