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  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 15:10:05 on 2015/03/13 Permalink
    Tags: , , , choose, , , , , irresponsible, , , , , , respond, response, responsibility, responsible, , ,   

    Responsibility to Life 

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    I have many friends — and although I have never met up with the vast majority “face to face”, I nonetheless cherish when they motivate me to think about something long and hard.

    Recently, several things came together in a way that I wish to firstly acknowledge, and also expand upon.

    The first was a blog post by Drew Lepp: “Don’t Overthink It: Why it’s OK to Trust Your Intuition“. Her thoughtful pieces go beyond what is considered web design, user experience, etc. — in this case she also mentioned Barry Schwartz (and I wish to come back to this point in a moment).

    The second was a question raised by Jean Russell on Facebook, and I quote it in full here:

    Questions: to what degree am I responsible for what happens to me? To what degree am I responsible for how I chose to experience it, And the story I tell about it? To what degree am I responsible for what someone else experiences? To what degree am I responsible for how they think and feel about that experience (and their story about it)? And finally, to what degree am I responsible for the society I live in, the patterns it creates, the history it has, and the future it is creating?

    We may not agree on our answers to these questions.

    The third thing actually goes back many months — I came across a blog post by Elizabeth Young which I enjoyed so much that I wanted to learn more… and then I discovered “The Possible Podcast” — which I have been listening to off and on, and I just listened to episode #7: “BE RESPONSIBLE – Always put God first“. To cut to the chase (and yet I also wish to implore you to listen to the quite succinct full discussion — it’s less than 9 minutes, and also less than 9 MB in total): the advice concerning responsibility concerns the way we respond in any given moment, in any given situation.

    This brings me back to Barry Schwartz, who gave a TED Talk almost 10 years ago that also spoke directly to these “responsibility” issues so many people today are concerned about (note that he has also written about many of these issues — see also his website at Swathmore University): “The Paradox of Choice” (the point he makes is about 3 and a half or 4 minutes into this presentation, when he says “Doc, what should I do?”).

    I find Elizabeth Young’s advice is very apropos to a situation in which life demands of us to answer. Barry Schwartz’s research addresses the question of “what if we ourselves are unable to answer (adequately, sufficiently, etc.)?” I, though, have yet another question I want to answer (but at the moment still feel quite clueless about): What if life does not pose any questions at all, but you nonetheless see a way to “respond” — or to simply improve it?

    This is a very real situation for me: Today, virtually no one asks “how can I find X?” … even though the methods most people use to find answers to questions are very antiquated. No one is expecting a response, or a solution or anything like that — to a question they do not have. Most people feel as certain today about the order of the universe as most people did hundreds of years ago when Copernicus and Galileo argued that the universe could be better understood from a different perspective. Copernicus and Galileo were offering solutions to problems these people didn’t feel they had.

    Listening to the podcast that Elizabeth Young and Dr. Phil D. Mayers collaborated on, I sense that the way I address the issue of illiteracy still needs to be optimized — insofar as the literacy rate is nowhere near high (I would say the rate of illiteracy [i.e., literacy/illiteracy in the sense of what used to be called “media literacy”] is somewhere around 99%). When no one is asking a question, how do you respond?

  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 13:14:09 on 2015/01/24 Permalink
    Tags: , broadcast, broadcasting, , choose, , , , , , , , , , narrowcast, narrowcasting, online engagement, participate,   

    Engagement is Beautiful 

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    One thing many people often forget is that engagement does not describe a status so much as it describes an activity.

    People who are familiar with my thinking — and even moreso the thinking of the giants I sometimes attempt to jump up on their backs — may recognize the similarity of this post’s title with the title of a collection of essays by E. F. Schumacher (namely “Small is Beautiful”). Ideally, this book would be required reading for anyone with the ability to read at the level of college freshman. But I digress….

