Old Abrahamic religious mindsets in new IT companies
I notice how some particularly successful IT companies grew around business models that look like new modern applications of the gists of one of the three main Abrahamic religions.
Microsoft works with the Christian model of making the difference between the visible hardware and the psychological power of the software, “render unto Caesar things that belong to Caesar and unto God things that belong to God”. Before Satya Nadella took over, they were so enmeshed in the Christian mindset of controlling the narrative and destroying any “false Gods” with that preferred Christian approach of “embrace, extend, extinguish”. The initial embracing phase appears as relinquishing control, but this is only to get you under much tighter vendor lock-in control.
Apple works with the Islamic model of the walled garden of the Land of Islam versus the the rest of the world as the Land of War. They are not so much interested in embracing what is not under their control, they focus on a piece of psychological area where they feel in control of the situation and thus they can keep things simple to create a well-tuned cohesion between “God’s software” and “Caesar’s hardware”.
Google and Facebook work with the rabbinical Jewish model facing the complexity of the world and noticing the relevant information and connections.
Microsoft appears to work with the Christian model of making the difference between the visible hardware and the psychological power of the software, “render unto Caesar things that belong to Caesar and unto God things that belong to God”. Before Satya Nadella took over, they were so enmeshed in the Christian mindset of controlling the narrative and destroying any “false Gods” with that preferred Christian approach to “embrace, extend, extinguish”. The initial embracing phase appears as relinquishing control, but this is only to get you under much tighter vendor lock-in control.
The Microsoft business model is based on selling a user-friendly platform (the Windows operating system) that helps the buyer to manage and make use of the IT environment. Additionally, it sells applications that run on this platform. This model is based on the perception that many hardware producers do not find worth the trouble to invest in developing an operating system able to compete with Windows and that many end user buyers will find Windows useful in combination with a hardware product of their choice.
Recently, Microsoft itself develops some hardware products, but the idea (at least the initial one) is to open the mind of the hardware producers to new possibilities. The Microsoft Surface line of hardware pioneers new concepts like 2-in-1 detachable laptops, hybrid tablets etc. They require some serious investment in research (for example, Microsoft has the record for the quietest place on Earth, an anechoic chamber used for testing the devices). Still, in spite of investing so much and breaking new grounds, Microsoft does not engage in full-blast marketing for such pioneering products.
The purpose is not so much to get a hardware market share (which would be the first impulse of the “classical human thinking”), but to spur the development of new types of machines by other hardware companies. Microsoft’s gain will be the fact that their machines will most likely run its software.
The usual human impulse is to not pay much attention to the difference between “God’s software” and “Caesar’s hardware”, even less to much more valuable perspectives you may have when you are not so focused necessarily on controlling the hardware and how much gain you can have by spurring other people to create hardware. The overall Microsoft model looks so similar to the one in the Christian concept of Eucharist (Holy Communion). In the last supper before death, Jesus gave bread and wine to his disciples, telling them that this is his body and his blood. It was a psychological way to make them realize how much they were changed (and conditioned) by his worldview at that time and also that they were autonomous beings in applying this worldview. They can make decisions by themselves, based on the “operating system” received from him.
At that time, the disciples were already changed by Jesus with the “embrace, extend, extinguish” approach. He was embracing other people’s psychological “software”, he was extending it with unexpected perspectives those people did not know how to integrate with their own thinking processes. This was creating internal interoperability problems leading to the phase in which their own beliefs were extinguished and they had to rely on the belief in Jesus’ coherence. Only Jesus knew how the overall coherence made sense.
It was not so much about imposing directly a specific operating system on other people, but a surreptitious change in the standards with some proprietary extensions that those people did not know how to work with. It is something like in Minem zakonlı hatınım of the Tatar singer Danir Sabirov, with the woman initially low key, in this period of time she is extending the man’s software with features he does not know how to work personally with. When he obviously ends up thinking from the extended perspective, she is withdrawing her ongoing psychological support for those features to make him realize how much he has changed. Nothing works right for him, as by himself he does not know how to operate with his own software, now extended beyond his expertise. A new masculinity that knows how to work with that software appears for him in the shape of the woman’s father.
Further on, there is a variety of directions this situation can go. In this particular Altaic case, there is some female personal investment in the development of such an abyssal masculinity in the real men from her life, which turns also into some guarantee of a more responsible masculinity. It is not so much about the woman seeking clearly a vendor lock-in state, but that the man has to realize a deeper psychology as personified by the woman’s father. That father is not so much portrayed as an inaccessible mystery, there is no specific vibe that the psychological extension are “proprietary”, it is up to Danir what to do about that.
The Jewish case, as it appeared early on in the Jewish history, is that of the man facing directly the mental abyss supposed by the interoperability issues when relating to such a masculinity, but not as a limitation specifically because of “proprietary” extensions owned by a certain person. Later on, Jesus’ approach was from the female perspective noticing the difference between “God’s software” and “Caesar’s hardware”, but operated by a man and with strong overall organizational controlling tendencies, which casts the “software” extensions too much as proprietary. He was doing himself the “embrace, extend, extinguish” process. The same as a woman, he was not interested in how such a masculinity can work. It was the sideline psychological approach of a man expecting for the masculinity to just work. The same as a man, he had an overall control of the situation.
