Apparitions of idealism and the ghosts of true self

It's really easy to see why people get cynical, stop caring, shrink their world, build walls, and exponentialize the number of people they couldn't possibly give a flying f* about.

The past year I've just felt this constant beating drum urging me to give up and stop caring. At least to stop caring about so much stuff.

Buuuuuut that's not really doable for me.

The counselor I've been seeing thinks this is a problem for some reason. (Hah, what does she know! (I'm actually quite sure she knows a lot and is probably right. (Unfortunately, I've not figured out how to not think this way yet! (Yes, that sentence could have been written with fewer 'nots' and would've made more sense, but we're here inside the fourth Russian stacking doll parenthetical, so let's you and me just go with it and get the hell out of this paragraph with our dignity intact.))))

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A brief history of a community in one corner of the Tri-Cities

Fuse, the Tri-Cities’ community and business accelerator, is beginning a project to publish the history of our local community of founders, professionals, makers, developers, and designers.

For my section, I was asked to describe the beginnings of Doctype Society and TriConf, two components I was involved in which contributed to the development and growth of this community. Note that this is incomplete and solely from my perspective, and I am really looking forward to reading others’ accounts.

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Do it anyway

Try to do things beyond categorization that are as hard to describe as they are to pull off and there will always be pressure to tame them.

And every moment you'll have to decide whether to do the hard work of defying categorization or just pack it in and be like everyone else.

If you choose to do it differently, you will be—many times—utterly alone and everyone's expectations will make you feel like a fool.

People celebrate creativity and uniqueness when the work is done and the artist buried—rarely before, rarely during.

Do it anyway.

Originally posted here.

The Tyranny of Structurelessness (a tl;dr summary)

I first heard about Jo Freeman’s The Tyranny of Structurelessness from Christina Xu at Brio. I consider it to be one of the most important essays I’ve read, and I think often about organizations and how to help them be healthy and successful, while considering how to avoid the disempowerment that seems to be the default state of most.

Prior to reading this essay, I thought that flat and unstructured organizations were best, yet through the eye-opening perspective presented here, I’ve come to understand that no organizations are truly flat or unstructured.

This post includes excerpts and summaries of key thoughts from this essay. I’m sharing this because I refer often to this fantastic work, and am disappointed to frequently hear “tl;dr” as a response. But please do read the original.

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Internet cafés

The Internet was a town.

Then it became a city, then a nation, then continents, then hemispheres.

Without centralized search tools, early communities were only discovered organically, like neighborhood cafés.

Businesses eager to multiply their reach and revenue logically rushed to create communities that spanned cities, nations, hemispheres. Maximum reach, lowest common denominator, unintended consequences bubbling up everywhere.

Corporate social networks have created the world’s most unsafe and heartless cities in the same place we’re building our future.

Even whittled down to “your” people, corporate social networks have scant authentic meaning—like the generic Applebee’s and Chili’s that dot our disconnected suburbias. Deliver a product accessible by the masses, stamped out in uniform.

But humans can’t string together a series cloned containers and call that community.

The Human Internet needs more neighborhood cafés. Quiet corners. Safe places. A healthy mix of strangers, acquaintances, and old friends.

Who’s creating these today?

How can we build more?

What should they look like?