Signs of Change

Being a 3D builder and geeky gal, I tend to run out of food on occasion purely out of neglect of things real. In fear of starvation, I made a run to the local grocery store where, even there, I can’t let my geeky brain curiosity rest. So, while waiting in line to pay, I perused National Geographic finding a most interesting article on the latest find of ancient human remains, "This Face Changes the Human Story. But How?". It sounded intriguing so I made sure to check online for the full article as soon as I got home.

A couple of cavers in South Africa accidentally discovered a cache of human remains in a dangerous, unexplored section of Rising Star, a popular caving location for locals. Quickly, a team of scientists converges on the site to retrieve and record the latest find of ancient (as of yet, undated) remains of human bones—possibly ancestors of modern man.

Now all that was very interesting to me, especially the bit about three women scientists getting to be the first into the cave. It’s a very exciting find that may have tremendous discover value in the quest to draw a more complete lineage of human evolution. It’s a competitive field full of secrecy.

And that’s where I found the most interesting proof of human evolution. Not ancient evolution but, rather, proof of current evolution in the making. Breaking the standards of secrecy in their field, this team decided to bring their discoveries to light as soon as possible. This was, to me, a very enlightening discovery.

"Our team has put itself in the hot seat in another way. If you know much about paleoanthropology, you’ve probably heard about how secretive field projects can be. New discoveries often go years without being announced to professional anthropologists, much less the public.

Why are so many projects so secretive? Discovery is hard work — both in the field and in the laboratory. Other scientists can be brutal critics, pointing out flaws in early interpretations. Sometimes they even steal your work. Our field has historically been a shark tank, and sharing makes the sharks start circling.

We believe that sharing will make our science better. Rising Star is the most open paleoanthropological project that has ever been attempted. We’re experimenting with new ways of sharing the experience. Lee brought together the team of advance scientists by putting out a call on Facebook. National Geographic has been incredibly supportive, with their crew onsite to share updates and video. The senior scientists are sharing updates on Twitter and Facebook, many events as they are happening — follow @LeeRBerger, @RisingStarExped, and @johnhawks."
—John Hawks, In the Hot Seat, http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2013/11/15/in-the-hot-seat/

Being an amateur sociologist, I’ve been taking notes on the current changes in human sociological advancement. And, yeppers, change is happening fast. The internet has had a powerful influence. Not only are people disconnecting with the powers that be and venturing out on their own to make their dreams a reality through self-publishing of writing, music, art, computer engineering, software development and coding but now, even scientists are breaking the mold of dated, ineffective standards that previously tied us too tightly to the governing (whether through actual governance or through financial strangleholds) paradigm.

The revolution will not be televised. It will, however, seep up from the web at sites like kickstarter, through open source software sites, through shared learning experiences in virtual worlds, YouTube tutorials, & MOOCs, and thousands of other small enterprises that bring opportunity, education, & success to basement inventors, closet novelists, starving artists, and geeky brainiacs such as myself.

In this brave new world, it’s not the strong who will survive but the nonconformist who believes in looking to themselves, their friends & family, & their community, whether via the real world or online, for the support needed for fulfilling their passions and advancing their professional careers. By cutting the cord from corporate controlled outlets such as publishing houses, music producers, news sources, software & gaming producers, and even overpriced educational institutions, we are finding our way once again. And, for once, everyone is invited.

Remona Stormborn

Co-Owner of Gaia Foundation in the Great Canadian Grid. Owner of the Builders Resource Center, Rose City Design, & IDEA! in the Great Canadian Grid & InWorldz.

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2 thoughts on “Signs of Change”

  1. Wow, Remona, what an awesome reflection! Before I retired I spent most of my career in university teaching and research. In both, the paradigm of intellectual PROPERTY was inescapable. For students, I think it was mostly the discipline of bibliographic citations and the norm “thou shalt not plagiarize.” For researchers, especially at schools where research is the top priority, your career depended on publishing research that nobody else had done, which includes a notion of ownership. There are even conferences on the subject. So I know what you’re talking about, although my field was never as secretive as I have seen in some parts of mathematics and, apparently, the study of human origins. My heart is with the open source movement, although it may need to address the question of what rewards will be there for undergoing years of drudgery and sacrifice, if not the rewards of “intellectual property ownership.”

