Blogs

I’m experimenting with my blogs. I used to bundle them all together under one heading. Now I’m starting to experiment with different styles of posts. It may be a bit muddled at first  as I see what tends to emerge.

“Connections” were the blogs I started writing – i.e. posts on whatever I was thinking about at the time. They were to share connections between people, organisations and ideas.

“Jottings”  are notes to myself, that are mixture of journal,”to-do”list and “could-do”list. The first one was a mix of journal and open letter. I’ll make a clearer distinction in future.

 


Your photos for the #XH2027 time capsule


Hi Pip. Ref your message “What is the Facebook page or web address for the time capsule project?”

Word of mouth

It’s mostly word of mouth at present, so no website yet. The digital time capsule is the first step to a bigger vision. These are the main things you need to know so you can join in.

The invitation

For the photos for the “time capsule” we’re inviting people to:
• Think of their values and their hopes for the future (for September Twenty Twenty-Seven to be exact)
• Share photos showing what they would like to see changed and worth celebrating by then (“more of…” and “less of…”) –
• Share photos of some trivial and mundane objects (just to see how objects do and don’t change over the next ten years)

Some people like to start by looking around and taking their photo of something “trivial and mundane”, something that usually goes unnoticed. Looking around and taking that photo can help you to get thinking about the past, present and future. It’s a starting point for thinking how things around us have been changing, or staying the same, and what you’d like to happen next.

Whatever you think of, you need to think of ways to follow through on it, to help make it happen, even if you can only take tiny steps. This isn’t for pie-in-the-sky things that some magical “they” are going to make happen without your involvement. If you want “Less war” for instance how might you reduce conflict in your own relationships? Would it be a good idea to start learning about non-violent conflict resolution?

Purpose

This is a fun thing with a serious purpose.

If we:
• Imagine something clearly
• Connect with people who are imagining similar things
• Do something about it all in collaboration with others

Then:
• It becomes more likely to happen
• The more it happens the more those involved will have something to celebrate in ten years time.

NB. There may be some moderation of photos. For example no photos promoting sectarian violence would be included. We’re hoping for less of that.

Time line

The starting point is this weekend. The end point is an event called Exponentially Human Twenty Twenty-Seven, on 16-18 September 2027.

The 18th is scheduled as party night and that’s when we’ll be looking at the ten year digital time capsule and celebrating what we’ve managed to achieve. By then it won’t just be photos. We’re looking forward to an amazing combined digital publication and immersive experience – somewhere between what we already have on our smart phones and Star Trek’s Holodeck (see  Star Trek’s Holodeck, from science fiction to a new reality )

You can add photos (and other media) at any point in the next ten years (especially during September of any year) but imagine how you’ll feel in 2027 if your photos are among the earliest ones.

Details

Photos can be as simple or detailed as you like.

A photo could just be words written on a sheet of A4 or flip chart paper “More bees. Less chewing gum on the pavements” – or you can add an illustration. Ideally hold your message in front of you and take a selfie, but anonymity is okay too.

Abstract ideas need words or drawings.

If it’s an object you can photograph it and add a caption.

The “trivial and mundane” photo is of anything you see around you, something that you hardly notice because it is so much part of everyday life in 2017. Please add a caption.

On Facebook join the group “XH2027 TIme Capsule” and post your photos there. On twitter send your photos to @xh2027 If you don’t use either then contact me via the contact form  and I’ll let you know other channels we’re setting up.

Why join in?

So that your values, hopes and ideas for the future are part of the picture of the positive future that we’ll be celebrating at Exponentially Human 2027. The dates are booked: 16-18th September 2027. It will be a celebration of human development and change for the better in our inter-connected world. You’ll be part of seeding a future worth celebrating. Sharing and discussing our hopes and values, making them visible, and imagining our future together is part of how we co-create where we are heading.

Sep 12, 2017 by pamela | Categories: Open Letters | Tags: , , ,


#LandscapeOfChange and #XH2027


Landscape of Change

People often use ideas of travel to describe life. “Life’s journey” “Following in the footsteps of…” “Being at the cross roads” “Going down a blind alley”.

So what kind of life journey are we on at present? What does the landscape look like?

