Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
Uh... what's the site?
I mean, like, I heard something about a reboot -- but then I heard no more. What could be improved? I wonder how clear is the basic concept to the participants? It is too daunting? Or should it go deeper? Should the mission statement be retooled to "capture" what people tend to express and post?
One thing that stands out to me is that a lot of the site is filled with somewhat passive, reactive content. I mean the lion's share of what goes on here is people providing links to books, essays and talks which then get commented upon. Speaking from my own tendencies, of course, I would wish that the site could minimize that a little and place more emphasis on people generating their own content.
There seems to be some danger in getting lost in the world of comparative studies and responsive critiques. And perhaps everyone uses other forms of creative outlets to allow themselves to be less than artistic when it comes to their intellectual work...
Any other feelings about this site?
I didn't realize there was a problem. And I don't see how one can "generate their own content" without reference to the social pool of content. It seems a rather modernist/individualist chimera akin to the GOP and capitalist emphasis on personal and intellectual property with the specious notion of rugged individualism. That is contraindicated to the more distributed P2P paradigm wherein we of course generate individual contributions but within that social commons from which we draw.
Hi, Layman, I am trying to recall what you mean by the promised reboot. I believe I posted a question to the forum at the beginning of last year, asking members about what they might like here -- what changes, what content, etc. But the question received very few responses. I have actually posted questions like this multiple times to members here and almost never get a response. It has been something of a dilemma for me: we have 150 members, which is the maximum allowed on my current Ning plan, with new people requesting to join all the time (there are three new requests in queue right now). I have considered paying more money to upgrade the forum (which will allow for expanded membership and other features), and have mentioned this also in previous posts, but it is hard to justify the expense when the vast majority of members here never participate in discussions anyway.
I don't know the reason for the low participation, but would love to see more. I've asked about this in the past and have been told on several occasions that new members often feel intimidated and aren't sure they could keep up or don't know what they could contribute. This may be the case, for some, but I have to think there are other reasons as well. And in that, I point the finger at myself: What am I not doing as a forum host that I could be doing that would encourage more participation from others?
As for the currently predominant "mode" of our communications on IPS, I admit that I have definitely fallen in recent months into more of a passive role -- posting links to books and articles, making small comments, etc, but not writing the substantive sort of posts that I used to write when I first started the forum. I think there is value in bringing in outside material, allowing this forum to serve as a resource page for folks, and engaging in comparative discussions on the thinking that is going on in relevant fields, so I will continue to do that, but I agree that this shouldn't be the only thing we do here. Partly, I've just been too busy at work to contribute here like I used to; partly, I've been spending my creative energy, and a good part of my free time, on outside projects (writing articles for publication, creating new course content, building the Foundation for Integral Religion and Spirituality, and -- for fun -- writing music).
The remark that folks here are being "less than artistic when it comes to their intellectual work" seems to be a sort-of-insulting jab, so I'm not sure where that's coming from. What I've posted to IPS in recent months has not been very artistic, I admit (except maybe for my music), but what I post here doesn't constitute the bulk of my "intellectual work." Anyway, putting that uncharacteristic dig aside, I'll happily receive your comment as a prod to invite and bring more creative work here. Yes, I welcome that -- and will do what I can to contribute more.
I'd definitely like to hear from other members: what they'd like to see or talk about, what would encourage more participation, etc.
I say quit bitching about what you want and be the change you want to see. There's room here for all kinds of inquiry. If you don't like a particular style then ignore it. If you want more of something, then do it. No one here is stopping you.
As to originality, I studied Shakespeare in college, often considered one of the most creative bards in English literature. Recall this from Sonnet 59:
"If there be nothing new, but that which is
Hath been before, how are our brains beguiled,
Which, labouring for invention, bear amiss
The second burden of a former child."
I used this as a horror plot device in this post.
I note a slightly excessive tone in your responses -- as though I were critiquing your approach and making some romantic complaint in favor of "originality" coupled with a sense of being obstructed in this attempt. Nothing of the sort. I have always been a fan of Dali's comment "He who does not copy, creates nothing".
