Monday, March 24, 2008

A Map of Progressive Strategy and Politics

So today we finally published the Progressive Strategy Brain (PSB), a dynamic map that connects some 4000 entries to show the complexity of progressive strategy and politics, to help progressives to become more aware of strategic considerations, in order to make progressive strategy more self-reflective, and ultimately more effective. We hope that over time it will contribute to the emergence of a 'progressive strategic community,' with PSB as its main reference.

Clearly, just like progressive strategy itself, PSB is very much a work in progress, and in many ways necessarily so. This is why it will be updated every Monday, so as to make it more accurate, relevant and comprehensive.

We very much hope that you will help us in the process. In fact, please feel free to post your response to PSB here.

The unusual format will probably take some getting used to. If you don't find what you are looking for right away, just keep clicking, you might be surprised what you find along the way! Indeed, clicking through PSB somewhat playfully might help you discover new connections that you haven't thought of before.

Unfortunately it does not yet have a search function, but that will hopefully be available soon. This will make it much easier to explore PSB, and to find specific information. For those of you interested in the developers of this great software, please go here.

In the meantime, we thought it would be a good idea to do a series of posts to introduce people to different contents of PSB and how best to use it - in lieu of a more standard user's guide, the beginning of which you can already find here.

In fact, every single one of the 4100+ entries in PSB has its individual URL. So what I will do below and in future posts is to link to certain areas of PSB that might make for good entry points and/or appear to be of particular interest.

So here we go. First, you can adjust the display by clicking on the small red arrow in the upper left-hand corner. You can also move the horizontal dividing line between graphics and text up and down. Sometimes, not all the related thoughts can be displayed, because they simply don't fit on the screen (I always found this to be a good expression of the limits of our ability to effectively deal with complexity, intellectually and practically). Be that as it may, the way to make the thoughts appear is to move the bar that appears on the sides in such cases.

For starters, in addition to the entries visible on the opening page, you might want to explore Finding Strategy, our survey of contemporary contributions to progressive strategy. As with over 1000 other entries, the full-text (typically pdf or html) and/or the web link are available. So this makes PSB a continuously growing archive, especially for documents that are harder to find or tend to disappear from the web after a while. Right beneath Finding Strategy, you find linked the entry Finding Strategy (2006) strategists, which are the individuals and organizations we reviewed in our report. Click on their names to further explore their publications, institutional affiliations, etc.

What you will find it that there are clusters of people, ideas, and organizations that are much more densely connected than others. I hope this not only reflects my selection criteria, but actually says something interesting about the structure of various progressive networks revolving around progressive strategy.

Conversely, this also applies to the many challenges facing progressive strategy. I have begun to list those under entries such as Progressive Challenges. More importantly, over time they will be increasingly well reflected in the very link and contents structure of PSB itself: The weaknesses will show themselves more and more clearly by the fact that they remain largely empty and are not well connected to other Progressive Strategy Components.

Ultimately, the goal is that the map that is PSB resembles more and more closely the actual territory of progressive strategy. The problem with this of course is that the map is not the territory, cannot be the territory, and should not be the territory, because then, among other things, it would be useless. Beware of reification!

Alternatively, you can start with Progressive Strategy Literature. Please note that I have discontinued Progressive Strategy Articles, because there were too many; so I decided to group them mostly by month and author, institution, etc. You can get pretty quick access by starting with Publications (by year).

Or you can further explore other dimensions of PSB, such as Progressive Strategy Types. In fact, I increasingly try to develop typologies to make better sense of certain areas of progressive strategy. For instance, in my taxonomy, Progressive Inside-Outside Strategies are one type of Progressive Movement-Electoral Strategies, which was a category that emerged from the research for our report, Finding Strategy, mentioned at the beginning of this introduction to PSB. It is this self-reference which I find very intriguing, as I hope do others. Of course, no internal without external reference, but this is what mapping, thinking, communicating, and braining, so to speak, is all about.

For now, I guess, my message is this: If you don't find something right away, keep clicking and discover new things along the way. Chances are it actually is in PSB. If not, please let me know, and I'd be more than happy to add it. But again, the added value of PSB is not only what it contains but also in how it links its contents - always with a view to improving strategic thinking, discussion, and action.

So this is a start. Please stay tuned. There is more to come.



At Mon Apr 14, 06:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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