Photography and Extroverted Introversion

I spent a few days in Vancouver last month for work. I had a chance to take some pictures, including a few at the beautiful Capilano Salmon Hatchery. Afterward, I took the train down to Seattle.

The train ride was beautiful, but also foggy. Because my view was limited, I decided to pull out my laptop and post-process some photos. I had some work photos that I wanted to turn around quickly, and when I got through them, I started going through some of my travel photos.

I was totally oblivious to the people around me, including an older woman sitting next to me. When I got to the above picture, she decided to interrupt me.

“Are you a photographer?” she asked.

“No, I just like taking pictures,” I responded.

“I really like that one,” she said.

“Thank you! What do you like about it?” I asked.

She started walking me through the composition and the different shades of green. She had a sophisticated eye, and I started asking her about her own photography background. Her name was Ingrid, and when she was in her 20s, she moved to Alaska and worked as an assistant to wildlife photographer, Sam Kimura. She was sort of this hippie grandmother who had lived all along the West Coast and who had done all of these fascinating things in her life.

One of the unexpected pleasures of photography as a hobby is how it’s opened up people’s lives to me. I’m not an outgoing person, but photography gives me an excuse to talk to strangers. Several months ago, I was in a coffee shop in Japantown, and I noticed this person sitting next to me drawing cartoons. I watched him out of the corner of my eye for a while, then finally asked if I could take a picture of his journal.

He was very friendly and said it was okay. His name was Evan, and this was the way he journaled about his life. We chatted for about 15 minutes, and he showed me lots of drawings, explaining the different life events they represented. If it hadn’t been for my camera, I never would have struck up a conversation with him.

 

Having a camera is also an excuse not to talk to others. I’ve been in social situations where, for whatever reason, I haven’t felt like talking to anybody. I simply start taking pictures, sometimes without even excusing myself. No one seems to mind, and I end up having a good time.

My friend, Eugene, describes this kind of behavior as extroverted introversion, which describes my personality quite nicely. They like people. They even like talking to people, even strangers, but in doses, not buckets. Photography is the perfect hobby for extroverted introverts.

Call of the Mountains

Great things are done when men and mountains meet. –William Blake

I’m a California boy at heart, and I’ve always been drawn to the ocean. But California has mountains too, and my last three work trips have reminded me how much I love them.

Truchas Peaks near Taos, New Mexico:

The Alps from Luzern, Switzerland:

The Cascade Range from Seattle:

I think the universe is telling me something.

Nancy White on Joy

As I’ve said before, I bookmark a lot of Nancy White‘s blog entries. She’s one of the most insightful thinkers and practitioners on collaboration I know. This morning, she posted a wonderful piece (and picture) on joy:    (L65)

You see, I have been working really hard the last few months, in a time of year when many of us think of vacation, I have been focused on my to do list. This type of workload and mindframe can be exhausting. When I let it, it becomes stress. It keeps me awake at night. I’m certainly less fun to be around for my family.    (L66)

But my work is joy. Keeping that thought alive with each thought, each keystroke, even when I have to battle my computer for 4 hours because of something stupid I did (which is what I did last night!) is important. Essential. Taking joy in the companionship and ideas of my colleagues spread around the world is joy. Figuring something out is joy. Ending the day with a quiet mind is joy.    (L67)

I had the pleasure of working with Nancy at the Collaborative Technologies Conference this past June and the pleasure of having dinner with her and her family when I visited Seattle earlier this year, so I have the necessary experience to say this. It’s a joy to work with Nancy. It’s a joy just to be around Nancy.    (L68)

Guy Kawasaki at NTEN: How to Make Meaning

Leda Dederich posted a great summary of Guy Kawasaki‘s NTEN keynote in Seattle. She writes:    (KEJ)

When we talk about nonprofits using technology, which is what this conference is about, I want to see a strong and intentional connection to a real-world theory of change. Because if that’s not what we’re here for, then what the hell?    (KEK)

This is mostly lacking in this space.    (KEL)

Lots of great people and ideas. But not a lot of talk about what it means to affect social change, and how technology supports (or does not) support this.    (KEM)

I went into this morning’s speech ready to be bored and/or offended. To my surprise, it was the venture capitalist among us who was the first to talk about changing the world — what it means to make revolution, evolution, meaning.    (KEN)

Glass Plate Game

One of the hits from last month’s RecentChangesCamp was Dunbar Aitkens‘s Glass Plate Game. Inspired by Herman Hesse‘s Glass Bead Game, the Glass Plate Game stimulates interesting conversations, encouraging and capturing connections between different ideas that are raised. There are no winners or losers. The game serves as a facilitative device, encouraging civil dialog and learning, and in the end, you have an artifact from which you can transcribe the conversation.    (K9X)

https://i2.wp.com/static.flickr.com/38/95674441_357009e2cf_m.jpg?w=700    (K9Y)

The game consists of a set of cards (which you can create yourself) that represent a number of different themes. There are also 24 wooden blocks, sequentially numbered, that each represents a “move” and the state of conversation. There are four possible states: “P” (permit the latest connection), “C” (challenge the latest connection), “O” (mutual understanding; move on to the next move), and “blank” (no resolution; move on to the next move). There are also several colored, translucent pieces of plastic that you use to make connections.    (K9Z)

To start the game, someone picks a theme by placing the first piece and a piece of plastic on a card. Each move after that represents a connection between two themes (cards). You make a connection by placing a piece on another card and a piece of plastic whose color matches the plastic on a previous card. Once a connection is made, you have a conversation, turning the cube around throughout to represent the state of the conversation. Once the cube is on “O” or “blank,” someone makes a new move/connection. The game continues until you reach the 24th move or until no one has anything to say. At that point, you are encouraged to transcribe the conversation, using the game board as a memory device.    (KA0)

https://i0.wp.com/static.flickr.com/55/106395322_417512d869_m.jpg?w=700    (KA1)

I actually didn’t get to play at RecentChangesCamp — I kept getting pulled away by other things. I regretted it even more after the conference, because on the car ride up to Seattle, Michael Herman and Ted Ernst were saying really intriguing things about it. Fortunately, Dunbar lives in Corvallis, and on my way back from RecentChangesCamp and Seattle, John Sechrest graciously hosted dinner and a game.    (KA2)

https://i0.wp.com/static.flickr.com/36/106395321_9814c0d446_m.jpg?w=700    (KA3)

I think the concept is brilliant, and judging by the number of folks who played it at RecentChangesCamp and ordered a set for themselves, I’m not alone. I plan on hosting salons to play the game and to contribute to Dunbar’s compilations of transcripts (part of his bigger vision to transcribe a global, distributed Glass Plate Game).    (KA4)

I also think the Glass Plate Game could be a powerful device at face-to-face gatherings. The facilitative principles are similar to those espoused by Dialogue Mapping in that there is a grammar and that Shared Display is a big reason for its effectiveness. MGTaylor uses the principles of Glass Bead Game to great effect in their process. One of the best instantiations of the game I’ve seen was when I first worked with Gail Taylor at the 2003 Planetwork Conference. Each breakout group gets a white, 2’x2’x2′ cardboard box, and they are encouraged to capture their ideas on one or more side. In the report-out, the groups are encouraged to make connections with each other by positioning or stacking their boxes next to each other. It’s a great device that works really well.    (KA5)

In particular, I think the game could work really well with World Cafe. Instead of (or in addition to) butcher paper, crafts, and the other typical devices used for capture, you could setup Glass Plate Game at each table. I’m looking forward to experimenting with this possibility.    (KA6)