LIFT07 to reboot9: Floccinaucinihilipilification

I have been in a ranting mood these past weeks. It could just be that having put myself on a weekly diet of 10’000 words of newly written fresh words of storytelling never-told is doing strange things to my mind, or it is doing strange things to the revelation of lack of mind!

 

The notes that follow have a complex structure, if you get lost, do so at your own risk.

Yes, I do like self-referential contradiction, and self-referential contradiction is not oxymoronic, it is more a ying-yang duality characteristic. I like to think that to translate ying-yang to terms that our culture can better relate to, is to translate it to the conjugate pair of freedom and respect. Conjugation is appropriate here to designate the relationship between these two ideas of respect and freedom. In our society I would conjecture that we do value these two very much, or at least claim to value them. We, and I do mean we the whole of society, value these so much that we start wars to defend these values. In case that you have not yet noticed it, in the XXI century there are wars going on while some of us indulge in the debate of what digital technology is bringing society in the form of challenges and opportunities.

 

The conference called Lift, and happening in Geneva now for two years in a row, has changed my life, twice. It is a welcome change, and it is uncomfortable change. Although the realm of personal reflection is one that I prefer to indulge in the next, when it comes to action research, I would like to think that this blog is more the place for it since it can be filed under the categories development and intellectual. But are the following reflections on communication, an issue that I return to again and again, to be considered as action research? One can consider them as such, or one can also consider them exploration and reflection on what has been said, and how that impacts my own life. Impact is a good word to think about.

After LIFT07 I did get my chance to go air out my mind in the tepid temperatures of the eternal city, be pampered by caring friends, while for some irritating reason keeping Calvin’s city present in the background. What would Steinbeck have done in my place? My supercilious old ego, arrogant in nature, has no idea.

Communication has always been a challenge for me, however the circumstances surrounding this challenge have very peculiar singularities and I have lived most of my life in the false belief that it was so for everybody. It is not, and I am surprised that in the process I have learned more about communication than I had ever hoped for. The study and exploration of the nature and practice of communication is an intrinsic aspect of my own life. But why am I even surprised?

A writer, be it novelist or non-fiction scribe, spends a lot of time either reading, or starving and then writing. In the time interstitials of these solitary activities one gets to brush one’s teeth, sleep and perhaps on a good day, there is time for family and friends. An observation is that we are all so busy with productivity, or making our dreams reality, or just dealing with fate’s generosity or indulging our own very healthy egoism, so that most of the time friends and family do get the short end of the deal. We are hedonistic, solitary and we barely know how to reach out and ask for help.

I know that I am an hedonist. I can not understand what anybody as a self-sacrificing self-declared or otherwise, not an hedonist, has to offer to those around them other than to induce guilt, pity or righteousness depending on how the others are inclined. But it simply is not that simple, not really. I am the kind of hedonist that engages in the ascetic practices of fasting and meditation, submits to demanding hierarchies, and has not quite given up on meritocracy. Is an hedonist a simple pleasure seeker, and if so, what is pleasure then?

For those reading between the lines, you have by now figured out that indeed, my insistence – in spite of many self generated distractions and foreign inducements – in doing what I want to do, has caused a few serious breakdowns along the way.

I have been thinking about the saving grace that ambiguities in communication provide us in social situations, and the ever so benefactive white lie, or why complete knowledge of another – that is total transparency – is an obstacle to satisfaction at any level, regardless of what consists satisfaction, or how you define it. There is however a fallacy intrinsic to the expression of complete knowledge, and that is that complete knowledge is at best a chimera, but certainly not anything attainable. When would you know that you have complete knowledge of anything? Here lies the first, if not the fundamental problem with what is often called transparency and the ungodly beast of identity.

My intimate experience of the the arab world taught me the value of that precious stratagem, the white lie or shaving the truth, or just allowing the other and yourself to both keep face. Indeed, in the face-to-face world, keeping face is the name of the game. It is the social game, the only game that we ever endeavour to master is keeping face. Game theorist here or there, humans are gamers, and some players are just better than others. So when will we face the fact that it is all a game anyhow, and that some are better with the rules, the roles, the strategies or just the invention of the games?

Another way of looking at it is to consider the possibility that to keep face, is just another expression for respect and that it includes self-respect.

Ah… these are just a few loose thoughts left out in the wild of my machinations, or expectorating fantasies. I think that the present day geeky social web applications are way far off the mark and at the same time right on track in terms of empowering the world of relationship technology that allows for social evolution. While checking out how the reboot wiki site is evolving I stumbled on the idea of ambient intimacy. This is interesting, and it is part of the story. I also like to think that one psychological ingredient that makes Twitter so popular is the considerable amount of insensitivity space that it allows. I can at any time decide to respond or not respond to something that somebody whom I may know or not know shares within the twitter timeline. In short an interaction is not expected, and it is at the same time possible to interact. These options are the equivalent of giving me my personal space and privacy, and I am the one in control. I can consume twitters, or I can turn it off. Nobody in their right mind expects me to stay glued and attentive to the chatter on twitter or twittervision. I may have an interest in following the noise, and then I may not. My hedonist needs this much space, your mileage may differ.

