Links for the Week – Jan. 1/06


Open Source Open Space: Michael Herman, a colleague of Chris Corrigan, has a comprehensive guide to everything you would ever want to know about Open Space, and how to create Open Space events. Please respect the site’s generous copyright. I especially like this ‘elevator speech’ from Harrison Owen:

At the very least, Open Space is a fast, cheap, and simple way to better, more productive meetings. At a deeper level, it enables people to experience a very different quality of organization in which self-managed work groups are the norm, leadership a constantly shared phenomenon, diversity becomes a resource to be used instead of a problem to be overcome, and personal empowerment a shared experience. It is also fun. In a word, the conditions are set for fundamental organizational change, indeed that change may already have occurred. By the end, groups face an interesting choice. They can do it again, they can do it better, or they can go back to their prior mode of behavior.

Open Space is appropriate in situations where a major issue must be resolved, characterized by high levels of complexity, high levels of diversity (in terms of the people involved), the presence of potential or actual conflict, and with a decision time of yesterday. Open Space runs on two fundamentals: passion and responsibility. Passion engages the people in the room. Responsibility ensures things get done. A focusing theme or question provides the framework for the event. The art of the question lies in saying just enough to evoke attention, while leaving sufficient open space for the imagination to run wild.

Deconstructing the Right:
The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus smashes the right-wing myth of a secular ‘war on Christmas’. Meanwhile the Chicago Tribune’s Cam Simpson reveals how Halliburton and the other rapacious neocon war profiteers are blocking a ban on the use of slave labour by ‘sub-contractors’ — as if somehow this is different from employing slave labour directly. The Toledo Blade’s Steve Eder and Jim Drew explain now a network of purely self-interested corporatists in Florida and Texas have driven the Bush fund-raising machine, and expect a very good return on their ‘investment’. Thanks to Dale Asberry for these links and the one that follows.

Deadly C. Difficile Bacteria Blamed on Overuse of Antibiotics & Heartburn Medicines: The Washington Post’s Rob Stein researches the growing number of outbreaks of the virulent C. Difficile bacteria, which is resistant to current antibiotics, spreads easily through contact with people, clothing and surfaces, and is thriving in people taking Prilosec, Prevacid, Pepcid and Zantac heartburn medicines. Millions are now infected with the bacterium, which has killed an alarming 7% of those infected.

Procrastination is Good for You:
Via Seb Paquet, Paul Graham speculates that there is good and bad procrastination. A great analysis with some wonderful links, especially if you are stalling on doing something important. I think he lets us off a bit easy though. I really like the conclusion: “I think the way to ‘solve’ the problem of procrastination is to let delight pull you instead of making a to-do list push you. Work on an ambitious project you really enjoy, and sail as close to the wind as you can, and you’ll leave the right things undone.”

Quote for the week is a song lyric from the irrepressible Sam Phillips (Gilmore Girls fans will know her as the writer of that series’ background music). Her song “I Need Love” is one of the most powerful artistic works I’ve ever heard — it gives me shivers every time I hear it. This is from a song (a waltz, you can ‘hear’ the 3/4 rhythm in the cadence of the lyrics) called Reflecting Light:

Give up the ground under your feet
Hold on to nothing for good
Turn and run at the mean times chasing you
Stand alone and misunderstood

And now that I’ve worn out, I’ve worn out the world
I’m on my knees in fascination
Looking through the night
And the moon’s never seen me before
But I’m reflecting light

Cartoon by Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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4 Responses to Links for the Week – Jan. 1/06

  1. theresa says:

    I read your blog all the time, it is always quite fascinating. I signed into “yakalike”, a firefox extension for chatting live with other visitors to a website, but did not see any other yakkers on your site at the time, maybe in the future. Anyway, thanks for all the interesting reading.

  2. Kevin says:

    “instead of making a to-do list push you. Work on an ambitious project you really enjoy, and sail as close to the wind as you can, and you’ll leave the right things undone.”I couldn’t agree more… but I can’t seem to follow my own beliefs. it’s danm scary to work on an ambitious project you love when it’s not clear if anyone else loves it or that it will amount to anything before your money runs out. How do you know if it is something “less important” to the rest of the world (which pays -and hands you- your bills) or eventually “more important”. I need an article about *that*! :) It’s a question of how long “doing nothing” is “nothing” before it becomes “something more important”, or how long it takes for “doing something more important” to become “doing nothing” because there are no results.

  3. Dave Pollard says:

    Theresa: I can’t find the “yakalike” extension for firefox anywhere — can you point me to it?Kevin: This is an extremely important question — thanks for posing it. I’m mulling it over and will do a post on it shortly.

  4. theresa says:

    Yakalike appears to have been “dug to death” by its fans at It is not accepting new registrations right now but if you have it downloaded you can use the temporary user function. I tried to find the location from which I downloaded it but it seems to be down or swamped with requests. There is a new program out today called quickchat, I haven’t tried it yet, it seems to be a copy of the yakalike program and the owner is hoping to work with yakalike on creating the next version. So here is the address of quickchat as copied from my address bar: is a truly brilliant idea that I hope will allow people to exchange thoughts and observations, in real time, about they are reading.

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