What is the purpose of Edgeryders?

Though, out of respect of other EdgeRyders who oppose this approach, I’ve tried to avoid bringing up this high level view, but I feel it is holding me back. In doing this I am not seeking some exact higher truth. I do feel that facing together in generally the same direction is valuable and is worth making some kind of effort.

EdgeRyders can take on many shapes and meanings in the hearts and minds of many people. Yet I am seeing a recurring underlying theme that comes up time and again and I’d like to call it out in words:

“The purpose of EdgeRyders is to build bridges between the edge and mainstream societies.”

To me, everything seems to revolve around that.

I have been and will continue to live on my edge regardless of EdgeRyders. Living on the edge means I have in some ways chosen to step back from mainstream society. This makes it difficult for my discoviers to find their way back. I have very little need, motivation or skills to reach back and share my discoveries with mainstream society.

I have very little interest and faith in “online communities” because they are a mediocre means for people to connect. The Edge, for me, is not about mediocrity, it is about an almost obsessive draw to quality. I would like to have more connection with people but I do not seek or expect that to happen online.

My initial online experience of EdgeRyders (reinforced by being physically present at Lote3) is that for me EdgeRyders is a great place to go and meet/connect with other people but not a place I’d choose to hang around and be at / work in. Technically speaking there are better (and specialized) online places/services to go to to actually get work done (and it is unreasonable to expect the EdgeRyders platform to become all those things).

EdgeRyders has very little to offer me as an EdgeRyder amongst other EdgeRyders. It has worlds to offer me as an EdgeRyder living away from mainstream society. I am excited at and moved (all the way to Matera, Italy) by the thought that there may be people out there who can both see and appreciate me for who I am AND represent me and my work to mainstream society AND carry value BOTH WAYS (ie: not only being appreciated but getting paid for what I do … woah!).

The name EdgeRyders can be, and has been for me confusing. EdgeRyders (as an online and offline platform) is NOT as the name implies at the edge but in the space between. Though its individual members may indeed be people who live on the edge, the online/offline gathering, I believe, is not, can not be and should not pretend to be at the edge (I have much more to say about this and hope to do so in another context).

The unique offering EdgeRyders brings to the surface is its bridging capacities. I offer that here as a core purpose/objective for future design efforts. A good design, in this context, would be one that helps us to build bridges.

What say you? Can we, at least in the design context, assume to work together towards that goal?

Don’t get stuck!

Look, this purpose thing is not so important as you think. Coral polyps build coral reefs, which act as a scaffolding structure for very diverse ecosystems. But of course the corals are not deliberately trying to do that: they have no purpose. However, for the many species that depend on reefs, they have a function – that of building the reef which is a home to some species, a hunting ground for their predators etc.

Function is an eye-of-the-beholder thing. It is you that, looking at Edgeryders, observe that it builds bridges between the edge and mainstream societies. But this is ok from a design point of view, because then you might ask yourself “by virtue of which changes would Edgeryders do this better?” And this is indeed a design question.

If you try to get everyone on the same page you are in for a lot of frustration. It would be like asking the corals, the small fish and the predators to agree that the corals change their way of building in the interest of the predators. They would not understand your point that you want to improve the sea-snakes hunting experience, because they see themselves as simply building hexoskeletons. If you want a diverse community to bend around a design decision, you need to sell a complex deal which different people can see in theor own terms: metaphorically, stronger hexoskeleton building for the corals, better hiding possibilities for the starfish and the urchins, more nutrients for the algae, more prey for the predators…

Out of the metaphor, if you are interested in building bridges between the edge and mainstream societies, I would advise you proceed as folllows.

  1. Identify some activities that edgeryders carry out that are conducive to building bridges – in your language, that "serve that purpose".
  2. Figure out how to help them in those activities.

You really don’t need to waste your time in agreeing with anybody on a high-level description. I certainly don’t agree with your statement of purpose – and I find the idea itself of purpose epistemologically naive – but that does not mean you can not play a useful role in helping some of us doing what we want to do. Good luck.


Alberto I appreciate your comment. There is a large philosophical divide between you and I. I was hoping to spend some time together in Matera to connect and explore it further but that did not happen. This medium (post & comment) is not a suitable place for such a discussion.

This IS me trying to be conductive to building bridges.

I asked myself what could I do constructively (embracing your “do-ocracy”) instead of a philsophical debate. I thought to initiate a design process as I believe it can be and to see what happens. I have placed the “purpose” block in place and my intention is to build upon it and see what happens. When a “design tower” is built upon it we may be able to discover the value of this building block. If we can pull it out with any conseuqences then it will have proved to be redundant. If however it turns out to support the structure then we may have learned something together.

However I am calling upon discipline and commitment to make this effort. Your comment does not make me feel welcome. Instead of a “hey, this is a different approah, lets see where it goes” I am getting “don’t waste your time with this purpose game of yours”. The effect of this on me is that I take a step back on and reconsider moving forward instead of taking another step forward. Which is one way to go about it … though a much less efficient one.

I have no attachment to this effort. I am content to continue with it and see where it goes and I am just as content to forget about it. So, please tell me, as a founding member and prominent voice in this creation, what do you want?

Design tower

I will do you one better: your “building bridges” purpose (or function) is a legitimate way to see ER. Why don’t you just assume this is indeed ER’s mission for design purposes and build your design tower on top of it? And see where this takes you.

