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Re: [globalvillages] Summer letter part three

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  • Pamela McLean
    Dear Franz and Andrius and everyone (Andrius, I started off just writing to Franz and everyone, but gradually I found my reply included discussion of
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 23, 2009
      Dear Franz and Andrius and everyone (Andrius, I started off just writing to Franz and everyone, but gradually I found my reply included discussion of relationships within MS, and  so perhaps from the start I should really have written "in a different voice" - to both of you - but I did not realise that is how it would develop)
      Dear Franz - and everyone.

      Franz - I have been looking forward to your third letter. I wish you were back in London again so that we could meet and discuss it in depth.

      As it is, all I can do for now is simply acknowledge it, appreciate it, thank you for writing it, and pick up on just a few of the issues it covers.

      I have not read any replies to your letters yet, and so this email is a response to your letters alone - especially letter 3 - which I will work through simply expressing some thoughts as I go.

      I like your expression the "Minciu Sodas family" - yes I think that is how I feel about it sometimes. In some ways it has been my university, but also it is like my family. Like in my real family experiences I feel closer to some people than others. I understand some more easily than others. In some situations I feel I can be helpful, in others I feel helpless. Sometimes I am delighted, inspired, amused or encouaged by what other people do or say, sometimes I am bewildered or exasperated - but - on the whole it is enriching to be part of it and I prefer to belong than to not belong.

      I like your theme of an information eco-system. It ties in with my interest in how ICT alters roles and relationships.
      You say "building an eco-system".  Hmm. Building? Aren't eco-systems organic? I think we can destroy them, or we can try to act more positively. We can build systems that we hope will support the growth of an eco-system- but actually build an eco-system? I don't think so. Perhaps I have misunderstood.

      ref Village mapping - I want to discuss with you sometime how best to include the intertwined initiatives that  Dadamac and Fantusam Foundation are are doing at Attachab Eco-village and the Knowledge Resource Centre, and online. We don't have a single location for an existing global village like the one I saw you descibe on an online video, but we do have most of the elements and the vision. I  would like us to be part of your global village initiative.

      Ref 'MinciuSodas is positioning itself as a "live village" on the web '. I don't know about this, but it seems interesting.

      Ref "beginning to feel that something big is happening in the domain of the way we use the internet" Exactly so. I'm tempted to go deeply into that. No time now. Except in a very oversimplified way. It feels to me as if the 21st century is beginning to discover itself and is starting to find its feet. Initially  the Internet was just "an add on" to the structures and systems of the 20th century. Now, increasingly systems and structures and communities are emerging which have been born within the Internet, and could never have come into being without it. They are the 'true children' of the 21st century. At present it is like we live in two parallel worlds - the 20th century one, and the 21st century one.

      Ref " The good news... the bad news..." That seems to me to be part of the rise of the young 21st century and the hanging on of the old from the 20th. - a bit like generation gap struggles.

      Ref paragraph touching on "the hidden costs of a declining market economy...using up all the credit that mother nature have given us and soon will have to declare bancrupcy."

      I see that too in terms of C20th V C21st, and competition V collaboration. I was very influenced by Gary Alexander's book E-Gaia - available as book or to download. http://earthconnected.net/earthconnected/eGaia.html

      Ref- new culture is based on communication, cooperation.. good design..creative unfolding of
      individual voluntary potentials...elimination of command and control out of our social operating system.

      Yes - something that comes up repeatedly in comparison of C20th and C21st 9along with collaboration) is the chaotic nature of C21st systems, and the idea that we won't be living in a "top down" world. Some people describe it as "flat". Someone described it as "spiky". I relate to that  - it is flat in the way so many of us who were excluded from top-down structures can now connect and be included, and it is spiky is the way that individuals can "raise something up" raise the visibility of something  as if it was some kind of banner on a spike, and then others can see it and make connections.

      Ref "The central backbone of this new culture is the development of our means
      of communication" - I agree, and regarding "commnication" I think again of "ICT"as the foundation for C21st and I think of how the term "ICT - Information and Communication Technology" helps us to remember three important aspects:
      • Information - The information content of our communications
      • Communication - The human side of communication - the reason for it - people with a purpose who want/need the communication to happen
      • Technology - The combination of hardware, software, skills, training, infrastructre, and other resources that enables the technology to exist and function effectively.
      Developing our means of communication involves all three aspects - they are the firm base, like the three legs of a stool.

