Recently, I read something that said (I’m paraphrasing):
The surest way to mediocrity is trying to be liked by everyone.
Shortly after, I met the conspiracy theorist Mike Levin, of Unfolding Magazine to talk about Awesome Ottawa, you can read the article here.
I didn’t really like the article, but I’m trying to embrace the idea that criticism or just bitchy innuendo means that we’re doing something out of the ordinary. Mike uses his 30 years of experience as a journalist as evidence that people don’t behave altruistically. I wonder when that became self-perpetuating, but to be fair I don’t think reporting tends to focus on people being nice.
But – I would like to clarify here, that as a technologist, I take privacy seriously. My research makes public more public and as a result I graph people who aren’t spammers or public figures only with their permission. Also, as a technologist, I’m aware that the internet is often very public, and I can’t give a better warranty on other people’s data than I have on my own. I also can’t guarantee the actions of 10’s of others – the Awesome Foundation has members in many other countries, and we share information. I can say that our intent is only to publicize the winners of our grants, and perhaps those other projects that we think deserve a distinctive mention. But of course, cynics like Mr Levin can feel free not to apply to us.
The other suggestion was one of ageism. I can’t tell you what other trustees do, but I do know for myself that when I’m looking through the grants I’m completely uninterested in anything but two fields: the proposal, and what they need the money for. It wouldn’t surprise me if applications mostly come from younger people – as a result of information flowing through social networks, more free time, or just more need for the money to fund their project, but I have no data on that.
My feeling is, that the things we fund shouldn’t fit well in either of the following sentences:
- I’m going to the bank to try and get a loan to fund My Awesome Project.
- I’m going on a sponsored cycle/walk/bungee jump/whatever in order to raise money for My Awesome Project.
Thus far, that’s the only criteria I’ve come up with.
At the end of my meeting with Mr. Levin, he said he thought I was naive. Honestly? I was not displeased with this assessment. I’m 25 – I’ve dated idiots, had my heart broken, covered for an alcoholic co-worker and been completely disillusioned by the graduate school experience. So naive? Not in respect to love, work, or, really, people. I’m just not sufficiently cynical that I think it’s impossible that there might be 10 other people in Ottawa that can get behind this idea of ENABLING MORE AWESOMENESS.
There seem to be a lot of people who will complain about the way things are, but not try to change them. Every month, I get together with a bunch of people who, like me, are trying to make change happen. These people inspire me.
We may not succeed, but at least we’re trying. Some months we make make a firework, and some it may be a damp squib. I’m realistic about it – just not realistic to the point of inaction.
So sure, call me a dreamer – but I’m not the only one.