“Removal of a Letter” – A subject that caught my “eye”, and challenged me to create a whole post that lacks one letter of the Roman Alphabet.
There are some letters that carry embedded problems. We can see a company that makes use of one of these letters to a degree that has degraded that letter. We can see people who have used that letter only to promote themselves and remove themselves from the greater purpose. We have a letter that need not have a centre place among the Ubuntu culture. So, what happens when we remove that letter from our language completely? How would that look? How would we act?
The Old and New Testaments talk about two contenders who use the letter as a personal pronoun. One truly deserves the use and power of that letter, but the other uses the letter arrogantly and to serve only the self. Maybe we, too, often act as the latter.
However, that need not be the status quo. We are not alone. We are many and can act together. All that we do can be for the whole rather than just for ourselves. The way that we talk often affects the way that we act. Our thoughts affect how we act. When our heads understand, then our eyes and ears can start to understand as well. The power change can now start.
The number one spot on our agendas holds great power. We can choose what deserves that spot, and our language can help us do that. So, once we remove that letter—remove that pronoun—we start to act as a group rather than a lone person. Suddenly the focus goes to “us” rather than “me.”
Can we truly remove a letter from our speech? Externally, that may not be easy or useful, and somewhat overzealous. But, we can change our thoughts and at least drop that pronoun down to a lower place. Let us humble ourselves before the greater good. Let us ask not what you can do for me, but what we can do for each other. When we drop that letter, then we have Ubuntu.
It is divine comedy how something that is created for humans is also destroyed by humans because we are, well, just a little bit too human. We often mix in too much, and destroy the organic nature of the original environment. So, adding more of what we do is not necessarily the solution.
“The more you tighten your grip […] the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”
“I am not a committee!”
— Organa, Leia*
More rules and regulations; bans and borders; ideals and “isms”, are not the appropriate answer.
This is not a management issue. This is a mindset issue.
When do we let go of a losing position? Is your Ubuntu community in this position? Are you in this position? Sometimes the problem/solution starts with the individual. You can make a change. But, together we can make a difference:
You have just downed a bottle of whiskey. You go to hotel, and then you have some more whiskey. These steps, while extremely repeatable, will have drastically different outcomes for each person. One of these outcomes is a Do-It-Yourself disaster. Another is “How to get a hangover… or worse,” depending on what else is brought into the mix.
So, what happens when you follow this recipe?
The culture of the internet world is changing. Creation is shifting to curation. With so much information right at your fingertips, almost anyone can learn how to do almost anything. A quick g00gle search will already tell you how to get 6-pack abs, and build a flame thrower. i.e. You don’t need to re-write that and create more GI. However, what we don’t know, and possibly want to know, is what happens/happened when you got your abs and made a dangerous weapon. This is unique information that only you can produce. Thus, we should continue to create.
DIY ain’t dead. You should absolutely do things yourself for the learning experience. This also does not mean that you should not write How-Tos; there are tonnes of things that we don’t know how to do, or have learned how to do incorrectly.
But, don’t stop there (or do if it has been over done). Teach us about your experience. Tell us What Happens When (WHW).
What? So What? Now What?
Robots are better than I am at my job, or they soon will be. In education, many kids have lost motivation and can’t concentrate. The internet is a better teacher than I am. Children know what they are supposed to learn, and in general they understand why they are supposed to learn it (they just saw it all online yesterday). However, a frequently missed component in education is what we can or should actually do with that knowledge. i.e. What happens when I apply this information?
I was recently taught this process of inquiry:
What: What are you taking about? So What: Why are you talking about it? Now What: What do you do about it?
The last piece is really what still makes community and classrooms relevant, but sometimes we forget to teach that. Maybe it’s because of our consumption-only habits. Maybe it’s because someone wants to keep us under control. Maybe it’s because we keep stopping at “maybe,” and only choose to watch from behind the glass.
Technology is here.
It will can help us.
Now what do we do with it?
Caveat Emptor Rex
“What part of recreating dinosaurs and putting them in a theme park was a good idea?”
Many story premises are ridiculous, but it is undeniable that they are also entertaining. If we wrote a story exclusively about “how to extract dinosaur DNA,” then we might be sorely disappointed; however, we can’t help but wonder WHW we bring dinosaurs back to life and put them in close proximity to people. (SPOILER ALERT: things get eaten).
The Jurassic world in which we live has an appetite of curiosity. In some cases, our brains are still quite primitive. We do a lot of stupid things all the time that slip through the systems unobstructed. So, Mr. Chricton’s premise is actually extremely insightful, and is an extreme example of the primal nature that continues to run the world today. Not to mention, it’s extremely interesting. Extreme!
If you bought into the idea of adding more value to the things that we create, then we must also be aware of the underlying dangers that are already present.
