Faith Has To Win Over Worry

Anxiety is worry and fear on steroids.


Some people have separation anxiety.


Others have social anxiety.


And then there is good ‘ol generalized anxiety.


It was fascinating-scary to learn that nearly 1 in 3 will have an anxiety disorder before the age of 18.


Despite all the abundance, affluence, advancement and technological progress, people are nevertheless more fearful about their present and futures. 


Perhaps like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, when people weren’t able to satisfy their most basics physiological and safety needs, they didn’t know better to worry about everything else like whether they were truly loved, integrated, on the right track in life and fulfilled.  


These days, we have more money, time, and information to know that there is plenty to be anxious about. 


We know the most horrible stories of trauma, illness, death, corruption, disaster, terror, and war–it’s plastered on the news and Internet 24/7/365.


Moreover, our “friends” and connections are blabbing about it on the social networks day-in and -out.


We are aware of our mistakes and foibles in real time as feedback is given and received with both likes as well as open criticism, marginalization, and alienation at every turn we take.


You have to ask yourself–is it meant to help anyone or to degrade and destroy the others, the opposition, the ones we don’t like anymore. 


It’s not just trolls that can make your life miserable, but everyone from your bosses to your peers and social circle who give you pause with continuous reaction and footnote–much of it driven by alternative facts and fake other world self-serving reality.


Perhaps yesterday you were a genius and on top of the world, but then all of a sudden you’re low-life garbage.


Your self-worth and future are measured by likes and dislikes, connections and reactions by people who are driven by their own agendas, power, and biases. 


It’s not just local either. 


North Korea and Iran are tweeting about destroying the world and their latest rocket launches and WMD development. 


Tomorrow maybe the end of one or of many. 


There is truly plenty to worry about in society driven by selfishness, materialism, faithlessness and a moral vacuum where truly anything goes. 


Selflessness, meaning, morality, and faith have to win over all the reasons to be anxious. 


We know too much about the bad every day, and this can only be overcome by anchoring ourselves in the good. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Feeling A Little Relative Deprivation

Deprivation.jpeg

So this was a little funny-sad. 


We were taking a walk.


And we passed these two houses side by side. 


One, this tall stately-looking all brick manicured corner house.


The other, this cozy and sort of beat up little white siding house. 


The juxtaposition of these two as neighbors couldn’t have been funnier. 


Sort of like strong and determined Rocky and the nebbish that couldn’t. 


Listen, there isn’t anything objectively wrong with the little older white house.


Taken by itself, it may actually be a nice place to live–as I said, it’s sort of charming (even while the other is commanding)! 


But when you put it against the big new brick fellow, it’s just a story of relative deprivation ready to be intensely felt. 


Both have a roof over their heads…and both in the same nice neighborhood. 


Yet neighbor and neighbor–but for no reason, one ends up feeling probably a little shitty–that’s putting it in comparison, of course.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why People Spy

Why People Spy?

There is an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal (31 May 2013) about why people spy.

The former CIA case officer, who recruited others to become traitors and wrote the article says, it comes down to MICES:

– Money: “We give you cash, and you steal secrets.”

– Ideology: The person no longer believes in their system of government or has been abused by the system.

– Conscience: Someone who is looking to atone for the crimes/sins of the system or of themselves.

– Ego: This is a person who responds to stroking of their self-esteem and sense of purpose.

– Sex: A fifth powerful motivator is sex or a relationship that may address people’s feelings of isolation or loneliness.

Thinking about the motivation for spying in terms of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, I have connected the five techniques to turn someone with their basic needs, making the Pyramid of Spying:

– Money fulfills people’s base physiological needs.

– Ideology appeals to someone who has been abused and hates the system and thus is tied to motivations for safety and security.

– Sex/relationships has to do with social needs.

– Stroking someone’s ego fulfills his/her esteem needs.

– Spying for reasons of conscience (e.g. what some would consider becoming enlightened) is driven by the need to self-actualize.

The reason that I turned the pyramid/hierarchy upside down for the motivations of why people spy is that being “turned” and becoming a traitor to one’s country is such an unnatural and abhorrent concept to normal people that they would generally not do it just for the money, revenge, or sex (lower-level needs), but rather they ultimately would need to be driven by reasons of conscience and ego (higher-level needs).

Of course, sprinkling in the money, ideology, and sex makes acting the traitor that much more appealing to some–and helps “grease the wheels” to go outside the bounds of what a normal person does and feels towards their nation–but those are not the primary drivers for committing the ultimate crime against one’s country.

Again, normal people are not motivated to be treacherous and treasonous, but given the wrong dose of motivations, people are turned–this means we know how to use the tools of the trade to our nation’s advantage, but also to be mindful and watchful of those who motivations are being acted on.

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Growing and Getting Old Together

Growing and Getting Old Together

The Wall Street Journal had a good book review on “The End of Sex” by Donna Freitas.

