Let the hard work begin

Written by Guido Jansen in
June 2016

This year and especially today has been eye opening. In some mayor western countries (similar to where I live in) many (and apparently sometimes a majority) of people have an entirely different perception of reality than I do. This is not a big surprise, but the gap seems to be much larger than previously anticipated.

Photo: The Pale Blue Dot, by Voyager 1 at the request of Carl Sagan.

In my view, we - despite our many differences and challenges - are working towards a more colaborative, more open and more sustainable world. Or at least we should be. And in most cases the world is getting better in a lot of areas like lifespan and quality of life (see Hans Roslings work), and in some other areas it's getting worse fast (watch Before the Flood). It's a very weird realisation that many people don't know, don't care, don't trust or just don't want to act on these facts. Discussing on how to act on the facts makes sense to me, disregarding facts causes short-circuits in my brain.

In the international media and lobbying landscape we are in right now, it's hard to blame individuals for this. Figuring out how things are is really hard. Virality of content isn't based on facts, reading up on research is usually boring, valuing the research is hard, Google and Facebook put us in filter bubbles and there is so much money used for lobbies it's hard to know what's going on. And even when you made a thoughtfull choice, a lot of 'democratic' systems work really weird.

Sidenote: just watch a couple of John Oliver's Last Week Tonight shows and you'll see how weird many (government) organizations and lobbies work. Of course his examples are USA-based, but it probably applies everywhere else.

Psychology research shows that whatever is in focus is what you deem to be important. Your brain assumes that if something grabs your attention and you spent time on it, it must be very important. Why else would you spent time on it? This is what psychologists call "The Focussing Illusion" which is linked to the Anchoring effect.

The importance of attention... is importance Robert Cialdini, Pre-suasion

Of course - as with many biases we have - that doesn't always reflect the real world.

It makes me very proud to see that in some of the communities I choose to be part of focus on open (source), sharing knowledge and organizing things to get the whole community to a higher level. But also: to welcome new members with open arms. This week Sonja Riesterer posted a blog aboutAn open, approachable Magento Community: Are we as open and welcoming as we should be? questioning if we are open enough for newcomers, if we aren't too much "incrowd" and what we can do to improve that. The Magento community is a very international one with people from many different backgrounds, different languages and different needs. The Magento community is a great example of what can happen if we all work together, but we should continuously challenge ourselves to check if we are still open to others, to tear down walls and check if we're not reinforcing our own filter bubbles.

As much as I like this group, I don’t want it to be separate. Just like the rest of the group accepted me amongst them, I would like this group to welcome anyone interested and kind.Sonja Riesterer

Personally it's both scary and good to have these wake-up calls. It reinforces the drive to work on a community that works together accross borders, languages and cultures. Accepting differences, work on common challenges and make the world a beter place, one line of code and one new member at a time.

We haven't come as far as we'd like to think. Several elections this year revealed our true colors. Now that we know the problems, we can work on them.

Let the hard work begin.

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