We live in a time of increasingly rapid change. When people look at their lives and the way ahead it is unlikely that they will see a Landscape of Predictability. It is much more likely that they will see a Landscape of Change.

Four “Landscape of Change” roles

I’m seeing  myself in four roles connected with being a traveller through the Landscape of Change. The roles are “Explorer”,”Pioneer”,”Chronicler” and “Guide”.

I’m starting to “interrogate myself” about the roles using the classic questions “What, Why and How”

Here goes.

Explorer

What is Explorer doing?

Explorer is “visiting places” in the Landscape of Change and exploring them.

Most people are too busy with their daily lives to stop and explore the Landscape of Change in a slow and thoughtful way. Explorer has been travelling around there for years, looking, thinking, and asking questions.

There is plenty to explore. It is possible to find things that are “ahead of their time, just as it is possible to find things that are “behind the times”. Exploring examples and thinking about how things compare offers new perspectives. All kinds of things come into view, things that are easily overlooked by the casual observer. Spending time to explore the Landscape of Change is a way to discover “landmarks” and to make sense of what would otherwise be unfamiliar. Familiarity with aspects of the Landscape of Change makes it easier to navigate the rapidly changing present and future.

Explorer likes looking at changes and visiting places where “the future” and “possible futures” are “in evidence”. The evidence is sometimes to be seen in practical work that is being done, especially work that challenges orthodoxy. Other “evidence” of possible futures is to be found in ideas and experiments that are being discussed.

Given that Explorer is not exploring in the conventional sense, it may be helpful to give more explanation of the places she visits.

Just like a traditional explorer, she often visits real places. She thinks of them as “material places”. These “material places” are ordinary, physical places. In those places people meet face-to-face.

She also visits “immaterial places” – ones that are accessed online, “in the cloud”. Spending time “in the cloud” is a great way to meet people from around the globe, and to explore different perspectives and emerging ideas.

Like other people who are explorers she goes to places that are new to her, but are not necessarily new to others. Some parts of the Landscape of Change are already inhabited, some are previously explored and mapped by others and some are previously unexplored. Some only exist in the imagined future. Dancing between reality and imagination is part of Explorer’s role.

It’s all about self-directed learning done in an informal way. It’s discovery learning about our rapidly changing world. It’s exploration.

Why does Explorer explore the Landscape of Change?

Like many people who explore unfamiliar territory, she is drawn to explore the Landscpe of Change simply “because it is there”. Reasons she gives include:

  1. To widen her horizons, knowledge and understanding
  2. To follow her personal interests and satisfy her curiosity
  3. To meet new people
  4. To learn new skills

How does Explorer explore the Landscape of Change?

She explores alone or with others, and observes, participates, discusses and reflects. Sometimes she’s leading the way, sometimes she’s following in the footsteps of others. If her “journey” is done with an air of freshness and enquiry and with an eye to systemic changes and the future then it is part of her exploration of the Landscape of Change.

Pioneer

What is Pioneer doing in the Landscape of Change?

Pioneer is working with others – being creative, experimenting and prototyping.

Why does Pioneer do that?

  1. To help her innovative friends
  2. To know how things work in practice
  3. To demonstrate possibilities
  4. To speak and write from experience
  5. To get things started
  6. To build collaborative relationships
  7. To have the integrity of “walking her talk”
  8. To learn new skills

How does Pioneer do it?

Pioneer is drawn to help with work that is original, purposeful, long term and initiated by the people who are immersed in the challenges and opportunities.  All her pioneering work is done with other people. Pioneer and her collaborator(s) may have differing reasons for collaborating with each other on a particular initiative. That doesn’t matter. What matters is the level of commitment.

Chronicler

What is Chronicler doing?

Chronicler is doing what it says in the dictionary – A chronicler is a person who writes accounts of important or historical events (Dictionary, Google search August 21 2017)

The Landscape of Change chronicler is writing accounts about the emergence of ideas, insights, collaborations, strategies, approaches, etc in the Landscape of Change.

Why does Chronicler do her chronicling?

  1. To clarify her ideas
  2. To contribute to the general pool of knowledge
  3. To support informed decision making
  4. To challenge orthodoxy
  5. To have evidence of work that she and her collaborators have done

How does Chronicler do her chronicling?

She usually chronicles by writing online but she sometimes contributes to publications that come out in print.