The way the Christianity evolved early on is about a vendor lock-in state of mind, in which you specifically need to just believe in Jesus’ mysterious way of making sense of the world and be dependent on him. The vendor lock-in state is determined specifically by casting the extensions as proprietary. It creates a “meaningful world” revolving around the one who developed those extensions.
When someone ends up in a vendor lock-in state, the additional “fear, uncertainty, doubt” approach gives him glimpses about how abyssal are psychological perceptions beyond his thinking as control of the situation. The vendor lock-in subtext is that “you are deeply enmeshed in that abyssal psychology with my ongoing support and without me you can’t handle anything by yourself, focus on me as the source of coherence if you don’t want to face those abysses by yourself”.
Jesus was not the kind of person interested in dealing with those abysses, he was more into easy idealism and he was feeding his disciples with “fear, uncertainty, doubt” perceptions to not step beyond what he had extended in their minds. “Beware of false prophets” and in general the entire vibe around him is imbibed with a fear of what is beyond his own expertise.
The Christianity that subsequently grew from Jesus’ approach has also some specific classical masculine psychology as control of the situation, in which you need to feel in control of the narrative (a masculine kind of insecurity). It grew into the awareness that people have an operating system in their minds (beyond the classical masculine focus on the “hardware”), that you can get the people into vendor lock-in with “embrace, extend, extinguish” and then keep them firmly in this state with “fear, uncertainty, doubt”.
Add to this the classical masculine worldview as control of the narrative, that the truth is based on your own control of the situation, and you get an ideology making people believe that they have some extended, deeper truth about the world, who cannot admit they are wrong in any aspects and who are bent on converting anyone else to their beliefs, lest they want to face the mental abysses beyond Jesus’ expertise. If other people have other worldviews, this would force the Christians to face those mental abysses the same as in the original Jewish mindset. When there is only one “truth”, things are so easy for someone aware of the complexity of real life and of the mental abysses it supposes.
The Christian mindset is more into “truth” as power than a genuine quest into the unknown. It is the idea that “I have the ultimate truth and I need to defend it no matter what” and any competing narrative needs to disappear. Microsoft appears to have used so effectively this mindset, which turned into a phenomenal growth like that of Christianity in the past, erasing any “false idols and prophets” in the way. Probably Bill Gates sensed in the basics of the emerging IT environment a new area of psychology facing the complexity of real life similar to that the Christianity was dealing with and he was so effective there by applying the Christian worldview.
Apple, on the other hand, appears so Muslim in its approach. It works with the Islamic model of the walled garden of the Land of Islam versus the the rest of the world as the Land of Treaty and the Land of War. They are not so much interested in embracing what is not under their control, they focus on a piece of psychological area where they feel in control of the situation and thus they can keep things simple to create a well-tuned cohesion between “God’s software” and “Caesar’s hardware”. The only cue that I could find around the manifestation of this worldview is the fact that Steve Job’s father was Syrian Muslim.
Apple’s take on the complexity of the IT environment is that of a walled garden within which you can keep things simple with some manageable complexity. The inner view of that garden is like in O’zbegim of the Uzbek singer Kaniza. The video starts with the news of another atrocity of the Islamic State in Syria, the adult women take notice of what is going on beyond the psychological walled garden they developed to unfold their lives. Then the small girls bring a positive perception about how valuable and high-cultured is the life within this closed-off environment (with references to the classical Uzbek culture) and the adult women too immerse in this vibe.
The Apple ethos has some awareness of the complexity of the world and it grows around the perception that it is much easier to keep the things simpler in a walled garden where the scope of that complexity stays more manageable. Within this walled garden you can develop a well optimized integration of software and hardware while letting unfold in your mind that mental fluidity that lets you think beyond the existing trodden paths.
Islam is a holistic approach to life that gives you a sense of clarity and valuable mental fluidity beyond the classical human thinking, showing you a coherent, simple and decluttered view in a complex world (as a result of keeping things simple in a psychological walled garden). This is the kind of experience Apple offers to its customers, its products have a simple, uncluttered beauty and they work well due to the focus on optimizing the integration between software and hardware. This focus is determined by the utter awareness of the complexity of real life, it is rather a personal necessity in the first place, as a personal need for coherence when you have such awareness.
The Islamic /Apple ethos works like in the Hungarian story Stone Soup. A hungry soldier is asking for food and he is refused by everybody. He finds a way to change the perceptions of an old woman to feed him. He starts himself a soup with a stone in it, expressing an authentic vibe of really making a soup, with all the ensuing wonderment of the old woman about such a soup. He tells her that the soup is turning out so good, but it would be even better with a bit of this, then a bit of that, until she brings all the ingredients necessary for a good soup.
With that starting point from an otherwise useless stone and the mystery about how can it make a good soup by itself when boiled, the soldier took the woman out of the trodden paths from her mind. An unexpected soup is getting prepared there by boiling a stone, the mind is getting immersed in all that curiosity and excitement, each addition of ingredients is seen in a refreshed way by referring to the excitement of the unknown about that soup.
The soup in itself has to be good, but there is also the additional sense of mental fluidity and refreshment that declutters the mind. Apple appears to give a new life to the worldview from the Islamic Golden Age, with that refreshed view of mostly already existing things, seeing new ways to improve their value, while for the customers the focus on the stone creates a refreshing approach to the products.
