Posted by: Ken Homer | December 12, 2008

Doing Big Things For Love

Love is among my favorite themes for exploration.

I have been intrigued with the claim by Chilean biologist Humberto Maturana that “love is the only emotion which increases intelligence.” In the following short video (<10 minutes) Clay Shirky makes some wonderful observations that support Maturana’s claim, among them: 

• We now have a set of tools for aggregating things that people care about in ways that increase both their scope and longevity, that were unpredictable even a decade ago. 

• The coordinating tools we now have, and I’m not talking about anything fancy here, I’m talking about mailing lists usenet and weblogs and wikis, turn love into a renewal building material.

• If you ask yourself not what is the business model, but rather, do the people who like it take care of each other, it turns out to be the better predictor of longevity.

There are many other juicy nuggets in here – as there always are when Clay speaks.

The Beatles were only partially right. You do need love, but more you need coordinating tools. As Shirky says: “With love you can get a birthday party together. Add coordinating tools and you can write an operating system.”

How are you and the people in your life using coordinating and aggregating tools to support what you love? 

How intentional have you been about this up until now?

After watching this video, what new ideas do you have for doing big things for love?



  1. I find love to be the core of every exploration, whether in energy or education there’s a fundamental pursuit to understand connectedness and passion, the energy behind our daily actions.

    • Hmm… I’m not sure I agree. Could you say more?

  2. Curiously, in a very positive way, “love” is one of the most translated words here in the States according to the 2008 Year End Google Zeitgeist — along with other positive words including “please” & “thank-you”.

    Really enjoying your blog, Ken. I’ll have to get it on the NCDD blogroll…

    • Interesting about love. Thanks for your kind words Andy. That’s high praise coming from you. I appreciate it. Cheers, Ken

  3. Just discovering this blog -ahhh, the things we do for love. And the things we do because we fear love: Just have to open to the look of someone who is really loving you that very moment; it can lead to nuclear melt-down!

    I like the basic idea of putting love and tools together, if then it is spiced with some wisdom I’m sure tremendous things will come out of this, things we haven’t dreamt of before.

    • Hi Mushin,

      Thanks for dropping by. The context in which I am using love here certainly does not exclude “being in love” which we all know is a wonderful thing. At the same time, the way I see Shirky’s observations lending credence to Maturana’s claim that love is the only emotion that expands our intelligence, is in the way Maturana defines love as allowing the other to arise as a legitimate other in one’s field of awareness. At AT&T guys did not recognize the legitimacy of the online PERL community and so were unable to see the expansion of intelligence that was available in the system.

      I am behind in my reading but will drop by your blog soon!


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