Ming the Mechanic:
Making NCN work for you and me

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Making NCN work for you and me2002-02-22 13:57
10 comments
pictureby Flemming Funch

I feel like I'm saying the same things over and over, but sometimes it seems to be necessary. NCN is a somewhat strange and unusual entity, so it is a little hard to fit it into a known category. It is not an organization for one thing. It doesn't have one particular agenda or product, and it doesn't have a hierarchical leadership. It has a sort of meta-agenda, which is to provide a framework that supports all sort of constructive agendas. And it is meant to be self-organizing in a network layout, not controlled through a hierarchy.

Some people run a bit afoul of the whole thing and end up disappointed that it doesn't do the "right" thing, so I figure I've better outline that a bit more. If you feel you already "get it", you might not have to read on.

First of all, it is easy to mix up the overall network with the facilities that you access the network though. Some people think I'm the dictator of NCN because I control this server and the website, and because I started NCN, and they think they somehow need my approval and my involvement to do anything here.

Be aware, for one thing, that the intention was for NCN to have many different nodes. Many local groups and many servers that facilitated people's communication. If that isn't there, it is simply because nobody else grabbed the ball.

And be aware that NCN is a network. It is YOU people and the connections between you. It is not a website. There might be websites supporting the network, and there might be people focusing their energy on keeping the network going. Currently there is only one website, and currently that is very dependent on me.

Nobody owns the network. Any of you can get together with any others of you and do whatever you think needs to be done. Any of you can connect with anybody else.

I own the server this website is on, and I control the programming that makes it run. That is a weak point. The weak point is that there isn't multiple servers controlled by different people, and a system in place so that the network communication continues no matter what part of the network drops out. But that's a different issue.

You could consider me a gardener in one of the New Civilization parks. You can come and hang out in the park, you can ride on the swings, or you can sit down at a table and make plans, or you can invite people in for a birthday party. I'll empty the waste baskets and mow the lawn, and at night I weld together new playground equipment and benches in my workshop. Anybody's welcome in the park as long as they treat the place and the other visitors with respect. I'm happy to stand up and talk about the virtues of parks whenever anybody seems interested. But it is up to you what you do in the park.

Some people think that nothing will happen unless they take over control of NCN or persuade everybody to do one particular thing.

But that is about the only thing that I get vigilant about. If somebody tries to take over control of the whole thing, that's when I look through my drawers for the flame thrower. Well, I'll start with the P.A. system, and it would be quite a while before I'd want to incinerate anybody, but it is not something I'll let slip by.

The principle is that you can do whatever you want as long as you don't trash the place and as long as you don't hurt other people here. Anything that you or your friends finds constructive which fits with those criteria is ok. You don't need anybody's approval. Just announce your project, start a workgroup about it, talk about it in a newslog, approach other people who might be interested, etc.

Anything goes. You can do whatever you want to do EXCEPT for forcing others to do it your way.

Everybody is not going to want to do it your way. They don't all want to be part of your project. So, don't try to make them.

It might make more sense to you if instead of "NCN" you thought about the whole world. If your project is to make teddybears for needy children, that's absolutely wonderful. But if you had the power to make all 6 billion people on the planet be making teddybears right now, would you do that? I hope not, because lots of these people have other important things to do, and if we were all making teddybears there would be nobody to give them to, because they would already have a bunch. It is no different here. Many other people in NCN have important things to do and don't have time to be part of your project. Doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with your project. It just means that the others have things to do too.

Many people have joined NCN and immediately seen it as a certain kind of resource they wanted to exploit and harvest. And, ok, NCN is here as a resource, but it is a resource in the form of people who might want to work with you somehow. It is not a resource of faceless people to promote TO or sell TO. It is not a list of prospective customers or clients or followers, even if some of them might be. It is not a list of people to wholesale sign up into anything.

I've been approached by quite a string of people who wanted me to sign everybody in NCN up in some Multi-Level Marketing scheme. Then you'd all be my downline and I'll make lots of money to keep NCN running, and you'd all be selling skincare products to your friends. NOT!

And I've been approached by quite a few people who had THE right issue that everybody in NCN should get behind, who've asked me to re-define NCN as being about that issue.

Many people who've joined have thought "Ah, there's 6000 readily available and likeminded people who would all be interested in my book, or in my product", and have used any available means to get that message out to everybody, including sending SPAM out to the member list.

Imagine that you had the private e-mail addresses of the members of all parliaments and governments on the planet. Would you send them a message saying "You could be earning $1000 a month by stuffing envelopes at home!"? No, you wouldn't. Would you try to enroll all them in your project of making teddybears for needy children? Well, a bunch of them might like it, but, really, they already have to worry about 1000s of different issues, and probably don't have time to be approached by the general public about 10's of thousands of other projects. And they don't have time to make teddybears. That would end up being SPAM, no matter how well intended your project is.