      Ref " formed by our perceptions and expressions." Agreed.

      Ref "the design of media and communication spaces, they will decide about what we will be able to think, to imagine and to create... experiments... confused .. precious time..  " Yes. The issues around that fascinate me. The influence of our online spaces, and our experiences there, the development of various cultures, sub-cultures, cultural norms etc.

      Ref The Minciu Sodas information Infrastructure ... experiment... radical vision...collaboration.. economic support structure.. rewarding open work... strenghten the weak... supporting their growth and abilities to contribute.. built on voluntary dictatorship... Andrius, as the single owner and director..questionable from many points of views, but it has indisputably led to some positive results that we cant deny."

      Yes - MS structure reminds me of an analysis of open source development that I heard at the Open Knowledge (OK)day in 2008, and I have also discussed with Vinay Gupta. People often point to Open Source development as the model for collaboration, but it lead by dictotors.

      OS development is seen as a model for collaboration, but it is a model which is hard to replicate in other situations - even those situations which might seem to be naturally more collaborative.

      I thought the reason was because writing code has very tight rules, and anything to do with computer programming has to be ultimately logical and binary. Therefore, it seemed to me, Open Source (OS) development  would easily lend itself to a modular approach. However most of life is lived in a messy analogue kind of way, not a neat digital, binary, logical way, so anything that was more to do with human systems and less to do with computer systems would be hard to do in a collaborative way.

      However it was pointed out to me that OS development is not really collaborative, because it is typically lead by dictators, and also it is arguable that it attracts what Vinay describes as "alpha nurds" - extrememly intelligent people who are attracted by the intellectual challenge.  In fact some could be attracted by the competitive element of writing the best code. They are not there because of an ethos of collaboration. I find this an interesting idea.  It would help to explain why "warm fuzzy" democratic development does not easily fit into the OS development mould.

      If it is more than just an interesting idea then I think it offers us some clues about some of the tensions within Minciu Sodas. I think MS has some similarities to the OS development model - but it is dealing with people, and Andrius has gone out of his way to collect people who he describes as "independent thinkers". Inevitably we will be individualistic and "very analogue" - we will not fit comfortably in a system which is being run the way that works for OS development - with a very controlling style of leadership. We may want to collaborate with the person who happens to be the leader, but we will not want to collaborate inside the organisation if it is not a collaborative organisation.

      I find myself considering my own relationship with MS/Andrius. I find that if it is simply me (Pam) relating to Andrius then that is the easiest way to connect.   Person to person we are fine. I enjoy his company, I am interested in his ideas. I admire many things about him. I do not always agree with what he says, but, so what. I often disagree with the people who I enjoy knowing. Disagreements  can add interest.  I like exploring ideas through lively debate. However I do know that while some of my friends "enjoy a good argument" with others it is best if I hold my tongue. With Andrius when I disagree strongly I usually simply remind him that just because I am silent it does not mean that I agree. With "Andrius and Pam" Andrius speaks for himself, and I speak for myself - or decide to just listen.

      However as "Pam in Minciu Sodas" it gets more difficult. If Andrius "speaks for Minciu Sodas" and says something about Mincu Sodas and its "indepenedent thinkers" that I do not agree with - then I have a problem, especially if it has been said (or written) to other people, not just to me, and if I feel Andrius assumes that I am included in his 'Minciu Sodas" statement. In that situation - which happens too often for comfort
      • Do I stay silent - which suggests that I agree? (Feels dishonest)
      • Do I disagree - but without explanation (Feels rude and unnecessarily confrontational)
      • Do I disagree and explain (I find Andrius is usually very willing to consider carefully a written explanation, and to respond logically to its points if they are well made - but l do not have the time to respond in that way everytime I see something "that I am not comfortable with". )
      • Do I simply withdraw until the issue is not longer relevant. (Not very satisfactory but sometimes it seems the only option)
      (NB during the time I was writing the above I realised I was "writing in the wrong voice" and should have been writing "to Andrius and Franz" - I had no intention of writing "to Franz about Andrius". I decided to add an explanatory note at the start and then continue in the same voice - I hope that is ok Andrius.)

