Archive for Technology

The Moment of Beauty

My friend Beverly Robertson has an excellent eye for beauty and she recently sent me a link to some Digital Magic I want to share with you. It was created by Takayuki Sato (here's more about him) and has the kind of exquistely refined Japanese aesthetic I love:

Gathering 2.0

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.

Given the fabulously descriptive name, I imagined Wisdom2.0 would be something related to my own passion for a conscious use of the internet but I have been a little dissapointed to see it turn out what appears to be a fairly standard conference format in its first two years of existence, albeit with a rather wonderful mix of spiritual and technology gurus.

The disappointing thing is that these leading lights seem to be giving siloed talks (nothing about how spirituality might inform technology, or the two might be employed together, for example) in the same old way (talking heads on a stage – nice heads and some nice talks, but still up there on a stage with a passive audience, just listening).

Those of you who know me, know I've been Director of Communications for the World Café for the last seven years, which has been the "go to" model for transformative conferences with real engagement; where the wisdom in the room is revealed among us. I even started weDialogue, my virtual events hosting business (for webinars, conferences, conversations) using the World Café model. So you can imagine why I have been alert, waiting for them to "get it" (they did support a "unconference " at last year's event where World Café was used, and from all reports it was well received, so I'm hopeful).

In fact, feedback from the 2012 event seems to have shaken things up a bit, and it appears we're in for something different this year. The guiding question they're promoting for 2013 is "How do we live with greater presence, meaning, and purpose in the age of technology?", which is a big step closer to something I'm really interested in. I understand they're also piloting space for interactive breakout sessions based on shared interests (birds-of-a-feather groups), and creating cohort groups for attendees to work within throughout the conference. Maybe not quite as elegant as World Cafe, but definitely movement in the right direction.

So I've bought my ticket, and am feeling excited – the anticipation is definitely back and I'm optimistic. Is anyone else going? I would love to meet up and see you there. And if you were there in 2011 or 2012, I'd be curious to hear about your experience. What was it like? Have I missed the point? What did you find most valuable? 

Divorce? True Confessions

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.

The Times We Are Preparing For

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.