Thinking About Technocracy

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Archive for the ‘Technocracy is not bureaucracy’ Category

Great article from Science Progress on Whether Science Threatens Democracy

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Find it here.


Written by ryanlanham

February 9, 2009 at 3:50 pm

The uniqueness of the self

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Gerald Edelman in Discover provides an amazing little article about his insights into self based on the structure, function and organization of human brains. 

All the more reason why collaboration is sooooooo important.

Written by ryanlanham

January 16, 2009 at 6:30 pm

Shift of power from West to East?

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Asia Sentinel carries a Sarajit Majumdar article on the seeming power shift from West to East.  It’s happening at an accelorated pace to be sure, but Majumdar, like so many other economists, see technocrats as anti-liberty boogeymen.  Perhaps they are.  What never seems to come from the economist’s pen is the implicit political assumptions they make that are essential to their worldview.  Indeed economics is always political economy.  The underspoken deserves greater fleshing out.  Where are their boundaries?  What is a sine qua non of their liberty systems?  Human rights?  Free trade?  What about Singapore?  Switzerland?  Free?  Why or why not?  Economics seems to run from the discussion of necessary foundations.  As a science, that makes it weaker.

Written by ryanlanham

January 9, 2009 at 2:29 pm

Communities of Practice and Technocracy

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Communities of Practice are one of the most exciting collaborative frameworks to emerge out of modern theories of learning and development.  I find no mechanism more effective at systematically transcending boundaries.  …That’s right, systematically transcending boundaries…a paradox. 

Learning is the classic example of systematically transcending boundaries, and communities of practice are effectively learning machines or (a phrase I dislike) learning organizations. 

I believe that CoPs lead to all sorts of technocratic governance prospects.  By esteeming information, learning and advancement in particular fields while not blocking access to newbies or other participants, the prospects are set for collaborative decision making and critical redirection in ways that few other means I have found can match.

A technocrat needs to not only have science but ought to define collectively the relevance of a scientific view to a set of questions and then test and refine (e.g. through adaptive management processes).   Communities of practice are self-governing, self-selecting units that have structure and yet, ideally, remain quite open–like human brains.  They are extremely effective for just this sort of application.  How low should carbon standards go?  CoPs can answer.  Who’s in the CoP?  It’s a social network of expertise that can be structured in any number of Web 2-3.0 sorts of ways.

Written by ryanlanham

January 5, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Policy issues of user created content — essential technocracy reading

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I found this paper on the Terra Nova blog.  It’s by Mira Burri-Nenova of the World Trade Institute.  Greg Lastowka of Rutgers is right in giving high praise to the paper…it has a number of innovative approaches to user generated content and the implications.  I’d rate it as essential reading in a contemporary technocrat’s library.


Burri-Nenova, Mira,User Created Content in Virtual Worlds and Cultural Diversity(January 1, 2009). NCCR Trade Regulation Working Paper No. 2009/1. Available at SSRN:

Written by ryanlanham

January 4, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Building museums in the worst parts of town

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Stuttgart’s Porsche Museum ventures into new and difficult turf.  So too does the Liberty State Park in Jersey City.  Bilbao is of course now famous for Frank Gehry’s masterpiece that acted to transform a decrepid watefront into a dream destination.  Only technocratic ideas can enable such actions.  Pricing and price theory would never suggest moving an anchor museum to a high risk area.  The classic bureaucratic response would always be to center museums in anchor locations as blocking mechanisms rather than as bold policy innovations.

Technocracy does not equal bureaucracy.

Written by ryanlanham

January 3, 2009 at 6:20 pm