Technology and Community

At the forefront of getting older in a major metropolitan area is the continued emphasis that should be put on community. People treat each other differently when there’s connection, understanding, empathy. Often this connection is strongest when you’re a few feet away from someone—the bandwidth with which you can experience those emotions is extremely high. But when that opportunity is not available, meaningful connection is not a lost cause. There are ways to link people to other people, and then there are ways to study, organize, and improve that connection with a now-familiar method: technology.

I’ve worked on products that have reached millions—even tens of millions—of people. [Quick ego check: I still find this mind-boggling and am humbled at what can occur through sustained team-effort.] Getting feedback was sometimes solicited at the company-level, for business reasons; sometimes at the journalistic level, for publicity, review & quality reasons; and other times it was incidental: people knew—and sometimes knew intimately—the product in question, and would not hesitate to give their opinion, feedback, and critiques. Luckily for me, it was often good, and an intriguing joy to listen to.

Having strangers, acquaintances, or friends know about—or be users of—something you created isn’t community per se. But the conversation that arises can be considered fringe aspects of community. For instance, with video games, like a lot of other hobbies/diversions, there is common language (argot, even), shared experience, organized gathering, criticism, critique, and influence taken and given to other forms of media. I choose that example because I used to work in that industry, albeit from one (very large) corner; my experience was thus limited by time and insulated by other factors, namely, working for only one company on one franchise. I also choose that topic because of the strife and crisis that it as an industry, a medium, an art-form is facing.

Not long ago I was introduced to a new type of community concept that has been around for centuries if not millennia: that of yoga kula. “Kula” is a Sanskrit word meaning “community” and I was exposed to it, in theory and in practice, when I completed a certified 200 hour yoga teacher training last October. That committed study has impacted my life in a profoundly positive way. But the relationships built and explored with my other classmates and the instructors were not confined to our daily study within the venue of study—we are in touch and connected, even when we haven’t spoken in many weeks or months. There will always be more ideas, more practice to explore; it is an unending community, and one that deserves to grow.

I want more—and new—impactful experiences like the one mentioned above. Who wouldn’t?

Currently I’m, with careful deliberation, seeking my next professional move. I look forward to discovering roles that not only align with my technical skills, but roles that offer causes I can get behind. Namely: creating understanding, building relationships, empowering individuals but also fostering lasting, harmonious relationships between people.

[Note: I wrote a specific cover-letter to a company recently that explored a lot of these ideas, some verbatim. I decided to spin it off—and expand upon it—as a post here.]

the san francisco gravity

when i first moved to san francisco, i had a loose plan to stay for a few months or so and then travel to Europe for an indefinite period of time.

i’ve now been in this city for approximately thirty months. the reasons for this may be varied and complex, or, sans deconstruction, it may just be one overarching reason, and it might be really simple. i haven’t figured it out yet. and i caution myself to think about the future in the past tense, to try and anticipate the reflection as to why i’ve stayed here so long. but that’s a contrivance built on assumptions and other artifice. so, while it’s not easy practice for me, i am living in the moment. as if san francisco were a time.

but there are forces at work here, of attraction and repulsion. with me as an agent of the scenario, and the city as an agent; but the city as a place and a time. but if the city encapsulates me, if i help to compose it, to what degree is there a separation? and are the forces just acting upon themselves? can they act on themselves, as some sort of positive feedback loop?

looks like i’ve thought myself into a corner. just so happens that it came out onto a wordpress page. i want to end with ‘how ho-hum,’ but honestly it yielded a short bit of enjoyment. now’s the time (four feet away is the place) to go explore those corners in dreamland, where they may not be so cornered after all.

Feature image via my Flickr