      What about "Pam in Dadamac". Hmm, even more difficult. Individual people related to Dadamac may also be part of Minciu Sodas, but Minciu Sodas is (rightly) for individuals. Dadamac might collaborate with Minciu Sodas but it woud never "be part of MS". When I come to MS I come as myself, individually, not as my organisation. If there was confusion about that, there would be so much potentail for misunderstandings and culture clashes. 

      I will skip over the next few paragraphs of letter 3 which start  "So I went a long way with you and I am willing to continue this way." because I feel they are either very specific to Andrius, Franz and Global villages, or they are more general and overlap some of the points I have made above ref Andrius/MS and me.

      I have not contributed to the wiki as I do not like wikis for a number of reasons, so issues relating to changes there have not affected me.

      So jumping onwards Ref "We are all mortal, and I think in the second half of our life we should be working on diminuish our individuality and work on structure, that makes our work persist."
      That is interesting, and ties in with some of what I am trying to do with the online presence of Dadamac. I have been looking at the information flows within and around Dadamac (at present I am the only one who can "see" these flows because they have developed as a result of almost ten years work on the Internet connected with what I am now pulling together under the heading of Dadamac).

      I will not go into details here, but, to over simplify, i am concerned with designing a system that treats information in different ways for different people.It is about "pushing, parking, and pulling" information in ways that are designed around the personal needs of people within the organisation. Maybe the ideal system exists already, but if so I didn't know enough to go out and find it, so I had to experiment with what I had to hand. A main trigger for my investigations was dissatisfaction with the wiki we created for Teachers Talking in 2004, and my subsequent (and ongoing) experiments with sharing information in ways that were more appropriate to the needs of the people I was working with.

      As I am not a techie it has been a very slow and clumsy process, but I think it is "over the worst' now, and things will gradually become less invisible and easier to share with people. I hope this will lead to collboration - both for creating the system I need for Dadamac, and for working within Dadamac using the system as it develops and becomes robust and really user freindly. I see the planned Dadamac online presence as the C21st equivalent of the big head office - but because it is virtual  everyone in Dadamac will belong there (with their own working spaces, and with meeting places for their groups, and where visitors are welcomed adn discover waht we do and it they wont to connect with us.etc.).I see the physical locations where Dadamac people are physically living/working as being like local branches - for example the Knowledge Resource Centre at Bayan Loco, the InfoCentre at Ago-Are, my home-office here (and locations elsewhere as people choose to get involved).

      As Dadamacs online space develops I hope  it will become the online environment that I, and others, would choose to work in, and we will all work there in a collaborative but individualistic way. When I stop working there it won't make much difference to how anyone else continues with their work within Dadamac, because the system will hold everything together and enable it to function and grow.  I hope lots of other people will be attracted to Dadamac doing the kinds of things that I do now, but more effectivley, with the structures helping us to work together in a collaborative way but with large amounts of individual choice and freedom.

      Ref "I might always be recognized as initiator and mentor, but I think it is
      important for me to care that the work takes a life of its own."

      I think we have similar visions.

      Ref "Structures and procedures are am important prerequisite to achieve that."
      Yes. Hmm. Perhaps we are coming back to the challenge of collaboration (as some people like to think they see it in OS development) but where the collaboration means freedom enabled by structures, and where analogue and digital approaches form a new kind fo collaborative ecosystem. 

      Ref the rest of the letter - especially related to collaborations and the many exciting things going on currently -  for myself regarding collaborations I am attracted towards the flat/spiky structures of C21st rather than the top-down ones that I associate with C20th. I agree there are lots of changes, lots of exciting things, lots of opportunities for collaboration, lots of areas of overlap. I am so grateful to Andrius and his Minciu Sodas family for helping me to get where I am now, and look forward to whatever collaborations we will develop in the time ahead.

      Now I need to stop reading and responding to MS letters again and get back to focussing on Dadamac and its collaborators again. I hope  to meet up with people again on the next Thursday of the month in the chat room.


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