However, I am simply opening a discussion for feedback on the patterns of the site. I do this by sharing one observation -- which is the rather large quantity-differential between one style and another.
If we enter into consideration of the site having a purpose or theme we must also consider that this is served in different ways by different balances of styles, different assumptions about posts, different organizations of content which elicit different moods, etc.
Those of us who are active participants should be, if we have the energy for it, pondering and experimenting in the direction of opening up more engagement.
Most people join too many things -- and so cannot stay really engaged in most of them.
Most people are interested but unclear about "postmetaphysics". They feel, I assume, that a level of energy, knowledge and technical detail is required that does not make them feel easily welcome.
Most people feel overloaded by links and references despite knowing their utility and approving of their principle.
Have you considered dropping members who contribute nothing over a period of time and replacing them with experimental new members? Circulation is always a factor in health.
I don't know what they organizational options are for this site but it seems like the way it is laid out somehow preferences the ongoing accumulation of references (potentials for critique and evaluation). Obviously There is obviously a role in bringing material into one place for inspection, response, etc. That should go without saying. But what is that role?
Is the site balanced? Quite aside from the fact that people are free to post what they like, what does the situation they encounter make them want to do?
Would you, Balder, be of more benefit to the site if you started half as many threads but put twice as much of your personal attitude and insights into each one?
Would members of this forum be more likely to get involved in exploring an article from an integral journal if it was not followed up by a handful of other articles that they could get involved in?
In all of this I am trying to a feeling to which I am periodically vulnerable in order to try to empathize with people who are less engaged than myself. I do not blame them for their non-participation anymore than I blame non-voters when the election process is ugly, dull, non-sacred, non-fun, etc. I worry -- as I am sure many do -- that higher visionary and progressive socio-intellectual zones are insufficiently suffused with the variety of creative energies that makes them of interest to people who are not otherwise moved to dive in.
Yes, these are good questions and considerations. I think one point I should make up front is this: The topic of this site is such -- i.e, specialized and somewhat difficult -- that I do not intend for it to have broad, popular appeal, and am not seeking to create just another chat or discussion forum. I am content for this site to be a "safe zone" for a more specialized form of in-depth inquiry and expression, since there are already plenty of other more general forums for other kinds of conversations. I am not very concerned therefore about not "attracting" many people who have no familiarity with these topics. This means that the level of participation here is bound to be lower, say, than on a discussion site about TV serials, or even about Integral Theory or spirituality in general. So, I do not have a complaint that this site is not as active as, say, Theology Online or Integral Life. But this site used to be quite a bit more active than it currently is, and it would be nice if some of that life and energy started stirring here again.
Part of the participation level issue may be attributable to a conflict that took place here a couple years ago; there was a dust-up between a few members and a number of folks withdrew from the site or just stopped participating. But part of this is also attributable, I am sure, to my own declining availability to put the energy into this site that I used to. My sharing here has been shallower over the past year, especially -- mostly limited to brief comments, introductions of books or essays or resources, etc, with some more engaged conversation from time to time (most recently, with the ITC paper discussions). Theurj and I have been the main participants here for the past couple years, and we have sort of settled into using this place as a kind of "self-learning lab," more than a regular discussion forum: for the most part we've been laying down tracks to chronicle our own learning process, create breadcrumb trails, etc. This is fine, of course, and I've benefitted from it, but there is certainly room for more types of discussions and forms of sharing than are currently taking place here.
About dropping non-contributing members and adding new ones in, yes, that is what I've been doing for months now. Each time new people request to join, I have to delete old members to make room -- so I've done this for all who joined and never set up a profile or made any comments. Now I've reached the end of that pool and would need to delete people who have set up profiles and participated a little in order to let others in, and I haven't done that yet. (So, we have a queue of several people awaiting approval).
Your concluding comparison is certainly a non-flattering one, if you meant it to be directly analogous: IPS as ugly, dull, non-sacred, etc. That may be your impression of the content and exchanges here, but it is not mine. As I said above, I am not interested in motivating people who are not otherwise or already motivated to join in a discussion of these topics, since this site isn't an "introductory" one. It really presupposes an already-existing interest in these topics.
