Hackerspace Architect: Leaving a Problem Alone
Those who would be hackerspace founders, those who would step up to lead others or those trying to be seen as thought leaders in a movement, they like to solve problems. So much so that they are not always good at listening to others. Sometimes it’s important to step back and at least try to listen. In a hackerspace many problems that are encountered and frustrations that are aired are not new ones. They follow a line of commonality often that makes them quite routine and tiresome issues for the more experienced and studied hackerspace thinker. That is to say, thousands of hackerspaces around the world encounter the same problems over and over again.
Whilst pondering how to listen better and be a little more sympathetic to those going through problems, which to them, are entirely new, I considered how others endure such banality with patience and grace. It sparked a memory of a podcast, “Oh No Ross & Carrie” (they investigate claims of the supernatural and paranormal so you don’t have to) episode where Ross travels to the Sultan Sea with some (frankly infuriating) Flat Eathers. Whilst I am sure you can imagine the sort of frustrations and goal-post moving, suspensions of logic and other cognitive dissonance that might come with doing an experiment with people who believe in a flat earth, ultimately what is amazing is Ross’ ability to not end up in cyclic arguments with them. My partner, who is a “Maximum Fun” member, had access to extra content where a listener asked Ross and Carrie how they have the patience and grace to manage to be civil and converse, even maintain friendships with people who’s views are so infuriatingly far from their own and provably wrong?
The answer was that it can be very frustrating. However that it was important to listen and not simply to jump in, ready for an argument. An especially striking notion that Ross put across was the idea that you need “to be okay with not correcting every wrong idea in someone else.” and that it is more than okay sometimes to let someone else be wrong. Especially if the conversations isn’t worth the candle.
The challenge here is finding a balance between hearing the same wrong ideas over again AND feeling complicit in perpetuating the idea because you didn’t take the time to log a correction. Though I suspect we can all think of someone in our lives who had a great impact on us, though they disagreed with us, they still listened and respected us and helped to move your view slowly by letting you make the connections and gain the wisdom through your own experiences. If you are thinking, as well you might, there ”isn’t anyone like that in my life!”, well, then I suspect you aren’t listening enough.
At an event recently, I was button holed by one maker who is very much an advocate for their small market town. I should come to the town, they insisted, and help to create a hackerspace. However, rather than letting me speak and ask some questions, the non-stop-verbal-barrage that ensued made it quite clear to me that this one chap, though a great maker and someone with the right spirit, was not a listener, and it occurred to me that this lack of ability to listen, might in no small part, be a big reason that his local hackerspace ideas were not finding willing supporters. I know for my part, I need to listen more and try to push my ideas less on those who needs ears not noises.
Today’s thumbnail is taken from leaflet accompanying Mike Nelson’s The Asset Strippers at Tate Britain