As for me, I have tried to tell you what I want: I focus on the protocol level of this thing. So I want a community that interacts fruitfully, with minimum entropy from trolling, beating about the bush, veto attempts etc. I want to watch in fascination what people actually do once they become ninja level collaborators on a large scale, and don’t want to predetermine the direction and outcome of that collaboration. I (try to) design the low level of ER, but let the high level emerge.

But I am also an individual member of the community, swarming about like any other. In this capacity, I am trying to use ER as a way to get paid to work on interesting problems, and to be able to hire (at least temporarily) great people out there that have contributions to make. This does entail interfacing with the mainstream world, because it carries resources we need. However, I see this as a necessary evil: every time you interact with mainstream orgs you slow down by a factor 100.

deal: assumption

lets see where it takes us

Keep talking Ronen.

Even if the ‘dragon trainer’ doesn’t like the questions you are asking.

(hi Alberto!)

How was your experience at the event Ronen?

How did it feel? And of purpose here are some nice reminders what that means for those who have forgotten, and lest you also forget, ‘the opposite is also true!’ Those with a good sense of irony will glean a lot from attending to what this implies of a lack of purpose:

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” 

― Friedrich Nietzsche

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” 

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it” 

― Gautama Buddha

“Intelligence minus purpose equals stupidity.” 

― Toba Beta

some talk of collective intelligence…and so hmmm…

Maybe this is worth a rethink.

(To the good folk of the present whom I know and love and who I missed, kind and warmest regards)

keep asking questions, and don’t take answers as enough, do your own research, trust your own intuitions, keep the fatih, and keep heart.

not sure

I have much more written and moving inside me about the event and EdgeRyders then I do about design. Yet I’m not sure I want to or have the motivation to or that it is at all correct that I answer your question “how was the event?”.

I’m not looking for nor I do plan to invest effort in being confrontational … at least not in this place and time.

When it comes to purpose I feel that the community is evading something valuable and that doing so undermines the community itself.

Purpose is a very individualistic thing

…so the best we can do here is simply continue to get clear for ourselves of our own (subjective) purposes (which it seems you are attempting to grapple with and articulate here, bravo!), keep at it, just be careful not to try and get everyone to agree to one purpose, it won’t work, we are all here at edgryders for different reasons, let’s help one another get clear and be transparent about what these are, get these motivations and purposes out as ongoing, naturally evolving processes…and in this process, mutual crossover and agreement will naturally occur and we can be happy for those brief moments of synergy…but we will need to be as equally happy as these synergies dissolve to form new directions, new purposes…trying to control any such process will simply end in folly, let our comings and goings arise naturally without trying to put it them in boxes with labels like “finished” or “done” or “purpose”. Be your own purpose and support others in theirs, eh?


I’ve been reading all this and I agree with mishek, it can feel constraining for some to try to define one purpose. It can work for organisations with clearer 1pager mission, vision, values, but less for Edgeryders because of the various degrees and types of involvement of diverse community members. It may be that the sum of our individual aspirations and how we see ER community going doesn’t make up one goal. And I love the synergies and new purposes that mishek mentions, it’s true!

I don’t disagree with you Ronen and I think that bridge building is one valid purpose you see in Edgeryders, among other tentatively subjective ones - for me ER is also connecting radical change makers who in their environments lack resources and/or feel excluded. For you it’s not valuable personally, but for many of us here it is. It’s fine by me if we work with your purpose.

how do individual purposes come together in community?

I understand your point [mishek] and can relate to it very much. I’ve tried to expand my intention in long format: /t/designing-edgeryders-online/514/meta-studio-and-performance

Can individualistic purpose be strengthened by a community with a shared purpose?

Would it be OK for there to be an element of sacrifice for being in community, forgoing what is important to me to support what I believe I can only achieve as part of community?

I sense an underlying fear (not just from you), as if purpose is perceived as threatening and devouring. Maybe past experiences have shaped this?  If that is the case, can we be open to something new in this context without being tied to our past experiences?

I inted to be present in the hangout tomorrow.

I have no intention to push for agreement on words. I do feel there needs to be an agreement on alignment / direction / tuning … otherwise even beautiful fleeting synergies can cancel each other.

For me, as I will try to demonstrate as I nudge the design process forward, this isn’t a theoretical excercise but a practical tool to navigate design. I am happy to leave it in the realm of “assumption” as Alberto suggested … but I would like to leave an open, soft invitation to see if there can be more to it.

Individuality and Community…tuning, tuning, always tuning…

Hi Ronan. Yes I think we can all agree on an element of individualistic sacrifice in order to benefit from community. It’s always the case. Sacrificing time to truly listen to one another would be my proposal for our shared purpose, our unifying force, alignment or direction here. This is what I will attempt to offer up in doing my part. No expectations from anyone else that this is “our” shared purpose, alignment, etc. Just mine.


Mediocre online communities

This is of course a very subjective thing, it all depends on the kind of work you want to get done or are doing with others. I am hoping we can in fact build a great online platform and experience among one another, it is this thing (our regular hangouts and conversations) that continues to keep me here. Join in sometime! (No it’s not the official hangout, but the thing that happens among a few of us after the business call…) Next one is Tuesday. Cheers.

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please be subjective

what is EdgeRyders for you?

when is the hangout and how do I connect?

Hangout link:

It’s really a hangout more than a meeting with an agenda :) hence the short notice, sorry about that. See you tomorrow!


That’s too subjective an answer for me to put into words here…

I’m much better at talking about such things in real time, not good with written word, a nice long hangout works for me best… Maybe cu there tomorrow?