21 January 2007

Drafting a Third Urban Camping Motto

My friend Hikmet said,
"hey jen, like the tv series that change direction in style and content after a certain point, your blog seems no longer to be very much about urban camping or the philosophy behind it. keep it up anyway."
For me, the blog is still about urban camping. My experience this year is to host urban campers through the CouchSurfing Project.

I am working on my third urban camping motto, which has something to do with open sourcing.

Open Sourcing

Still resonating with me from last year's road trip is the memory of slipping in and out of environmental contexts and how that experience shakes me loose from old perspectives, forcing me to take a different look.

I recognize this again with the couchsurfers. My routine or life pattern is sliced open by complete strangers coming into my life (based on a reputation/recommendation interface).

The ideas we discuss under my roof stay with me long after the couchsurfers leave. These conversations are a unique mix of the foreign and the familiar.

On the one hand, a home environment has metaphorical and universal qualities of trust, safety and comfort. It is a place where thoughts on life flow easily.

On the other hand, we have no shared history together. There is no past to predict whether we are of the same 'tribe.' We do not know if we share the same 'niche.'

I have to pay a special kind of attention to a person when I have had no previous chance to make sense of him or her.

Making Sense

We make sense by forming patterns, grouping similar things together and crafting labels. But, apart from their online profiles, I have no idea where these couchsurfers are coming from, where to put them.

We find ourselves discussing all sorts of life topics such as careers, relationships, families, politics, religions, movies and music. Everything is coming from everywhere and is connected to nothing.

I think open sourcing provides solutions by cracking open perspectives. All of us are having an experience with our environment and we are all attempting to make sense of it, to mediate it.

While it is very satisfying to find 'my people,' those who mediate the experience in a similar way, my experience tells me that it is also very satisfying to browse outside my niche.

We all form patterns of sense-making. Each pattern is one attempt to fit all the pieces together into a unified theory. We operate under these models. We must.

Perspective Test

Open sourcing forces our patterns to collide, shakes them loose. We see that we are allowed to graft other variables into our theories about how the world works.

I have a new job. When I met the CEO, he asked me why I kept setting out on new study programs. I told him that I was interested in different viewpoints.

He told me to come back to him with my observations of the company within three to six months. Any longer than that and, he said, I would be engulfed in the culture, unable to notice anything.

The back of Thomas De Zengotita's book asks,
"Surrounded by an increasingly pervasive, powerful deluge of media representations, could we be losing our access to 'natural' or original thoughts, feelings, and experiences?"
At the moment, frequently changing my environmental context is the only way I know of to maintain life choices about things, issues and people that speak to me personally.

Besides this type of open sourcing experience, I know of no other way to discover the perspectives, values, delights, definitions, possessions, relationships that speak to me in an individual way.

I think I find uniquely useful and beautiful elements for my life model by the continual contrast that open sourcing provides.

Which is Which

So, I would really like to hear other people's ideas. Maybe you will leave a comment on the blog?

How do you recognize the things you chose to be in your life because they made sense to you in a unique individual way?

How satisfying is it to have fake fruit in our house? Why do presidents have speech writers? One is a representation of something desirable. The other is designing an experience for us.

How do you recognize the things that are a part of your life because you are engulfed in a context? How do you know when things are speaking to you because someone has designed them to speak to you, to represent something desirable?

This is an open source question. How do you know which things in your life are which?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jen!

I do recognize that certain influences in our daily environment are set up to some kind of effect on us. Probably anything in the public area where someone got money for pursues this general function - affecting people's observations and, possibly attitudes. However, my personal experience predominantly shows a different picture, in which my predisposition as I leave my house is the biggest determining factor of my perception.

I am very goal oriented, and the intensity of this goal-oriented mind set influences the likeliness of public messages to have the intended effect on me.

So only if a message concords somehow with how I feel, does it stand a chance of breaking through and inlfuencing me.


Thursday, 01 February, 2007  

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