Regarding your question about whether my deeper engagement and fuller personal self-expression in threads would benefit the forum, yes, I think it would. I take your question as a good "prod" to do more of that. I've just been spread quite thin in my "real world" life, in recent years, and haven't had the time for the forum-writing and cultivation that I used to. But I can still try to do more than I have....
"If we enter into consideration of the site having a purpose or theme we must also consider that this is served in different ways by different balances of styles, different assumptions about posts, different organizations of content which elicit different moods, etc."
Have at it buddy. And anyone else who wants to participate. As Balder said, one application for me is a self-learning exercise and laying it out like that helps. Others can make it what they want and I also learn from them. It's a big, open space with room for exactly what you describe.
What ho! Balder,
This is exactly the kind of conversation I think we should be having. The "big open space" that considers these topics aloud is somehow distinct from the regular big open space of a forum in which anyone is free to take in whatever interesting direction they choose.
Obviously the topic of this forum is a refined one that demands both a peculiar set of combined knowledges and a particular sensibility. Its very nature exerts a principle of selection. There is no chance that such a topic can become a populist enterprise in the broadest and most crass sense. And because there is no chance we need not worry much about it or distinguish ourselves from it.
Instead we can ask (as long as someone pedantically prompts us to ask) how to leverage the dynamics of width/depth and structure/freedom to skew the situation toward a relative increase in the diversity of styles of interaction, the quantity of active participants and the perceived vitality and usefulness of our engagements here.
It is fine, of course, if the site sails along as a "self-learning lab" for you and Theurj (punctuated by my proposals and creations, and periodically garnering a flicker from a more or less quiet member who orbits discussions like a long-range comet going around the sun) but there is also a sense that this is really a very important topic which could and should grow in other interesting ways.
What do we make of a non-interest in "motivating" people? What do we make of resistance to the "introductory" character which must be a part of this or any site? Do these express limited energy or a high critical viewpoint? Do they express an anti-growth, anti-humanist sentiment or do they operate more like the opening bid in a negotiation -- markers to indicate that motivation and introduction must be approached properly, without conventionalism or excess, appropriate to ethos of the existing situation?
I am often surprised (no doubt through my own stupidity) about the touchiness I run into here. It has an interesting flavor. It is quickly transcends and never strays far from a good-humored and vital balance which holds it in tandem with other interpretive possibilities. But why, I wonder sometimes, is the possibility of having received an offensive comparison or a futile suggestion or a demeaning accusation even among the main possibilities? It always seems that we might actively want to presume that those are extremely unlikely interpretations. Is a non-flattering comparison even feasible? Only "perhaps"...
But anyway, let us assume that self-expression & good-natur'd prodding account for whatever might otherwise vaguely suggest an unreasonably negative critique. Andre Breton reminds us that criticism must always be an act of love. Although we may wish to go further... is there any such thing as a critique at all?
Hats off to Roy Harper!
And of course not only Roy Harper... :)
What do you think, inthesaltmine? What is it ... or more importantly, what would you like it to be?
"...a experimental intellectual hadron collider..."
I like this description.
"i would like to see us confront these things themselves."
So what's the use value? How do we apply these interesting ideas outside academic philosophizing? That's exactly why I'm so politically engaged, and why I try to get others here to also engage. That to me is where the rubber of philosophy meets the road of implementation for social good. Hence the likes of Rifkin working with governments to do something about moving us into the next and better wave of socio-economics. Hence progressive politicians like Sanders and Warren moving us into the transition from capitalism to democratic, libertarian socialism.
That's what I'd like to see here: more socio-politico-cultural engagement or participation in changing the world for the better. Yes, making better philosophical maps is also required, but then how to implement them? And which maps are truly indicative of the emerging Commons?
I'd also add that some of us here don't just throw different theories into the collider and watch the sparks fly, but also try to mesh them with what we perceive as 'integral' theory. We've added to those collisions in some small ways with our own contributions. Balder's input now more recognized academically, since he's publishing in journals. So we do create a few sparks too, some turning into at least academic brush fires.