    Engagement is not merely a matter of choosing a ring, making promises and exchanging a kiss. First and foremost, to engage is to participate… and even beyond mere participation, it is a binding commitment and a recognition of an inseparable interconnection… that our lives are intertwined, some might even say something like interdependent.

    It doesn’t need a ring.  It need not leave a trace. It is here and now, but not necessarily manifest “in real life”. It is both visible and also invisible at one and the same time.

    Yet in this moment I wish to leave philosophy aside a little, and focus instead on a very commonplace kind of engagement, something more mundane, so common that is might even be considered downright vulgar… — at least in some communities.

    In literate society, there is something known as “online” — and also “online engagement”. Online is the presence of someone’s attention within the sphere known as the world-wide web. Online engagement is their active participation in the online space.

    Up until now, online engagement has been assumed to result in some manifestation, some kind of virtual media trail in cyberspace that roughly corresponds to what is commonly referred to as a “paper trail” in paper-space. This might be a media file, or it might be just a couple bits that get passed along as the result of a click, a swipe, the press of a button, the movement of a smartphone through the ether of the physical “real world”, etc. As you might be able to guess from what I have written above, I want to change that.

    My concept of online engagement is more on a cognitive level: It is at the level of caring. I do not restrict the notion of engagement to such statements as “I did not engage in any sexual activity with X”. The way I see it, simply caring about X is already an act of engagement… — engagement is possible even if no bits are involved.

    This is so because I view engagement in a way quite similar to the way people think about being able to speak a language. To be fluent in a language does not require that the speaker constantly speak all of the words in that language (indeed, this seems more like a nonsensical construct — it is not even possible to speak [or even think of] more than one word at a time). Yet we do realize that there are people who can speak a language… and that means they can express their ideas with words at a level that is appropriate in any given situation (and that they can also understand the meanings of other people’s expressions in a similar manner). Therefore, when people choose to express some ideas, they also choose not to express other ideas. This vacuum, null and void of any “data bits”, is nonetheless a choice of engagement in X and also an act of avoiding something that might be referred to as “not X”. Disengagement, however, is something else… — more like disinterest, disentanglement, indifference, independence and so on.

    I want to sum this up and come to a preliminary close. We can choose to engage online — sometimes more, sometimes less. We will participate in some things in some ways, and we will not participate in other things at all. We cannot participate in everything, everywhere, all the time. If we engage in a thousand different things, then our level of engagement will be relatively thin across all of those things. If we choose to engage in only 10 things, then our narrow focus may be parochial. That said, there are so far no clear measures of engagement.

  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 15:03:40 on 2014/12/21 Permalink
    Tags: binary, , choices, choose, , , decide, decision, decisions, , , , , , , , , organization, organizations, , , ultimatum,   

    Your Money or Your Life 

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    Oftentimes, when I tell people that I don’t vote for (or against) politicians or political parties, they act as though this meant I weren’t a “free person”… or as if I were giving up some of my democratic freedoms.

    Quite the contrary: I choose not to vote for people involved in these organizations. At the same time, I engage very much in promoting other organizations.

    In my opinion, when people think that their freedom is exercised by voting in political elections, then they are actually limiting their own freedom to choosing nothing more than left or right, yes or no,… — indeed: a very limited number of choices (basically, it usually boils down to an “either / or” choice — much like when being held up at gunpoint and being given these two options: “your money or or life?”).

    Since I know many words, I can compose a vast number — perhaps even an infinite amount — of choices. I am not limited to simply grunting “yea” or “nea”, to banging on the ground with a club, or anything like that.

  • Profile photo of feedwordpress

    feedwordpress 14:25:03 on 2013/10/05 Permalink
    Tags: , choose, , , , , exclusivity, , , inclusive, inclusivity, , indivual, , , , , ,   

    Imagine only two worlds — one is private, the other is shared 

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    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

    If you had to choose between two worlds — one in which everyone exclusively followed their own dreams, the other in which everyone only followed shared dreams — which one would you choose? … and why?

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