BarCamp, Community & New Ways

Having recently seen the film, I’m now reading the comic novel Watchmen. It is the kind of fiction that really gets you thinking about many things. A great quote from the book is:

The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking … The solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If I had only known, I should have become a watchmaker. – Albert Einstein

It picks up on some themes that have arisen in a number of ways since the GFC. Primary among these is a desire for community and new ways of doing business that are rooted in humanity and authenticity.

We are seeing the moral, intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy of the old ways of doing business. We no longer want a business world where crazy virtual assets can be created and drive the entire world to the brink of economic ruin. We are amazed that private companies (like AIG) can accept government hand-outs to stave off complete collapse and still pay millions of dollars in bonuses to the very people who’ve brought us to this crisis point & victimise other workers who did their jobs.

In essence we are seeing a complete failure of leadership, where business managers consider only short term gains and apply short term incentives.  And because of this short term focus the triple bottom line is often just a joke or a box to tick as a matter of form. Thus important issues like the future of humankind and our planet are not seen as the proper province of business. Business is seen as only responsible for delivering short term gains to shareholders.

And, just as Einstein said, the solution to this problem lies “at the heart of mankind” and it is because our world has changed but our “way of thinking” has not changed with it. One of the problems with the Wall Street bail-out is that we are still desperately trying to hold on to the old world that is passing. Organisations and institutions that are no longer viable need to be allowed to fail.

But I see signs of hope in many places in spite of the gloom. A great example of this was Bar Camp Canberra #2. It was a collaborative gathering of diverse people who are interested in technology.

It was a bunch of really smart people ranging from mid-teens to over-40s and beyond. It was a gathering where people questioned the way we’ve done business and technology up until now.

Above all it was a gathering of hopeful and optimistic people who are working to build new things in new ways. If there’s a BarCamp near you I recommend dropping in – you can find out about them at barcamp.org. Some other interesting artifacts from BarCamp Canberra are: