[Foundation-l] Why is it...

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Thu Apr 26 18:32:17 UTC 2007

Delphine Ménard wrote:

>... that every time community input is asked on a subject by a board
>member, little to none is given?
>And why is it that every time the same things that were put up for
>discussion are said "approved' or "official" suddenly everyone finds
>something to say?
>Shouldn't it be the other around?
Welcome to Franz Kafka's real world!

I often find that it's my most imaginative ideas that are ignored.  When 
I read the messages of others it's easy when I can respond with a 
one-liner, but when someone like Anthere produces one of her most 
thoughtful comments to which I really want to reply I find myself 
paralyzed in contemplation with wanting to respond in a way that is just 
as thoughtful.  The result is that much of what I want to say remains 
unsaid.  Her comments to start the tread on "Governance" is a good 
example of that.

In Boston you commented to me quite rightly that you find some of my 
posts interesting, but tending to come too late in the thread.  I often 
wonder whether there is any cure for that.  I completely avoid IRC, 
because by the time that I would be ready to make a thoughtful response 
everyone else would have moved on to a different topic. As my teenage 
son, who manages several chat room conversations at the same time says, 
"Dad, you think too much."

Others who have responded to your request are quick to  prescribe a set 
of steps or rules to deal with the problem.  I don't think any of them 
will work, because we are dealing with a fundamental problem of human 
nature.  This is compounded by the very real problem of information 
overload.  That problem forces us to choose between alternative 
applications of our time, because it would be physically impossible to 
deal with all the demands. 

There is no easily apparent result when one is asked to express their 
ideas in a broadly visionary way.  Learning to vision is just not a part 
of our upbringing.  I can easily imagine Jimbo in January of 2001 
telling people about his plans for an encyclopedia, and receiving 
comments akin to Bill Cosby's "Riight! How long can tread water?"  On 
the oher hand, when an apparently complete proposal is presented there 
is a near immediate response to specific criticism, and even an outright 
rejection can be satisfying if it comes immediately.  It ties in with a 
broader need for instant gratification.  Look at the energy that is 
often expended on deleting a tiny stub of an article with questionable 
notability.  This absolutely ignorable backwater of the database becomes 
important by virtue of the emphasis on its unimportance.  Nature's 
efficiencies include a tolerance for the useless.  One can only wonder 
what would happen if the question of whether men should retain their 
nipples were put through one of our democratic processes.

I think that we have a lot of broader social trends that come into play 
here than most people are not even willing to imagine.  I do not use the 
term paradigm shift lightly, but I do see us stuvk in one where it is 
easy to sympathize with the offspring of the Grand Inquisitor who would 
do whatever it takes to preserve a comfortable established order.

As we grow up we enclose and trap ourselves in a net of preconceptions.  
Democratic structures require a balance between diligence and trust 
before they can become fully effective.  Trust also requires us to 
Assume Good Faith, and that's difficult to do when one is afraid of 
losing everything he doesn't have.  It's so much easier to flounder 
about in Dante's fourth circle.

Thank you Delphine for providing me with an opportunity to rant. ;-)


More information about the foundation-l mailing list