Further on, the customers are increasingly locked in the emerging ecosystem growing around the initial refreshing perceptions. The same as the soldier keeps asking for new ingredients, Apple can keep selling additional “ingredients” to the one who bought initially one of their products. Do you want to immerse even more in this cohesive satisfying experience of psychological refreshment? Then buy this, buy that also, and this too, and that too etc.
Most of those engaged in the Apple ecosystem do not need to know how such a cohesive experience is attained, they just sense how this walled garden experience gives them a sense of clarity and psychological fluidity in a complex world. Something similar happens in Islam, some of the Muslims are mujtahid, those who immerse in the study of how the Islamic ecosystem works in real life. Most of the Muslims are mukallit (“imitators”), something like the “Apple sheep”, they don’t need to study by themselves how this ecosystem works, but at the same time they are very invested psychologically in it and defensive about it.
The Islamic patrolling of the allegiance of its believers was not so insecure like in the Christian case (at least in the initial phase, when they were on the roll, not yet stale and with such a feeling of powerlessness as nowadays). The people became themselves invested in the coherence of such an ecosystem, it offered them psychological satisfactions. They were also mentally hedged with “fear, uncertainty, doubt” that this is the way and you should not think about coherence elsewhere and thus they found themselves defensive about anything threatening that coherence. That ecosystem gives an assuring sense of control of the situation.
Initially, the Muslims were not so exclusivist like the Christians, they had provisions about the other Abrahamic religions to permit them live under the Muslim rule. It was like Apple creating the Boot Camp Assistant to permit installing Windows within the Apple ecosystem. It is in the idea that “yeah sure, let’s bring Windows into our walled garden too, we are so utterly in control of the situation in our ecosystem anyway.” On the other hand, there is no interest in Apple software and / or hardware products outside of their ecosystem, it is something meaningless in their ethos (the same as in the Muslim case). The “fear, uncertainty, doubt” ingrained in the psychology of this ethos turns meaningless such thoughts. They pay attention to the intellectual life outside the ecosystem, but they process it inside to the extent they feel they are on the roll. They live sufficiently in their own world.
The Christianity has a fear of assuming the hardware, the real life experience, because they know (but they do not want to admit) that their software is not really the ultimate solution they purport it to be. It is about an idealistic belief in an ideal software and that in the future the second coming of Jesus will bring a seamless software and hardware integration. In the meantime, the people need to make do with the operating system Jesus implemented in them and the result is much more insecure, with a need for a much more insidious patrolling of the people’s minds.
They do not have such an ecosystem like in the Muslim / Apple case. People constantly need to deal with real life and manipulate any inadvertences they notice in Jesus’ teachings so that their belief system still stays intact. And when not knowing what to do, just focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection as a fresh start clean of sins. The Windows operating system accumulates the sins of its relation with the hardware and with the applications, dies and resurrects afresh cleaned of all those sins.
The Muslims / Apple fans think in terms of an ecosystem that works and become themselves invested in its sense of control of the situation that it offers. This sense of control of the situation means on the other hand that it is difficult for them to accept that something may be wrong in that ecosystem. Especially when that wrong aspect challenges the overall sense of control of the situation (and they have the tendency to manipulate the perception in a way that the overall sense of control of the situation stays intact). On the other hand, the Christian / Microsoft approach does not need to assume responsibilities for the sense of control of the situation beyond their own software. This is what enables it for good or worse to deal with a huge amount of information while still believing in a classical masculine sense of “knowledge”.
Both these worldviews have the tendency to set on the others the onus for any software and hardware integration issues, the Muslims / Apple use this too. Like the Muslim conspiracy theories about how it is every time the others’ fault or Apple “explanations” for functioning issues like you are not holding the phone correctly. But Christianity / Microsoft turns the presentation of such moments of reckoning with issues into a saving solution. If Windows dies and resurrects (which in the Muslim / Apple ecosystem would show a lack of personal coherence if faced for what it is as a recurring issue), it is in this case for the others’ sins.
The Christian / Microsoft focus is on a supposed ideal software as classical sense of knowledge as control of the situation. The peace of mind is based on a supposed software that works and the real life issues in the existing software do not affect so much the mental relaxation of the belief in that ideal software as control of the situation. Add to this that they do not really assume leadership responsibilities about anything beyond their own software. They integrate the hardware and software beyond that, but they are careful to not overextend and end up really assuming leadership responsibilities (the part where Jesus was a smart aleck, as, while he was believing in a perfect solution and he had such an immediate and imperious feeling that a perfect solution must exist, he did not really have ideas about how to unfold such a perfect solution).
The Apple ethos looks like taking into consideration the current state of Islam and all the experience accumulated since its beginnings. It appears that Apple creates a new version of Islamic concept, an Islam 2.0 perspective that tries to answer the issues that turned the historical Islam so stale. It finds the possibility to start afresh the Islamic worldview in this new IT environment, unencumbered by all the accumulation of historical scaffolding. While it continues some of the problematic issues, like the control of the situation as “truth”, it is weary of overextension, there is an obvious experience of not ending up like in Maslahtak of Ehab Tawfik who needs to be present psychologically in so many places and directions to project control of the situation and thus becomes so low-energy and stale.