The book is about the casual hook-up culture, where a sexual interaction is brief–like a single night–purely physical, and “no strings” attached–“you just do it, you’re done, and you can forget about it.”

Essentially it is a purely hedonistic, selfish act, for one’s own pleasure–where the other person (if you even know their name) doesn’t count.

The review recounts studies that show that the percentage of undergraduates that have participated in hookups is as high as 65 to 75%!

People are searching a quick fix “without the constraints and sacrifices” that real committed relationships require.

According to the review, hookups are not liberating and empowering, but denigrating and dehumanizing–where the other person is just a thing to use for self-pleasure.

It can certainly be understandable that college-aged students are driven to exploration and experimentation, and those unattached can be frustrated and alone and are looking for love.

Whether hookup are the right way to find this–is an individual choice–however from my Jewish upbringing, I was raised to appreciate those who maintain modesty before marriage, because that way the bond of marriage is stronger for it.

The book review seems to imply that hooking up for sex is perhaps just steps away from “sexual assault”–taking sex through violence –one way or another. In a sense, the animal nature takes over and the spiritual element and higher connection is absent. Whether the means is consensual or forced, self-satisfaction is the end.

While sex is a genuine human need, waking up to a stranger–no matter how attractive–is not a great substitute for sharing life’s joys (and sorrows) with your true other half, because meaning means more than just the self and the moment.

On one hand, if people can’t find emotional love, then they can be left with the physical aspect of sex alone. On the other hand, even some in relationships may not be in the “right” relationships, and may be left searching for more. And still others may use sex to express their power over others–taking what they want, when they want, and how they want.

At the most elementary level, people are motivated to pure self-satisfaction, yet as they rise up to higher orders of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, they are driven further to self-actualization.

Seeing grandparents, parents and others grow a bond of giving and fidelity that is built up over decades is a truly beautiful thing–where love can deepen over time, rather than be forgotten the next morning.

Meeting other people, dating, and developing relationships are markers on the road for those who are fortunate enough to find their true life partners–those with whom they can grow and get old together with. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Hierarchy of Computing

Blumenthals_hierarchy_of_compu

One fundamental framework that I was always really impressed with and found basically true to life was Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs describes the stages of growth in human beings, and it portray’s people focusing on their more primitive needs first and then progressing on to fulfilling higher order needs, as the lower ones are satisfied.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs–starts with addressing our basic Physiological needs for food, water, shelter, clothing and so on; then Safety covers our needs for safety and security; followed by social needs for love and companionship; next is Self-esteem which is our need for respect and value; and finally is Self-actualization where we actually fulfill our potential.

What occurred to me is that computing is an aid for us to fulfill our human needs, and as such we can map a Hierarchy of Computing to the Hierarchy of Needs.

The result is a “Hierarchy of Computing,” as follows:

Automation–helps us produce the sustenance items that we need for our physiological needs and includes everything from agricultural plows and harvesters to production line automation and systems.

Weaponization–this is the systemization of everything supporting our homeland security, military, and intelligence apparatus from nukes to drones, satellites, missile shields, cyber and bioweapons, and more.

Social/Mobile–these are technologies and apps that help us communicate and interact with one another, whenever and wherever we are.

Business Intelligence–addressing Big Data, this is the capability to capture, catalog, analyze, locate, and report information to drive value, power, and respect.

Ethical–the use of technology to aid timely decision-making and meaningful, value-driven action–helps us choose and execute right from wrong and is the ultimate in progressing toward our self-actualization.

I struggled with where Robotics fits in this hierarchy and I decided that robotics is not a specific layer in the hierarchy of computing itself, but rather is a application of the technology that can be applied at every level. For example, robotics can aid automation on the assembly line or it can be used for safety to defuse roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan or they can be applied to social needs as nursing and home aids for the elderly and handicapped and so on.

I am excited by this alignment of the Computing Hierarchy to the Needs Hierarchy in that it provides a framework for advances and application of technology to supporting our very humanity.

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Social Media, Fulfilling Our Every Need?

Maslows_hierarchy_and_social_m

One of my daughters sent me this article for my blog and said “you”ll like this,” and she was right.

