Filtered for tampons and structurelessness

16.46, Tuesday 2 Dec 2014


The first post I read was from James Darling about buying milk. His story: People at his work were being proprietorial about their milk in the fridge, so he bought a big bottle and put up a sign that said Everything with DSD5 written on is free to anyone. Contributions welcome. And now all the milk is for public consumption and people contribute.

It turned out James had been inspired by Alice Bartlett doing something similar with tampons. This is what she said:

After sitting around for six months trying to work out how to get my secret stash of tampons into the toilet in a way that would stop them from being tidied away by the cleaning staff, I realised the solution. Put tampons and sanitary towels in the toilet for everyone. Put them in a posh container so it would be obvious that they were supposed to be there. Ask women to contribute if they found it useful.

And now that’s become Tampon Club which btw has the best logo, and they say how to set one up, for example what kind of container to use, and how to get it started, and what kind of message works well. Who is behind this? A shadowy cabal of menstruating women, natch.

I could say there are lessons here about culture hacking, or that I’m super pleased that people I know are actively building new commons. Or that this is a good and right way of Being In The World, and I hope that I can contribute stuff like this too.

But the main thing is that I hope everyone hears about this and helps Tampon Club happen more. So tell your friends! Here’s Tampon Club at IBM Hursley.


Apropos my post on Sunday about Star Wars being the new Western (or not), @gnat pointed me at this In Our Time episode about the American West. 45 minutes, worth a listen. A race through a history of the west and the frontier, with some great anecdotes and some astute observations about American politics and how various presidents have enrolled the frontier mythology… one point that sticks in mind: Lincoln grew up in a log cabin; Roosevelt went to Harvard and wrote a history of the frontier; Reagan acted in westerns; W Bush referenced the shows about the west he saw on TV growing up.

That’s not saying anything bad about Reagan or Bush. Just that the western frontier was so defining for the United States… but so recent, so every generation we get further away from it is a huge difference in what it means.


I’m into this Japanese notebook hack which introduces a third dimension into your un-indexed notes. Tag each page with a keyword, and list that keyword on the last page of the book. To match up with that tag, make a mark on the edge of each corresponding page. Then you can get a view over what’s where. Neat.


The Tyranny of Structurelessness (1970) came up in conversation the other day and I feel like it’s worth a re-read.

All groups have structure, even if they try not to. Hidden structure means hidden power which is impossible to critique. There are two negative consequences…

The first is that the informal structure of decision-making will be like a sorority: one in which people listen to others because they like them, not because they say significant things.


The second is that informal structures have no obligation to be responsible to the group at large. Their power was not given to them; it cannot be taken away. Their influence is not based on what they do for the group; therefore they cannot be directly influenced by the group.

But there’s hope. Once the movement no longer clings tenaciously to the ideology of ‘structurelessness’, it will be free to develop those forms of organisation best suited to its healthy functioning.

…and that organisation should keep in mind a number of principles which are then listed and explained: Delegation of authority; Responsibility of individuals to the group; Distribution of authority; Rotation of tasks; Allocation of tasks along rational criterial; Diffusion of information; Equal access to resources.

Worth a read for new organisations of all kinds.


Do people read this blog? If you do, feel free to comment on Twitter like @gnat did when he pointed out that In Our Time episode, or just say Hi which is always appreciated. You can find me at @genmon and, if you want to get automatic notifications about new posts, follow @intrcnnctd.

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