Authorities and Patterns for a Culture of Independent Thinkers
- I share my course for the future of Minciu Sodas http://www.ms.lt and
Worknets http://www.worknets.org I face financial pressures, personal
relationships, and changes in the world that have me reevaluate my life.
Currently, my goal-in-life is to organize a culture of independent
thinkers. I'm concluding that we've enjoyed many aspects of such a
culture since 1998 when I founded Minciu Sodas as a laboratory for
serving and organizing independent thinkers. I nurtured such a culture
by setting up venues (mailing lists, wikis, chat, meetings) around
mature independent thinkers (Franz Nahrada, Janet Feldman, Samwel
Kongere, Pamela McLean, Thomas Chepaitis, Audrone Anusauskiene, John
Rogers, Kiyavilo Msekwa, Josephat Ndibalema, Benoit Couture, Edward
Cherlin, Kennedy Owino, Fred Kayiwa and many others have been key. Thank
you!) At these venues we learned to think out loud, to work openly in
the Public Domain, to appreciate that money can bring us together but
you can't pay people to care, to want everybody to succeed, to allow for
God where relevant, to reach out and include the hard to reach, to
relate to each other regarding our deepest values, investigatory
questions, endeavors and dreams. This culture let us organize large
teams for My Food Story, Pyramid of Peace, Mornflake Outreach and many
smaller projects, too.
However, activity at our venues is going down. Our leaders are
typically not investing themselves in these venues, but often setting up
new venues, where they are not fostering this culture. In general,
we've arrived at an age of social networking where I can't compete with
Facebook, etc. and I can't foster values through a network of venues
that I organize myself. I can't invest in such a network and expect
returns for my business or this culture. Social networking is not
actually my interest.
In conversations with our leaders, I find that although there's a great
appreciation for the benefits of our culture, there's not a single
person who wants to champion such a culture, who wants to commit to a
culture that proposes the minimum expectations for all to be able to
work together, who wants to be held accountable as an example of the
integrity of such a culture. Last year I drafted an explicit Charter
of my understanding of these expectations
http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?Charter But now I think that there is
no single "yes-no" switch by which others might make such a commitment.
Wael Al Saad suggested that I write a pattern language for this culture
of independent thinkers. I've started to do so:
http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?Patterns I mean "pattern" here in the
sense of architect Christopher Alexander who wrote a "pattern language"
of hundreds of patterns ("rules of thumb") for buildings to be alive
(such as "every room should have windows on two sides"). I am authoring
a pattern language that describes the recurring concepts that are
relevant in the lives of independent thinkers, at least as I understand
it. Some we have a lot of evidence for, such as: deepest value,
investigatory question, endeavor, dream. In other cases, I'm making
explicit assumptions in my own personal experience, such as: inner
reality, meaningfulness, private language, God. I'm taking
responsibility as an author to launch a movement, much as Baden Powell
did with his book "Scouting for Boys". I want to put together the
materials for an individual to pursue a life as an independent thinker.
I imagine it as a "Handbook for Investigators", a workbook with
questions to ask oneself, each question evoking a pattern, an optimal
personal solution to a general existential problem. The workbook might
be a set of videos. I would like to create fun games that help one
appreciate each pattern's dynamics. Perhaps there are four or five
patterns which are the "memes" that help one convey the essence of the
culture. I will illustrate the patterns with all of my artistic
abilities. My pattern language will document the entire culture as
hundreds of patterns which people can accept, ignore, verify,
invalidate, restate as they like.
I take responsibility for authoring this pattern language as a way of
organizing this culture. I will focus my online work with others who
would like to work with me on this. I'm finding that there are people
who agree to be authorities on aspects of this culture:
* Franz Nahrada: Global villages.
* Thomas Chepaitis: Fostering humanity, listening to others.
* Markus Petz: Collaboration between communities.
* Wael Al Saad: Making a living, economic solutions as the basis for
culture and ecology.
* Barry Hunt: Street wisdom.
Please let me know if you'd like to be an authority for me on some or
all aspects of this culture.
