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Fellow Travelers,

This post is intended to serve as a benchmark for the progress we’ve made since the inception of this blog. What started as a personal exploration into the self and the emerging Network Culture has evolved to be a collaborative effort to better understand ourselves and our process, to share resources and gifts, and to learn and grow.

I am continuously humbled by the level of participation, the depth of thought and insight, and the consistent support and encouragement that have been contributed here daily. And not just to me, but to each other.

I believe we have reached a new level of cooperation in this past few weeks, and it bears acknowledgement before we progress further. I want to take an opportunity to reflect on what I perceive has happened so far in this collective learning loop, to capture this moment, so that we’ll always have a point of reference as we continue on this journey. I can only imagine that things will get more exciting and innovative from here on out.

The 1st Plateau: Interdependence and Self-Recognition

After months of exploring and circling the answer to the question I’d been asking, the first pieces of this puzzle fell into place and crystallized with the Idea Worth Spreading post. For lack of a better metaphor, the power of that idea struck a chord that reverberated throughout the ether. The messages I received in response to that post were that it “resonated,” that it was “tuned,” and that it “hit a frequency.”

After reflecting how to describe that experience, I’ve decided to call it The 1st Plateau.

Since the beginning, the goal of this blog/project has been the spirit of inquiry itself; probing how we are changing and being changed by our interactions within this medium, and purposefully nudging each other towards the next level of consciousness.

I thought my “snowcrash” moment was the pinnacle of my growth, but now I see it as only one of the first of many evolutions. What I’ve learned in this particular lesson is that I AM, and that I am not alone.

This has been the biggest challenge I’ve ever imposed on myself, and to do so publicly has been difficult. I have been stretching myself to the limits of my faculties, and at one point revealed myself with a rawness that I haven’t done with some of the dearest members of my own family. I wanted to show who I was and what I feel I’m becoming, because I think there is a potential here for growth that is generally untapped, and should be visible to the world.

Not only have I experienced the overwhelming feeling of empowerment that comes with forming a trust network of alliances, but also the shock of recognizing the inherent gifts that I possess, and the newfound awareness that what I’ve been searching for was right here all along, within me. Though I have never met many of you yet “in real life,” I feel that we have established a level of mutual trust, respect, and eagerness to cooperate and collaborate on projects that go beyond self-interest and truly are in service of a greater good.

For helping me make that amazing discovery, I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart.

The Pain of Change & The Role of Mentors

The transition to this new way of thinking and being has not been easy for me. My thoughts now regularly cycle between unbounded optimism and hope for a future I KNOW we’re capable of cocreating right this minute, and a crushing despair when I think of how far we still have to go before we’re all in alignment with this larger vision.

My biggest struggle has been in learning how to find a balance between these two ends of the spectrum. It would be all too easy to spiral off into the atmosphere in either direction, neither of which is healthy. I have thought of too many examples where good intentions can go astray – like when one is lead towards extreme nationalism, religious fanaticism, or any number of ideologies where the message of change, flexibility, and adaptability is lost. One of our biggest challenges as humans is to constantly stay mindful of ourselves and our thoughts, and not being tricked into believing we are right. There is no right or wrong, there is only embracing change and moving forward.

In all things, balance is key.

Many people have been teaching me this lesson along the way, and I firmly believe that each of us should have a series of mentors, and also act as a mentor to those who are committed to change but need guidance. I would not have gotten to where I am so quickly without the help of others, and so I just want to take a brief moment to publicly acknowledge those that have challenged me to be better along the way. Though every exchange I’ve had with people has informed my growth, this is just a short snapshot of a few people that have gone deeper with me than link sharing:

