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Re: WSJ article 4/24/96; hypertext and cultural differences?

ewinters@xxxxxxxxxx wrote:
>   Yes, Jim, I certainly do!  I've been saying just that for many
>   years - several articles on the subject can be found on my
>   homepage.  Cheers!
>           ........................................
>           ewinters@xxxxxxxxxx    37.53 N  122.17 W
>                http://www.bena.com/ewinters/
>           ........................................
> On Thu, 25 Apr 1996, Jim Bryce Clark wrote:
> > Reading today's (4/24) Wall Street Journal article on Ted and the HyperLab
> > in Sapporo, the following thoughts came to me.
> >
> > There's a lot of talk about "intranets" in American business now -- in-house
> > hypertext-based information sharing systems.  Yet, in many American
> > organizations, individual managers hoard their own memos and stores of
> > information, and compete with *each other*. <<clip>>

> > The Japanese companies I've known (mostly as clients) work on a different
> > model.  Typically, they compensate professionals for *group* performance,
> > and their ability to *collaborate*.  A company-wide hypertext database of
> > the collective corporate wisdom might be a lot more welcome in the latter
> > context.

In a different context, Hardenbergh's article in the recent issue of DDJ 
Sourcebook brings up the same issue. He was comapring the usual approach to 
solving programming snags (one or two hackers spend a weekend or two on the 
Problem until they beat it into submission) with the approach he takes 
(anonymously request for some new idea, repeat until someone comes up with a 
winner). He felt that the 'egoless' (hmmph), cooperative approach works better 
in the long run, since it allows people outside the specific team to add their 
skill and insights, and was less dependent on one or two brilliant designers 
(I'm also reminded of Levy's description of the old-style MIT hackers, where it 
was considered a service to the community to improve the work of others. Fine if 
you can see past the limits of such a closed environment, which most of them 
couldn't). I think such an approach can be applied to a lot of different 

> > Do you suppose there are significant cultural differences in the
> > attractiveness, and intuitive fit, of hypertext as a tool?

Unquestionably. American culture, and Western culture in general, is geared 
toward individual achievement; Asian cultures are more geared toward the 
community (tho' Japan less so than, say, China or Korea, if I've been informaed 
correctly). Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages; generally, 
success in a cooperative enterprise requires a balance of the two. The Japanese 
(and, oddly enough, the British, at least historically) have a such a balance 
for the most part, and its been a major factor in their success I think. 
Americans tend to cooperate only in emergencies or when they have a strong sense 
of purpose; when they do, however, they're quite good at it.

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