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November 13, 2004 » 6:32 pm

Connectivity Parties, For-Benefit Organizations, and Post-Modernism

I spent some time today with Gerry Gleason, who was in town for the weekend. I was telling him about a Coding Sprint Blue Oxen was planning, and he asked what those were. When I explained them to him, he said, “Oh, we used to do those for NFS. We called them Connectivity Parties.” Back then, folks would gather together at conferences, set up a bunch of hardware, and code away. Yet another demonstration of the timeliness of good patterns, regardless of what they’re called. Of course, the ubiquity of high-speed wireless and four-pound laptops make it much easier these days.    (4PK)

Gerry had two other language-related insights. We spoke about the problem of non-profits getting caught up with the language of business, and thus losing sight of the importance of things like volunteerism, caring, and so forth. I pointed out that the term, “non-profit,” immediately frames these organizations in the language of business. Gerry told me that he had had this conversation with Phil Cubeta in the past, and that they had come up with the term, “for-benefit.” I like it. Even though Blue Oxen Associates is an LLC (a legal for-profit), I think I’ll start referring to it as “for-benefit,” because that captures the essence of what we’re trying to accomplish.    (4PL)

On a more scholarly note, Gerry is reading Ken Wilber‘s Integral Psychology, which has a chapter on modernism and post-modernism. Wilber says that out of modernism emerged three distinct disciplines — art, religion, and science — and that science (and by proxy, rationality) eventually trumped the other two. Postmodernism disputes the distinctions between those three fields. However, many people — both critical theorists and scientists — misinterpret postmodernism as a rejection of science. I don’t think science and postmodernism are orthogonal. You can be a good scientist and reject the notion of universal objectivity. The problem is with framing. “Postmodernism” is framed as a reaction to “modernism,” which is historically accurate, but which undermines the essence of its underlying values. I recognize, without irony, that this is a postmodernist interpretation of why postmodernism is misinterpreted. I’ll shut up now.    (4PM)

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One Response to “Connectivity Parties, For-Benefit Organizations, and Post-Modernism”

  1. for-benefit is literally the same as the extant “pro bono”, is it not? Actually, I like pro bono better, as my profit is presumably of benefit to me.

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