Monday, March 18, 2013

Open Source Friendships

When I picture time with my friends, the visual usually has us sitting somewhere – probably on a front porch, given my love for the front porch (and weather permitting), sipping something, talking and laughing.

This trip has had its share of sitting, talking, sipping and laughing, but yesterday we had one of those ‘aren’t we ridiculous’ moments when we realized that each of us sat at the kitchen table with our noses in our respective lap tops, checking e-mail, FB, prepping to Skype, etc., etc., etc.

Alas, I am now forever banned (by a sense of fair play, if nothing else) from castigating my children and their generation for bringing all their equipment to the table instead of just talking to me.  My children have invaded and I are them.


But not too much.

For I find I’m actually okay with that.

They’re wonderful people, my children and their generation.  They care passionately – about each other, about their world.  They stay in touch – much better than I did or do.

In church yesterday we were challenged to shape our technology and its uses instead of letting it shape us.  I take Joy’s point and it’s an important one.

The junction of human and technology that I seek as I think on Joy’s words is the ‘and’ of things rather than the ‘but’.  I suppose that where I stand is actually at the corner of and & but – a place where my own usage of things technological is limited by the geography of where I live – the land of no cell towers.  So I hook up to my world with the lap top but do not own a cell phone and I can Skype friends across the globe but when the electricity goes out, I can’t fix a meal and . . . but . . . and . . .

Relationships and ways of relating to the world are changed as we source (whether open* or otherwise) and resource the world and our place in it.  As with many things, I suppose that’s both good and bad – depends on what we do with it, eh?

So yes, lots of folks I know are reading the latest idiocy online and calling it truth.  And so are they reading and consuming wisely and coming away far better informed than I could ever hope to be.  But many post nothing  more interesting or important than the latest cat video (what’s up with the passion for cat videos, anyhow?).  And they too find meaning and community and connection.  But it’s so shallow.  And deep.

Turns out we both shape and are shaped by all that we encounter in this world.

And so again today, I will probably sit beside a friend at the kitchen table and e-mail her a link to the latest funny cat video and we will remember it as part of our time together and smile.

*Open source – I take my definition not from the many online resources available to me, but from son Ben (forgive me, Ben, if I get it wrong – it’s the best your old ma could do): Open sourcing, the sharing of knowledge, skill, talent or information online, is a good thing.  It’s the opposite of the idea of intellectual property.  Think of it this way: Shakespeare’s work – all of it – is derivative – that is to say, Shakespeare took his ideas from other ideas already out there – and made them uniquely his own.  Had there been the intellectual property laws in his time that we have in ours, there would have been no Romeo & Juliet, no Henry IV, no ado about no thing.  Walt Disney, the man and the company, took another man’s work (Steamboat Willy) and created Mickey Mouse and then lobbied for extensions of intellectual property protections to keep the very character they had ‘borrowed’ all to themselves.  It’s not only ironic, it stultifies the very creativity it seeks to protect.

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