Write the kickoff post

Let us know if we can help, but, as discussed last week, I am quite eager to get this one out.

Drafting it today

Will write this in the evening, and then you’ll have the opportunity to comment / review it before it’s being published. B/c I found that our contract with UNDP, just like the one of the original STF project, contains a clause preventing us from telling that we work with UNDP. Which obviously makes no sense in this project, but I’ll want to let them agree otherwise in the call with Peter Barwick, tomorrow 12:15pm.

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Sorry for the delay, I had a hard time being creative … . Here’s the first version. @Alberto may let me know if it’s up to his standards, or simply modify if needed and publish away (add to the Blog group, tick “Published” checkbox). (@Natalia_Skoczylas, you’re welcome to read and adapt it too of course!)

does it sit on restricted part of the website? I cannot access it. But if so, it’s ok, I can also contribute when published.


Matt, I started doing some edits, but I think the structure is improvable. I suggest one that focuses (1) on Nepal; (2) on how people can be involved and only then (3) on Edgeryders. What you have now is something that gets to the meat halfway down the post; and it treats Nepal as just another country.

I suggest something like this:

“Edgeryders is going to Nepal. Natalia and I will be in Kathmandu by the end of this month: we are being asked by UNDP to help make the country’s nation building process more inclusive. This is, to say the least, exciting.”

“If you are fascinated by transition and change, Nepal is a really interesting country, one that was never afraid to experiment with uncommon models. In 1951 it had a revolution, that managed to instate a constitutional democracy. In 1960 it saw a “royal coup”: the king declared parliamentary democracy a failure, and dreamed up a “partyless” system of local governing councils. In 1996 a Maoist insurgency started to establish “people’s government” at a district level, as the civil war between insurgents and loyalists burned on. In 2001 Prince Dipendra “went on a shooting-spree”, assassinating nine members of the royal family, including the ruling King and his Queen, before shooting himself. In 2002 the new King deposed the government and took complete personal control of the state, but he reverted back to having a government after one week. In 2005 he did that again – and for good measure cut phone and Internet access […]” (the history of Nepal is here) “[…] the country is engaged in the difficult, but exciting, task of rebuilding itself into a model that works for everyone.”

“UNDP is trying to help make this process of nation building more inclusive. We are being called in to include, specifically, what they call “alternative leaders”; these would be hackers, activists, social innovators. Imagine what would have happened if Mandela could have enlisted the Chaos Computer Club in 1994, bringing openness and computers to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission! […]”

“Of course, this sounds like Mission Impossible. Political change is very difficult. Political élites in any country are often unenthusiastic about opening up to new people with different cultures, and we have no reason to believe Nepal will be different. But guess what: we are always moaning and complaining about how things don’t work. Well, here is a small chance to make a small difference to a historically important process. We are going to run for it, and we are going to make the absolute most of it, for ourselves as well as for our Nepalese brothers and sisters. After all, Mission Impossible is exactly what we are building Edgeryders for: we want to be the foreign legion of social innovation, remember?”

“So Natalia and I are moving to Kathmandu for a while. And here is how you all can get involved […]”.


Mmh … we’ll need two texts then

I agree about improving the structure (what is told when).

The content of your detailed proposal is all fine, from your perspective and regarding what you are excited about in the Nepal project. I’m sorry but I can’t tell your tale – if you want it published, I propose you change it to be told by yourself and publish it as well. We will just have two or more posts.

As for myself, there are other things I’m excited about, and reasons why I don’t write about some things (yet):

  • Transition I don't find exciting. "It's just a side effect  of improvement."
  • I'm not comfortable writing about history "from the books". I might get the events right, but not their significance. Made the experience when discussing Georgia's history last year with Georgians … .
  • From a broad view, Nepal's recent history is not more special than that of the likes of Georgia (armed conflicts with with Russia, 1989, 2005), Armenia (the genocide) or Egypt (revolution gone wrong).
  • What I do find exciting is discovering if and to what extent the grassroots social change movement is everywhere, and could transcend national boundaries via the Internet.
  • And of course it's exciting if and how all the "local nationbuilding" initiatives can help out the powers that be. I'll always assume a grassroots level perspective though, treating successful nationbuilding on aggregate levels of social structure as "just" an emergence of what happens on grassroots level. I'm too much of an "alternative leader" myself to do otherwise :D

I’ll give it some thinking and improve the post structure etc. today, but again, you’ll have to publish your version if you want it published :slight_smile:

Fair enough (and a big BUT)

BUT this is not about what excites me or you. Remember: we are distributed, and you are now communicating. Communication has a purpose. The purpose is deep engagement of a community that will care about this project and deliver it. So, in an important sense, “good” is what gets others excited.

