in the grand scheme of things i've realized that no longer am i working on just a series of integrated topics, but an eco-system of systems and values. before i start tripping over myself in post-calvinesque arguments (i am in geneva till saturday), i'm struggling to iron out the complete landscape that sits beneath (or behind) the past seven months. for now let's call this an re-introduction to the luck of seven.
not only have i decided that i'll parlay the past seven months into a new media experience (children's book, a vlog reboot and movie), but i now understand the seven topics to be the basis of a strategic framework. when i first wrote down the seven topic, i had this notion that i was setting out to document the best of the best of our new world. if there was ever a cataclysm, we could use this framework to rebuild society. now more than ever, i see that this notion is not too far fetched from those ideals, but need to be crystalized into a yummy chocolate bunny for the masses.
first you'll need to understand that this is an eco-system. as established from the Wealth of Networks, this network has revolutionized all methods of production. we are sitting within the new age of mechanization. the highly organized world of central nodes are struggling to keep up with the ever adaptable biological structure called humanity. last year at this time, my brain imploded when i heard ben cerveny give a presentation on metaphors. at last year's LIFT 07, he linked technological metaphors to biological systems. one year later with several more books in my head and thousands of kilometers beneath my feet, i have a hard time seeing metaphors. i see we create networked systems in attempt to mimic the biological systems we are... granted this is a viewpoint from a high vantage point, this is the beginning of it all.
welcome to my / our new world.
as i've tried to explain countless times this is not just a basic networked system but a system of systems of systems upon systems. i know a few people are trying to ground this system in trust, kharma, love, lust, id, etc... and i have yet to discover the core of why people self subscribe to this society. maybe it is the fact that in this age you can be whom ever you want. not in the simple context that we can change our bodies, but in the fact we can adapt our brain to systems that are expressive to our own identities.
wither it's drupal or joomla, or myspace or facebook, we cling to the notion of brands because they are labels of culture we know. as far as i know brands will always exist... brands extrude reputation. how is this central to my argument? well in this world we can create any brand we want. if we know how to have a conversation, phrase an argument and use the digital / social tools; we can build anything we want... the idealist world we dream is at our finger tips.
how do these networks operate in the real space? are online values and systems transferable to the physical world?
the past seven months have not only been a journey around the world, but a journey into the internet. a journey i thought one could ever take. from one email to another, i came to the realization that my conversations things connected me through the internet. they connected me to the medium of the world.
now there are many more questions than i have answers. i can only proclaim what i've seen. i can only tell you what has happened to me and what i've touched with my own two hands...
what i have seen is a system built on the idea that the world is a free place. the world is not to be abused, robbed, raped, or pillaged... granted these things happen but in the end that is not the central activity of the world. there is giving, there is taking. there is a free and open exchange of knowledge. not everyone is willing to give up the same information that someone else has, but in the general context of things, most individuals will offer assistance when asked. sometimes, they'll give more assistance than nesscary.
when connected to an information network, the cost of entry to a global conversation diminishes. yet these acts of selflessness, greed or pride amass an unprecedented amount of knowledge and participation... this is the world we are in now. you can easily find the world's knowledge at the click of a button. wether it is right or wrong is a whole nother question, but it's there.
the more that we toyed with these spaces the more we found out that we can bring these ideas "offline" and into the physical space. egalitarian notions of software was just the beginning. from email to blogs the democratizing of information drove us to the point where we no longer needed someone to tell us how we can participate in the conversation.
if you look at the explosive growth of freelancers (some can be considered outsourcers, or out-sorcerers), you will see nothing more than an the democratizing of work. this work has always existed, this has always been the central tenet of industrialization. yet in the 21st century, this has spread forth across the globe and evolved into a multitude of ideas unheard of several years ago, BUT that doesn't mean that these elements of culture didn't exist before hand... they have always existed. some were too expensive (multimedia production); others were too obscure to discover (couchsurfing.com / global freeloaders).
when it comes to information, the merchants who raised great sums to bring us the best of the silk road no longer are needed. as the past ten years have taught us, the networks between us all shrink infinitely when we reach out. albeit it is still a costly investment, the new silk road is assessable to more. from electricity, to hardware, to communications infrastructure, to education... we are slowly whittling down the cost of access. once on the road, or as it was one called "the information super highway" we are privy to the world's infinite connections of enlightenment.
when it comes to the physical, many have realized we are no longer are we willing to deal with the limitations of a world dictated to us. if we can freely converse online, who is to limit our ability to organize physically? if we have the ability to build online, we are freely able to build upon other's words for the betterment of our collective knowledge, goods and services. for the past seven months i've been blessed to freely exchange ideas, content and build physical structures were the net benefit is the sum of all of its parts.
the world online is no more online than it is an offline activity. for the past five years i've been privy to a front seat exploration of politics, policy and products are free to change and grow as we see fit. incredibly we've openly recognized that we can not exist in an online only environment. some of us call it jelly, coworking, foocamp, unconfrences, barcamp, mashpits, meetups, devhouses, saturday houses, workshops, clubs, etc...
more and more we are coming together to physically represent the world we see online. if there isn't a physical representation, we dust off obscure solutions or build replacements for a world once dominated by a heroical structure dominated by others.
we have the power. we are the future. without a doubt, the world today is dominated by freedom. freedom to move from one system or another... from one workshop to another... from one conversation to another... from online to offline... it is now up to us to perpetuate the love of knowledge into an eternity of wisdom.
this is the wealth of networks. this is the luck of seven. we are the starfish generation!
i stand and look out at the wonder that is the world. beneath my feet, embedded in my flip flops are the peeples of discomfort, the ignorance of sand and the wet and wild world we call earth. in four short days, my journey will officially end. in four short days, i will return to new york city.
it's been seven months from my bed, my friends, my "stuff," and any notion of disposable income. i know little has changed; i know i am not the same. as the days wind down i face another moment of reflection. each passing mirrored moment, i see a million lessons wrapped into one epic journey.
but for this this morning, my brain feels a bit scattered. maybe it's the strong texas coffee. maybe it's my body still recovering from Barcamp TX and three nights of restless sleep. maybe it's the fact that i now see my footsteps as a thin film of butter on a global piece of rye toast...
maybe it's the understanding that for everyday after next, the job gets tougher and tougher. no longer can i skate bye and say, i'm skimming the global ice. now it's time to tighten up the laces, grab the hockey stick and summarize my understanding into the back of a net.
for the past two weeks, dr miggy has given me the gift of love and a small little space to carve out my ice sculpture. a week from now, i will be penniless in geneva while having the honor to help host the open stage conversations at LIFT. subsequently, i will get five minutes to present my sculpture. :)
...but before the moderate temperatures of time start to melt my understanding of the world, the following are the seven lessons of this journey...
"when facing goliath, bring your own sling shot." - egyptian linux users group; open source software users in egypt.
"the end of the world is a great place to put ideas on their head." - cowork central; providence in ushuaia
(btw, i originally started to break out each lesson via continent, but quickly discovered that the lessons were mirrored everywhere. these seven lessons are will grow to be the basis of the children's book and the documentary film.)