Thanks to David Bovill she has recently started to write collaboratively within the Federated Wiki community.  

The Federated Wiki is innovative online space which Ward Cunningham and some of his contacts are creating to enable a new approach to collaborative writing and the co-creation of knowledge – see The Federated Wiki: Ward Cunningham at TEDxPortland 2012. It is very much part of the Landscape of Change so when she is writing she often finds Explorer and Pioneer working there as well.

Guide

What is Guide doing?

She is doing what any travel guide does – but in an unconventional location:

  1. Helping people to visit the Landscape of Change at their leisure
  2. Taking individuals and groups on guided tours
  3. Helping people to consider their future relationship with this Landscape
  4. Preparing people to explore the Landscape of Change independently
  5. Preparing people to become pioneers and settlers in the Landscape of Change

Guide is only concerned with the needs of other people, and can therefore expect to be compensated by them for the time she gives. Guide shares what she know in ways that are tailored to their individual starting points and requirements. Guide is familiar with the territory and helps people to find their way in this amazing Landscape of Change.

Why does Guide do that?

She believes it is a valuable service to provide because:

  1. Many people are (or will be) facing futures that are disconnected from what they previously expected.
  2. People need opportunities to reflect, and to see change in their lives as part of a bigger picture
  3. Visiting the Landscape of Change provides a new perspective.
  4. People who have been helped to explore the Landscape of Change will be better prepared for making their own way through it in future.
  5. It is preferable to explore the Landscape of Change in company, rather than alone and unprepared.

How does Guide provide this service?

  • Through conversations and workshops
  • Sharing with others (individuals or groups) what she knows about the Landscape of Change
  • Exploring together what in the Landscape of Change is most relevant to their needs, interests, hopes, confusions, challenges, circumstances, uncertainties, plans, and opportunities.

Observations on the roles

Once I started investigating my four separate roles as a traveller in the Landscape of Change I noticed that the first two roles are about learning, while the other two are about sharing what I know. This self-awareness helps me to decide how to allocate my time.

On the learning side Explorer is concentrating on ideas and theory, while Pioneer is more practical.

The other two roles are about structuring and sharing what I learn. Chronicler is “wordifying” what I have learned, and “parking” it, where it can be accessed by me and by others (so Chronicler works partly for my benefit and partly for the benefit of others).

Guide however is providing a specific service to others. This is why, at an early stage, there needs to be a clarity about what is involved and the nature of the exchange between “the Guider and the Guided”. Both sides need to see value in the transaction.

Guide may be rewarded in a material way or an immaterial way, so is not always looking for financial reward. However Guide does require compensation in a way that is markedly different to Explorer, Pioneer, and Chronicler (all of whom have their own particular relationship to motivation, money, and living in the practical material world).

Some initiatives I am involved in engage all the roles, but that does not mean it is appropriate to dance between the roles without awareness of doing so.

Landscape of Change and Exponentially Human 2027

Things are coming together. All my apparently unconnected work can be accounted for within the mental framework of these Landscape of Change roles.

No wonder I’m currently wanting to do more writing and speaking. Chronicler and Guide have been overshadowed of late by Explorer and Pioneer. They have been busy with  David Bovill and team on FEAST and with fellow participants in Outlandish Academy on Federated Wiki. (Chronicler has a lot of work to do covering all that.)

I’m inviting so many different people to the Exponentially Human Twenty Twenty-Seven event (also known as XH2027). They are a mixed bunch but become a cohesive group when they are seen as the visitors, newcomers, explorers and pioneers in the Landscape of Change, who I connect with through my different roles there. Their work and lives will shape our co-created future and will give us cause for celebrating aspects of how we are living in the Landscape of Change ten years from now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Edited since original publication

This was originally published as on Open Letter to Brian. The introduction has been removed (and copied below) and there have been minor edits to make it more relevant to other people.

“Hi Brian. Your reference to my travels in the Landscape of Change got me thinking during my holiday. Gradually the Landscape of Change theme emerged as the key to re-doing my Holacracy of One roles. Now I’m home and writing the ideas up ready for our next WhatsApp call.

Given this is an open letter I’ll add a couple of notes about the Landscape of Change. (I may come back later and add a link about Holacracy of One – but that’s not the most important idea here – Landscape of Change is.)”

