Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Monday, January 2, 2012day link 

 2011 Accomplishments and 2012 Aims
picture It can be stimulating and rewarding to once in a while take stock of what one has accomplished and what one aims at doing next. The new year is traditionally a good time for doing that. And, I'm in part inspired by such a post from Vanessa Miemis.

To illustrate one good reason for writing it down, when I at first think about what I might have accomplished in 2011, I draw a blank. Didn't really do much, and hadn't really planned anything either. But when one looks a bit closer, there's of course more there...

2011

In 2011 I regained hope. Not that I was particularly hopeless, but there was a certain cynicism that had crept in. A "been there, done that, it didn't work" kind of attitude, hovering behind my habitual optimism. Now, suddenly, there are lots of reasons to be hopeful. The right people are starting to connect in the right ways. Ideas gain traction that previously didn't. Conflicts that previously existed, no longer have much power. On the world scene, the centralized control system is crumbling fast. We have a unique opportunity to put something better in place. For the first time since the 1990s do I feel really energized and hopeful about this being the time when it is possible.

In 2011 I found my philosophical voice in a new way. That was actually a life hack. I'm a member of a local Toastmasters club where people practice public speaking. It is a good piece of advice for a public speaker to collect material that will be ready for use whenever one is called upon to say something. Stories, jokes, quotes, that kind of thing. So, I made a document for recording good material when I ran into it. I made one of the categories My Own Quotes, i.e. stuff I've said that I can be quoted for, because I wasn't able to come up with anything at the time. Surprisingly, it turned out that I suddenly started saying more things that were quotable, on Twitter, on Facebook, etc. Which in turn, ironically, means I have little use for my list, as it is more fun to make up something new.

I've met a lot of people. Specifically, I now feel part of a global network of the "right" kind of people, which is really a mix of different kinds of people, but one that fits. And it is not one thing. Rather, I notice overlapping groups coming together, sort of under the surface, without formal leaders. Things are more likely to happen in hidden Facebook groups or private hangouts. Not that there's anything secret going on, but it seems more productive with self-selecting groups that invite new members personally, rather than very visible public groups and causes that people go and join for abstract reasons. The Next Edge is one name for a loose group that is quite happening.

In October I was in New York for a week. Participating in ContactCon, a MetaCurrency collabathon, and hanging out on Liberty Square with Occupy Wallstreet. All of it very inspiring. Meeting a bunch of kindred souls I otherwise knew only online. And the Occupy movement added a very tangible and present focus, an incarnation of much that we're talking about, and a surprising inspiration that sends things in a new direction. It was enlightening to see how a small group of people sleeping under tarps in Zuccotti park could hold the world's attention. Very inspiring to experience the consensus process in a General Assembly.

In 2011 I began to see Dialogue happening online. I.e. it seems possible for small groups of people to share a space with each other in a mindful manner, without agenda, without posturing, without conflict, exploring the unknown together. I have previously attempted that, and failed, so it is new.

I decided to move forward with some of what I consider my own online projects, stuff I haven't gotten around to for years, despite not really having time. Ironically, since I'm busy being a paid programmer for other people's projects, I am now experimenting with outsourcing some of my own programming projects to others. It is still unclear whether it will bear fruit, but it is nevertheless satisfying to see activity.

I started adjusting my work environment more to my liking. I'm now working on a standup desk most of the time, which I think is more healthy.

2012

I'm intending to revamp my web presence, including sites that I'm responsible for that have been stagnant. Most important will probably be a long-awaited re-launch of newciv.org, with a somewhat different spin. But I'd also like to make my personal web presence more coherent, as it is spread over a number of sites now, hard to follow in one place. I also hope to launch one or two useful tools on the web that might gain some traction.

I'm right now really excited about taking up aquaponics. I.e. cultivating fish and vegetables together in a small eco-system. I'm right now learning what I need to know, but I plan on getting that all going this year. In a greenhouse, I'm thinking. I'm not otherwise somebody you're likely to find outside with his hands in the dirt, so this will require some learning. What motivates me is in part that it involves technology, besides it being completely organic and producing no waste. We already have chickens, we have a large backyard with fruit trees, and a well on the property, so we have good potential for being able to be quite self-sufficient.

The aquaponics thing will be one thing to inspire/force me to be more handy. I'm a software guy and haven't traditionally been somebody you'd find in the garage with power tools. But I'd like in various ways to be more of a maker and tinkerer. In part for the fun, in part for the self-sufficiency aspects, in part because I think the economy is going in that kind of direction. So, if I don't run out of money from buying aquaponics equipment, I'm thinking maybe 3D printing, maybe some kind of solar panel setup. We can't use the standard government sponsored approach to that, as we only rent this house. Oh, and I need webcams, so I can monitor my aquaponics setup, etc.

I have almost no network here locally of the kind that is in sync with what I'm into online. That is rather odd, if I compare with how it was for us in California. I hope to remedy that this year. That might be local groups that are into permaculture, local economies, the local fablab, co-ops, dialogue, etc.

My current choice for exercise and socializing and being more in my body is dance. So, I'll continue going to dance classes 3-5 nights per week. This year I hope I will master it to a sufficient degree, or maybe just relax with it, that it can be mainly the form of creative expression and social fun that I love, and not about remembering steps and sometimes awkwardly failing.

Oh, and I need to make money too. I'm aiming to become independent of paid work this year. I'm 1/3 of the way there. That is, 33% of my income is residual income from my own website projects. I'd like to get that to 100%, so that I can concentrate on doing what needs doing, not what I must do in order to make a living.

I intend to spend more time speaking the truth, or looking for it, if it isn't available. Less time being worried about what anybody else will think. Less time trying to please others even though things don't really fit. I will aim at being a conductor, not a resistor. Preferably a superconductor.
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