Redefining 5GW, again

For quite a while, I was involved in discussions relating to 5GW (which sometimes stands for the fifth generation of modern war, other times stands for the fifth gradient of warfare, but always implies a technique of armed conflict that can defeat a large-sized 4GW force).

The term is becoming fashionable again, with appearances in the Marine Corps Gazette and now Wired.

How to Win a ‘Fifth-Generation’ War | Danger Room from
5GW is anchored in the global Islamic jihad espoused by Al Qaeda, Coer writes. But that doesn’t mean that fifth-gen warriors necessarily are clearly ideological, with aspirations of setting up alternative political systems. They’re opportunists, intent only on destruction. But even seemingly pointless violence can have a perverse logic, for the sudden, irrational destruction undermines the idea that nations — and especially the most powerful nation, the U.S. — are viable in the modern world.

So how do you beat a fifth-gen enemy? By not fighting, first of all. Beebe says ending the vortex of violence in Africa means alleviating “the conditions of human beings that create these insecurities across state borders.” In other words, focus on economic development, humanitarian assistance and communication, with nary an M-16 or Abrams tank in sight.

The article reads like a re-terming (or rediscovery) of John Robb’s ideas, but without any reference to John. Both Robb and Coerr base their work off line, seem to accept the chronological emergence of the first four generations of war, and then predict that the next force will be either a “bazaar of violence” (Robb) or “clearinghouse for
violence” (Coerr) without any coherent ideology, desire for control
over population, desire for a state, etc. Robb, like Coerr, even for
a time branded his idea 5GW, but I think he determined that it was
best to stick to terminology he owned.

My monograph, Revolutionary Strategies in Early Christianity, briefly discusses 5GW. I have written about 5GW on this blog, and I participate in Dreaming 5GW, a website dedicated to the phenomenon.

The User Experience of Google Chrome

Pulse UX had a piece on Google Chrome (the browser I’m currently using to browse the web) in late 2008 that becomes more interesting every time I read it. After thinking about the piece for some times, it comes to two general conclusions: Google Chrome is not a well designed browser, but then Google Chrome is not primarily a browser at all.

The point about the danger of starting-from-scratch is obvious enough:

What does Google Chrome mean for the future of user experience design?

In an article by Steven Levy, from the October 2008 issue of WIRED magazine title: “Inside Chrome: The Secret Project to Crush IE and Remake the Web” the developers of Chrome described how they approached the UX design problem for their new “world-beating” browser. In part they described the UX design methodology as follows.

“When deciding what buttons and features to include, the team began with the mental exercise of eliminating everything, then figuring out what to restore.”

Whoa!…that IS an interesting UX design methodology. The problem is that the Google UX process ignored almost entirely the past 25 years of cognitive science and related skill acquisition theory. The Google Chrome UX design methodology created, to a significant extent, the perplexing complexity of Chrome by ignoring several billion “person-hours” of prior experience that users accrued with established browser interaction models. Arbitrarily deciding what to leave out or include in terms of features and functions is…how shall we say…1950’s UX design.

… and dovetails nicely to my thoughts on the science and art of user experience research. However, the Pulse UX piece then convincingly argues that the primary purpose of Google Chrome is to be a rendering engine for Google Docs and other software in the cloud. Thus, Google Chrome is not a competitor to Microsoft Internet Explorer so much as a competitor to Microsoft Live Mesh.

The post is fascinating. The “art” of Chrome’s long-term strategy, and the science of measuring user experience, tie together nicely. Read the whole thing.

Big Pharma not Big Gangs

An excellent short post referencing a story on gang violence in U.S. News and World Report. While there are deep problems with criminality in th United States, in general things have been getting better. The sorts of crimes that are increasing, however, seem to be fueld by the Drug War.

So end the Drug War.

Gangs rule over the most crime-free America in decades Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog
What drives all this competitive destruction? Our failed war on drugs.

By not medicalizing the problem and decriminalizing use, we provide black market opportunities for criminals.

Frankly, Id rather see Big Pharma clean up

The modern approach to complex problems is not to wish them away, or to create a libertarian paradise: it is to regulate them. We have regimes for regulating alcohol and marijuana. Why not regulations for fat… and for drugs?