I or We?
- Hi Cass,
I'm responding to a letter that you wrote earlier with important
thoughts on the distinction between I and We.
My chief feeling is that we're here as independent thinkers. This means
that each of us is able to work productively on our own. In that sense
we each have an "I" to fall back on. By definition, we're not
interested in people who don't.
So, at our lab, "We" always means a group of "I"s working together, each
of whom is able to work by themselves.
This means that we can work modularly. There is an important sense in
which nobody here is essential. If I should shut down Minciu Sodas,
then each of us can continue on our own projects. Our material is in
the public domain, and we are free to pursue our relationships elsewhere
and in other forms.
There is a sense in which the lab makes possible activity that is bigger
than any one of us. Of course, everybody is free to start up their own
Currently, this happens to be my lab, a vehicle to meet my needs, both
to make a living, and to pursue endeavors. It can exist for either of
those reasons, or both. Maybe I should refer to it as "my lab".
Minciu Sodas is intended as a revenue and profit generating business. I
am completely responsible, so it is appropriately a sole proprietorship.
As such I've performed about $35,000 worth of work over the last four
years. As you know, expenses have been much greater than that.
I don't want to present it as a cause to support for its own sake.
Instead, I've presented it as a place where members might serve
themselves by pursuing their interests here free-of-charge. Most of our
activity here is self-driving, including much of my own work as a
In this sense, the laboratory is "our lab" because we choose to
participate here and invest ourselves. I think it is fair that decision
making authority be vested in those who have invested themselves. The
path I open is for people to take leadership roles, which I regularly
offer. I take most seriously those who are most active. Currently we
don't have an organizer for any of our working groups, so that is a
first step. However, we have a growing number of investigators, so my
current priority is to encourage that and also our individual projects.
In terms of generating revenue, it means a great deal to have members
who allow me to promote their services for working openly. This defines
a basis for teams for any projects that come up. If anybody would
like to be on such a team, I invite you to show your interest by
offering your own services, as have Pete, Shannon, Raimundas, Alexander
It is in this sense that I speak of "our proposal" because I will need
to draw on a team to make that happen. I encourage us to write how we
might participate, and to make sure our proposal is good.
I haven't seen much evidence yet that the lab would sustain itself if I
weren't involved (although we're getting there in Lithuania). I also
feel that at this time I can better pursue my vision being accountable
to myself, rather than a distinct body.
This may change. I greatly appreciate the leadership that we show here,
and my chief priority as a catalyst is to focus on our leaders.
Cass, thank you for your leadership by asking good questions!
+1 (773) 651-3785
Cass McNutt wrote:
> Andrius and All -- this is mostly just a ping to say "I'm back"... but
> also to note what I think this is a key distinction:
> - If we are a lab, why is it also a "sole-proprietorship) - this is
> something that seems picky perhaps, but were I a corporate person this
> would be a red flag for me - I would be expecting that this lab
> approaching me would be some more complex structure - probably a
> non-profit (educational institutions most likely) or a for-profit
> research firm - however I would be more comfortable with the non-profit
> research firm.
> I've personally had quite a bit of experience -- both good and bad,
> successful and failed -- with partnerships, proprietorships, and
> corporations. It hones the "we" thing like few things I know. I think
> a key distinction here is, is the lab yours (Andrius), or is it ours
> (collectively). While "both" is in some ways probably true, there's a
> rubber-meets-the-road reality of who "owns" the thing ---- debts,
> responsibilities, accountability, potential profits, risk, etc.... to
> the degree that it is a "thing." In that sense, this is a sole
> proprietorship. I personally think -- and I believe I shared this a
> long time ago -- that in order to accomplish the "network" and
> "collective" objectives of Minciu as I weakly percieve them, a
> non-profit (which really just means "all of our profits have been
> allocated to something" -- don't let the name fool you) structure would
> probably be best.
> BUT, that said, I hink what you're running into really is more a matter
> of what Isenberg says regarding networks:
> The best network is the hardest one to make money running
> (see http://netparadox.com/)
> So, is Minciu a revenue-generating service provider -- in which case it
> is accountable to those whom it serves, and whom in term are accountable
> to supporting it financially.
> Is it a cause to be supported because it generates benefit for the
> public at large or a segment of the public in particular... in which
> case; who should support it?
> Much more could be said, but personal energy is finite.