Fwd: Key targets for 2010
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- Une rÃ©flexion de David Wood (Extrobritannia) sur l'organisation de leur rÃ©seau qui me paraÃ®t intÃ©ressante Ã mÃ©diter :
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "David Wood" <davidw@...> wrote:
[Aside] I'm in the process of reading "The Art of Community: building the new age of participation", by Jono Bacon. The author works for Canonical as the community manager for Ubuntu, the popular open source operating system based on the Debian Linux distribution. The book, therefore, has a lot of advice for people building communities of software developers. But a large part of the content is highly applicable to other sorts of open communities too - such as the various H+ communities.
The entire book is available online via http://www.artofcommunityonline.org/
The author is very clear (and persuasive) that successful communities benefit from having good mission statements (or something equivalent). Here's a few things he says about mission statements:
"A mission statement holds a lot of value for any kind of collaborative project, be it a commercial product or a volunteer community. These statements emphasize the promise, opportunity, and definition of what your community is seeking to achieve. Their purpose is to articulate ambition with a detailed, succinct, and elegant approach. Mission statements help get everyone in your
community on the same page."
"Mission statements are intended to be consistent and should rarely change, even if the tasks that achieve that mission change regularly. When building your mission statement, always have its longevity in mind. Remember, your mission statement is your slam-dunking, audacious goal. For many communities these missions can take decades or even longer to achieve. Their purpose is to not only describe the finish line, but to help the community stay on track."
"Many of us are more than familiar with mission statements. They are one of the first documents we see when we join a new company. Unfortunately, staff members typically ignore them. These statements are usually written by senior management and often bear no day-to-day resemblance to the work done by the folks on the ground. Donât use these often-pointless examples as a reason to consider mission statements irrelevant: these companies are simply doing it wrong. The mission needs to be at the forefront of every memberâs mind, and should be a regular driving force that is the justification behind the day-to-day work."
"In [the book] 'Organizational Vision, Values and Mission', Cynthia D. Scott et al. describe this perfectly: 'A mission evokes a personal response. Work on it until it gets to be so clear that reminding yourself of it will keep you, on a really bad day, from walking out and quitting.' Is your mission going to stop you from quitting when the world has climbed onto your shoulders? One day this is going to happen, and you need to be able to look at your mission statement and have 'a moment.'"
"Although there are no fixed guidelines for the size of a mission statement, keep it detailed yet concise. If you exceed 300 words, you may be babbling a little too much..."
[End of aside]
Do H+ movements have a good mission statement?
The banner at the top of http://www.humanityplus.org/ states:
"Humanity+ is dedicated to promoting understanding, interest and participation in fields of emerging innovation that can radically benefit the human condition"
There's some good text, too, on the front page of http://www.uktranshumanistassociation.org/ -
"Today, there are so many anti-progress groups, especially in the area of science and scientific research... The UK Transhumanist Association is here to restore the balance and promote the benefits of Progress and advanced scientific research. We are a voluntary organisation, whose aim is to raise awareness of issues relating to the creation of a better future for everyone... We want to promote sensible, balanced discussion and policy-making in issues that will affect people's lives in the near future, issues that up to now have been dominated by hysteria and scare-mongering, issues that we cannot afford to have decided by ignorance and fear."
Taking my cue from Jono Bacon, I'd like to consider a single sentence mission statement, which includes (in effect) a call to action, and specifies a clear intended outcome.
I see the fundamental task of UKH+ / Extrobritannia as to drive a change of mindset. So I propose the following mission statement:
"Change both private and public mindsets to enable and champion the thoughtful development and timely deployment of technological solutions that radically enhance human capabilities and comprehensively address pressing social issues".
The kind of changes in mindset that are required include:
a.) rather than decrying technology as 'just a technical fix', people must be willing to embrace the new resources and opportunities that these technologies make available;
b.) rather than seeking to somehow reverse human lifestyle and aspiration to that of a 'simpler' time, people must recognise and support the deep and valid interests in human enhancements;
c.) rather than thinking of death and decay as something that gives meaning to life, people must recognise that life reaches its fullest meaning and value in the absence of these scourges;
d.) rather than seeing the status quo as somehow the pinnacle of existence, people must recognise the deep drawbacks in current society and philosophies, and be prepared to move forwards;
e.) rather than seeing 'natural' as somehow akin to 'the best imaginable', people must be prepared to engineer solutions that are 'better than natural';
f.) rather than seeking to limit expectations, with comments such as 'this kind of enhancements might become possible in 100-200 years time', people should recognise the profound possible synergies arising from the interplay of technologies that are individually accelerating and whose compound impact can be much larger.
[end of second aside]
All of this leads me to ask: what can we realistically aspire to achieve, as supporters of H+ ideals, in 2010? A good mission statement should help to suggest a series of activities worth doing.
On reflection, I think the thing that would provide the best value is something that is, in its own way, quite simple. It's an online live register of potential UKH+ projects. Anyone in the community should be able to propose these projects, and get involved in discussing them. The idea is that each project on the list would end up with having a clear statement of "what it would accomplish" and "skills and resources needed for this project". People interested in assisting H+ could then look through the list, and start to throw some of their energy in support of one or more projects on the list. Periodically, there would be updates and reports on how each project was doing.
Possibly, this list of potential projects could take the form of an "ideagora". An ideagora supports proposals of ideas, discussions of ideas, and ongoing voting on the merits of ideas.
To summarise, I'm suggesting that we aim to put in place this kind of online project registration database (or ideagora, or whatever) within the next few months, and then (hopefully) see a flowering of actual progress on some of these projects throughout 2010. That would be a nice step forward from what we've accomplished in 2009.
// David W.
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