While being weary of overextenstion, the vibe at Apple is that they do not really know how to tackle this historical experience, they do not address the underlying structural problems of Islam. It feels like “I found back the Islamic vitality as a real life application, this time I will be ultra-careful to not lose it”. They abandoned much of the approaches that created stagnation as a result of the Medina period pedophile worldview, but they still do not face the basic structural problems resulting from the concept of a walled garden with the ultimate abyssal diachronic truth about the world.
There is some increase of attention to the fact that it is not enough to just have a peace of mind from the success in finding added value at other people’s discoveries. There is an increased sense of the need for mental fluidity necessary to keep you relevant and on the roll, a more direct gaze into the mental abyss of creativity. Steve Jobs’ approach is more like dealing with an adult woman, but not so open about it. All this continues in the original Muslim terms of a walled garden of controlled “truth”.
They are very parsimonious with the information they offer, they are very secretive in order to limit as much as possible the instances where they need to assume overall responsibilities (and implicitly, in their mindset, overstretching control of the situation). But this care to not overextend the leadership continues in the original Muslim terms. Steve Jobs’ nuance was to limit as much as possible the need to give answers about that abyss of creativity, in order to not face the questions about the inadequacies of the classical masculine terms of knowledge and “truth” as control of the situation.
It is a situation of eating the cake of creativity and having it too as easy classical masculine control of the situation, which still makes the unfoldment of creativity too difficult. This is an ongoing structural problem at Apple, plus the associated issues in dealing with their “sheep” and the rest of the world. The mindset is still in the terms of Ehab Tawfik in Maslahtak, that of a man who is in control of the situation even in such a complex perception of the world.
Google and Facebook
Google and Facebook work with the rabbinical Jewish model facing the complexity of the world and noticing the relevant information and connections. This short story from A Treasury of Jewish Folklore (edited by Nathan Ausubel) can give an idea about the milieu of this approach:
After months of negotiation with the authorities, a Talmudist from Odessa was granted permission to visit Moscow. He boarded the train and found an empty seat. At the next stop a young man got on and sat next to him. The scholar looked at the young man and thought: this fellow doesn’t look like a peasant, and if he isn’t a peasant he probably comes from this district. If he comes from this district, then he must be Jewish because this is, after all, a Jewish district.
On the other hand, if he is a Jew, where could he be going? I’m the only Jew in our district who has permission to travel to Moscow. Ahh? But just outside Moscow there is a little village called Samvet, and Jews don’t need special permission to go there.
But why would he be going to Samvet? He’s probably going to visit one of the Jewish families there, but how many Jewish families are there in Samvet? Only two — the Bernsteins and the Steinbergs. The Bernsteins are a terrible family, and a nice looking fellow like him must be visiting the Steinbergs.
But why is he going? The Steinbergs have only daughters, so maybe he’s their son-in-law. But if he is, then which daughter did he marry? They say that Sarah married a nice lawyer from Budapest, and Esther married a businessman from Zhytomyr, so it must be Sarah’s husband. Which means that his name is Alexander Cohen, if I’m not mistaken. But if he comes from Budapest, with all the anti-Semitism they have there, he must have changed his name.
What’s the Hungarian equivalent of Cohen? Kovacs. But if they allowed him to change his name, he must have some special status. What could it be? A doctorate from the University. At this point the scholar turns to the young man and says, “How do you do, Dr. Kovacs?” “Very well, thank you, sir.” answered the startled passenger. But how is it that you know my name?” “Oh,” replied the Talmudist, “it was obvious.”
Google and Facebook are good examples of that mindset, an awareness about the larger amount of information and the ways to really take it in consideration beyond the linear, narrow-minded classical human thinking. Initially, a tool like Yahoo seeking to provide some answers in all that emerging chaos of the Internet was envisaged as a directory of manually added websites. It was an organization in the classical human manner of expanding your “knowledge” as expanding a spider web in your mind. The concept of Google was about the openness of the mind to notice and face a huge complexity beyond your inner spider web. It also paid attention to analyze the relevance of that information, unlike other incipient search engines of those times.
Yahoo too embraced that concept after a while, but they still could not stay on top of the situation because they did not provide some psychological clarity about it. An essential idea for the Google model to function was also to insert targeted advertising on top of search results in order to make it profitable. It is the kind of thinking you can have when you are not self-centered, you don’t necessarily see the world as a growth from the center of your self. You notice possibilities for profit that are not necessarily self-centered.
Yahoo relied on banner ads, which was incentivizing them to keep the people as long as possible on their website as some sort of portal (the classical human self-centered perspective). And the search results also tended to prioritize their interests, while the Google results were prioritizing what matters to the user. That looked too like a mindset of focusing on the self and not really facing the unknown.
The Yahoo approach was like a joy of bathing in that huge amount of information, as a portal of all kinds of stuff. They did not really face the gist of what that huge amount of information supposes for a human mind. At its core, that approach still was about the expansion of the “knowledge” as the growth of a spider web in the mind. In the context of a huge amount of information, that looked like a confused mind when compared with the simplicity of the Google first page and its overall sense of clarity, mission and direction transcending the classical human sense of ego and giving ideas about a sense of ego more adequate in facing a huge amount of information.
This monotheism can bring so much suffering if you just go along with it in terms of “truth” as control of the situation, but it can be also helpful in facing the complexity of the world, if you really face that complexity. Facebook is another example of this kind, as an awareness of the huge unfoldment of social life beyond the classical sense of control of the situation. At its core there is a monotheism too, but it is not that initial understanding of monotheism as control of the situation from the point of view of the ego. It provides coherence for the unfoldment of the rabbinical Talmudic view that “Torah has seventy faces”. Facebook turns into a concomitant unfoldment of all kinds of points of view in human connections, yet with some overall coherence.