I also happen to think that there are a few fundamental flaws in the thinking around science and how to use it, but then… how many of us have a really deep insight on how human beings function and interact?

Yes, I think that values are important, but I also think that the name of the game is called power. If that is so, tell me, what is power?

 

reboot 8 preparation

reboot 8.0 is happening on June 1-2 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

I have been exchanging ideas via email with Thomas about what I would like to see happening. I am delighted that this idea has found good resonance on his side as it is something along the lines of what he wanted to do.

Here is my thinking on how to start creating a new connected conversation on intellectual property at the edge of the values paradigm shift:

1. who we are: reboot is a gathering of 400 or so people all with a vested interest to some degree or another in internet technology, software, social software, technology itself, society. the kinds of people whom we are so fond of calling geeks. that is, those rare souls that dare to break a few old worn out patterns and to explore new territory. most of these geeks blog in one form or another, all think. we are coming from a bit all over the world, mostly from the more connected affluent world, mostly europeans, but also people from canada and the usa. i expect the danish blogger community to show up en mass. is this right?

2. the world that we live in: whatever it is that we want to call our age – information, digital, knowledge, techno-freaked-muddled, post-industrial, web 2.0 – it is an age where resources are plenty and easily sourced. logistics and knowledge do play a major role. part of the logistics is the communication, and that is where most information technology finds itself. yes, we all know that africa exists, some of us have been there and it does not change the fact that we live in a world of abundance. clearly not all logistics problems are solved, to say nothing of the mess in communications. counter-arguments are welcome in comments here or directly via email.

3. my observation/assertion: there is a paradigm shift currently taking place in what concerns creating a thriving business. a thriving business is a business that is sustainable . to me a business is sustainable when it makes its community prosper (read, happy, fulfilled, satisfied, peaceful). note that for a community to prosper, maintaining the status quo is not a requirement. all to say that

business is about people .

business is not  about goods or money, but about people making their world – this world now – work for them and

allowing all to live in dignity . the business paradigm shift in progress is from capitalism to values. the shift is from humans serving things, to things serving humans.

4. my inference:

in a world where resources are abundant and that is dependent on both logistics and communication, the key resource is intelligence . ok, this is not mind boggling, but what does that mean? that means that the advancing edge of evolution resides within intellectual assets. what does that mean? it means that we eat potatoes and rice, and that we thrive on culture. education is more important than ever, and the ability to work together in a win-win mode is imperative. i could quickly digress and jump into much philosophy too quickly, so let me get back to what i want to say. given that you (the reader) is both of more than average intelligence and used to thinking out-of-the-box, you will either very quickly follow my line of thought or you will not be shy about asking questions that will further your understanding of what are sometimes in my mind huge leaps in logic. present day intellectual property tools (laws, jurisdiction, systems, treaties, agreements) were tailored for the needs of the industrial revolution and were created in the late 1800’s. these instruments did not anticipate the evolution in technology with which we live in day in and day out, or with the fast development of digital devices or instant communications. the situation is bit like trying to drive a car by pedaling: ridiculous.

if the crown jewels of our age are intellectual assets, how are we going to deal with intellectual property rights?

5. this is the scenario. before reboot, what i want to do is to pick the brains of a few people attending and other geeks around me, and to ask them what questions they have about intellectual property (IP). in particular, what i want to learn about is what they are thinking IP-wise and where the needs and confusions are. in obtaining this information in an informal way, it will inform me as to where the issues are and how i can ask the questions of the plenum (those gathered at reboot) that will get us all some answers that can be actionable.

6. how do i work in an interactive sweatshop (forum) is to ask questions and get answers from the participants. the questions have to be provocative enough to get both good quick thinking and a good level of participation. having several bloggers online in the room will make this interactive query into intellectual property and assets all the more interesting. having people in back-channels getting information from the outside, would make it all the more interesting. individual intelligence is great, collective intelligence is what this inquiry will be about.

This is the starting point of the public conversation. I welcome all input, commentary, counter arguments and brilliant insights. In particular I am looking for a few good people working in IT, what I would like to call the digital practitioners, to contact me so that we can set up a phone/skype/iChat/in-person interview as soon as possible.

 

NB: Send email to nexe at mac dot com (or any other mac email of mine that you may have) and/or leave your comments here. Comments are moderated and will only be published after approval. For the next two weeks I will be accessing the Internet via UMTS and will not be online continuously. There will be delays until comments are published or until I respond .