And speaking of photography, if you haven’t seen Michael Longfellow’s site CapeMayX.com yet, definitely check it out as well. He’s now selling his photo collection via ImageKind and they look spectacular.
I was up at Book Warehouse the other day and had the chance to skim through a copy of Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman. It tells the story of outfitting company Patagonia and the business philosophies created by the founder. What I found interesting with his philosophies is that they often went against typical mainstream business practices. Even more so, I found that most of them were in synch with a lot of my own beliefs.
Really liking the book and the message it communicated, I seriously considered purchasing it. However, when I thought this, I stopped in my tracks because of something I remembered thinking before. Why is it that we often purchase books about things we already know?
I wasn’t too sure about this before but having just recently wrote about being introverted when I was young, I think I realize the answer now. Trust. We don’t trust ourselves. And in purchasing a book about the things we already know about, we are basically confirming our beliefs and our trust in ourselves.
It’s strange because so many people today are afraid of starting relationships with others. Obviously people don’t want to be hurt. They’re fearful of opening up and trusting someone else again. However, by doing this I think we’re forgetting about all of the positive aspects of a relationship. Thus we’re basically severing ourselves from the world because of a few bad incidents.
This is what happens with ourselves as well. We trust ourselves until something bad happens and then we immediately cut ourselves off from our inner voice because of a few bad mistakes. I don’t think we should do this, just as much as I don’t think we should cut ourselves off from the world because of a few bad relationships we’ve had in the past. If anything, I think we’re at a time when we need to be taking more risks and putting more trust in others. And strangely enough, I think the more we start trusting ourselves, the more we’ll start trusting others as well.
Someone on YouTube created an amazing mashup of dance videos showing the origins of the dance moves in the World of Warcraft. I think this video perfectly relays the importance of needing more ways to express ourselves in these online virtual worlds and communities. For example, I’m guessing a lot of the outfits used on the Warcraft characters were probably quite difficult to obtain in the game and also required level requirements to wear. I find this somewhat absurd, since it would be like walking into a store to buy a simple red t-shirt, only to find out you needed $1000 to pay for it, as well as be a rocket scientist. By creating restrictions like this, you’re only limiting the expressive capabilities of those within your communities which only ends up frustrating them.
Update: BTW I think this is one reason why online community sites like Gaia Online are so popular right now, even though it’s origins were just as a online forum. Here’s a quote from their About Us page that talks about the way their members can express themselves much more so than other typical forum sites or services.
Endless Customization: Gaia revolves around creative customization. Every member can create their own virtual character and dress it up with over five thousand items: clothes, accessories, pets, masks and just about anything else imaginable.
I was just thinking about what I want to do, not only with this site but also with my life in terms of work. Just thinking about this for a little bit, I kept coming back to communities. When I reflected on this some more, I realized what was drawing me to community building was creating the right kind of culture in these communities. And when I focused on that, a flood of memories came back to me.
You see when I was younger, I was highly introverted. While I did have a small handful of friends that I hung out with, I really didn’t interact with others in larger social situations or events that much. Part of this was because I was shy but the other part of it was I just didn’t like the way people treated each other. To some people, things like peer pressure are a normal part of school. To me, it just felt wrong and I decided I’d rather be independent doing my own things rather than tagging along like a dog being subservient to the whims of the social elitists of these groups.
When I grew up, those feelings stuck with me. And as I grew out of my shell, I become more and more vocal in striving to address these issues in any way I could. It’s also why I think I started delving into online communities as well. I was tired of seeing these negative environments around communities and wanted to help people by creating environments that were much more positive. And of course, as soon as I remembered that I realized something very important.
Remember my recent post where I said the words “Connect. Empower. Inspire.” felt right to me? Well I had said that I wasn’t quite sure what “empower” related to so I just assumed it meant technological software that was easy to use for people. Now I know what the word “empower” really means. Empower is about creating the right culture within the communities that I want to help build. In doing so, these positively cultured communities help to empower people, allowing them to do things they’ve never been able to do before, and thus more importantly inspire them to do things that they’ve only dreamed of. What’s that? Inspire them to follow their passions.
Therefore that’s what these trinity of words really mean to me.
- Connect = Help connect people by building communities and environments for them to interact within.
- Empower = Help to create positive empowering environments within these communities by defining the right culture within them from the very start.
- Inspire = And finally by creating a positively empowered community environment, it allows the people within it to be inspired to focus on their passions.
So all three are interdependent upon one another but I think the most important aspect of this is really creating the right culture which empowers the people immersed within it to be the best that they can be, instead of being a negative culture that weighs upon them, forcing them to only be what they are told to be (i.e. “This is your cubicle. Don’t leave it.”).
Finally what’s really interesting about this is that this culture isn’t just an online thing. Actually if anything, the type of culture that a company is offline in their work environment will directly influence the culture created around their products online. In effect, they are interconnected and interdependent upon one another.