This introduction to five explorations of system change is about discoveries, then I take a look at malfunctions as the heart of the issue, and explore some critical thinking gambits and pathways. I conclude with the idea that every change is a second chance. This work twisted my arm in a very unpleasant way, so I am forcing myself into the malfunction idea.
Revelatory, that is what it was revelatory. Not the amusing face of God kind, more exact. It started when Thunderbirds and Blue Angles in their F-16C/D Fighting Falcons and their F18C/D Hornet Fighters trimmed out to conduct aeronautic acrobatics covered the entire city with a thirty-minute fly over the Boroughs. Fine, I said to myself, a good show, celebrating all the first responders of New York City in a salute to their courage in the fight against a pandemic.
The display of power like this can raise every hair on your body with awe, terror, and the fear of death. I know the fear well because it happened to me a long time ago in a roar that ripped something from my being. For me, the fly-over of gratitude recalled that lesson. In just those few minutes, I thought how easy it is in this world to turn every bridge and tunnel to rubble along with whatever else a dozen warships could be sent to destroy in NYC. Intellectually, this is unlikely, but I felt it emotionally as if in a film I’ve already seen. The hair on the back of my neck sent me straight into logic models and the theory of change for answers, so I didn’t question it. I just started.
Using code to cope with the unthinkable offers a range of content management systems (CMS) in our minds and places like this in which to share thoughts. You may recognize the CMS terms. Some of the most common are Java, Perl, PHP, Python, among many others. As code systems, they represent an accepted, partial existence drifting unseen in the Ctrl+Shift+I background of more familiar titles such as Chrome, Edge, Safari, and Firefox. If the browser Netscape sounds familiar, think of the others as tribes sharing a new hunting ground. Through these surviving vehicles, the world is laid at your feet. You stand on platforms like WordPress, Medium, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and hundreds of others you use to manage your content, get the attention of others, and perhaps make people curious.
Imagine the ancient time when a sculptor was chipping away at smoothing a stone and created the shape of a wheel. As a social creature, the sculptor shared this object with others who rolled it and laughed when one day, one of them asked for one with a hole in the center. That is the moment when a system change exploded into existence. Centuries passed before the wheel becomes a vehicle, but it did.
The writer, sculptor, fine art, and code battles continue to this day for nothing more than joy and your attention, if not curiosity. Modern humans chip away at their vast capacity for system change by sharing information, exchanging ideas, and dispensing them to others who may also roll them and laugh. The second revelation is about the act of discovery upon which all the others rest. Have a look.