Aug 26, 2017 by pamela | Categories: Connections, Continuing Conversations, Open Letters | Tags: , , ,


Diary Date 16-18 September Twenty Twenty-Seven – first announcement


You are invited to an event in twenty twenty-seven starting on Thursday 16th September and ending with a celebratory party on Saturday 18th September. Please, set the dates aside. The event is called Exponentially Human Twenty Twenty-Seven.

Please think ahead to what you hope to be celebrating then, and some of the positive changes you hope may have happened in our world by 2027.

I expect to be celebrating some shifts in how we think, and communicate, and collaborate with each other. I’m expecting us to do less of the boring routine tasks, and more of the “essentially human” things. I expect to see big shifts in attitudes to sharing new ideas and processes at an early stage so more people can see them and get involved in improving them. I’m expecting us to be connecting with each other globally in ways that enhance the human condition, ways that are very different to current ideas of what globalisation means. This expected development of our understanding and experience of human connectedness is why I’m calling the 2027 event “Exponentially Human”. I won’t go into much detail here. I’m writing more about it elsewhere (and will probably return to this post to add links later).

Twenty twenty-seven is ten years away, and when I look around I already see plenty that is pointing in the direction of the kind of future I would prefer to arrive at.

Of course “other futures are available” and some of them are decidedly not the direction I want to be heading. None of these futures are fixed yet, so we can all decide what kind of future we are trying to head towards. There isn’t just one single option for 2027 sitting, ready made, waiting to us to arrive there. Our journey to the future isn’t like taking a train to an existing railway station. Our possible destination ten years in the future is far more fluid and uncertain.

I’ve decided to head in a direction I like the look of, and I’m finding fellow travelers who are heading the same way. We’re planning to meet up at Exponentially Human 2027 on September 16th -18th, and we’re starting to make preparations.  You may like to join us either in twenty twenty-seven, or sooner, to help make the event a success and ensure we have something worth celebrating.

Jun 12, 2017 by pamela | Categories: People and Action | Tags: , , , , ,


The Exponential Leap (26 May 2017 viewpoint)


“The Exponential Leap 2017-2027” (also known as “The Leap”) will be a multi-media publication-and-immersive experience. It will be launched at an event called Exponentially Human to be held in 2027. “The Leap” will be developed in such an open and collaborative way that it will have been accessible long before the official launch. But there are benefits in having a deadline, after which no more contributions will be accepted. The deadline is the party at the end of the Exponentially Human event.

The Leap will look at a fracture point that occurs between two different global “realities”. Before the fracture point there is the past reality of people’s lives as lived in “the-past-and-the-present” of the times leading up to 2017. After the fracture point is the reality of people’s lives as lived in “the-present-and-the-future” in the time looking forward from 2027.

This fracture point (which in hindsight may appear sudden or gradual) means that by 2027 things will “be different”. It will be obvious to (almost) everyone that there is no way to go back to the way things were in 2017, including some of the mindsets and institutional norms of the period.

For some people their experience of The Leap may be compared to the experience of a heavy thunderstorm.  In the time building up to the storm there is a heaviness, and darkening, and a physical feeling of pressure. Then the storm finally breaks (and people have different feelings about the experience of violent storms with their thunder, lightning and downpours).  After the storm there may be a physical sensation of less pressure in the atmosphere and a sense of freshness (although irreparable damage may also have been done and will need to be dealt with).  “Before the storm” and “after the storm” are different. So it is with The Leap

Another way of looking at The Leap and our current sensitivities to it, is to compare it to an earthquake, with its foreshocks and aftershocks. According to WikiPedia “A foreshock is an earthquake that occurs before a larger seismic event (the mainshock) and is related to it in both time and space. The designation of an earthquake as foreshock, mainshock or aftershock is only possible after the full sequence of events has happened.”

If The Leap is seen like the disturbance of a major earthquake then some of the events and disturbances that people are experiencing today may be seen as foreshocks. These “foreshock” events and disturbances may be better understood later, after The Leap has happened. Then the interconnections between all the “foreshock disturbances” will become obvious.

There are many implications of The Leap, and at the Exponentially Human 2027 conference there will be much debate about exactly when The Leap began, exactly when the fracture happened, how much of The Leap is completed, and how much it is an ongoing process.

