Saturday, February 02, 2008

Lots of big changes will demand lots of adjustments

By Carol Gee

More and Better? Google has a tremendous amount of power, despite it's current 8.5% drop in stock market price to $515.90. Yahoo! does not have quite as much clout, though their stock is up 47.8% to $28.35. Microsoft is trying to take over Yahoo! According to the San Francisco Chronicle headline there is "Uncertainly on Microsoft, Yahoo campuses." To quote:

But at each campus Friday morning, the mood was very different, reflecting uncertainty as two corporate giants embark on a possible merger.

. . . Unsettling is a good word to describe the effect of Microsoft's surprise, $44.6 billion offer for Yahoo Friday. From corporate campuses to the halls of academe, the people and players of Silicon Valley were having a hard time digesting the momentous move. And, from the looks of things, the true import of Microsoft's proposal will not be known for months and years to come.

The intersection of the Internet, politics and leadership -- The United States is in the middle of one of the biggest elections in recent history. For the first time the Internet is an integral and powerful part of the election process. OCP (our current president), is a lame duck, and, despite all his efforts, he is becoming less and less powerful. I am awed by the fact that Bill Gates is trying to give up power at Microsoft.

The inherent new power of the blogosphere is also an awesome change. Just prior to the recent Democratic debate on CNN, I went online to to actually vote for my favorite questions to be asked of the two contenders. Here I am, just a "little blogger," able to directly participate. I am able to participate also a blog writer with a regular audience of a few devoted readers, as well as many readers who find my posts as a result of a Google or Yahoo! searches. For example, a few hours ago a visitor from Pakistan spent over 15 minutes reading a blog post of mine written just over a year ago on leadership and foreign policy. The reader found it as a result of a Google search on "leadership qualities in politics in pakistan." That is an incredibly powerful statement about the reach of the blogosphere. Who in Pakistan wants to learn more about politics vs. leadership, and why? Halfway around the world my speculations about our leadership dilemma are read. This brings me to one of those "six degrees of separation" stories.

The election of a new president could change the situation in Iraq. Because of the current election we are distracted away from the war. But some of us are not. I post regularly about it and so do others. There are other readers such as Eric, a fellow Texan and a minister, who also post about it. Coincidentally Eric just recently "stumbled upon" a year-old (12/17/07 ) South by Southwest post pertaining to his blog. He left a comment last night that was touching to me. I, in turn, left a comment on his most recent post, which was a thoughtful exploration of the story of Saddam Hussein and his interrogator. Here is the dilemma I posed in my comment:

Eric, thanks for your comment on my post about "da judge." We Texans need to keep in touch.

Thanks for your kind words about my writing. I might say the same to you. This was a very effective post. I remain very interested in this war and the high, high costs of it.

I want to encourage you, out of your deep spirituality, to write about a terribly convoluted moral dilemma. Here it is.

I was sick to my stomach when I heard that yesterday's two "suicide??" bombers in Baghdad were developmentally disabled. I have to use the old cliche, "What is the world coming to?"

Hearing the news, I have to honestly say my first thought was, "We need to be far, far, away from a place like this." I know that is not the morally responsible answer, but I don't know what the answer is. I would be interested in seeing you write a post about this "devil's bargain" of a question. Thanks, Eric. I'll be back.

Carol Gee

The terrorists in Iraq have changed tactics trying to adjust to the U.S. so-called "surge." The tragic event to which I pointed is in my comment to Eric, "Toll rises in Baghdad market blasts," according to Aljazeera's headline, referred to twin bomb blasts yesterday in Baghdad. To quote:

At least 98 people have been killed and about 208 injured by bomb blasts in two crowded markets in Baghdad, police have said.

. . . Brigadier-General Qassim al-Moussawi, Iraq's chief military spokesman in Baghdad, said the women who carried the explosives were mentally handicapped and may have been unaware they were on a suicide mission.

"We found the mobiles used to detonate the women," he said, referring to the remote detonated devices that were used in the attack.

An official at Baghdad's al-Kindi hospital said in the wake of the blasts: "We have a disaster here. There are too many bodies to count. Many of them are just pieces of flesh."

My initial reaction to the story was gut-wrenching disbelief. But the reaction of Iraq's Prime Minister was a study in understatement. At least our ambassador's statement was more appropriate. I quote further from Aljazeera's story:

Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, said in a statement: "Terrorists are aiming to prevent normal life from coming back to Baghdad, and turn it back to the pre-surge period."

. . . Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador to Iraq, said the bombings showed that al-Qaida had "found a different, deadly way" to destabilise Iraq.

"There is nothing they won't do if they think it will work in creating carnage and the political fallout that comes from that," he said.

The fact that lots of big changes will demand lots of adjustments relates to the six-degree convergence of the issues covered in today's post:

  1. Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft are now in a huge corporate readjustment period that will demand adjustments by all of us as the Internet resettles its power ratios. It will demand good corporate leadership if it is to be successful.

  2. Google runs the search engine in Pakistan where presidential politics marred by terrible violence and weak leadership is deeply in play. Al Qaeda's seat of power is in the mountains of Pakistan, seemingly out of the reach of the military forces of both Pakistan and the U.S. Pakistan will not survive unless changes are made.

  3. The violence and struggles for power by AlQaeda in neighboring Iraq will also be influencing presidential politics -- in the United States as well as Iraq. The Iraqi government will not survive unless they exercise leadership in making fundamental changes to the internal power ratios.

  4. Over time the people of the United States have decided that we want our military forces out of Iraq, because the costs have been and continue to be too high. What military adjustments will be made next year in Iraq depend on who we select to be the next President.

  5. The attitudes of a majority of the people towards what they feel should be the future direction of the United States will determine who is elected. The process is moving faster than ever this election cycle. Power ratios vary from week to week. "Change" is the name of the game. Thus the candidates who use the Internet better and more successfully gain definite leadership advantages.

  6. Voters want to learn what traits make good leaders. A Google search on "leadership qualities" currently yielded 9 readers out of 200 (source - SiteMeter report) from this old post of mine in 2005. The presidential election process outcomes depend on the candidates' abilities to adjust to changing circumstances, or to convince the electorate they can successfully lead the circumstances of change themselves.

Who will inherit the mantle of leadership? Not even Google can tell us that. It is up to us to choose. What power!

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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