Expanding on points 2 and 4 in my article from yesterday (but no need to read it), I’d just like to say that there’s really a simple technological solution that could really improve the testy culture between Wilber and his critics, if they would only borrow a method from the software development world.

But first, why is this idea important? Read ahead a few paragraphs if you’re already familiar with the situation involving critics in the Integral community. Every philosophy or theological perspective has its critics, some from within a tradition or school of thought and some from without. Integral has attracted many dozens of critics opposed to Integral theory and its aims, most of whom are amateur scholars who coalesce on a site called (a bit ironically, I think) Integral World. At first, Ken Wilber (the leading Integral theorist) engaged with the site’s better criticisms, but eventually the tone soured and there was a falling out between him and his organization and Frank Visser, the Editor of Integral World. When Wilber started his own blog at kenwilber.com, there was even a spirited blog rant (part of a series of posts on playing with and healing the shadow) that got under the skin of Frank and other critics so deeply that they’re still complaining about it more than a decade later.

Wilber hasn’t engaged with critics much since then for a variety of reasons (though he has contributed several new books and engaged in a wide variety of constructive projects), and the critics have proffered the narrative that Wilber refuses to engage them because his system has been destroyed by the devastating nature of their blog commentary. This feud leaks into all sorts of acrimonious interactions in the Integral scene and I suspect it keeps many people who are interested in learning more about Integral Theory from pursuing their studies further. Because the critics who gather at Integral World believe (truly or falsely) that they are not being heard and their concerns haven’t been addressed in the past and still aren’t being addressed, over time they get louder and meaner and more desperate for recognition.

If Integral Theory is a sort of superhuman operating system, then it needs a bug tracking database. At Microsoft, they call their primary tool RAID (get it, like the brand of pesticide?). Everyone enters problems into the database and then they are triaged by program managers and acted upon by the original person who logged it. Duplicate bugs are identified and removed. And ultimately the most serious issues get escalated higher and higher up the food chain. But they are all commented on. They are all given attention. Even the ones that are dismissed are shown the respect of a careful process.

What’s more, not every “Ken Wilber is a selfish asshole” comment is considered a legitimate bug to be tracked. There are standards and protocols for entering bugs into the system. You have to document its reproducibility. You have to show that it has a serious impact on the product’s usability. You even have to rank its priority level. The very process of trying to document a bug for inclusion in the database requires one to engage with the product, its specifications and design intent, and to investigate all related prior bugs to see if a similar one has been entered and determine how it was acted upon.

Sometimes something that looks like a bug from one perspective is really a product feature when more perspectives are taken into consideration. That case of mistaken identity usually gets resolved satisfactorily by the person who enters the bug into the system once they have been educated about why the feature exists in the first place.

Sometimes something that looks like a bug really is a bug, but it can’t be solved without breaking the system, at least not until the system goes through a major new product release. Then it can be entered into a list of potential new features to add when the system is redesigned. Nobody is really happy about this sort of resolution, but at least the issue is being tracked and might get fixed down the road.

Altogether, regardless of what happens with the bug, the very process of entering bugs into the system transforms a disgruntled source of potential mischief and anarchy into a constructive, contributing member of a cohesive team working together on a common purpose. Is there a reason why this coudn’t work that I don’t see? It seems like a perfectly sound idea to me. If this idea gets support, count me in as someone willilng to help execute it.

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