It looks like Google and Facebook have a clear idea that a psychological ecosystem and the unknown beyond it require different approaches. If you pay attention to what is beyond (the Google approach), then you need to have a clear mind, minimalist about your own point of view, in order to really be relevant in facing the complex unknown. If you pay attention to the psychological ecosystem (the Facebook approach), you should have some sense that you are just swimming in a bubble of “meaning” with some internal coherence. The original rabbinical Jewish mindset is a mixture of both, like in the initial story I mentioned, but I notice how in practical life some Jews can be more invested in Google type of perspectives, while others more invested in Facebook type of perspectives.
The realizations around the human psychology opened by the latter approach are not to be dismissed as just about “living in a bubble”, since as a human this kind of ecosystem is all you have in terms of psychological organization. It is good to study it and see what to do with it, where do we go from here. Usually, people tend to be like in the Yahoo approach, under the impression that they are open to the unknown beyond their own psychological ecosystem while they bathe in that ecosystem and they believe in it. “Oh, but I am not living in a bubble, look at how I am facing the unknown!” They think they are officially open to the unknown, but they take for granted much of the ecosystem they live in.
The Facebook approach works with the awareness that such an ecosystem is largely a psychological construct, they do not really lean on it for meaning as a given. Thus they can work with it while not being so invested in it, they rely on the deeper psychology that created the Abrahamic monotheism (I will write more about this in the extended version of this article). They can see it as an object to work with, they are not themselves an ecosystem. The other important aspect is that they realize what really means a quest into the unknown beyond a human bubble of “meaning”. They realize the difference and this enables such a valuable approach to work with human ecosystems of “meaning”.
As I mentioned before, it is still good to work with such bubbles and see what to do with them, as for the moment there are no other human organizational tools. The problem is that such psychological novelties remained in the rabbinical Jewish ethos at a rather restrained, observational level compared to the initial Abrahamic worldview. They don’t really have ideas about how to unfold it in real life as a broad universal organization. There is no expertise for such universal unfoldment in this ethos.
With some spur from the modern context and from the American environment, Mark Zuckerberg went head-on into an universal organization. And it looks like he is not paying too much attention or he does not know how to pay attention to the incumbent responsibilities around unleashing such a psychology on a large scale. This works to some extent with people who have some informal realization that the ecosystems of “meaning” in their minds are largely psychological constructs. Notice how the Israeli society can function as a mixture of a myriad of ecosystems of meanings and even turn it into an advantage as a valuable resource. Still, don’t imagine it as a smooth sailing, there is a strong factionalism, but also lots of painful historical experience around this. Think also of the next-door Lebanon and its crippling structural issues resulting from factionalism.
The Jewish ethos managed to have some valuable psychological breakthroughs from an ongoing historical experience in about the same vein, while the Jewish men were facing directly the interoperability issues with the abyssal diachronic masculinity developed by women. What is going to happen if you just unleash this expertise into people who believe in the psychological bubbles from their minds? In a sense, it is something good in the manner Facebook exposes the ridiculous atomization of the myriad of human psychological ecosystems, with groups of people living in echo chambers of bubbles of “meaning”. It can look pathetic, but this is the practical reality of these people. It is so relieving to face the reality more in depth. But, from this point on, there should also be some responsibility about the situation and see what to do with it.
From my point of view, if I am aware of a psychology like in Habeit Ya Leil of Nawal El Zoghbi (more in detail at Part 1 of Perceiving complexity), I can’t pretend I am clueless about it. The reaction can be like blaming the woman in the Bible for taking the man out of Paradise (more in detail at Part 1 of How I see the Abrahamic religions and Part 17 of Perceiving complexity). But it can also be some realization how this is a much more profound psychology and much more realistic. So, I see the value in the basic concept of Facebook, but not necessarily in how Mark Zuckerberg handles the situation. This is not necessarily about the drive for profit, probably there can be even better avenues for profit if you study the situation and don’t just go along with the simple applications of this expertise. It is about simplistic and lazy drive for profit.
Google and Facebook are on a different level than Microsoft and Apple, in the sense that they are about some comfortability with the fact that the classical human ecosystems of knowledge are largely psychological constructs, also with the complex unknown beyond such ecosystems and with the necessity to face that unknown. Microsoft and Apple are like in the pre-rabbinical ethos, with an awareness of the complexity beyond, which determined a desperation to preserve the coherence of the psychological ecosystem in the mind.
Christianity and Islam grew from that environment and they are about defending the classical human type of coherence in the mind as an ecosystem facing a huge unknown, an ecosystem defended as the “truth”. Christianity found a way to do this by focusing only on the psychological “software” in the minds of the people, avoiding to assume leadership for anything beyond that and work with the “embrace, extend, extinguish” approach. Islam found a way to do this by creating and defending a walled garden within which it is much easier to keep the things simpler and the scope of that complexity stays more manageable. This walled garden is supposed to be the “truth”.