After the fracture point of “The Leap” has happened some people will still be in denial. They will be trying to construct a version of reality that fits their view of the past-and-the-present, as if there had been no fracture point.  Some people who are “off-grid”, regarding various ways the world works in 2017 and later, won’t be so aware of the shifts and fracture point of The Leap although its effects will ripple out to them.

“The Exponential Leap 2017-2027” will be officially launched and celebrated at the closing party of an event called Exponentially Human 2027.  In my imagination the publication and the event are already real. If you understand and believe the  William Gibson quote “The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed” then you’re probably already seeing evidence of The Leap and the elements of the 2027 celebration.

Some of my friends have joined me in setting the date aside (September 16th -18th 2027). You may like to do the same. Maybe, if some of the trans-humanists  are right, I’ll have an enhanced exoskeleton or something by then to help me wear my years lightly and bop with the best of you.

May 26, 2017 by pamela | Categories: Connections | Tags: , , , , ,


My answers ref: Before I Die


These are questions Olivia asked me at a Before I Die Network meeting.

We didn’t record it.

The answers might have gone this way (based on the time allocations she had in mind for the questions).

Olivia

What are you passionate about working towards at the moment?

Pamela

I’m working with David Bovill on something called FEAST.

F E A S T is about Food, Environment, Art, Speech and Tuning-in-to-the-radio. It’s about sharing our own local experience with local experience in other places. We’re doing that by having local events and twinning local radio stations in different places.

Right now I’m working on a radio programme that brings in people who are doing amazing projects in Nigeria and Ethiopia.
And for me it’s not just about the content it’s about the long term vision – and combining different elements of communication technologies in new ways and bringing  people together.

On top of that it ties in with a chapter I wrote recently for a book about possible futures.

In my chapter there is a fictional celebration set in 2027. Exactly what we’re celebrating is explained in the chapter – but what delighted me about FEAST is that it’s got all the elements I need for my future event – but in their 2017 versions. So working with David on FEAST in 2017 is part of  making my story of 2027 into fact instead of fiction.

Olivia

You’ve set up a charity, Dadamac Foundation, written about the future of digital communities, worked to create more collaborative and value-led communities through technology…

What do you think is the common thread/theme to what you’ve been working on?

Pamela

It’s related to an idea that I picked up when I was doing an Open University course many years ago – and it’s about using digital technologies to make the kind of world I want to live in.

I went on this course way back before mobile phones, or laptops, or the Internet as we know it today. The course was about computers and people.

The amazing idea was that digital technologies (which we called “computer power”) would change almost everything about the way we would live our lives – and I’ve  seen that become true – although we’re still in the very early stages.

I was taught that this world was so new that we could shape it – not just as end users but as designers and influencers.

Back when I started exploring digital technologies we had stand-alone microcomputers with very small memories, and people like me learnt to write our own programs, so we could  make the computers do what we wanted them to do. I was lucky that I was also influenced by Professor Max Clowes who introduced me to more powerful computers as well, and to Artificial Intelligence.

Things changed as the personal computers got more powerful and came with all kinds of capabilities built in so most people just became users. Perhaps in a way things are changing back a bit now with mobile phones and more people writing apps – which is something David teaches people to do. I don’t know.

The idea that links all my work is a curiosity and exploration of what it means to live with this new power. I’m intrigued by the implication of living at this point in time –  a time when digital technologies are dramatically changing so many aspects of our world and how we can relate to it and to each other. Human beings have never lived in this kind of world before. We all need to decide if we’ll play our part in shaping it, or if we’ll just leave it to other people and hope we’ll like what they’ll do. Personally I prefer to help shape it.

Olivia

What’s the ultimate vision for that? (Since you wrote a chapter about 10 years into the future – what’s your bold / audacious vision for what will have changed in the world for the better in 10 years?)

Pamela

The most interesting changes I think will be changes in how “most people” think. There will still be people who cling onto outmoded thinking norms of the early years of the 21st century, and some extreme versions of them, but they will be the minority. The full reality of living in a connected world will finally have permeated people’s imaginations.

We’ll also be responding to other huge technological changes.

There are lots of ideas that are around now that seem bizarre to many people, but will be mainstream in another ten years.

