One Cause to rule them all

A fixation I've seen in various groups over the years,  is where a person or group of people try to force a particular gathering to be something else. That "The Cause" is all important and that everyone else must talk about.  Most of the time this "The Cause" has a good reasoning behind it that many can consider it a good cause.  The problem is when "The Cause" is being pushed hard on others as the pusher tries to bend all of their life and those around them to "The Cause".

All groups/communities have a reason to be, and a filter that defines them. They range from those who gather at a particular drinking spot (or watering hole) as the filter to just be social and gab about what ever, through to a gathering (often on-line) about a very specific topic (such as; propagating roses, supporting a specific bit of software, or underwater basket weaving).
The more general community will often be more likely to at least discuss "The Cause" and may even take it up as one of the group's causes for a while even if it triggers some members to not attend for that time.  For a community about a specific topic, imposing "The Cause" is just plain destructive to that community for a bunch of reasons.  For starters it changes the defined filter for the group to the detriment of what is discussed.  If the "Mountain N-Gage modellers" group suddenly has someone insisting that every second car be a specific colour and all the software they use show a brand symbol of that colour, then that is just going to clash and not work. 

Communities serving a specific target exist for a reason, with the logic of you pick the ones that match your need, and leave them when they don't.  The reason can be for plain recreation through to maintaining different systems or support groups.  I've been in on-line communities where someone is trying to get help with a system to help with "The Cause" and only includes how "The Cause" is so great and wonderful and never gets to actually describing what is broken, then complains that nobody is telling them how to fix the system.  Nobody can help you fix a broken system if we don't get any real details about the system, as "The Cause" it is for is not even relevant for the task. This is why so many focused communities resist or ban "the cause that must not be named" just to stay on track. If you don't want to be on that track, go elsewhere and the track will still be there when you are ready to be on it. If the community lets the track be derailed, it will often flounder around and may not even survive.  "The Cause" will have it's own communities, so don't be so shy about them but go play there for a while.

Everyone (assuming human and other mammals) needs to breath, to do something other their one big focus, even if just to re-energize to get back to that one big focus. This is why soldiers get R&R to re-energize before getting back into the fighting for their cause, and to even remind them of their cause.  If one were to turn all their communities to "The Cause", then they'd lose the 'rest and rebuild' that comes from those communities, and hence just plain burn out and stop being effective for "The Cause".  If you think people don't need to breath, then I invite you to be only "The Cause" you are pushing by not breathing.  Breathing is always other than "The Cause" even if the cause is about enabling breathing.  Getting in the way of others breathing, is a good way to make yourself hated and ruin any good thoughts those others may have had for your "The Cause" defeating your efforts.

All communities find their natural range. If it gets too big it gets difficult to have good conversations and they usually fragment in some way.  Dividing into sub-groups for specific topics is a common way even if some of them are temporary, or another is a hard divide into 2 or more new communities.  Sadly there is one other that may initially appear as one of those avenues or goes directly to just not existing as it fades away with most participants just leaving in frustration until all that is left are rants of "The Cause, The Cause" and then even those depart out of exhaustion and/or boredom.  Having "The Cause" forced on a community can often be a trigger of such breakups and diminishing of the overall community if it doesn't block such forced attempts. 

There is a term for those forcing "The Cause" down others' throats.  While it started with a particular religious sub-group, Zealots is the perfect word for those whom are all zeal and imposing their excessive zealously on others.  So if you find someone pushing their "The Cause" too hard, tell them they are turning into a Zealot.  It didn't end all to well for the original Zealots, so it would be a good idea to tone things down some, to be more effective.  There is such as thing as too much of a good thing.  Water is a good thing we all need some of, but too much is called drowning.  We all need oxygen, but too leads to deadly flames like in the Apollo 1 disaster  

A fixation on "The Cause" is not unlike the draw of the One Ring in Lord of the Rings.  Where all the goodness one attempts to achieve is undone and corrupted by others leaching off of those good intentions

One ring to rule them all,
   one ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all
   and in the darkness bind them.

Forcing a good cause can still lead one to darkness, most commonly just changing the flavor of the darkness you were trying to change in the first place.  If you can't leave the breathing and healing places be, then you have become the darkness you were trying to defeat.


To Infinity... And Beyond

What do you call a belief system without a name? Especially when the followers of it don't even think of it as a belief system because they believe it is "the Truth". Well you just have to find one for it/them.

A common belief of the 'modern' world is that "Newer is Better" and "The Latest is the Greatest". A large hunk of the advertising we are bombarded with, is flogging the new thing to replace the old, often with a simple declaration that it is better just because it is newer. In the Information Technology business, we are constantly pushed to upgrade, such that it has become an endless hamster wheel of repeatedly patching and upgrading as more important than the reasons the systems were implemented for. Never a thought that we might find good enough or any equilibrium.

John Michael Greer articulates this very nicely in After Progress. Where Greer calls it the "Religion of Progress" which describes it nicely, but somehow that just doesn't sound right as a Name. Then it hit me, strait out of the cartoons, Buzz Lightyear's "To Infinity And Beyond!"
Looking ever forward, not at yesteryear, but off beyond the possible. Perfect as the axiom of that belief, to be used as an exclamation mark to what a point being said. It becomes a handy acronym of TIAB that can be said with the same tone as Christian's "amen". So the belief can be called TIABism, with followers being labeled TIABists or TIABers. But will they accept Buzz Lightyear as their patron saint? Messiah? The Buzz? Prime Buzz? or some other possibility.

