If they are to survive, organizations must evolve. A tiny example: the military retirement home where my son Merle plays music for Sunday services in the chapel. It's now called "Knollwood", a fine name for a big house on a wooded hill. But a couple of decades ago it was "Distaff Hall" and only admitted widows of Army officers. As they grew fewer in number the place had to open its doors to non-Army and non-female applicants ... or it would have gone bankrupt and closed its doors forever. Hence, the change in charter and in name. Knollwood is prosperous now. But it's a different place than it once was.

The balancing act is tough. How can one preserve the "specialness" of an outfit without narrowing its base so much that it topples? As coin collecting or amateur radio become less popular, for instance, should clubs fade away peacefully or struggle to redefine themselves? Is it still numismatics if it includes tokens or medallions? What about collectable trading cards or MP3 files? And is it ham radio if it's communication via moonbounced lasers? Optical fiber? Over the Internet?

The answers aren't obvious. What's crucial isn't physical and technical — it's stylistic and historic.

And the same challenge is faced by cultures and subcultures as they strive to define and redefine themselves over generations ...

(see also NumismaticRamblings (7 Aug 2000), OrganLessons (24 Jun 2001), ScriptKiddiesEverywhere (18 Sep 2002), HammingItUp (10 Jan 2003), ...)

TopicPersonalHistory - TopicOrganizations - TopicSociety - 2003-03-25

(correlates: WebbWiggins, ConFormation, MoreElegantTechnologies, ...)