What I Learned Using Google Wave for Continuity
SUMMARY: I made friends with the amazing Colleen Wainwright recently to start using Google Wave as a collaborative “do not hurry / do not wait” accountability tool. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
I’ve been experimenting with Google Wave with new friend Colleen to figure out how to practically implement do not hurry, do not wait. We are about to start the 8th week of Waving, having explored the following 7 themes:
- OPPOSITE WEEK – In which we do what we would normally not do, to try to shake things up.
- MORE ROOM WEEK – In which we try to make more room, psychically and physically, for important stuff.
- SLOW WEEK – In which we try to slow down for our own good.
- SLOW WEEK II – In which we are going so slow, one week lasts for two weeks.
- FIRST THINGS FIRST WEEK – In which we try to do the things that should be done first.
- BABY SEAL WEEK – In which we look inside and protect what is there.
- FOUNDATION WEEK – In which we evaluate the nature of what supports what we’re doing.
Colleen’s summary perspective on each theme is slightly different from mine, but the important thing is that we are practicing mindfulness each week to balance the forces that need attention.
After reviewing the past 7 weeks of Waving, I believe one of the greatest things I’ve gained is a renewed sense of continuity. Google Wave allows one to insert one’s commentary into the conversational stream without re-quoting text as you would when replying in email. The in-context reply seems like it’s a small thing, but it makes a ginormous difference in following long multi-threaded conversations. The Wave implementation not quite perfect, but it does allow for much improved conversation compared to email: you can review the thread as a flow of ideas.
Having experience a renewed sense of continuity in Google Wave, I’d like to also maintain continuity here on the blog as well. So, let’s get down to it: this week I’m primarily concerned with the following:
A lot of what I’m doing to keep track of tasks feels antiquated, like using an old computer operating system designed to only handle programs, files and batch processing. This may be what bothers me about GTD; in some ways it reminds me of a mainframe operating system from the 1960s, requiring constant discipline to maintain lest the system jams. There are a lot of simpler, stand-alone methodologies such as AutoFocus that handle the most common tasks; this reminds me of the rise of 8-bit computers in the early 80s, with their smaller processing capacities. What 8-bit micros lacked in processing power was balanced by vastly more interactive control and feedback; over the years the core system has expanded to embrace interactivity. If I extend the analogy, I think the next level of to-do list management is to rethink tasks in the context of a “personal operating system”. The elements are all here, but the design of my own operating system needs to be tailored to my unique I/O requirements.
Thanks to Colleen, I’ve a lot closer to identifying what it is I really want to do, a question of identity/purpose which also strongly correlates with the search for what sparks me and ‘Daveness’. To now, I’ve found that there are “things that I can do”, and “things that I think I’d like doing”. I’ve tested both approaches with varying degrees of success. For example, I can do web development and interactive design and a high level of competency, but they ultimately are just skills. For things I’ve thought I’d like–working for the game industry, freelancing, blogging, forming clubs, and so on–I’ve found the interest is more professional, not motivational. In some cases, like when I taught some formal classes, I found the experience educational but not affirming. I think what I really want is to declare a mission statement that both is grounding and profoundly visionary, so people understand what I’m about. From this, I think my questions regarding “what to sell” and “what services am I offering” will be answered. I’m close. Real close.
I am in the process of shifting my mentality from “Designer” to “Creator”. From there, I will ultimately become “Owner of Some Means of Production.” This is a journey of increasing independence, with the goal of being able to create things of value in the world. I’m not used to thinking this way and I have not experienced what it’s like to be an “owner of production”, so learning how to make that honest buck is taking me some time. However, many of my goals require some financing, so I have an increasing sense of urgency.
Lastly, I’m thinking about how what I’m doing does not have a clear success path. I know, with a fair degree of accuracy, where I stand right now. I also know roughly where I want to go, because I can see it shining distantly on the horizon, but alas: there are no tracks for me to follow. I’m in a kind of desert, wandering as a reluctant Bedouin who intuitively stays clear of other people’s roads which lead away from my personal destiny. Occasionally, I have come across a fellow traveler with whom I can trade, or I stumble upon a welcoming oasis and enjoy the respite, but after wandering for six long years I am finding myself more prone to fatigue. Having Faith in the Journey is one way to keep moving forward, so one can have the will to demonstrate it by putting one foot after the other and trusting that it will all work out. Science provides an alternative model, hypothesizing that the destination itself can be reached through careful experimentation, which draws us forward in rational action. And even if the original hypothesis should fall short, the data from your experiment helps formulate a NEW experiment that will get you closer. After having tried both the way of Faith and the way of Science, I have lost some confidence in them. However, the Wave is showing me that having fellow travelers in a caravan may be the way to keep my strength in the difficult middle stage, between where I am now and where I ultimately want to be. A hybrid approach is beginning to suggest itself.
Throughout this week I’ll try to maintain continuity on these four ideas. We’ll see how it turns out.
UPDATE: All good things come to an end. Communication in the wave (or rather, in Rizzoma, since Google Wave went offline years ago) has moved into standby as of March 2013. It’s been a good 3+ year run!)