Does anyone out there remember PlaNetwork? It was a fabulously geeky conference that had a good run back a few years ago now. I loved its combination of high geekery and values-based idealism. I remember meeting someone through pre-event communications that I collaborated with to build a beautiful altar/centerpiece in the middle of the conference room, and dancing afterwards to music I'd never heard before under a projected screen of Electric Sheep images. It was that kind of "happening". Definitely a bit "hippie" and not slick by any means, but deeply sophisticated on many levels, not least technologically, and extremely satsifying.
There's another event that has sprung up in the San Francisco bay area in the last couple of years called Wisdom 2.0, and I've been watching it with great anticipation.
I was with my love-money Steve and pest-son Lee down by the bay photographing it, of course! (Lee is a logophile like his father and I - and his "other mother" Liz - and he chose this cheeky anagrammatical name for our relationship many years ago)
This first shot was taken after the moon was already high in the sky and it was beginning to get dark out, so there's greater contrast than in most of the earlier shots you can see in the gallery sequence below.
"Developing" the shoot at home the next day, I was struck by this photo of Lee photgraphing an earlier view of the moon through his iPhone... in particular I was intrigued by the way the light of his screen seemed to mirror the luminescence of the moon. It was almost like he had a little moon in his hands!
I learned something new from him about iPhone photography that night when he turned me on to an app called Photosynth, which lets you take seamless panoramic shots on your iPhone in one go. I'm more and more intrigued by the possibilties offered by this easy-to-access medium since reading Al Smith's eyePhone in David du Chemin's excellent Craft & Vision e-book series.
[Advance warning: this post is not what people are used to reading on the Beauty Dialogues... perhaps I should have a new category called "bad mood" to announce any such diversions in the future! :-) It caused three people to unsubscribe immediately, and one of my best friends to say he was "shocked" to read it. Even my husband says I may have gone overboard here. I apologize for any discomfort, dear reader. I'll change a word or two and leave it up though, because I figure if there is no shadow, light loses meaning. I hope you will indulge me and keep your fingers away from the unsubscribe button]
Frankly, I'm sorry to see a resurrection of that bane of web developers everywhere - the Microsoft Explorer browser. I can't tell you how many hours I've spent trying to make a great site look right on it.
But in spite of my historical bias, I'm intrigued by their newest ad for Explorer 9, offering a "more beautiful web". Maybe they HAVE learned something from Apple after all these years - if only the power of collaborating with creative artists (kudos to filmaker Keith Rivers and musician Alex Clare who made their new commercial) and the aesthetics of beautiful advertising.
Unfortunately, Microsoft still does not really play well with others [I've since learned that this version of Explorer is one of the most web-standard-compliant browsers out there, so maybe this was a little harsh]. They're keeping their newest toy to themselves (and Macs running Windows). Apple's own clearly propriatery approach is only marginally better, but at least PC users can download iTunes and Safari.
I only hope that both Apple and Microsoft (and now Google) eventually wake up to embrace a deeper level of beauty and start thinking about what's good for everyone and not just their own kingdoms of commerce. Imagine a culture of collaboration that could replace the competetive status quo - now THAT would truly contribute to a more beautiful web. It might even contribute to a better world, which would be something worth advertising.
I've re-discovered WordPress and fallen in love with it.
We dated back in the mid-90s for a while when it was a sexy but high maintanence option, and I ultimately decided to go with the security and stability of TypePad, who I've been married to now for many years. We've been quite happy (Beauty Dialogues is built on the TypePad blog engine), but I have to confess that lately I've been thinking about leaving...
My newer sites are all going up in WordPress and I'm excited by the visual range and incredible functionality it offers. Even sexier after all these years, WordPress is challenging me to learn more and be a better designer and coder. If it weren't for the children - my clients - I'd probably be gone already, but TypePad makes things very easy for the casual user and I don't want anyone else to suffer for my pleasure.
The truth is I do still love TypePad. It does many things simply and easily (color and font changes, image sizing, borders, margins, etc.) that can take complicated coaxing out of WordPress. All kinds of functionality (like great SEO - search engine optimization) that require bandwidth-hogging plug-ins in WordPress is automatically built into TypePad. And it's a well-known, admitted, fact that WordPress' image-handling process sucks.
But WordPress is working on these things and it's still growing and improving daily, whereas I'm afraid TypePad doesn't really seem to care much anymore. The TypePad affiliate program has never worked for me and the joy of being a TypePad user has diminished greatly ever since Say Media bought the parent company Six Apart from founders Ben and Mena Trott a couple of years ago now.
Hey. People change. Things move on. But I'm the loyal type and have a lot invested in TypePad, including a whole lot of children to care for and consider.
Ah, but WordPress... I can't resist your lure. Maybe polyamory is a better fit for me anyway.
