09 August 2020

Advertising and the OODA oops

 OODA is "observe–orient–decide–act" and it's fundamentally tactical; it occurs at the level of operations.  Those can be pretty big operations, campaign level, but someone else has provided the objective.  It's an approach for getting the thing done when you've been provided the thing or the thing is reactive -- don't let the opposition do their thing.

Lots of emphasis to "getting inside the opposition's OODA loop"; they will at that point be reacting to what you were doing, not what you're doing now.  It's an approach to substitute operational excellence for power, whether power is expressed as numbers or resources.

Western everything is driven by advertising.  Advertising is inherently very short term; annual is an eternity in advertising, and everything about modern media acts to shorten the loop time.  The entire internet runs on advertising, and it's been structurally altered to that end.

Which means that, operationally, everything is very tight and very fast.

It also means that the system as a whole is utterly vulnerable to anything patient.  OODA loops operate in a context; someone sufficiently patient and sufficiently well-resourced to seek to alter the context is both invisible and invulnerable.

There are a whole bunch of political applications of this; the obvious one is how mammonites have succeeded by refusing to react to circumstances in any way.  This shouldn't work, but starting with most of the money gives you options most entities don't have.  It becomes the same process as being strangled by a python; every time you exhale, the snake tightens.

The really immediately relevant application, though, is COVID-19.  It's a disease; it doesn't have a decision loop.  It doesn't respond; it just keeps copying as many copies of itself as its circumstances permit.  It can alter those circumstances on the organism level; it certainly cannot, short term, at the population level.  (And long term, population level gets worse for it; it's busily providing selection pressure against being particularly susceptible to becoming infected by it.)

The goal with a disease is "sufficient public health response", which is long term, requires defining goals against trade-offs, and which does not benefit in any way from trying to either minimise the cost nor maximise the return for anyone involved.  You're trying to minimise the systemic cost, which is not any individual entity's cost.  If all those entities try to minimise their costs, you get pretty much exactly the disaster we're having.  (There is not market for not dying of a disease, and there can't be.)

Note that all the successful COVID-19 responses were built around What certainly stops transmission? Whatever that was, for the available resources, that's what was done.  Cheaper overall, for everybody?  Absolutely.  Requires setting a strategic objective? Well, yes, yes it does.  Could a system staffed by mammonite officials obsessed with minimising costs to them, personally, their class, secondarily, and oblivious to the concept of system, generally, achieve that?


Not against an easy-mode opponent; a virus incapable of learning or directed change.

That's a worry.

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