New Civilization News: New Civilization Network, 10 years    
 New Civilization Network, 10 years18 comments
picture 13 Mar 2005 @ 03:02, by Flemming Funch

Today is the 10 year birthday of the New Civilization Network.

I suppose it is an impressive longevity for an online community. But I don't think I would have been surprised back then to know it would last more than 10 years. I would maybe be surprised to learn that it didn't really turn out as I imagined it. Then again, few things do. Groups of people tend to take on a life of their own.

Anyway, I hadn't really thought it through very much. I had identified some principles which I thought were key to growing a new kind of civilization from the bottom up. Oh, and they're still good. But I was probably greatly underestimating the amount of organization and effort that would be needed to do such a crazy and ambitious thing. And I failed to release a magical viral catalyst that would make it all just sort of organize itself.

Since sometime in 1994 I was running a mailing list called "Whole Systems", which was about systems thinking from a big picture perspective. It was a very active and stimulating place. But mostly people were talking and sharing ideas. So, I wanted to build something out of it that was more action oriented. So, all I really did was that a posted a message stating that intent. Which apparently hit a nerve, and it spread around quickly. So, within the week 100 people had joined. What exactly it was they had joined wasn't clear, but they were ready and inspired.

My vision was along the lines of a network of teams working on different important problems that needed to be solved to build a better civilization. A teamnet of self-selected teams who shared information and results. I imagined it as something that would self-organize and transform itself along the way. Nothing terribly wrong with that, other than that it isn't easy to start off like that. One can't just decree that that's how it is, even though I tried.

A sizable number of smart and inspiring people were attracted to that very loose vision, though. A veritable who's who of activists, explorers, visionaries, futurists, artists, inventors, leaders of organizations, etc. Just like I hoped for. That didn't mean that they knew how to work together, though. I had from an early point on asked people to fill in a myers-briggs type profile when they joined. Which showed that about half of these folks were visionary idealists. As compared with something like 3 percent in the general population. Which made it all very inspiring, but not particularly coherent or practical. Particularly when it turned out that many idealists really don't get along with each other, as they might have very strong, but conflicting, ideas about what needs to be done.

A vision of a new civilization is maybe inspiring, but vague. One can put all sorts of things under that heading. And I thought that was a feature rather than a flaw. I still do, in many ways. But it also means that people show up, and then find that they don't at all agree on the details. In principle that shouldn't matter, as the idea was that those folks who shared a specific aim or a specific approach would simply get together and do it that way, and if some other group wanted to do it differently, they'd just go do that. No need for everybody to agree on everything. A civilization isn't built out of uniform agreement on what it is. It is a collage of a diversity of currents that somehow get woven together.

But we're so used to living inside of organizations that share a coherent set of norms. So it turned out that some sorts of people simply wouldn't coexist with others. Like, the scientists just had no patience for having their project mentioned in the same listing as somebody working on astrology or healing or something. So, people would leave, or get into fights.

And, now, the idea was that these various teams would just pick their own mission and go to work. But most people didn't quite know how to do that, or they were sort of waiting for the master plan to be formed. And since I was the guy who started the thing, they were increasingly looking to me to come up with the plan. I was quite caught by surprise by that, as it hadn't at all been my intention to be some kind of leader who was calling the shots. On the contrary, I preferred being relatively invisible, and giving focus to the good things others were doing. That's of course all half impossible. How does one lead a new activity while being invisible. How does one organize a self-organizing network that will change the world. How does one best service a leaderless group that doesn't yet know what exactly to do.

The most vibrant period of time was probably while I regularly sent out various regular newsletters to the whole membership, with content aggregated from what people sent to me. Various news items, project updates, visions, and more. And each month I sent out the list of new members and what they said about themselves in their profiles. Which was always inspiring and illuminating, to see the diversity of activities and perspectives people were engaged in. All of it sort of created a shared atmosphere of constructive progress and sharing and networking. It also tied into various face-to-face activities, as people would meet, arrange events, etc. Like, the series of New Civilization Salons I organized in L.A. for years were consistently a great success. Typically around 100 folks at a time, and a combination of a networking event where everybody introduces themselves, and a party, with show and tell, performances, poetry, drumming, etc.

Oh, and a number of great projects almost happened along the way. Various ventures, plans, projects, activities. For a while it looked like some major funding would be available, and a group started constructing a framework for a New Civilization Foundation that would implement many projects.

Anyway, gradually, from a mixture of lack of tangible results, and bickering about details, most of the more prominent members that really were the target group, the ones passionately engaged in groundbreaking projects, drifted away along the way, as they didn't really have time for arguing about anything, as they had things to do.

Again, lots of stories to tell along the way, and various transformations, but still a continous flow of thousands of new members. Until, today, well, NCN is a website, with an assortment of community features. Weblogs, workgroups, chat rooms, etc. And it is a nice group of people who can be found there on a daily basis. Mostly to communicate and pursue their various interests, and to explore some of the dynamics that happen between people. It isn't to any great extent any network of teams building a new civilization. It is maybe a microcosm of some of the issues involved in building one. Which is all probably good, and I can't really complain about what it is. I sort of have to respect the path it takes. Which of course has a good deal to do with what I put on the website, and how I laid out the interactive features in the member area.