The Jewish thought works too with the psychology of a walled garden amid a huge unknown. But that is not about being under impression that that you have access to the ultimate ecosystem of “truth” as the seal of the prophets. There is some perception about the complexity beyond. That was there even in the pre-rabbinical times, hence it felt natural for the subsequent Jewish approach to sense their ethos already being present in the moment at Mount Sinai. The Jewish concept of God encompasses the complex unknown beyond the classical human ecosystem of knowledge. The Islamic concept of God is about the “truth” of Muhammad’s psychological ecosystem and very focused of his personality. It uses the walled garden concept as a self-serving playing ground, it is rejecting the complexity beyond.
Moses had some sense about a larger complexity and things were not so focused on him. People can grow new perspectives from that moment at Mount Sinai. In the rabbinical ethos, Moses is portrayed as being proud about what the next generations could achieve in facing the psychological unknown. The mindset continued to be around what to do with the unexpectedly huge and complex psychology of freedom beyond the usual human ecosystem of self-centered “knowledge”.
Initially it was more about being desperate to defend an ecosystem of “truth” (but still with respect for and with an intimate connection with the huge unknown beyond the ecosystem). After the painful disaster in confronting the Roman Empire and the utter impossibility to sustain the ecosystem of “truth” centered around the Temple from Jerusalem, the rabbinical approach noticed some nuances around how to be more comfortable with the complex unknown beyond, which made possible to continue that immersion in a deep life-altering psychology previously centered around the Temple.
The Jewish worldview is about men really facing directly the mental abyss of the masculinity developed by a woman as in Minem zakonlı hatınım of Danir Sabirov with a diachronic psychology like in Habeit Ya Leil of Nawal El Zoghbi. The palliative Christian and Muslim masculine approaches appeared in the context of the impossibility to sustain the ecosystem of “truth” centered around the Temple from Jerusalem. They were rejected by the Jews because their sui generis sustenance of an ecosystem of “truth” loses the direct connection with the diachronic mental abyss that feels so realistic psychologically in relating to the world.
When Google was in a position to develop an operating system, that did not turn into a focus on that operating system as a value in itself. They were distributing it for free, as the focus was on the work with relevant information in the complexity of real life. Notice also how the Chinese Communist Party leadership bans Google and Facebook on Chinese territory, while it permits Microsoft and Apple to operate under their “guidance”. Communism as a new modern religion of Christian inspiration is about defending an ecosystem of “truth”. It is so aware of the huge complexity beyond the classical human thinking, but treats it as something that has to be submitted to a narrow-minded self-centered worldview.
The Microsoft and Apple approach to the huge complexity of the IT environment does not pose special problems to their organization. They too are about “truth” as control of the situation (and, if venturing into informational quest beyond their bubble, they seem to be more open to censor themselves, Microsoft’s Bing search engine operates under CCP jurisdiction by censoring itself). This while the regime cannot afford to let Google and Facebook work the way they are supposed to work, as that would invite free thinking and some comfortability with the complexity beyond their psychological ecosystem.
Google and Facebook are some interesting psychological experiments also around the fact that they turned into some sort of Jewish “universal religions” the same as the Christian and Muslim inspired Microsoft and Apple. It is also interesting how they replicate the basic paths in the creation of Christianity and Islam, but with the Jewish respect for the complexity beyond one’s psychological ecosystem.
First Google appeared as an opening to that complexity beyond the Jewish psychological walled garden. This was possible with a restrain around the sense of self, necessary to really be open to that complexity, as long as, for the moment, there are no psychological organizational tools other than the classical human concept of self-centered ecosystem of meaning. But, if it opens this way, it soon appears obvious that the very self-restrain about the sense of self shows much more clearly an universal sense of organization taking much more directly in consideration the human concept of ecosystem of meaning, a niche that was filled with Zuckerberg’s Facebook.
Christianity, as an attempt of opening beyond the walled garden, was not about self-restrain and amazement about what is beyond. By staying clear of becoming invested in the “hardware” of real life, it was preaching an ideal seamless “software” and “hardware” integration that is to come. That ideal integration that does not exist in real life was presented as the ideal psychological ecosystem, in contrast to the existing reality. It is not really an opening, but an “embrace, expand, extinguish” integration of other people in a self-centered worldview.
As the boundless claims of that ideal integration are self-righteous, they are projected on the practical reality of the psychological ecosystem, as in the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. Those who eschew the “embrace, expand, extinguish” method are portrayed as guilty and self-righteous, as in the image of the Pharisee from the parable. This is obviously a ridiculous caricature and it is a weak spot in the Christian argumentation. If anything, Christianity is about an exacerbation of the self-righteous controlling nature of the classical human concept of psychological ecosystem, with such destructive results in real life.
Furthermore, it is a matter of time for someone else to sense that the way Christianity casts as bad the concept of a psychological ecosystem in fact opens the mind for an universal concept of a self-righteous psychological ecosystem. Muhammad sensed this and Islam filled the niche avoided by Christianity. He felt something incomplete in Christianity. He also felt something incomplete in Judaism, but that was through Christian lens, under impression it discovered the right way to universality. He rediscovered something important in Judaism, but through Christian lens. It was like in that game called “broken telephone” or “Chinese whispers”, in which the basic reasons of the Jewish worldview were lost on the way, while the message still relies on them, never weans off from them and it does not provide relevant answers to them.
