“Change the World”, “Do No Evil”, what about something else– “Amplify Good” or ?

Maybe we should question mottoes and think of new ones.

Steve Jobs would often say he was “Changing the World.”   Google’s founders repeated a motto of “Do No Evil.”   Mottos may seem trite, but they form part of the mythology of how we see our roles in our world.

“Changing the World” is a forceful, and frankly arrogant, statement.   Corporations can magnify the power of a few leaders, mass production repeats one design, the tools of computers made dominant by companies shape how end users work and play.   So yes, an Apple Computer can “Change the World”.      But should one company decide how to “change the world”?

“Do no evil” seems to me to be setting the bar a little low.    Should we strive to “do no evil” or doing something actively good?    While I understand not doing evil may not have been the the goal of the Google’s founders, but rather an gut check that employees should perform on their projects.    But it became a motto in the population outside, and a test they are held to by outsiders.    It has become part of the myth of purpose put upon Google.    And in that, setting not doing evil as a goal seems like a pretty low vision.

So, what could new mottoes be?   I would hope that it would reflect values we want to encourage.   I would suggest the values of being inclusive, selfless, positive, flexible, respectful, growth oriented could be emphasized.    The possibilities suddenly feels wide open.

Maybe I am growing older, but I am finding I maybe I am not the center of the world where I should be trusted to “change the world” even given the opportunity.   More of my role is to teach, foster, and reinforce those actions I have found worthwhile.

I imagine all of us have been trying to find these themes in our actions, and guiding ideas.    I have no conclusion here, but a puzzle that might be worth thinking about in the car or the shower.

A few nominations to start:   “Amplify good”  “Path for a Fruitful Life”.   Any ideas?


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7 Responses to “Change the World”, “Do No Evil”, what about something else– “Amplify Good” or ?

  1. Mitra Ardron says:

    I like “Amplify Good”, its an interesting concept because it puts the emphasis on making OTHER people’s desires for good come true. In many ways it goes back to much of what we were doing in the early communications groups that evolved alongside the technology of the internet (such as, but not limited to APC.org), the idea wasn’t that the internet itself had an intrinsic value, but that it made it more possible for other people to be successful. Also part of what I was trying to do with Natural Innovation – i.e. how can we help enhance the effectiveness of people innovating for change.

  2. brewster says:

    Exactly. Finding others, and other’s ideas, that are worth supporting might be a way to express what we actually do. The myth of the lone inventor, with a wholly new idea, does not seem to be how things really work.

    Maybe our major “inventions” are actually selections. And if we think of it that way, it might make us a little less ego-ful. TED’s motto of “Ideas worth spreading” seems to be getting closer– but TED does not seem to then follow that down the next level to their speakers– they seem to be painted as inventors (there is no acknowledgements or credits for instance, just an idea for one person). But closer.

  3. Greg Lloyd says:

    “Our best today; better tomorrow”

    In his memoir Mr. Bradlee confessed to having no overarching prescriptions for the practice of journalism. He wrote that he knew of nothing more sophisticated than the motto of one of his grade-school teachers: “Our best today; better tomorrow.”

    Marilyn Berger, New York Times, Oct 21, 2014

  4. Jeff Ubois says:

    “Do no harm” has worked pretty well for doctors, but Confucius (and Jonas Salk) suggested “be a good ancestor,” which works for me (and maybe some archivists!)

  5. sally says:

    Temple Grandin said in an interview once, that for her, what was missing in all of this technology usage and in particular, reality TV, was that the person who was rewarded and praised “survived” by climbing over others and leaving them in their wake. She said that she was always taught to help and protect those who are “weaker” than herself and finds that today, that is (shamefully) not a value held in high esteem in tech or society.

    Dr. Grandin went on to say that she was taught the “Roy Rogers rules for living” which she thought were pretty great.

    They are highly secular and many will disagree with them, but some may still be useful.

    In some ways, maybe some of the old mottoes need to be revisited.

    • brewster says:

      I believe you are referring to these: http://www.cowboyway.com/RoyRogers.htm Interesting contrast to the Moses list.

      1. Be neat and clean.

      2. Be courteous and polite.

      3. Always obey your parents.

      4. Protect the weak and help them.

      5. Be brave but never take chances.

      6. Study hard and learn all you can.

      7. Be kind to animals and take care of them.

      8. Eat all your food and never waste any.

      9. Love God and go to Sunday school regularly.

      10. Always respect our flag and our country.

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