Monday, January 16, 2006

Open Source Networking

We all utilize in our verbal communications words and phrases that have multiple meanings, are unclear, or have been hijacked to have specific but inappropriate meanings. These words are often referred to as “code words”. In our communications we need to be careful not to abuse language in creating code words or to use phrases that will be misinterpreted.

One such word that has come into such a code realm is networking. When we use the word networking, do we mean building a collaborative network? Do we mean introducing person A to person B? Do we mean suggesting that person A contact person B? Do we mean building our own social network?

As so many have abused the concept, for many networking has become a negative practice. What does networking really mean? If it can be used both to describe using contacts to achieve a personal ends as well as to describe collaborative behavior, then we need to make clear each time we use the word what it means. Either that or not use the word but use a word or phrase which will more appropriately describe what is intended.

What we say may clearly mean one thing to a certain group of people but something else entirely to another. Such a phrase is Open Source. Those in the information technology field understand it fairly well, economic development professionals in another way, and the general public not at all. The general public may try to interpret it looking at the words open and source but what comes out is not what is meant.

The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment

On this day of celebration of Martin Luther King, I quote from the sermon given by The Reverend Martin Luther King at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights on May 14, 1963 from the pulpit to an overflowing church. In it he asks all of us to be maladjusted in terms of not accepting the bigotry of religion and society. The same applies to the acceptance of the old way of behaving in the economic arena: needing approval from the powerful, accepting short term gains as the ends, dealing with each other in uncollaborative and unethical ways.

There are many technical words in every academic discipline which become stereotyped and cliché. I want to mention one of these words. It is the word maladjustment. It is a great technical word in modern psychology, which has become a ringing cry. It is the product, or the modern child, of psychology.

We all want to live the well-adjusted life in order to avoid neurotic personalities, but I must be honest with you by saying that there are some things within our social order to which I am proud to be maladjusted, and to which I call all men of good will to be maladjusted until the good society is realized.I must confess that I will never adjust myself to segregation and discrimination. I will never become adjusted to religious bigotry. I will never adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many and give luxuries to the few. I will never become adjusted to the madness of militarism: the self-defeating effects of physical violence. In a day when Sputniks and Explorers are dashing through outer space, guided ballistic missiles are carving highways of death throughout the stratosphere, no nation can win a war. There is no longer a choice between violence and non-violence. It is either non-violence or non-existence. The alternative to disarmament, the alternative to suspension of nuclear tests, the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and working toward disarming the whole world, may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation. I never intend to adjust to the madness of militarism.

It may well be the greatest need of the hour, the greatest need of our world, to have more maladjustment. This is why I am calling for the immediate formation of a new organization, “The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.” There is a need for men and women to be as maladjusted as the prophet Amos. In his day, in the midst of injustices, his proud words echo across the centuries, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” There is a need for men and women today to be as maladjusted as Abraham Lincoln, who had the vision to see that this nation could not exist half-slave and half-free. There is a need for us to be as maladjusted as Jefferson, who in the midst of an age amazingly adjusted to slavery cried with words rising to cosmic proportions, “All men are created equal.” There is a need for men to be as maladjusted as Jesus of Nazareth, who could stand amid the men and women of his day, amid the intricacies of the formidable military machinery of the Roman Empire, to say, “He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword,” and cry out, “Love your enemies; bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.”

Through such maladjustment, we will be able to emerge from the darkened midnight of man’s inhumanity to man into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice.

With this faith, we will be able to go on to carve a tower of hope on the mountain of despair and bring into being that great dream and create right here in America a nation where all men will live together in brotherhood and where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality.

Read the whole sermon here.