Do You TAZ?

One thing that was so great (at least to me) about studying Human Communication as an undergrad (Rutgers 1973-77) was the cool stuff we were exposed to, such as Karl Weick's concept of sensemaking, an idea I have been pondering ever since.

Fast forward, now my sons are studying Communication at Rutgers, and I love hearing about what they are learning. For example, my son Dave has told me about Hakim Bey's concept of "temporary autonomous zones." Dave says:

~ Places where a new social context is created by its participants. These zones are devoid of social control, outside the influence of regular society. Should the place be named, or its presence become publically known, the autonomous zone quickly disappears. It can later reappear under different conditions determined by its participants.

Think of a criminal hideout such as a pirate's den on some uncharted islands.

If you take out the aspect of deviance or illegal activity, you could say that that there are many forms of temporary autonomous zones in our lives, for instance job search teams that gradually evaporate as the members land jobs, ad hoc virtual teams, or communities of interest that form ephemerally on the internet.

One of Hakim Bey's notions is that temporary autonomous zones, being free from social control, have the effect of liberating empowerment and creativity. I like that a lot. And I think there may be applications of this idea for establishment organizations that are looking for ways to achieve true breakthroughs in innovation.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, December 5, 2008

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