Build a heaven in hell’s despite


Throughout europe and beyond the following conversation will be taking place:

“What have you been doing?”
“I was at a the “Living on the edge” conference?”
“Where was it?”
“The Council of Europe”
“What was it about?”
“Ummm?????”

The edgeryders conference was clearly about something, but actually pinning that down in words gets tricky.  In part this came from the range of people there, so perhaps that is a good place to start. In that range to me there seemed to be three archetypes*, if not warring then at least engaging in collaborative competition, sometimes in a single individual.

The first, fired up with ideals and energy, certain that the world could be changed if only the right policy could be found and implemented. With plenty of ideas on what that policy should be (after all certain things worked incredibly well for them).

The second, brilliant and cynical, hiding a little measure of social discomfort behind trolling and alcohol. Knowing that there were powerful ideas and possibilities that could be unlocked, but just as certain that many of them would be broken by bugs many times. Their wisdom gained from long hours testing and fixing code.

Finally a slightly less common individual, a little harder to pin down. Grumpy certainly, but also emotionally grounded, skeptical of the new, often because they had seen it before. Interested far more in the human challenges than the technical.

Of course no one was exactly any of these three, I would guess that I was mostly the second with some aspects of the third. Yet towards the end of the unconference something interesting started to happen. The three archetypes began to combine, the energy of the first, driving the brilliance of the second through the subtlety and human touch of the third. Many sessions got to powerful fundamentals. This made something else clear, the human and emotional are absolutely key to the ideas being discussed, while also the hardest to deal with. The problem, if anything becomes worse in a technical audience. These problems are messy, defying language. What can be said can sound wooly or just obvious, yet trying to focus and define language can just empty it. We need ways into these topics, is was therefore slightly sad, that the third archetype had the poorest representation of the three groups.

In this spirit therefore, perhaps a technical explanation of the event is not the right approach. Here instead is a poem:

Heaven in Hell’s despite
Peter Blegvad

This rocket’s going nowhere
It’s travelling so fast.
In one end goes the future,
out the other comes the past.
And we are on a mission as we hurtle through the night,
to build a Heaven in Hell’s despite.

This rocket’s going nowhere,
the hull is full of holes.
No one navigating
No one at the controls.
No one said it would be easy
on our maiden flight,
to build a Heaven in Hell’s despite.

This rocket’s held together
with string and chewing-gum.
We don’t know where we’re headed,
don’t know where we’re coming from.
But we’ll know it when we see it,
when we see the light.
We’ll build a Heaven in Hell’s despite.

* BACK TO POST  I am aware that I am reinventing the wheel a little here, these three archetypes seem to have something fundamental about them. My goal is in part to record some initial reactions. The role of the third archetype in the community is perhaps to establish this sort of mythology that will help drive things forward. I hope to return to and develop that idea. The Dark Mountain project and Bembo Davies’  concept of Human Rites, both follow similar ideas (and are probably well ahead of where I will get to!).

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