Lynne DeSilva Johnson
Ned Kumar – @nedkumar
Rita J King – Dancing Ink Productions –  @RitaJKing
Spiro Spiliadis@spirospiliadis
Michael Gusek – @mgusek555
Christine Egger – My Social Actions@CDEgger
Mark Frazier – Openworld@openworld
Gabriel Shalom  – @gabrielshalom
Frank Spencer – Kedge Forward@frankspencer
Michelle James – The Center for Creative Emergence@creatvemergence
Cole Tucker – @cole_tucker
Jean Russell – Thrivable@NurtureGirl
Scott Lewis – Golden Age Information Architects – @jazzmann91
Valdis Krebs – The Network Thinker@valdiskrebs
June Holley – networkweaver@juneholley
Bernd Nurnberger – @CoCreatr
Semira Soraya-Kandan – @SemiraSK
Syamant Sandhir – futurechat@futurescape
Renata Lemos – @rentatalemos
Howard Rheingold@hrheingold
Ken Gillgren – Patterns of Engagement@kengillgren
Marco Guardigli – @mgua
Nuno Raphael Relvao – @UnfoldedOrigami
Paula Thornton – @rotkapchen
Michael Josephowicz – @ToughLoveforX
David Armano – Logic+Emotion@armano
Nadia Dresscher – @soulwhispers
Mason Mckibben – @mason_mem
a mystery – project: Polytopia@Wildcat2030
more mysteries – NotThisBody@notthisbody

There are more, but I’ll stop here for now. To all of you, much gratitude.

Next Steps: Where Do We Go From Here?

Well, I think this is only just the beginning!

We got the idea of Junto out there, and I’m excited to see how we can build the platform and push collaborative interaction to a new place. A few additional ideas that have emerged since the initial proposal:

  • a strengths-based personal profile application that will help us quickly identify who we are, our gifts, and how we can form teams to take on collaborative projects within shared interest areas
  • a video to text transcription tool for record keeping of Junto discussions
  • a concept mapping application that would allow ideas to be recorded in a non-linear, intuitive fashion
  • development of a semantic symbol library that would add a contextual layer to information based in intuition (i.e. the perceived “stage of development” of a particle idea within the context of the bigger picture of the project)
  • an Emergent by Design podcast that could be put into place immediately, as there have already been several idea-packed skype sessions that could be educational as we develop parameters and “rules of engagement” for Junto

I’ll provide a more thorough update on the status of the project soon, but the response so far has been resoundingly positive.

Other fun things coming up: I’ll be sharing my experience about online networks next month during my first time speaking in public at the Social Business Edge conference on April 19 in NYC (thanks to Stowe Boyd @stoweboyd for the invitation), so hopefully I will meet some of you there. Also planning to figure out a way to make it out to California at the end of next month to attend the Wisdom 2.0 Summit, which looks awesome. And in July, I’ll be a teaching assistant to Frank Spencer at Duke University, as he rolls out a brand new Futures Institute program there, with a focus on helping college students understand how to plan for, adapt to, and carve a path through transformational change.

Other than that, I have generally decided that the work being done here within this forum is important enough to continue to give it my full-time attention and energy. I think what we are doing here is actually pioneering a new form of research, that while unorthodox now, will grow to be an accepted methodology. I don’t know of any other site that is essentially engaging in a collaborative public investigation into consciousness itself, and pushing ourselves to uncover ways to use this medium to actually build human intelligence. I see this as qualitative research at its finest. It’s natural, organic, voluntary, and as real as you want it to be. There is a VISIBLE recursive learning process going on as we challenge our understanding of the shifts underway, which then goes back to understanding our perceptions of ourselves and who we are in relation to others.

It’s radical. It’s challenging. It’s exhilarating. It’s frustrating. And I’m excited to keep going on this journey with you.

I’ll leave you with a few quotes that make more sense to me than ever before.

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. ~ R. Buckminster Fuller

I am only an egg. ~ Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein

Further up and further in. ~ The Last Battle, The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis



p.s. As of tomorrow, I will be unplugging for one week to reflect on everything, and to begin reformatting the blog so far into a book/ebook. I’m not quite sure how this process works, so anyone interested in collaborating, contributing illustrations/line art for the project, or offering guidance, please let me know. I’ll see you in a week, hopefully recharged and ready to keep moving forward. Onward and Upward!