The Meaning Of Life Comes From How We Interact With Each Other

Connecting And Interacting With Each Other

A post I read today quoted Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn and one of the PayPal Mafia, as saying:Reid Hoffman

What is a meaningful life, and what kinds of social systems enable it?

Broadly, the meaning of life comes from how we interact with each other. The internet can reconfigure space, so that the right people are always next to each other. The internet was this new medium where anyone could be a publisher, so what did that mean? What kinds of information would people want to publish about themselves? Traditionally, publishers had often built communities of interest around specific topics. But that didn’t mean all the people who were subscribing to Golf Magazine could easily find each other. But the internet made that possible…

The web was a place where millions and millions of people would create their own media identities, share information about themselves, and look for opportunities to connect with each other in ways that could truly enhance their lives…”

When he said “how we interact with each other” and “the internet was this new medium where anyone could be a publisher,” Reid was talking about internet-enabled social connections, but his comments are highly relevant to organized events and to a couple other topics I’ve discussed on this blog.

From my point of view, interacting with each other is a tremendously important facet of events. Events wranglers should facilitate participant interactions and optimize the value of those interactions.decentralized web

With regards to publishing, WordPress, the Decentralized Web, IndieWeb and the Personal Digital Home (PDH) are all about democratizing publishing and giving people control of their online presence and content.

Reid’s words and ideas got me thinking about three different areas related to interactions, events, and internet publishing.

  1. Collaborative development of events.
  2. Democratizing publishing: WordPress, Decentralized Web, IndieWeb, PDH.
  3. Connecting a community of disruptive innovators in NE Wisconsin.

In today’s post, I’ll just mention a couple points about each of the above three items. They’ll be addressed in more detail in the future as I have the opportunity, especially if I connect with others who are interested in those topics.

Collaborative Development Of Events

What I’m thinking about with this first item is taking participant-driven events (like unconferences) to the next level. There’s no need to organize large events that almost no one wants to participate in. And there’s no good reason not to have an event which many people are interested in and would go to. Taking the quote above from Reid, you can combine a couple of his ideas in a way that points to internet-enabled collaborative development of events.

“…publishers…often built communities of interest around specific topics…The web was a place where…people would…look for opportunities to connect with each other in ways that could truly enhance their lives…”

collaborative development of eventsSo a web service could be created for automated and collaborative development of events — let’s call it EventsOrganizer.blog. Anyone who wants to go to an event centered around a topic they’re passionate about could go to EventsOrganizer.blog and find out what events are coming up. If they’re interested in electric aircraft and want to participate in an electric aircraft one-day event in the Midwest USA within the next eight months, they can see if something like that is scheduled.

If they can’t find what they’re looking for, they can be an event founder by filling out a form listing the details of the type of event they’d love to be part of. Or they can find an event that’s close to what they’re looking for, and they can propose changes or maybe indicate alternate event design factors that would make the event one they would participate in. They could select drop-down criteria to say that they would go if the event was a one-day electric aircraft event that has a registration fee of <$50 and is being held in the next eight months within 800 miles of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA, rather than being a two-day event with a $495 registration fee being held in California ten months from now.

[Speaking of electric aircraft, here’s an article about a new electric aircraft motor — “…One of the main implications of this work…is that hybrid-electric aircraft possessing 4 or more seats will now be a possibility within the near future…Siemens and Airbus will reportedly be using the motor for the development of regional aircraft…”]

electric aircraft

People who wanted to go to an event can promote the one they suggested or one that’s close to what they want. Algorithms, bots, or some level of artificial intelligence could be built in to suggest changes that would be acceptable to a minimum number of participants. Conversations and communities could be built around upcoming events. There is much more that would go into the design of EventsOrganizer.blog, but the idea is that people will be able to co-create the types of events they truly want and will benefit from. No need to have events that people don’t really care about.

Here are some of the issues and criteria needed for collaborative development of events.

  • Overall theme.
  • Three to five sub-themes.
  • Length, date, time, location.
  • Min and max participants.
  • Total event cost per participant.
  • Partners and sponsors.
  • 1/9/90 rule.

Democratizing Publishing: WordPress, Decentralized Web, IndieWeb, PDH

IndieWebCampThe second item, democratizing publishing, is a topic being approached from many angles and worked on by many people. WordPress has had a mission of democratizing publishing for over ten years. IndieWeb was launched in 2010, Brewster Kahle organized the Decentralized Web Summit in 2016 (although people have been working on aspects of the D-Web for years), and I launched the PDH in June 2016. Each of these approaches to democratizing publishing, and many more that aren’t listed, feel that, at a time when internet companies are doing their best to isolate you in their silo, these words of Reid’s ring a bit hollow:

“…The web was a place where millions and millions of people would create their own media identities, share information about themselves, and look for opportunities to connect with each other in ways that could truly enhance their lives…”

If you feel the web has become too centralized, that there are too many silos or walled gardens, or that you don’t really have control over the content you put on the web, consider getting involved in one of the initiatives or projects related to the Decentralized Web.

Connecting A Community Of Disruptive Innovators In NE Wisconsin

The third item, connecting a region’s disruptive innovators, is of very high interest to me. Reid’s comments speak directly to this issue.

“…the meaning of life comes from how we interact with each other. The internet can reconfigure space, so that the right people are always next to each other…Traditionally, publishers had often built communities of interest around specific topics…that didn’t mean all the people who were subscribing to Golf Magazine could easily find each other. But the internet made that possible…millions and millions of people would…look for opportunities to connect with each other in ways that could truly enhance their lives…”

Here are a couple points about NE Wisconsin to consider:wisconsin red NE

  • Conservative Midwest culture.
  • Major business sectors include agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, insurance and finance.
  • Relatively small technology sector, with the focus on IT — not CS, emerging technologies, or disruptive innovation.
  • No major research university.
  • Long cold winters; major geographical attraction is Lake Michigan shoreline.
  • 1.2 million residents.

I’m convinced that a small but significant number of those 1.2 million residents are disruptive innovators who would be highly interested in “opportunities to connect with” other disruptive innovators “in ways that could truly enhance their lives.” The number of disruptive innovators is probably between 5 and 500. Maybe there are as many as a couple thousand. Can you imagine what would happen in NE Wisconsin if 500 disruptive innovators were connected and interacting on a regular basis with even just a few like-minded people!

Our challenge is to use the internet to “reconfigure space, so that the right people are always next to each other.” Once we’ve done that and built a community of disruptive innovators, the next step will be to facilitate events and other interactions to connect them with each other in ways that will truly enhance their lives.

It just so happens that I discussed this very topic with a disrupter last Saturday at Starbucks on Northland Avenue in Appleton, Wisconsin, USA. We’re working on Next Steps…

If you’re interested in discussing disruptive and destructive innovation in NE Wisconsin, or if you want to help make that kind of thing happen in our region, contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com.

*****

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