With all that's been going on lately I forgot to mention that a paper I co-wrote with the crazy and wonderful Adriano Pianesi was published in the March edition of Systems Thinker: "The Art of Online Hosting" (Download Onlinehosting).
I think I've mentioned that I have a fabulous women's group that meets in a sheltering cave in a mountain in Second Life. Every Thursday morning the five of us sit in circle and share the deeper levels of what's up for us.
In my case last week it was the final stretch of a long preparation period for the first event in the "Conversation for the 21st Century" series. This (material taken from our transcripts) is what I found myself musing upon:
These last few weeks have been so crazy that I am being forced to face how dysfunctional it is being this stressed. I am behaving in ways that do not serve me or anyone, even if I am getting a lot done. My impatience can be terrible. I'm not nice. ... well, not as nice as I can be anyway :-)
And it's ironic, because truly I think that's one of the most important things I could ever do; just be kind. Listen. To what people have to say, yes certainly, but perhaps more importantly to the stillness that is behind the words.
I have been realizing and valuing how important it is to be calm and clear and strong and unstressed, especially in these times when life seems to be moving faster and faster for all of us…
(William Yeats expressed the phenomenon so beautifully in his poem about modernism, Second Coming:
"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold ..."
Those of us who can be the strong "anchor" or center points that CAN hold during these times are increasingly valuable. Sometimes I wonder if there is a role we're preparing for that none of us may even see clearly yet, but will turn out to be of far more importance than anything we could ever "do".
As of right now, there are over 500 people registered for the event I'm hosting tomorrow!! To me, that represents a responsibility as well as an opportunity...
To prepare for it - in the day I have between now and then - I'm looking for ways to create a sense of spaciousness for myself so that the experience of awareness and presence can enter my voice tomorrow and call it from others throughout the room.
As it turned out, it's a good thing I did...
The event was just wonderful - we had the most amazing conversation starters who conveyed real depth and wisdom about the subject (community), and the 200+ people who showed up to engage each other in conversation lept to it immediately as a shoal of flashing fish to water. Everything in the first hour and a half was all I could have hoped for ... and then... we had a massive breakdown in technology.
I've been using this software since November of 2009 and never seen anything like this happen before, but Tom Foolery was up to his April Fool's Day tricks during the last round of conversation when the 60-some small group conversations began to bleed into each other, causing people to hear others who were not in the room with them. Imagine how confusing that would be if your only sense perception was auditory!
It was definitely a test of equilibrium for me and my co-host Ben Roberts, as we managed to bring the situation back to center by muting everyone and trying to explain what was happening when we had no idea ourselves.
Luckilly they had been able to talk for 15 of the 20 minutes in that final round, but it was disconcerting nonetheless, and I really needed all my patience and presence of mind to keep the container of wonderful energy we had built up until then intact.
One of the things I drew heavily upon to do that was the positive intent in the room. Everyone there wanted to keep the energy alive and moving, too, so together we weathered the bumpy patch and moved into a wonderful harvest with full participation, and the rest of the event went smoothly.
These are the times we are preparing for.
May we all live into them fully, and be kind to ourselves and each other as we weather the bumpy patches.
I found this recently and liked it so much I put it on the front page of my Clear Light Communications website.
"Inability to accept the mystic experience is more than an intellectual handicap.
Lack of awareness of the basic unity of organism and environment is a serious and dangerous hallucination. For in a civilization equipped with immense technological power, the sense of alienation between man and nature leads to the use of technology in a hostile spirit - to the "conquest" of nature instead of intelligent co-operation with nature."
Sneak Preview: I just finished the website for a new business I'm starting in association with the World Cafe and my partner Ben Roberts. It's called weDialogue and it's a virtual event hosting and consulting service with the capacity to engage up to 2,000 people at a time. As part of our offical launch early next year we're planning to host a series of free public World Cafe conversations on key 21C issues. Look for an announcement of dates, topics and our "conversation starters" (thanks to Heartland Circle for this term) soon.
Ben and I have already been hosting some fabulous weDialogue online events - yesterday we hosted a FourYearsGo training session with Lynne Twist, and a few weeks ago I had the priviledge of supporting a call for President Obama and one of his regional consituencies. This work builds on the sucessful online World Cafes I've been hosting for the last 2-3 years, and I'm excited to see where it will go.
Last night I spent a few hours obsessing over a Wordle for the front page of the weDialogue website. Here are a few of the candidates I considered (you'll have to go to the website to see the winner - hurry because the way this is going it will probably change again before too long!):
One of the things I and the people I hang out with in Second Life love to do most there is dance... this excellent video made by Second Life machinima artist Tutsy Navarantha shows why (and to one of my favorite songs - Mast Mast Dam Mast by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) .
Maybe it will be the catalyst for you to take the plunge and explore Second Life ... Come on, you know you want to. :-)