I have a ‘live feed’ on my toolbar in my browser called ‘Ted Talks’. These are short talks by interesting people from all walks of life who have an idea that they want the world to know about. The topics are varied and so are the people. I don’t know what the criteria are for giving a Ted Talk but they never fail to be interesting and provocative. I select what I’m going to watch by which title appeals to me in the moment.
Today’s selection, while I was eating my lunch, was Tim Berners-Lee, the guy who invented the worldwide web twenty years ago. This particular talk is about making raw data available on the internet so that people can do things with it. He gives some examples of what can be done and says that there could be loads more things that we haven’t even thought of yet. He makes the point that each of us tends to think that we don’t have anything interesting raw data and so we think this doesn’t apply to us, but just think of the raw data that is generated on social networking sites.
This brings me to the topic of today’s blog: It seems to me that there are so many ‘big’ things in our world, like global organizations, authors, experts, forums, foundations, movements, that it’s easy for us to feel like we are but the tiniest of cogs in a vast piece of machinery. I like to refer to this as the, ‘who, little ol’ me? syndrome’.
In the face of all this expertise, it’s easy to allow the big stuff, the important stuff, to come from someone else. I wonder if young people sometimes have the audacity to do things, suggest things and say things, just because they don’t know yet that they might not be ‘important enough’. This might be a very good thing! We older folks should talk a page out of their book.
I am reminding myself today that one person is more than none, and that one person can inspire a second person, who can be overheard by a third person, who might add something to the idea before they pass it on to a fourth person. After all, isn’t that just what the internet is all about? Before long, you have exponential growth, with everyone adding in their little bit that they hadn’t thought was important before.
And voila! You have an organic movement (with a lower-case o) that wasn’t there before. We don’t have to be big and we don’t have to be perfect, or even an expert, to have a great idea, or the germ of a great idea. I’ve noticed when I sit around in my local coffee shop with my ‘coffee klatch’, that often when we are having an interesting conversation, there are one or two other people, sitting alone a couple of tables away, who have been on the same page of their book or newspaper for a very long time. I suspect that they are listening to us and I don’t mind. After all, if you want privacy, you shouldn’t be sitting in the middle of a coffee shop. Sometimes people add their two-cents-worth, and then we know they’ve been listening, but often, they just go away. Who knows who they talk to after they leave!
Just do it (say it, ask it, try it)
My experience with the Internet started when I was introduced to a guy in Scotland by the name of Stephan Wik. I suspect that he is the sort of guy who is always ahead of his time. He certainly was in this case. He was a computer geek and a musician, and an entrepreneur of sorts. When we met, he had the Findhorn Foundation, an intentional community in the Highlands of Scotland, wired up for email by stringing the wires along telephone poles from one caravan (read ‘mobile home’ in NA) or cottage to another. This was in 1993 when most people didn’t even know what email was. He got me to help him run community demonstrations to show everyone how it worked.
He was a lesson to me in just getting out there and doing it, whatever your ‘it’ is. As disconnected as we sometimes feel, we are all connected, even if we don’t want to be. We just need to take advantage of the fact. To hell with giving away competitive advantage or looking stupid; I believe that sharing helps everyone.
Do one little thing in the right direction and help change the world for the better. Don’t wait until you’re important enough or perfect enough!