I could point you to all kinds of work relating to big shifts in how things will be different – not for utopian reasons, but simply because of old ways crumbling and not being fit for purpose. Things will change because there will be such a mismatch between the old ways of doing things and the new ways that are shaped by the tech that will underpin how everything is done in future.

Information will be much faster flowing, more informative, and “natural” to interact with than it is today thanks to artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and all the rest. We’ll be as comfortable interacting with people we’ve never “really” met, as we are with our face-to-face contacts, and we’ll know much more than we are able to know now.

In that kind of world, relationships are either ultra-local (easy to meet up face-to-face) or ‘beyond local’ – which means people who are anywhere in the world where you’re more likely to connect virtually than face-to-face. Virtual locations may only be a couple of hours “local journey” away, or they may be the other side of the world. On a day-to-day basis there’s not much difference.

This experience of connectedness changes our sense of identity and “local belonging” and our personal place in the world. It’s ultra-local then globally scattered.  People are people, and we get to connect with each other far more than before. This genuine personal connectedness makes a nonsense of many of our previous ideas of identity, and separation from “others” – national boundaries and so forth.

Many “realities and perceptions” will change. It’s hard to explain any of the many mind-shifts without having first had time to explain the interrelated technological, financial and social shifts surrounding them – but from my view point they are positive

Olivia

Where do you think that vision started for you?

Pamela

There was a book called “Technology versus Humanity” by Gerd Leonhard – which built on my long-standing fascination with the relationship between digital technologies and people.

He outlines the rate of technological change and the scary fact that “technology has no ethics”. But people do have ethics – so I started to wonder what the world would look like if we started to concentrate on becoming better at the things that computers aren’t so good at like ethics, and genuine empathy and creativity.

He’s not the only influence. I could give you a long list of the people who have influenced my thinking over the years, and the inter-related topics that have been covered – but it would just sound like a list of set books, and meetup groups, and names of friends, and it wouldn’t convey the ideas themselves so I won’t do that.

I’ve been obsessively interested in this stuff for years, I’ve done lots of innovative practical work, learned from people who are creative and original thinkers and doers, and I’ve reflected deeply on what I’ve seen and experienced. It’s all interconnected and it feeds into the vision.

Olivia

What would you like your role to be in contributing towards that vision?

Pamela

That’s a much easier one to answer. It’s to help people to mould the future, for themselves and for others.

My role is to find people who have a sense of the deep changes that are happening, who are attuned to the pre-shocks of the disconnect that is coming between the present-and-past and the-present-and-future and then help them. Some of them feel the disconnect, but don’t know what it is. They think it’s just that they are in the wrong job, or something like that. Often they are dissatisfied or confused and think it is “their fault”. They don’t see it in the context of the deeper systemic changes and of their transition into this totally unknown future.

I can help them to see their present from the view-point of the future I see, so they can make decisions in the light of arriving safely in that future. Other futures are of course available, and some are grim. Personally I prefer to walk in the direction of the one I describe in my “Exponentially Human” chapter – and help others to head that way and co-create it.

Olivia

So – we’ve talked about the ultimate goal. Tell me about some of the key highlights / turning points / obstacles you’ve overcome so far on that journey. (What scenes would make it into the film of your story so far?)

Pamela

That’s a very “Before I Die Network” question – like when you ask us to imagine getting a Nobel prize and we have to take turns saying why we’ve won it.  So – a film….

I suppose visually it would be interesting to see the development of the technology so we’d go back to the early days of programming my Exidy Sorcerer and using it with the infants I was teaching. That was down in Cornwall so we could linger on some stunning scenery as well.

Then probably we’d jump to the start of my African involvement, so you’d see me with my friend Agnita and her Nigerian husband Peter, and their children in London. You’d see Agnita and Peter and me doing various things for his “Oke-Ogun Community Development Agenda 2000 Plus” project. Then you’d see Peter leaving for Nigeria with all the equipment he was taking out there.

We couldn’t ignore the terrible time when I got the email saying he’d been killed, and I had to go round and tell Agnita.

Then it would be me on the way to Nigeria to represent Agnita and the children at his funeral, and during my time there we’d see some of the people who were to play key roles in the continuation of his work.