Google and Facebook grew with the Jewish immersion in the complexity. They still face practical problems that need proper investigation, given their universal scope. They did not stay small while facing that huge unknown, as in the usual rabbinical Jewish ethos. There are some reasons around staying small, as there is a sense of not having adequate answers around how to unfold a human organization while aware of that huge complexity.
All kinds of issues that were manageable to some extent in a closed walled garden now pose all kinds of challenges when let to unfold in universal proportions. But I find value in the unexpected challenges posed by the universal expansion of Google and Facebook. I sense the core values as good and the challenges have to be met.
For example, for some reason, Apple leadership has an ongoing intense aversion for the Facebook model. At a first glance, this does not make much practical sense, as they rather compete with Microsoft and Google. A closer look shows that, structurally, Apple and Facebook have similar basic premises of focusing on the psychological ecosystem in one’s mind. However, Facebook does this with an openness to the myriad divergent ways such ecosystems can develop. For this, they pay attention to the specific details of the ecosystem of meaning in one’s mind and they can grow an organizational structure to sustain all such ecosystems concomitantly.
This done without further thought opens all kinds of issues about privacy, about hooking people too much around things that arouse their interest, about the development of echo chambers of like-minded people who end up living too much only in their own bubble etc. These issues need to be studied and see what to do around them (which can open even better business models, with more depth). But I see as good the basic concept of Facebook.
The issue for Apple is that this basic approach of Facebook challenges too much their own way to work with psychological ecosystems, namely as a magical walled garden where you can sustain some refreshing psychological fluidity by limiting its complexity. The openness to the myriad ways the ecosystems of meaning can diverge into brings to the forefront the psychological complexity that the Apple ethos avoids.
Their interest in informational privacy stems in the first place from the need to keep the simplification created by the psychological walled garden. If the personal nuances of one’s psychological ecosystem are kept on a private level, Apple can sustain its specific brand of one-size-fits-all ecosystem. They seek to keep the people focused on the refreshing sweetness of that simplified walled garden and apprehensive about the possibilities to manage their own specific private nuances in public.
In this way, lots of people can share and identify with the same universal ecosystem, while having their private specific nuances, many times divergent, kept at a less formal, less conscious level (like in the Muslim approach to universality or like in the survival of classical Arabic as the official language in all Arab world, while in practice people speak divergent Arabic dialects / languages). This also means that lots of personal aspects are left unaddressed while everything feels so good and rewarding as control of the situation over the diachronic fluidity, while in the Facebook approach they are mostly left to unfold by themselves. It would have been good for Zuckerberg to have a Freudian and Kafkian tinge and pay more attention to that, because Facebook kind of develops itself such tinge (the lack of attention to such aspects gets back to the fact that Google and Facebook tackle only one side of the situation).
I don’t see the concept of a psychological walled garden as bad in itself, but it should be done with an identification and solidarity with the complexity beyond, as in the original Jewish worldview. Otherwise, it turns awry, inhumane, inconsequential after a while. Whatever happens inside the walled garden should take in consideration the complexity beyond, not as an island of simplified righteousness. No problem with the simplification in itself either, sometimes it is good to do this (for some intermediary angles?), but with a deep underlying natural connection with the complexity beyond.
In order to survive on long term, the Apple model should be open to that complexity and sense how natural and consequential it is. It is not only about the Facebook model thriving out there. The whole concept of modernity is open to that complexity and this in time erodes the Apple / Muslim approach. The current issue noticed by the Apple leadership is that of privacy, as though, if this defense line is broken, its whole business model crumbles down. I see the issue of privacy as a practical one that needs to be taken properly in consideration at the universal level unfolded by these IT companies. But I don’t see it as the main structural issue. Instead, it appears to be rather about seeing how natural and consequential is the complexity beyond the walled garden.
As far as I know, Bill Gates era Microsoft did not seem to sense such existential threats from Google’s openness to the complexity (as they both have the same premises of taking in consideration what is beyond one’s psychological ecosystem). It does some mumbo-jumbo with its limitation to an ecosystem of software, while pretending to assume overall responsibilities about the complexity beyond one’s bubble of knowledge. But, even with that roundabout approach, it still takes practically in consideration the existence of that complexity.
What I sense as the counterpart of Apple current feeling of existential threat is Bill Gates’ involvement in good causes after Microsoft entered in a plateau of peak power. Probably there is an emptiness of overall meaning when experiencing the success of that self-centered expansion. What is that for? The whole typical human concept of “me against the world” crumbles down. You need some authentic connections with people. I feel this as the counterpart of the current Apple apprehensions because it is about facing the consequential normality of that complexity.
Back to Google and Facebook specifically, another aspect I think would be important to include in this introductory short version is that, while their monotheism is not the Old Jewish / Christian / Islamic type of focus on an ecosystem of “truth”, it still has a fear of alternative organizations and a deep determination to engulf any emerging valuable perspectives. While Microsoft and Apple do what Christianity and Islam use to do in this sense, Google and Facebook stepped too in this heavy approach to emerging threats in order to sustain an universal organization.
This tendency to engulf organizational threats was already present in the “stay small” Jewish ethos, like for example the development in time of the Passover holiday by including some springtime non-monotheistic religious agricultural celebrations. Christianity and Islam brought this to a whole new level, given their universal aspirations (especially the former, since it does not have a walled garden organizational concept). In Christianity, in the first centuries, the image of Jesus got a beard the same as the Greco-Roman gods, got the birthday on 25th of December the same as Sol Invictus, got some imagery together with his mother like Isis with her son etc. Basically, it engulfed whatever was popular at that time in its area of religiosity. Islam engulfed the organization of local apex gods like the Persian Zoroastrian Khuda or the Turkish Shamanistic Tanrı.
