Making Stuff

If’ you pay any attention to the things you are buying this holiday season, you’ve probably noticed that very little of it is made in the USofA.  That’s been true for an extremely long time – for many of us, our entire lives.  We simply don’t make much stuff in this country anymore.

We don’t have to speculate as to what that means over the long term because we have been living the long term.  We have run a net deficit against the rest of the world almost continuously for 30 years. Some have speculated that this is a good thing, as the rest of the world can make products cheaper than we can – why not run through their resources rather than our own?  The Depression that we are in, this Managed Depression, explains just how wrong that is.

But if you want some data to show the problem there is plenty.

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Buying Season

Today marks the start of the Christmas buying season.  I wanted to write about how this has changed over the years and how a reliance on consumption is simply not going to boost our economy into a Recovery.  However, someone beat me to the punch more than two years ago in a somewhat obscure blog.  The lesson instead is that the truth is out there in hundreds of blogs contributing to the collective wisdom of our nation and its economic future.

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The Promised Land

First came God’s paradise, Eden, which mankind was kicked out of for not following instructions. After that came floods, slavery, fratricide, and a whole lotta smiting. The three great “Religions of the Book” – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – differ as to when and where it happened, but all agree that at some point God became weary of it all. Those who managed to get through it and somehow achieve Righteousness are given the charter to a Promised Land. To a surprising number of faiths that Promised Land is right here in the USofA, and the delivery of the righteous to a land of great wealth is what Thanksgiving is all about.

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Grounding

Life on the ‘net is a new world full of  promise to increase the connection between people, create new business opportunities, and develop new ideas.  Who can possibly argue with that?  I won’t.  But as I discuss what this means, online and off, I’ve come to realize that there is often a disconnect between how things are done in real life (IRL) and in this new world that exists in the ether around us.

Bridging that gap is an opportunity to make the online world more relevant – and make a decent living, if I can figure it out.  The problem is not an academic one at all.  Yet I can’t help but think that the solution can be found in how it is all grounded.  For all this new stuff the people who use it are still people.  It takes me back to the beginnings of academia itself, or how the Western world came to be what it is.

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What is Community?

Nearly all social media activists agree that success in their field requires a sense of community.  It’s the “social”, after all, that distinguishes this kind of media from older media.  Yet that means different things to different people, colored by their different experiences in life.  What does “community” mean to you?

It’s not just an idle question.  As different communities form around the ‘net people will expect different things from them following their different visions.  I’d like to know what you think “community” means.

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