NCN is not that different. Yes, probably some of the people here are just sitting waiting to hear about some interesting and beneficial projects to sink their teeth into, or they're just waiting for a suggestion on what book to read. But a bunch of people are already extremely focused and busy and successful at what they do, and might be doing great things for the world already. And they might be considering NCN to be a safe haven where they can be with other like-minded people without wasting their own time. But if they get barraged with well-intended, but irrelevant messages, they will not hang around much longer.

So, if you feel a need for reaching EVERYBODY, take a second look and try to determine if the issue is really of global concern. Not whether it is important, but whether it really needs to be examined by EVERYBODY. Oh, feel free to forward e-mails to your friends in your own time, but don't assume that all members of NCN are people you can just add to your personal distribution list for what you find interesting. Some of them are, but ALL of them certainly won't be interested. Again, I don't mean to be negative about anything in specific you want to pass on. I only mean to protect the interests of most of us here.

The math is quite simple and obvious to me. You can do whatever you want as long as you don't stop others from doing what they want. You can promote what you do and invite others to join you, but you can't expect to get through to everybody. It is the only way that I can see a whole world working in a fair and synergetic way. There needs to be a free range of motion for each individual piece of the puzzle. You're the authority on your piece, but you can't expect that you know best for everybody else. There are probably mathematical formulas that would describe this. You can maybe stay up on what a handful of other people are doing. But you can't possibly stay up on what 10,000 people are doing, and you don't have time for listening to everything they have to say.


So, again, this is a *network*. A network of independent members, with voluntary links between them, with everybody a leader of their own activity, and all grouping and re-grouping in various ways along the way.




If you think you'll be able to control that, you'll be disappointed. You might inspire and facilitate the network into leaning in one direction or another. But if you think you can elect a committee who will decide what everybody will do, it won't work.

The important distinction there is *everybody* versus *somebody*. You can make any kind of committee you want and invite some people into working with you or for you. You can make that a dictatorship or a hierarchy if you want. But you can't do that with everybody in NCN, and you can't do that with everybody in the world. It will always be voluntary whether one wants to be in your group or not.

So, back to the park metaphor. I mow the lawn and make park benches and install water fountains. If you want to join me, come on over, I need a lot of help. If you want to make another park somewhere else, great, I'll teach you anything I know and I'll lend you my tools. And if you come up with a way of improving the park, drop a note in the suggestion box, which I pay great attention to.

But if you set up a committee that wants to turn the park into something else, like a parking lot or a bingo hall, I'll have a problem with that. Or if you want the park to only be open to people with college degrees who're wearing business suits. You can do any of those things in your own corner of the park any time you want. But you can not enforce that on everybody. There needs to be spaces also for the people who don't fit your criteria, or who disagree with you.

As the current caretaker of the New Civilization park, I'm open to whatever you want to do here, as long as it isn't a hostile takeover, and as long as it doesn't involve gambling the whole thing on some possibly good idea of yours.

So, use the resources. Find playmates. Talk about your plans and your projects and your interests. Start workgroups. Get busy.

But forget about trying to dominate or control the world, even if you mean well. That just isn't the game here.

If some of you still feel this means I'm being negative about your project, or you're wondering who put me in charge, I don't think you understood what I meant at all. I hope you did, or I'll start pulling my hair out, and there really isn't much left.


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10 comments

22 Feb 2002 @ 19:04 by scotty : Keep your hair on Ming
keep your hair on ming 'cos you're right
this place is not one (or two or hundreds)
versus one (or two or hundreds)
this is a family - no - it's more than that
this is an entity
we all have our role to play
we all have our place
like a fish in the ocean - are they two seperate things or are they simply one living in harmony with the other
not being able to exist without the other
at the same time not neccessarily knowing the other exists
we can be true to ourselves true to our dreams our visions
without being untrue to the entity
don't know if you understand what I'm trying to say
we'll get there we're getting there
slowly one step at a time
each one doing their job pulling together
thankyou all of you for being
love you  



22 Feb 2002 @ 20:16 by mmmark : Mister Ranger
Dear Ming - this post is clearer and more thorough than previous posts I have read. For the first time you gave a description of what the site is from its inception up to this time where you are still maintaining that objective. I have several thoughts to add: 1] If this is indeed the way you want NCN to be, then it would be invaluable and courteous for new members to read this as a standing page of "NCN Mission," so they know what they are members of. This will avoid the problem of members of acting in ignorance of your goals and taking endless hours of your time to explain or debate it repeatedly. 2] I think most of the members would like to see many more pieces of park equipment if NCN is to empower them to act in smaller nuclear groups. Your offer to help them do that is key to telling members what IS possible from your node on the network. This too needs to placed with the mission statement, so we will have an idea of how to cocreate something here. 3] I was hoping NCN would be more of a model center than a small node, of course this is relative, but that is my personal preference. Based on the description of intent here, NCN is just another node on the www. The Internet, with its global reach, already does all those things and more than NCN can of itself. What is so cool about NCN? Why is it special and unique? Why is it compelling to come here? I think the social contact is the greatest part, particularly because it is an international blend of evolutionists., yet I do not think that will be enough to maintain any significantly active membership alone. 4] Thank you deeply for clearing the air and seeing this through so we can rest in peace with your resolutions. I may take you up on your offer in the future. Sincerely - Mark  


22 Feb 2002 @ 20:50 by ming : Declaration of Content
Yes, there are probably ways it can be made more clear what NCN is and what it isn't, when one comes in the door. I believe in any group having sort of a Declaration or Content, or a clear specification of the contract one is entering by being part of it. And maybe we need a bit more formality on that. That gets me thinking on some things.