WHW is actually responsible for some of the dino dung that we’re facing today. When we keep feeding our ancient reptilian brains with consumer urges, we just perpetuate the problem. WHW we make it bigger, faster, scarier? (SPOILER ALERT: things get eaten bigger, faster, scarier). Sometimes the consumer doesn’t know what’s best for itself; what it wants (or has been trained to want), isn’t always what it needs.
We need to run the scenarios in our heads first. We need to focus on what benefits the whole rather than what gets me more tokens. We need to then make those things happen.
When we get involved in the outcome, then we can get out of the “safety” of our voyeuristic tendencies that lead to destructive demands and curmudgeonist complaints.
We need a deep sense of community.
The Obvious Ubuntu Relevance is right in front of our faces. That circle of friends is severely effected by the action or inaction of each member.
I have bought an Ubuntu device because it’s awesome, but what am I going to do with it?
I have joined an Ubuntu circle because I need community, but what am I going to contribute?
I know how to do these things. But, WHW I actually do something with this knowledge?
It’s cool to sit back and gain confidence—be rational—before producing something in the community, but it’s important that we don’t get stuck at the instructional stage. Furthermore, our contributions need not be that extreme!
Consistent application, experience, and collaboration should lead to progress.
You have a dirty mind… but it’s not entirely your fault. We are constantly bombarded with information from multiple channels. Much of this “information” is noise and redundancy. These emissions (or garbage information) sometimes pollute our minds, and make it difficult to efficiently run our communities, both online and away from screen (AFS – keyboards not necessary). It can be tricky to filter this content, and as a result, our minds can become cluttered, or “dirty”.
At the Community Leadership Summit (CLS) 2014, Randall Ross gave a plenary talk called “Get Your Face Off the Screen,” in which he described effective ways of growing your community AFS. This is a great way to reduce garbage information on the input side. i.e. by cutting of distractions. Perhaps a truly smart phone could help us do this as well. However, I have become increasingly interested in reducing things from the output end—personal emissions of garbage information (GI). Coincidentally, this thought was inspired by Randall’s Planet Awesome idea.
I have spent over two years pondering this issue. I re-wrote this article twice (this being the 3rd edition), and have learned that the problem is within myself and my habits. So, the question is: can we filter ourselves without the risk of stifling genius and innovation? Perhaps I have already answered my own question.
Just because something is free, as in freedom, and free, as in beer, it does not mean that it is free, as in no opportunity cost. Everything that we do takes away from something else that we could be doing. Every piece of information that our brain has to process, takes the place of another at that time. This is important to recognize in an Ubuntu circle because the philosophy shows that what we do to ourselves affects the others, and what we do to others, in turn, affects ourselves.
So then why is it that we continue to pollute our environments with GI?
“That’s just the way I am.”
One theory is that it’s because we still can’t stop doing things our favourite way. Some types of people need to (for lack of better understanding) think out loud and constantly emote, and sort out the pieces later. This is sometimes done without the consideration of the externalities that it produces.
“If they don’t get it from me, then they will get it from someone else.”
Another theory would be that we feel insecure about ourselves, and have a scarcity mindset. Thanks to patent laws and professional sports, many of us feel the need to be “first.” We feel the need to provide and prove that we know something of value (which in turn makes us feel valuable). Our consumption-driven society demands information now—not after you have thought about it for a couple of years 😛
“Yes, I would like to Supersize that.”
Maybe more information is better. Some people think so. How else will the monkeys on the typewriters eventually write the work of Shakespeare?
A Slippery Ewok
It is apparent that this discussion brings up more questions than it does answers. But, as long as we are questioning, then we are at least we know of the issues. And, knowing is half the battle.
Does every comment warrant a reply? Does every action require an explanation? Do I need to provide a commentary on everything in the circle? Do all the people in our circle need to know? Do I need to write a blog post about a blog post? Am I actually providing value, or a new view on a topic, or am I just creating more redundancy, and GI for people to wade through? There is a difference between creating and excreting.
Again, it is a battle of environmental awareness and self-awareness.
If you are physically larger/taller than most of the people in your circle, then it is important that you are self-aware. You would realize that every movement that you make is much more noticeable than that of a smaller person. The same is true on the internet. If you have a bigger presence/personality, then you have even more viewership. The goal would be two-fold: provide the best of you for your circle, and make sure that you’re not obstructing the necessary little guys in the process. The vehicle towards the goal could indeed be reduction of GI.
So the answer to discovering genius is not about more information; it’s about better information. We don’t need a smarter search engine. We need a smarter/faster recycling bin—inside and outside of our heads—to sort the treasure from the trash.
Tee Ell Semi-Colon Dee Arr
Man will sin. The world will end. The internet (and your mind) will get dirty. But, why make it worse while we have to live here? Inevitability is not futility.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Sure. But, when it comes to information, we ought to consider (if nothing else) what impact our production of information has on our connections.
That is just it: our ability to connect to people so easily should not be so that we can sell ourselves faster, but rather, it should be used such that we can stop reinventing the wheel and more efficiently manage our resources—our information.
The irony and cliché are relentless, but the application is the best that money can’t buy: