Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Distressing Truths

For those who prefer not to slog through the blogs to find the gory details of New College’s 14-year decline into oblivion, I’ve selected what I deem the most pertinent pieces and condensed them into a handy pocket-size edition for posterity. What with hackers, disappearing urls, and blurry pdfs, I figured this might be easier on the eyes and certainly easy to share with off-line friends. For those who dread reading lengthy bureaucratic reports, you’ll be pleased to know I’ve only included one short summary from a key report, while printing verbatim the more interesting stories that seem to convey the essence of the tale Waco on Valencia.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Research in Social Conflict

One of the problems I've encountered in activists with a newly-found zeal for research, is the inability to distinguish between means and ends. Research in social conflict is only useful when applied. It is not an end in itself. The enthusiasm for learning in these situations must be tempered by the practical demands of the moment.

As Paul de Armond observed in his paper The Road to Athena's Camp, “Most people possess the basic research skills. What they lack is the framework for applying those skills---due to a conflicting framework that falsely values emotional opinion over rational knowledge.” Immersion in the collection of data, absent a strategy, only contributes to the illusion of purpose.

For those new to applied research, it is common to confuse strategy and tactics. As noted by de Armond,

Research provides the facts and builds a knowledge base. That knowledge is filtered through analysis to determine strategy. Operational research guides the tactics used to accomplish the strategy. Strategy requires topsight---a comprehensive understanding that surpasses knowledge.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Down in Flames

Determined to go down in flames, New College trustees yet again attempted to suppress a critical report from their accrediting agency. Determined to see they get their just reward for such treachery, conscientious employees once again leaked the document to students of the school. You can now read it here.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Exit Strategy

As the learning lab apparently comes to a close, it is important for the good faith participants in the New College conflict to devise a suitable exit strategy.

We did good: we prevented harm, we laid down a record, we demonstrated what netwar is all about. We gave alumni/ae a place to tell their stories, and we honored those who fought to be heard.

Sometimes that's all you can do.