I have sort of shifted around between different views of it. Whether I should be happy or disappointed. Whether I should do it differently, whether I should just leave it alone. Whether I should take a lead again in trying to make it what it originally was meant to be. Or whether I should better support what it is today.

I don't really know. But, regardless, happy birthday, NCN! The future is still ahead of us.

[< Back] [New Civilization News]



13 Mar 2005 @ 11:01 by swanny : Happy Birthday New Civ!!!!

13 Mar 2005 @ 11:37 by jstarrs : Joyeuse...
...anniversaire et bravo!!!  

13 Mar 2005 @ 13:45 by gea : Happy Birthday!

13 Mar 2005 @ 16:10 by martha : Happy Natal day
and many more to come.  

13 Mar 2005 @ 17:54 by vaxen : Well,
grounding a lightning bolt isn't always that easy and there is a lot to be said for zero point. As far as leaderless anythings go? Check out good old "Teegeeack" where the 'real Government' is totally invisible and off planet (sector 0). Hope your day to day is doing justice for you and all your many ideasm ideals, and aims and that you are happy, eating enough, and have a nice place to live in. On line 'communities, to me, are rather an oxymoron. ;) Yom Holedet Sameach.  

13 Mar 2005 @ 21:37 by bkodish : You have done a good thing, Ming!
Much thanks for all of your dedicated work in bringing and keeping the NCN to where it is today. I know that others have been involved too. But I don't think it could have happened without you.  

13 Mar 2005 @ 23:08 by fleer : Congratulations
I still find the New civilisations creed inspiring. Well, I´ve been a member since ´97 and got here through the Celestine-l mailinglist. I can recall that I found this site at my local library. I would be nice to see some action being taken to bring New Civilisation network in a clearer way, but currently I am occupied and have only a limited amount of time.

Another suggestion I have is about the recent donation request in the member area. Maybe you could make it public, because I have a hunch that some non-members perhaps could contribute a little. Also how much money was raised ? I do hope enough was donated to keep NCN online.

Thanks again. >:)  

14 Mar 2005 @ 00:26 by ming : Donations
Well, it could be structured more formally as a non-profit organization, which can receive tax deductible donations, and which needs to present proper accounting, and have procedures for electing officers. I originally was against that, so as to not be put under the authority of the U.S. tax department. But later I sort of changed by mind that it could be a way of doing it, but didn't get around to the actual paperwork.

The recent fund raising drive raised about $700, and a number of people committed to a monthly subscription. That is excellent. Monthly server costs are around $100. So that keeps things going for a while.  

14 Mar 2005 @ 11:38 by ming : Non-profit
Yeah, it kind of only makes sense with a non-profit when there are more people involved, so it is more of a group thing. So that takes a bit of thought. Like, it has to be more clear what its aims are and what it is doing. Last time I was just about to get the non-profit thing going, several years ago, my thought was that the non-profit would be active in gathering and cultivating new civilization principles, writing, projects, etc. I.e. there would be a board that would keep a certain focus. And NCN, as the online network, would be simply one of the projects, which is more free-flowing and unstructured. But there would be a number of sticky things to sort out, and it would change things in a somewhat different direction. And, well, the energy sort of needs to be right for it. So I'm not sure now is particularly a good time.

There are divided opinions about it, but a possibility is that NCN could be more productive and vibrant of there's a core group that sort of guards and promotes what it is about. Now, that also collides a bit with the idea that it is a wide-open leaderless thing. So that's what makes it controversial. But if I had to do it over again, I think I would have chosen to start off with a core group, non-profit, board of advisors, as a somewhat separate entity from the general online network.  

14 Mar 2005 @ 12:46 by gea : Wow.
Great insight. The core group concept keeps things centered without especially intervening into or tempering with or interrupting, the flow of things.  

14 Mar 2005 @ 23:53 by ming : Trust
Thanks Lugon. It would be nice if personal trust were enough. Maybe it is. I wish the economic system was based on that. Instead of hiding behind opaque organisations that look right, even if there maybe is nobody home to trust.  

17 Mar 2005 @ 01:51 by jerryvest : Thank you for your devotion
I am so happy to be a part of this movement--expansion of consciousness. This is a wonderful contribution for improving our planet and our relations. Thank you.  

25 Mar 2005 @ 17:10 by ming : Paper
I'm not sure if I'm in the mood for writing a paper about it right at this point. But it is an excellent idea as such. And, yeah, sounds like something I'd enjoy attending. Sounds great with the project. That's stuff I'm very good at.  

14 May 2005 @ 15:28 by ming : Andrius & Civilization Networks
Hey, that sounds excellent.

My personal quest has been to look for ways of doing networks where the network itself sort of can get out of the way. I.e. where it mainly is a connecting mechanism which can grow and evolve based on what people need. But where the focus is on what those people are doing, as opposed to the identity of the network.