The article is called 10 Things You Don’t Know About Teens And Social Networking–it was eye opening.
I read about kids’ (ages 13-15) experiences with going online and their utter fascination and addiction to social media.
As I started to analyze and categorize these, I realized the power of social media is anchored in every layer of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: from physiological to self-actualization – not only for kids but also adults, as follows:
1) Physiological Needs–Foster social networks online, which is a powerful factor in developing productive and profitable life opportunities–as the old adage goes “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”  As Hannah, age 13, states: “There is more life happening online than offline.”
2) Safety Needs–Despite all the fears about people preying on others online and cyber bullying, people tend to feel safer behind their computer than not. Call it the anonymity factor or the distance of not being within range of a punch in a the nose. As Sadie, age 14, states: “I feel safer online, than I do offline.”
3) Social Needs–They don’t call it “social media” for nothing. Yes, it’s all about reaching out to others from email to chat and from blogs to wikis, we’re connecting with each other all virtually all the time. As Jasmine, age 13, states: “My friendships are really affected by social networking.”
4) Esteem Needs–Your online image or brand matters a lot to people where they either get ego-boosted or deflated. People desperately want to be “liked,” “friended,” “mentioned,” and “commented” about.  As Samantha, age 14, states: “It affects our image and self-confidence.”
5) Self-Actualization Needs–At the end of the day, we all want to realize our full potential and social media provide powerful tools to engage, be heard, influence, and ultimately make a difference.
As many of the kids self-report, the compulsion to be online is so strong for two reasons:
1) Personal Addiction–The satisfaction of our needs by doing social media creates an addiction that must be fulfilled or else like a drug addict, you experience the dire pain of withdrawal–as one girl, Nina, age 15 reported, “I feel like I’m losing control.  I want my parents to tell me to get off the computer. Actually, they would need to literally take the computer away because I can’t stop myself.”
2) Peer Pressure–There is a social addiction that results in peer pressure to be online and participate or else. As Jasmine, age 13, states: “So you have to be online all the time, just to keep track, so you don’t upset anyone.”
While clearly much good comes from social media (in terms of human need fulfillment), anything that becomes an addiction–personal and societal–can be dangerous and a cause for concern.
As with all tools to satisfy human needs, we need to control the tools, rather than be controlled by them.
With social media, people should use it if and when it meets their needs and balance that with other important tools for fulfilling those needs, such as school, work, in-person relationships, real activities and so on.
We should never become so consumed by social media that we neglect other vital life activities, but rather we need to exert self-control and teach our children the same–to become well-rounded, functional people online and off.

>The Need for Control and Enterprise Architecture

>Human beings have many needs and these have been well documented by prominent psychologists like Abraham Maslow.

At the most basic level, people have physiological needs for food, water, shelter, and so on. Then “higher-level” needs come into play including those for safety, socializing, self-esteem, and finally self-actualization.

The second order need for safety incorporates the human desire for feeling a certain degree of control over one’s life and that there is, from the macro perspective, elements of predictability, order, and consistency in the world.

Those of us who believe in G-d generally attribute “real” control over our lives and world events to being in the hands of our creator and sustainer. Nevertheless, we see ourselves having an important role to play in doing our part—it is here that we strive for control over our lives in choosing a path and working hard at it. A lack of any semblance of control over our lives makes us feel like sheer puppets without the ability to affect things positively or negatively. We are lost in inaction and frustration that whatever we do is for naught. So the feeling of being able to influence or impact the course of our lives is critical for us as human beings to feel productive and a meaningful part of the universe that we live in.

How does this impact technology?

Mike Elgan has an interesting article in Computerworld, 2 January 2009, called “Why Products Fail,” in which he postulates that technology “makers don’t understand what users want most: control.”

Of course, technical performance is always important, but users also have a fundamental need to feel in control of the technology they are using. The technology is a tool for humans and should be an extension of our capabilities, rather than something like in the movie Terminator that runs rogue and out of the control of the human beings who made them.

When do users feel that the technology is out of their control?

Well aside from getting the blue screen of death, when they are left waiting for the computer to do something (especially the case when they don’t know how long it will be) and when the user interface is complicated, not intuitive, and they cannot find or easily understand how to do what they want to do.

Elgan says that there are a number of elements that need to be built into technology to help user feel in control.

Consistetency—“predictability…users know what will happen when they do something…it’s a feeling of mastery of control.”

Usability—“give the user control, let them make their own mistakes, then undo the damage if they mess something up” as opposed to the “Microsoft route—burying and hiding controls and features, which protects newbies from their own mistakes, but frustrates the hell out of experienced users.”

Simplicity—“insist on top-to-bottom, inside-and-outside simplicity,” rather than “the company that hides features, buries controls, and groups features into categories to create the appearance of few options, with actually reducing options.”

Performance/Stability—“everyone hates slows PCs. It’s not the waiting. It’s the fact that the PC has wrenched control from the user during the time that the hourglass is displayed.”

Elgan goes on to say that vendors’ product tests “tend to focus on enabling user to ‘accomplish goals…but how the user feels during the process is more important than anything else.”

As a huge proponent of user-centricity, I agree that people have an inherent need to feel they are in some sort of control in their lives, with the technology they use, and over the direction that things are going in (i.e. enterprise architecture).

However, I would disagree that how the user feels is more important than how well we accomplish goals; mission needs and the ability of the user to execute on these must come first and foremost!

In performing our mission, users must be able to do their jobs, using technology, effectively and efficiently. So really, it’s a balance between meeting mission requirements and considering how users feel in the process.

Technology is amazing. It helps us do things better, faster, and cheaper that we could ever do by ourselves. But we must never forget that technology is an extension of ourselves and as such must always be under our control and direction in the service of a larger goal.