And, no, I don't think this is meant to be just like any other place on the web. And, no, I still don't think this is just some place to hang out and chat. So, well, my park metaphor breaks down there. I actually wouldn't be happy with everybody just coming in and having a party and leaving a lot of trash.

What I hope to have happen is still an experiment in social organization - and the evolution of a resilient synergetic network that scales to any size.  



23 Feb 2002 @ 00:25 by shawa : Ming, may I hug you?
...How tired you must be of not having people understand you. And instead of posting a long comment here, which I had in mind, I will go to my Newslog and post it there. I think I understand the nature of your experiment, and I think I can help a little in - at least - picking up some litter (no offense meant AT ALL), and throw it into the proper bins. To understand you, people must at least get the concept of a quantum jump in the mind. I´m rather privileged in the sense that my brain works the way your experiment is meant to work, and I´m experimenting in concrete reality, have been in the laboratory for 15 years now. Let´s see what happens.  


23 Feb 2002 @ 01:10 by ming : Hugs always welcome
Thanks for understanding!  


23 Feb 2002 @ 01:16 by ming : The Message at the Door
Now, I went over and looked at the message at the door, which people must read when they join, which is the NCN FAQ. And I must admit, I find that quite clear too. But I suppose some people don't take the time to read it, or it doesn't make sense to them at the moment, and they never go back and look at it later.  


23 Feb 2002 @ 02:59 by mmmark : http://www.newciv.org/ncn/ncnintro.html
Dear Mister Park Ranger – I must start by saying that I am not trying to find fault with you or what you have accomplished here on NCN. I also wish that you would not always try to find exception to what I say, as opposed to thinking about why I say it. These comment are not designed to make you uncomfortable or me happy. I have read these FAQ pages, and yet I still come away with something so general, that it is hard to know how that relates in real terms because it is all nonspecific. There are also statements I would label as exaggerations. This Log post is better than all the FAQ stuff in my eyes, in terms of stating your intent and your willingness to help in some way. I really like what your goal is here and why you want to protect the diversity, but I do not side with the idea that everything you have here is perfect or clear to the average person. One of the reasons misunderstandings happen, is because we are not clear in the first place. There is also a danger for me to try and make a constructive non-critical comment about the site, without the warrior in you coming to greet me. This is not a contest for me, it my expression of things you can do to make this site 1000 times more powerful than it is. OK – so maybe I don’t write things so you can understand me – but that should prompt a question and not a defense. And I too could ask more questions. It might be a good idea to try and reduce the NCN mission statement down into 2 or 3 sentences to lay it out in concise form to be backed up by detailed FAQ sheets. If NCN has not attained the power you want it to have, or embodied the node concept yet, then why don’t you engage us to refine this vision you have. Shakti is a thinkin about it now. I’m thinking about it to, but we don’t have a formal way to that together. The addition of a challenge page and/or a suggestions page would place these issues in one place so we could all feel the pulse together. I want to encourage you and I want to help, yet I do not know how to do that independently from you. Respect should be given first as in Namasté, so you will trust my words have more than letters to them. Hey – I have been here every single day (all day for many of them) for the past 4 months or more and it has taken me this long just to begin to get on your page. Bottom line, I would like you to make easier for people to comprehend and all its pieces. Thanks for listening - Mark  


23 Feb 2002 @ 07:58 by invictus : Very Well Said
I understand and respect your intentions with NCN, Ming. I'm glad it's here, and I think you are right on in what you say. I definitely have no intent of trying to push anything on anybody, or build an army of world salvation. I just want to wake people up as best I can and hope they get the message. I want to contribute any wisdom I can and learn from the wisdom of all the others here. And we are all here for the same reason. We want a better world. So let's not forget that. It is a bumpy road. Listening to each other, even when things get thick, is the only way we'll get anything done. Bravo, Ming!  


4 Mar 2002 @ 13:56 by magical_melody : Ming
After reading the post and then the comments, I found the information to be very helpful for me personally in clarifying components of the network. I think the post could be added in a more visible place as an adjunct to what is already posted in the intro area, as it could save some steps for you in the long run Ming, and it is important info. In my observation, Mark did not feel heard nor responded to with his piece of input. I felt merit to his 1st point. Course, there was something more triggered within his response to you, and I will leave you two to resolve that. Peace, Alana  


4 Mar 2002 @ 15:54 by ming : Intros
Yeah, I think that some clarity has appeared in the last few weeks, for me and others, which should translate into some more clear signs at the entrance. I will take that to heart.  


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