As I work on the pattern language, I will look for input and feedback
from my authorities. More than that, I will wrestle with them, morally
speaking, to make sure that they and I live the lives we preach. We'll
learn how this works, but this role of "moral authority" will be only
for those who wish to grow morally, who wish me and God to morally
challenge them and might challenge me and God likewise. I'm remaking my
business Minciu Sodas as a network of such people and activity. In this
way, I will invest my efforts in those people who will actively shape
this culture, embrace it in their own lives, champion it with others,
and create an environment where I and others might apply our creativity
and also provide for ourselves.
In my mind, I'm making changes to Minciu Sodas which will be apparent
over time. At some point, I will archive all of the emails we've
written, publish them on a CD along with our wiki pages and chat
archive, and make them available for all who want. I will make sure
that each of our leaders owns their mailing lists and can continue
without my participation. I will mostly work at our Worknets wiki
http://www.worknets.org and may likely shift over to a new wiki
technology if I find one that better suits my more modest purposes. I
won't be organizing, including, coaching or mentoring people unless they
want to focus on their own moral integrity. I won't be offering "free
service" for those who "work for free". I won't be funding or managing
small $100 projects for their own sake. I won't lead a large online
community or code software for online networking.
I will work with a smaller group of people ("moral authorities") and
slowly organize with them this culture as we support each other. I'm
concerned to solve the problem, how might we all make a living? I will
continue looking for business opportunities to organize global teams
(such as My Math Story). I will work on an "economy of dreams", an
online system for helping with tasks, a reference of online participants
and venues who support the culture, perhaps an online help room. I will
participate online more as a follower than as a leader, focusing on
those venues where I might find work. I also want to find more bases in
the Lithuanian countryside where I've enjoyed myself greatly. I would
like to understand how large families catalyze global villages. I want
to learn how to apply myself as an artist and also how to encourage
muses to inspire me and others. I may stay with David Ellison-Bey in
Chicago to look for work there, perhaps go bankrupt.
I feel this is a big shift for me, although in practice it may not seem
this way. Thank you to all for years of wonderful experiences. I'm
glad that each of us is thriving in so many ways. I invite you to
consider working with me as a "moral authority" as I describe above.
Truly my life is different than when I founded Minciu Sodas in 1998. My
goal-in-life then was "to know everything and apply that knowledge
usefully", and to my surprise, last year I achieved that to my
satisfaction with my video "I Wish to Know"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArN-YbPlf8M I kept God to a minimum,
but now I feel free to engage God warmly. I came to Lithuania when it
was a poor country, but now there are more opportunities to make a
living. I started with $3,000 in debt and now I have more than
$110,000. I came to Lithuania wanting to surround myself with the
Lithuanian language, increase my chances of falling in love and starting
a family, and today I have good friends there and it is all much more
delightful and real to me. I once wondered, what might I do useful in
the world? Now I've feel that I've done my life's share. Once I thought
that I could and would find a job to repay any loans I might ever have,
but now I doubt that's what God wants. I might gladly be bankrupt and
homeless in Chicago, organize a gang on the South Side to establish the
kingdom of heaven. When I started, I supposed that "independent
thinkers" can come to agreement on all matters, values, answers, and
it's wonderful to have the widest variety of perspectives. Now I've
concluded, it may be so, but if I seek a culture of independent
thinkers, and others do not, then I might best pursue that myself,
perhaps with the help of a few people who truly want that.
This is "the state of the lab". Here's a link to other such letters
over the years:
Greetings from Vienna, Austria where I'm staying at Franz Nahrada's
family's Hotel Karolinenhof http://www.karolinenhof.at I came along
with Pamela McLean, Markus Petz, Wael Al Saad, Thomas Chepaitis, Julius
Galdikas, Julija Astrauskiene for Franz's EU Grundtvig adult education
"learning circle" on video communications.
staying here for all of February to try my chance at art projects (most
recently with video jockey Michael Schreiber
http://www.flickr.com/photos/50525222@N00/ ) and explore business
opportunties (thank you for comments on My Math Story proposal! I'm
writing a My Video Story proposal and keeping in mind Suresh Fernando's
Open Kollab work).
Thank you to all who've helped me think through these thoughts. I
should have done more "thinking out loud" this last month. I invite us
to do so!
+370 699 30003