Sayings and other attributes of TIABists
 - “It’s different this time,” as in That was then, this is now, it’s different this time, that’s history, we need to be thinking ahead of the times, not behind them: i.e. history is the past and we can safely ignore it rather than learn anything. Which just shows that TIABists are just dooming themselves to repeat history.
 - Luddite, used in the same ways that foreigner, goy, heathen, infidel, heretic, etc. are often used.
 - ageism: where any one or thing is of less value because of how old it is. A true TIABist does not collect antiques.

What else do you see as being a part of the TIABist faith?
                       Where else do they take it..  To Infinity... And Beyond?


Watching Crowdsourcing in action

Watching a Kickstarter project can be so entertaining when it is either something you are interested in, and/or one of those that does spectacularly.

The first Kickstarter I backed was one that I jumped in at zero minute and by the time I had finished, it was already hitting 300% funded. It went way beyond what the project creator expected or hoped for ending up at 8572% funded.
A current project at the time of this writing has been most spectacular and watching it has stretched my understanding of the tools to see the differing performances of top projects and I figured they'd be of interest to others.  The basic tools are:
- Kickstarter has some basic functions under its Discover button, with a few selection and sort options.
- Kicktraq has some real nice graphs to see the patterns and that they update hourly during running project. Great for digging into individual projects, especially while they are running.
- KickSpy has a wide range of filter and sort options for comparing projects.

A current project, a Playing Card game by a comic artist that I casually follow, is going big.
In its first hour it became the top "Most Funded Playing Cards (Games)". On the second day of the project it got on the default view (top 20 projects) for "Most funded Games" and on the 3rd day got on the default view for "Most Funded" and has been creeping up since.  It is fun checking and seeing the project as it moves up, sometimes just one spot, other times a refresh shows it jump a few spots.

 Comparing the daily data of the top projects with Kicktraq, I see that it is currently the second highest first day number of backers after "The Veronica Mars Movie Project", but for first 2 and 3 days it has the highest number of backers, and it is just motoring up the number of backers list. I wonder if it will surpass the current #1, Bring Reading Rainbow Back.

Having seen a few projects that went so far past their initial goals but as I dug in, the numbers get warped because there are quite a few projects with ultra low goals that got enough support that you get percentage funded hitting infinity.  On day three this project became the top percentage funded for projects with Goals over 500(any currency) and chasing down top for Goals over 150 which it passed as I assembled this post.

It will be interesting to see where this project ends up, and what other projects will catch my attention in the future.


Is every problem/challenge a nail to be hammered?

As the old saying goes, if the only tool you know is a hammer, then every challenge looks like a nail.  Some people go through the same thing as they grow their proficiency with a new tool, where they try to apply it to EVERYTHING. Just like hammering a window or your thumb is not a good thing, there are many silly applications of a new tool to some task. Just because you Can do something, doesn't mean you Should do that something.

Twitter is a tool going through that very process where people try to push it into all kinds of in appropriate situations. At this point in time(2013, only 7 years after its creation) it has certainly become old hat to the early adopters and has gained mainstream awareness, but is not in regular use or really understood by the majority.

This week I was ran into one of these pushing a tool way too far, a vendor run "Live roundtable discussion" with a video presentation of their higher end corporate IT systems, with questions to be tweeted. Now in a normal Webinar where you can post questions or vendor presentation, you can have a fair amount of anonymity. Usually the vendor knows who you are and where you are from, but how you identify yourself to other participants is up to you.  With using Twitter, you can't ask a question without very publicly revealing; A) A piece of your identity. B) Usually some indication of a challenge you are facing.  This raises a number of problems that mostly have security related concerns:
- Competition can now target you, can you say spam tweets.
- The bad guys doing any research on you as a target or looking to exploit certain vulnerabilities now know YOUR systems may have specific weaknesses they can attempt to exploit.
- If you happen to expose something covered in any None Disclosure Agreements you have signed, you are much more likely to have to suffer the consequences of that disclosure.
- You might not even be able to tweet from where you are, whether technical and/or policy reasons. i.e. blocked by something like WebSense, or in an organization using twitter is a fireable offense.

A long time definition of twitter is 'a short burst of inconsequential information,' or 'to talk in a quick and informal way about unimportant things' and that definition was what lead the creators of Twitter to use the term.  So perhaps that vendor just isn't that serious about their product and their customers.

A related rant against those who insist on one "thing" to rule them ALL that also shows a limit of twitter at the same time. Eviscerati on Writing focus

Some simple answers to the questions of any new technology at XKCD that are worth remembering when ever hearing a vendor pitch.

A great example of such inappropriate use of a technology is THE basis of Scott Stratten's  "QR Codes Kill Kittens"

None Disclosure Agreement (NDA).  A promise to not spread/blab what was heard at such an event outlined in a signed legal document. 


Bar wisdom can also be Vulcan logic

In Spider Robinson's Callahan series (1977+), we are often referred to "Callahan's Law" of  "Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased"
Ever since I came across that wisdom, I have tried to use it to help myself and others travel the challenges of life.  It was therefor a great pleasure to see Callahan's Law expressed as Vulcan logic. I wonder how many others have caught this logical evolution of the concept.

Sarek to Spock in Alan Dean Foster's Star Trek(2009)
"It is true that logic is often its own reward -- but it is a reward best shared with others. That which is beautiful is magnified by being shared with others. That which is painful is often moderated by being shared. Both approaches are equally logical"


The magic button — Make Everything OK

The magic button — Make Everything OK
The sad thing is that there are way too many people who think that such magic actually exists and therefor they don't have to do the hard work needed to reach their goals.  sigh.  but still fun to push.


Modern Togetherness

A couple, each working on their own things in the same small room, with music on headphones to tune out the distracting environmental sounds, staying in touch with instant messaging, even though they could just turn to touch the other (they do some of that too :).