Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

Fight crap culture, innovate by creating better culture...

I'm on mission one of Evoke and trying to play my part by responding to one of the "secrets of social innovation." Ethan Zuckerman wrote: Don’t fight culture (If people cook by stirring their stews, they’re not going to use a solar oven, no matter what you do to market it. Make them a better stove instead.)

I may be misunderstanding what he means, but I would have thought that fighting culture is almost by definition what innovation is. The cultures that enforce female genital mutilation, h***phobia, suppression of women and so on should be fought, as should emergent cultures of mass consumption of disposable items without thinking of the consequences. Culture is the manifestation of society and for planetary survival innovation is not in the form of products it must be in the form of culture.

As developing countries becomes richer the old make-do and re-use culture is replaced with a consumer culture. Long standing sustainable ways are replaced with fashionable unsustainable ones.

One of the most useful innovations might be to make vegetarianism cool for Chinese (veges have massively lower carbon footprints than carnivores) That's what I mean by cultural innovation. Don't need to invent a new kind of oven or stove - just create cultures for what gets cooked on them.

Views: 2

Comment by rahadian p. paramita on May 12, 2010 at 6:19pm
Have you read about Positive Deviance (PD)? http://positivedeviance.org/
What I've learn from PD is, even in a bad situation, as you mentioned female genital mutilation for instance, there should be an innovation from the society that is a best practice could be share among them.
Comment by Rik Lander on May 14, 2010 at 10:00pm
Rahadian - Positive Deviance looks very interesting. I will look into it some more. Thanks for the suggestion...
Comment by A.V.Koshy on May 14, 2010 at 10:55pm
fight culture. period.
Comment by Turil Cronburg on May 14, 2010 at 11:08pm
The point is that if you don't bother to understand what people want, you'll never be able to sell them on your ideas.

Another way to say it is to work with people rather than against them.
Comment by nomadHAR on May 14, 2010 at 11:45pm
first, we should respect and understand a culture. if a part is harmful and cannot be changed within the culture, then we must fight against that culture.
Comment by Turil Cronburg on May 15, 2010 at 12:10am
Sure, you can fight it, but that's not innovative. That's what animals have done for millennia. :-)
Comment by A.V.Koshy on May 15, 2010 at 12:15am
whats wrong with animals or not being innovative
Comment by nomadHAR on May 15, 2010 at 1:15am
i can't think of an innovation that would have ended slavery or 'female circ**cision' or foot binding or drowning female children or et.c. et.c.

sometimes, fighting against a culture is the only way.
Comment by Turil Cronburg on May 15, 2010 at 1:50am
Fighting is never the only way. But it's a popular one for those who feel threatened, as fear shuts off the higher functions of the brain, which drive creativity, curiosity, and being able to see things from different perspectives.

And Koshy, I'm not saying that there is anything inherently "wrong" with not being innovative, but if we're trying to understand social innovation, which is the goal of this mission, then fighting is pretty obviously not going to be a part of it, as that's an ancient, primal solution, not anything new.
Comment by Turil Cronburg on May 15, 2010 at 1:51am
Also, for clarity, culture isn't WHAT you do, it's WHY you do it, and HOW you do it.


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