When I was a performing musician it was the same. The artist’s personality – like any human’s – is rich; but on stage, you emphasize the parts of it that resonate with the audience. And every single person in the audience, of course, sees herself, not you, as the main character in the show: the title is not “Bjork plays a show in Brussels” but “Alberto and Matt go to Bjork’s concert in Brussels”. It teaches you to take the ego right off communication :slight_smile:

This does not mean your post is bad (I think it is, structurally, because the meat is too far down). I am just reminding you of why we are posting at all!

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Re: But

Thanks for the reminder! I reworked the post completely and just published it. Won’t be perfect but useful now.

(On the “what excites whom”, the musician’s experience is a great paradigm. But also for the limits of “good is what get others excited”. The musician is beloved in the first place because he or she has an own, original style and plays on stage in a way that he or she authentically likes the experience. I’m just starting to experiment, but I intend to emphasize this part more. B/c one minor grievance I had withe the original (CoE project’s) communications was that it was “too pushy”, too much advertising like, which I think can be counterproductive for Edgeryders-ish people. Rather, present the cause, let me as a member of audience understand it, and then let me get excited about this or that aspect all by myself authentically. But as said, I’m just starting up, and thanks for reminding me to keep focused on purpose when writing to communicate.)

Interesting insight

While I agree with Alberto, there’s something about Matthias’s point which I find useful to think of. More or less related: as ER LbG is growing, the distinction between organisational communication (which has at least some advertising flavors to it, whether or not we like it) and simply speaking from your own point of view is more worthy of attention, especially when projects are ER LbG projects and not the community’s. I think the first one is good for Launch posts, but the latter is more useful if we want to keep the ER LbG in the back as an enabler rather than an active participant in the project. I also find positioning oneself very useful eg stating from what capacity you are writing, and could make for a gentle transition from company to community related opportunities. Thanks for your points Matthias, well acknowledged.

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Always re-finding yourself

You are right on all accounts, Matt.

With musicians, what ends up happening is this:

  1. They get bored and want to move on. But when you are a professional and you think about your music 24 hours a day, sometimes "wanting to move on" is not the same as having a strong, pure artistic intuition. This is what happens with "second album syndrome": chances are, you wrote your first album on the side, not as a professional but as a struggling newcomer who works as a waiter or is a student or something: so it "rings true".
  2. Music is communication. If you do music for yourself, you are just jerking off. But here is the catch: you think about your music 24/7; your fans think about your music perhaps 10 hours a year. Result: things that sounds tired and worn out to you will sound fresh and exciting to them. Can you imagine what it must be like for a creative genius like Bob Dylan, who authored probably a couple of thousands songs, to perform Masters of War, or some other hit from his first album in 1963? And yet, when he does there will be people around with tears in their eyes. 

At the end of day, what ends up happening is that musicians are constantly struggling to connect back to that original energy. A producer I once worked with made me this example: suppose Mick Jagger develops a taste for tango, and wants to be a tango singer. There is something really wrong with the picture! Fans want Mick to be Mick, and Mick became Mick not because he is some kind of minor-grade British Carlos Gardel: he became Mick because of, you, know, Sympathy for the devil and all that. So, artists either lose themselves or pull it together, build a model of themselves beyond their whims and stick to their guns.

Exec summary: remember that being enthusiastic on what you do is an outcome, and that outcome is driven by your goals, and one of your goals is not to lose your deeper self. smiley

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Makes a lot of sense

and reminds me of interesting discussions around originality, improvisation, “finding your own expression” etc. which I had with a professional musician friend a few years back. I like the imagery, and it maps well on non-musical communication. (It seems to me that the topic offers enough insights and material for a blog post … for you, b/c I have no idea about music …)

I really like the post Matt!

My only issue would be to make it clear that Natalia is going as a trainee/intern…can you find a nice photo to put in there too?

Ok sure.

Done that both.