My shift from full time work to supply teaching (which was “challenging”) was noteworthy. It makes the point about the tension between paying the bills and giving time to the work you believe is important – work that doesn’t “tick the boxes” for external funding.

There were various adventures during my working holidays in Nigeria, Zambia and Kenya over the years – visually interesting – but to be honest they weren’t the most important part of the story. The important parts were always the relationships I was forming, the way my assumptions were being challenged, and the insights I was gaining. Both the Oke-Ogun project and  Fantsuam Foundation would feature strongly.

The UK side included work I did with Lorraine Duff and then Nikki Fishman that enabled some useful UK-Africa collaborative initiatives, including the launch of “Peoples-uni” with Lorraine Duff, Omo Oaiya and Professor Dick Heller, and what Nikki and Dil Green are now doing for DadaMac. The outcomes were good – but I’m no screen-writer and visually I don’t know what “scenes” there would be to show.

Much of the work has been where there is a need for communication and connection but the tech isn’t sufficiently developed to make it happen, or the cultural differences make for gaps in understanding. Then we do work-arounds to make up for what is missing. That is very  “time-intensive, human work” – some if it could be done better by developments in “the communications technology” and some of is it, and always will be, all about the human relationships.

Most of the story is about painstakingly developing ways to work effectively at a distance – based on what I was learning about the reality on the African side. The other side of it was recognising the communication gaps between on-the-ground projects and the “establishment” of “International Development” – big NGOs, universities, politicians etc. There are also perception gaps between interests in “technology as development” and “technology for development” (I wasted most of 2008 because of not recognising that).

So lots of learning curves, and going down blind alleys. Lots of going to free meetings in London, and joining online groups. Lots of one-to-one typed communications with people I know and respect but seldom if ever meet face-to-face.

Most of what I’ve done is visually boring. It’s months and years of hour-after-hour and day-after-day working somewhat obsessively, often in physical isolation.

But all the time there has been the experience of pushing the boundaries of communication – and experiencing a very real new kind of “community” – because of the ways we could overcome barriers of distance, and culture.

My work has always been different because of the way it has been built on relationships, and the need to keep communicating despite distance, and not giving up despite that fact that the internet only provided part of the solution. It was never just the easy stuff of communicating where the Internet existed, or staying in my own cultural silo.

Perhaps that is what makes my work special, and gives it a futuristic feel. It’s because of this imperative to communicate, a sense of people drawn together in order to rub-minds, and share our very different perspectives and resources, because of a shared purpose.

I hadn’t thought of that before – but it is having a shared purpose that connects people despite differences, and this is what will be the world changer – when we finally realise that we do all have a shared purpose (which is about enabling humanity to continue to thrive on the one and only planet we have).

In my UK-Africa and Internet work it’s like being on a journey together where we all bring something different and the differences give us our strength – when we manage to overcame the challenges that such differences and “distances” throw up.

Years of experience of working in the “online space” with mixed communities and shared purpose has shaped my thinking of how it is, and could be, to live in a more effectively interconnected world. What I’ve written in Exponenentially Human, and what I’m doing within FEAST make those ideas and realities accessible to a wider audience.

Olivia

What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the start of that journey? (or what 3 lessons or reflections have you learnt that could help people at the start of similar journeys?)

Pamela

One is about organising time.

I don’t always do it, but I’m glad I have it as a possibility. It’s a combination of “The Holacracy of One” approach and the Pomodoro Technique. But you’ll need to look them up, as they take quite a bit of explaining.

The second thing is about seeing we have two ears and one mouth – and taking that as a reminder to try to listen more than we talk – and to really listen, not just take a turn at being quiet while our minds wander elsewhere. This is like a lot of good advice I pass on – I have considerable difficulty doing it myself.

The third thing is about seeing things from other points of view. (The u.lab MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) on Transforming Business, Society, and Self is good for addressing that.)

This excellent, important and often illusive skill is illustrated in a cartoon where two people are sitting at opposite sides of a table looking at a card with a number on it. To one person it looks like a 9, to the other it looks like a 6.

I love the caption. It says “Just because you’re right doesn’t mean that I’m wrong” and of course its equally true the other way round – and we’d avoid so many arguments and and worse if only we could remember that.

Apr 24, 2017 by pamela | Categories: Continuing Conversations | Tags: , , ,






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