    As for the question of a broader evolution of human culture, I am delighted to see the progress we have made in the US and, I think, many other places in the world, toward greater tolerance in all sorts of ways. On the other hand, my internet (and here I’m talking mainly about Facebook) is full of polarized political statements, for many of which need fact checks–another benefit of that old discipline of citation of sources, although that’s only part of fact checking. On the other hand, people who bemoan the polarized politics in the US these days may be looking back at an unusual period (the 50s, early 60s, and maybe the 40s of the 20th century) as a reference. In the early years of the US, adherents of each party viewed the other as traitors (allied with British monarchy or French revolution and terror) and somewhat later, every policy issue became defined in terms of its impact on the survival or spread of slavery. I do think it’s important to get policy right if we are to be a democracy, and I believe that those with I disagree have human dignity, deserve respect, and are probably right some of the time in ways I could see more clearly if I could open my eyes a little wider.

    In InWorldz, I had a conversation just yesterday with someone who has put a great deal of work into some builds and feels s/he will never be close to fully compensated for this effort by sales of products. So that issue of intellectual property exists here too. I’ve talked to others who say they don’t worry about it, they just build for the inherent reward of enjoying it, and share freely. But are there some arduous tasks that can only be motivated by some kind of personal, tangible rewards?

    1. Thanx Phil,

      Change is a process and a slow one at best. We have a lot to learn. I think that the music & movie industry have been battling the intellectual property rights issue on the frontline. Those who cannot change from the self-seeking greedy business practices of the past are falling behind as people break their ties with those producers and publishers.

      On the other hand, more and more people are seeing the light and spending their money in more constructive ways. There are growing pains. It will take work to learn new ways of getting fair compensation for our work, protecting our work from theft, and getting credit for our accomplishments.

      The important thing here is that, without anything other than people’s own need to seek ways to succeed in their passions, a new world is beginning to blossom in which creators of every field can learn, grow, support themselves and their families, and gain acknowledgment for their creations and skills without being forced into the boxes previously provided by big industry gatekeepers whose only goals are profits for their investors. We’re finding more direct ways to invest in each other, offer our goods and services to the community, and support and pass on our knowledge without the need for outdated institutions and corporate middlemen who do not reflect our values.

      I don’t expect these big companies and institutions to go down without a fight. Thankfully they’ve proved too dinosaur brained to keep up. I also don’t expect that we’ll see a lot of change at once. This new movement has been a process. Everyday people like you and me taking steps to make our world a better place in small ways that, together, have added up to a brighter more positive future for everyone.

      Our children are growing up and they have a different ideas about how to get things done. Their social circles are ones of inclusivity rather than exclusion. Their tolerance of polarity is nonexistent. I used to worry about my kids’ and my grandkids’ futures. I see now that they have the situation handled. I do my best now to help in any small way I am able to make that vision happen and rest assured that I leave them in a better world.

      As for the infighting you sometimes see on facebook and other social media areas, I chock that up to primarily religious extremists. Ask any therapist, it gets worse before it gets better. Few dysfunctions go away quietly. Let the trolls scream their death dirges. The rest of us know how to scan past the mess and find intelligence and balance. Tolerance is not an easy habit but a necessary one.

      As for politics I’d like to refer you to: http://www.vox.com/2015/6/26/8849925/obama-obamacare-history-presidents and http://egbertowillies.com/2015/06/27/codified-obama-is-one-of-the-most-consequential-president-in-us-history/ and just about any online newspaper. Obama has brought politics into a new age of diplomacy and, hopefully, others will learn from his example creating a wave of change.

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