Musings from George

When virtual becomes personal and then real
June 8, 2007, 12:14 pm
Filed under: Desiderata, OCU2007, Serenity Prayer

I attended an “unconference” this week with a number of like-minded online community enthusiasts. Notes from several of the events are here (three of the documents are mine, so I’m not going to re-post here). Sean O’Driscoll from Microsoft made some insightful comments about where companies focus their resources vis-a-vis support, and in that breakout session we all agreed that tagging and filtering need to advance quite a bit before the user community can really support users (tools and usage). General agreement that a wiki is only useful for shared purpose / single truth projects (ownership & authorship are lost), whereas discussion groups are useful for opinions / many truths (authorship is preserved). Blogs have the odd attribute of being one person’s perspective (by definition not the one truth?) with one author…a subset of both.

The people I meet at these events make them worthwhile for me. Many socially conscious people (producer from KQED, manager from indie films, two people from different organizations focusing on making our schools better) looking to adapt and adopt the best of these tools and practices that have their roots in philanthropic / community efforts but have been co-opted by corporate titans. From the Well to a dozen competing platforms for your community; from online text bulletin boards with a single heroic moderator to the unorganized chaos of Yahoo!Groups; from hundreds of communities of interest to millions of micro-communities (even the ephemeral communities of Facebook).

Changing gears, a few more good people have left our company. I’ve reconciled myself to doing a good job for the sake of helping our customers, and cherry-picking the projects I put my “good” energy into so that I am learning and growing. It’s not my dream situation, but I have to admit that I get a lot done and a lot of people appreciate what I do. Online I found the Desiderata (below), which is a wonderful exhortation of “carpe diem!” and realized that I had been mis-attributing a famous poem for quite a while. What is properly called the Serenity Prayer more concisely summarizes the daily challenge we face. I offer both here, culled from the wasteland of the Internet.

The Serenity Prayer (often attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr)

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Desiderata  by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.