The usual Jewish psychological organization largely lives with an unknown around how things are organized beyond the walled garden ecosystem. There is the concept of a monotheistic overall deep organization for everything, but they largely live with an unknown about how that would be possible. It unfolds by itself, it is not based on the ego of a prophet. The Talmudic investigation into the unknown is just investigation, it tends to be careful to not step into universal organizational territory. As Google and Facebook step into an universal organizational territory (since they need to provide some public universal coherence), they also largely step into weariness around anything not stemming from their own organization. And then the tendency is “why not engulf everything into our organization to have some peace of mind about a psychology like in Habeit Ya Leil of Nawal El Zoghbi?”
The Abrahamic monotheistic mindset has some valuable expertise in facing a complex unknown and in dealing with a huge amount of information, which comes very handy in the IT environment. There is a problem still in the way it is very uncomfortable with anything not stemming from its own organization. Google and Facebook have an openness to explore the unknown in an organized manner, but they too tend to engulf any emerging competition. Some investigation around these issues can even open avenues for much more valuable business models that structurally are not so desperate to engulf anything in their way, as they have more relatable ways to grow and feel consistent in dealing with the complexity.
This keen awareness of the sense of control of the situation determined a tremendous growth of all these four companies, to the point it gets problematic. My impression is that the tremendous success is a byproduct of this specific expertise to face a huge amount of complex and fluid information. Structurally, this is how these religions keep some psychological consistency when facing such complex perspectives. They seek to engulf anything that feels like an emerging distinct narrative. But those who are at the helm of these companies need to realize that they cannot just go along with the mindset of any of these religions, they need to face the modern context too.
Microsoft under Bill Gates and Facebook under Mark Zuckerberg look like just applying a specific Abrahamic approach to life without thinking too much about the larger implications. Regarding Facebook, in the original rabbinical Jewish ethos, there is some perception of the huge organizational responsibilities such an endeavor would suppose for a large scale unfoldment, hence the propensity to stay small and the lack of interest in proselytizing. As for Bill Gates, he recently appears involved in all kinds of valuable projects that make a difference. They are not related to Microsoft itself, but I wonder if they are the consequence of experiencing the emptiness of meaning in the mindless self-centered Microsoft expansion.
Steve Jobs had from the start the burden of the bogged down Islam and he had to pay attention to what is necessary to find a vitality like that in the Islamic Golden Age (but still not really giving an answer to the structural issues of Muhammad’s Islam).
Google, with its constant work with the awareness of what it really means to face the unknown beyond a bubble of meaning, was structurally the most inclined to see the necessity of some responsibilities. (I also notice now that I never mentioned up to this moment the names of its founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, there is something structurally conducive in this sense in the self-restraining ethos of Google, as a way to deal with the unknown.) They started with “don’t be evil”, they also tended to be the most attentive to their employees. But, after a while, when deeper levels of responsibility were obviously more necessary, it looks like they just slid to some extent into the peace of mind of some schmaltzy “lazy leftist” good-feeling public imagery.
Overall, I don’t see these responsibilities as a burden, most likely their study can unveil even much more valuable psychological organizations and avenues for profit. And, regarding the governmental involvement, some regulation is obviously necessary, but there should also be some realization that you can’t just expect the usual simplistic human psychology in the IT environment. There should be some exploration around human psychology when relating to the complexity of real life, in order to see how a human mind can relate to a huge complexity like that posed by the IT environment. There should be some realization that these Abrahamic mindsets reappeared and were so successful for some reason. They offer some consistent organization for such an environment.
Even around the previously mentioned issue of the tendency to engulf any emerging competition, while I see the necessity of some regulation, my focus is rather on the human psychology in facing the fluid complex unknown and the tendency to seek a unified organization in such a context. What is going on? Why does it appear? What are the deeper psychological structures that give a sense of authenticity around these issues? What can be done?
This was the short version of this study of the Abrahamic mindsets in some major IT companies. The original version is longer, as I get into more detail about issues around this Abrahamic expertise in dealing with a huge amount of information:
Part 1 — Operating systems as a coherent organization when aware of the larger complexity of life
Part 2 — A bigger picture about the perception of the mental fluidity as child-like in some Asian cultures
Part 3 — Further study around the topic of mental fluidity perceived as child-like
Part 4 — How I see the abyssal Jewish experience and its history
Part 5 — How I see the genesis of the Islamic mindset
Part 6 — Some ideas about the child-like side in the Jewish context
Part 7 — Diachronic organizational possibilities in Altaic cultures, comparisons with the Jewish ones
Part 8 — Jewish approaches to contexts that developed the Muslim outlook
Part 9 — A few additional snippets
Part 10 — The Islamic mindset
Part 11 — The Islamic mindset at Apple
Part 12 — The novel One Hundred Years of Solitude as an interesting counterpart
Part 13 — The relation between the observational side and the side immersed in the existing organization in the Jewish context
Part 14 — The application in real life of a Krishna-like masculinity
… to be continued
The list of all my series and articles around similar topics is at Perceiving complexity.