So, yes, there's a difference between the networks that try to do that and the networks that are a group of supporters gathered around a certain site or plan or philosophy.

I think success is achieved when one has something that is like e-mail or like the phone system. It connects people and you can do stuff through it and with it, but you wouldn't think of assuming that all phone users are one homogonous group with one philosophy and one stand on everything.

It is apparently much easier to make a group with a certain focus than it is to make a enabling network that supports whatever it is people want to do. The best examples of the latter are the internet protocols for the web, for mail, etc. They make self-organization possible, and enable all sorts of new things one can do, but they don't require you to agree with the other uses on anything other than the protocol. Which is a very different thing from making a group like, say, Greenpeace, or Slashdot. They might not directly decree what you're supposed to believe in or how you're supposed to act, but there's a centralized power structure and information flow that makes it work that way.

The truly interesting task is in creating a contentless network, with a minimum of goals one has to agree to, and with the maximum productivity and synergy from a diversity of projects people put into it. Doing this for people-networking is sort of a next frontier. Nobody's done it very well so far.

Online social networks like Ryze or Orkut are a step in that direction. But they don't really do a whole lot in terms of truly facilitating collaboration. Having a place to list your friends and to post stuff is nice. But nothing much more happens.

In part we're lacking some computer-assisted ways of connecting people and information and needs and desires. So we're still in a situation where the groups that work best are the ones with a simple top-down information or command flow, or the groups that are small enough that everybody can know what everybody else is doing. The technical thing to solve is how large numbers of people can move about with a great degree of freedom, while still collaborating and sharing information in useful ways.

Like, if I have a book I don't need, there might be somebody on the next street over who'd really like to read it. I'd be happy to give it to him, but we don't know of each other. It wouldn't be worth it for me to go around putting up notices about it, and if everybody did that, nobody could find anything anyway. But the right communication and optimization system could make it possible for many micro-connections to be established in an optimum way. That would make sense for the optimum use and sharing of many resources. Like a bicycle rental service. If a computer system would be good at telling me where the closest available bicycle was, and there generally was one available within a couple of hundred meters, I wouldn't have to worry about owning my own. So, I'm looking for that kind of thing for people. Of course the right people to work with are out there, and the exact information is there. If the problem can be solved on how to optimize the structure and the flow of that information.  

15 May 2005 @ 22:05 by ming : Paper
Sounds absolutely fine to me, Andrius. I submitted it like that. So, let's see what they say. I can certainly say some things along those lines.  

2 Jun 2005 @ 22:19 by ming : Abstract
Gosh, I've better get busy. I'm really hung up right now, but I'll work on it over the weekend.

Suddenly I have a lot of places to go. Going to Copenhagen for {link:|Reboot} next week, and strangely there's something else I need to be in Italy for in the beginning of July. But I'll try to make the 27-29 thing in Milano happen too, if at all possible.  

1 Nov 2007 @ 13:57 by .kj;buh @ : .bjkuh'ol .mjbnljunb'okj  

1 Nov 2007 @ 14:00 by ipkhn'olikmn .mm./jklijilklkj @ : /lijhbol'l"Ohn
piohjofdik7654ed7695ed75ed645ytdgfhtjftfvtdchjtdttoirtydc5de76yrtddyirtdeiy5rtdfkityufrufytrfyulflukkuddkkkkkkkkkyhcvgv. juygyf.yuifgv.ujghvkgfklujtyflyfufvufvulfvfswesjyllhlasfdshbsidghfbweflshjdfieswryufiserfwiaerhfiaesbfshdfgeujikhn/blhjkygblovyuob 98uig piuhoiuygyhoyiuiyhpg.
;iughiugpi8tgiygbliyol.lilhvb ygflygiulgi;.ug;i.gblig;ig;'ig;iug;iou;g;iugiuyg79g;ggiyugiigyu;'iyu;'f;.i';vtudffdtydfuity;dftyuifuid;ty;fdty;fytuifyuitfciyu;fcyuit;fcyuit;fyuic;fcyui;fyuic;yfuicfy;cuiffcyfycyui;yi;uy;f;yffy;c;f;yfuifyf;uiuf;yictyf;yuiyuifyuifuiyff;yuiuifyfyuifyuiuiffyfy;fyfyui;iyf;fyyuifyffyfyufi;yuif;fyuifyifyuifyfuif;ff;yiy7fv

Other entries in
4 Jun 2010 @ 03:30: Hanging Out.
24 Dec 2008 @ 23:52: Christmas Greetings
29 May 2008 @ 14:56: Cosmic Glue Part 3
20 Mar 2008 @ 10:13: Barack Obama: Rock Church, Rock
20 Oct 2007 @ 19:44: ANOTHER KIND OF EPIDEMIC... as dangerous as any!
21 Jul 2006 @ 01:52: All that Glitters is not of Gold
2 Jun 2006 @ 13:25: Another two NCN'ers meet !
30 May 2006 @ 15:47: Something is waiting to be known -
17 Apr 2006 @ 13:03: Time Travelor John Titor

[< Back] [New Civilization News] [PermaLink]?