The Regular, Thanks for the Coffee

The regular, thanks for the coffee.” The morning is crisp. Slight clouds escape from my mouth as the stroller rhythmically skips across the cracks in the sidewalk. Without breaking stride, I pierce the bubble of protection around my new son. Large eyes greet my gaze, and lips part to reveal a toothless grin. He doesn’t realize we are late. I return his grin and glance up to realize we are close. An exhaust fan pokes out of Patty’s, a local diner, humming and spreading the Sunday morning village with a mix of the salty greasy smell of bacon and fresh breezes from the foggy river. The stroller wheels turn around the final corner, and the seat’s release button gives way to my fingers. Liam sways toward me, as his travel seat bumps my knee and the cold metal door handle responds to my arm as I duck inside. The warmth of the restaurant surrounds us as our eyes shift around the restaurant looking for Grandpa.

The regulars sit at their tables. The silver haired knights of Port Lambton’s round table sit at a large circle over looking the river. Coffee cups rise and fall as the conversation turns from precipitation to people. Two of the knights silently listen to the conversation and thrust cards toward each other and pegs dance around a board. The conversation swells, moments in time are measured in coffee levels.

Patty, our host and owner of the diner, peeks through the window from the grill. She grins as Liam’s brown eyes emerge from beneath warm blanket fuzz. Good morning is mouthed before turning back to her sizzling station. Small hands of the 3 month old push the blanket lower swiveling his head from left to right. The small head pauses as he sees a man in a booth. Pauses and smiles. Liam recognizes Grandpa who is sipping a coffee and reading the Sunday edition of the local paper.

We weave through the tables toward the open seat, pausing to unbuckle and slide the baby from his warm cocoon that is perched atop a neighbouring table. In one motion generations pass between the loving arms of family. Liam recognizes his grandfather with a grin then rests his head on Grandpa’s chest. I slide into the booth and am greeted by with warm dark liquid poured into a white mug. We all shift our eyes to our waitress who questions our intent for nourishment. Do we want the regular? We both nod. We both love the regular. Over easy, brown, bacon for me and a toasted western, no butter for him. We are here because it is the regular. “The regular, thanks for the coffee.”

Words begin to flow about the boy. How did he sleep, eat, and poop recently? Words shift to the life events from the past week and what might happen during the approaching week. Thoughts and events are shared, moments pass as the generations of fathers ponder the meaning and concepts from life. Ideas float toward greater awareness and mutual accountability. Questions cut through the wake of words to provide clarity of thought. The boy shifts from Grandpa’s chest into a state of gently bobbing in those loving arms. Plates slide on the table in front of them. Black flecks of pepper fall onto the white eggs, yolks ooze and thick ketchup drips onto the side of the warm plates to accessorize the fragrance of toast. Lips, hands and eyes pause. Thankfulness emerges from their lips, through the regular words of gratefulness.

The moments that follow blend words, food, and thoughts together. The moments pass love between generations. The moments are shared. We are here because it is the regular. These regular moments are meaningful and treasured. Meaning is found in what we choose to make a routine. The regular places value in family, support, and love. “I’ll have the regular please, thanks for the coffee.

Collaboration & Hierarchy

The following is a compilation / edit of comments on http://dansramblings.wordpress.com/2008/03/11/stephen-downes-and-open-source/. This followed a session that Stephen Downes held with Alec Couros’ grad class that I was able to be part of. The session has been archived here for future reference. Two topics emerged: is there collaboration at the point of creation, and does hierarchy emerge within open environments?

Topic: Is there true collaboration at the point of creation?
People who claim to be founders of projects, even open source projects, need to viewed with a critical lens. I believe that greatness often comes from at least a dynamic duo. A second person often causes each partner to reflect more critically over their own work Apple had the Steves, Jobs and Woz. Microsoft had Gates and Allen. Sonny had Cher. You assert that a person who begins an open source project is by default at a ‘higher place on the totem pole’. This may be self projected importance. The world is littered with folks who claim to be the sole person in charge and source of the brilliance. Did you know that Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia founding fame, was actually a co-founder?[1] Actually, Jimmy edited his own wikipedia entry to indicate that he was the founder (removing the letters “c” & “o”) [2]. The collaboration may not always begin with a team of people, but there are examples of a dynamic duo achieving remarkable success. Let’s not get distracted by what people tell others about their own self importance.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Wales
[2] http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2005/12/69880

This was followed by:
Topic: Does a hierarchy emerge in collaborations such as open source projects?
The issue that I take with your post is specifically focused on the claim that individuals create in isolation. This example of social creation begins to hint at your premise that hierarchy emerges which I will revisit later. The questions that your singular creator concept begs are:
1) What is the moment of creation?
2) Is it when an idea is hatched, or an object is created, or when the world learns about it?
Two people may take joint claim to a project if they work in parallel but with different roles contributing to the advancement of the idea. There were many initial computers being developed in the time frame of Jobs & Woz but Apple has the longevity. Could the interplay of two individuals with divergent talents have contributed to their success?

I agree with your premise that hierarchy emerges. Even within the previously cited partnerships (Jimmy Wales & Larry Sanger, Jobs and Woz, Gates and Allen, & let’s not forget Sonny & Cher) one person emerged as the figure head over time. The hierarchy does emerge within these partnerships. Our understanding of the initial partnership must not be clouded by our understanding of current dominance within the partnership (intellectual, creative, financial, or social dominance).

Open source communities also show a hierarchy over time. The “founder” (who may have survived the initial fight for dominance) does become the leader. This leadership may be embodied within the acts of the founder to facilitate the community’s work on the project. Dries from Drupal fame still organizes the large Drupal development community. [1] He also retains significant social capital as evidenced at his delivery of the ‘State of Drupal’ speaches. [2] This not only shows evidence of social capital but of a person who perceives his own dominance as well. The delivering a ‘State of Drupal’ speech indicated you believe yourself to be the leader as well. Dries is the leader within the Drupal community, and uses his social position to facilitate others and also proclaim information from the drupal point of view.

The one issue that Stephen neglected is hinted at within your hierarchy. Is learning social? Can we truly only have intellectual discussions without a social component? When multiple people come together the social dynamic emerges (even when people come together online).

[1] http://drupal.org/node/217702
[2] http://buytaert.net/state-of-drupal-presentation-september-2007

This Space

My aim for this space is to collect artifacts.  Artifacts of my projects, thinking, and journey through thought as well as life.  I am a member of several online communities, however each community and project is a fragmented part of my thinking.  This will be the collection agent.