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What happened?
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
George Lakoff is a cognitive linguist, a scientist who studies the nature of thought and its expression in language. He teaches down the hill from me at Berkeley.
Since the mid-1980s he has been applying cognitive linguistics to the study of politics, especially the framing of public political debate. He is the author of the influential book, Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, (2nd edition, 2002). In addition to his work on political thought and language, he has been active in his academic discipline. He is currently on the Science Board of the Santa Fe Institute (1995-01), has served as President of the International Cognitive Linguistics Association and on the Governing Board of the Cognitive Science Society, and is co-director with Jerome Feldman of the Neural Theory of Language Project at the International Computer Science Institute at Berkeley.
To find out why Americans just voted for four more years, read Lakoff's manifesto at ChangeThis.
Lakoff explains why progressives need to pay more attention to conservatives' most powerful weapon: framing. He explains what framing is, why it's so important, and how progressives can use the tactic to their own gain. Read his section on "How to Respond to Conservatives" for examples on how progressives can win arguments with conservatives.
Lakoff explains how neo-con think tanks framed the major issues so they would always come out on top. He then suggests how progressives can frame the issues resulting in a frame-by-frame, fairer fight.

Lakoff's ideas apply to organizational life as well as politics. For several years, I've advocated treating learners like customers -- and selling them on the value of learning. Lance Dublin's and my book, Implementing eLearning, explains how to build a marketing plan for learning, step-by-step. We urge managers to "position" their training, the same way a car manufacturer positions a new car. Positioning places a product in a virtual space in the mind of the buyer. Lakoff's framing takes refines the boundaries of the space.

Senior managers who can't figure out how to frame their organizations' issues need one of two things, a new vocation...or advice from someone like Internet Time Group. If you can't get the basics right, all the work with the details will bring you no more success than it did John Kerry. [Sigh.]

By the way, ChangeThis is an instructive site. Take a look at the graphics of this manifesto as well as Lakoff's to see how they package information.


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