Sitting at home and looking out the window was a bit other-worldly. A snowy day in April is rare even in Boston. I seem to have gotten myself sick again. (After being mostly immune to everything for years, I've had a series of colds and flues this year. More on my theories about this in another post.)
We've been talking a lot about the importance of the Open Web and where Medium fits into the ecosystem of walled gardens and this Open Web. Evan Williams, founder and CEO of Medium, was nice enough to chat on Skype and allow me to post it. I've known Ev from the Blogger days and the Twitter days and have been a user of every one of his products and the conversation reminded me how much I enjoy having product conversations with Ev.
It sounds like while Medium has and is focused on creating a great authoring platform, Ev is more open to supporting the Open Web than some might have feared. Look forward to seeing support for more interoperability and working with them on it.
On Sunday, I tried convening a conversation with Media Lab students and researchers to have an open conversation where we streamed it live on Facebook and YouTube. We ended up talking a lot about communications, ideas and patents. I got mostly positive feedback so I think we'll do it again. Any thoughts on how to improve the format would be greatly appreciated.
In the Q&A, someone asked me what I thought about disobedience. I said that I thought it was important and tried to explain why. I'm not sure I did a terribly good job, so I'm posting something here that's a bit more complete.
One of my Nine Principles is Disobedience over Compliance. One day, when meeting with Mark DiVincenzo, the General Counsel of MIT, he raised an eyebrow when he saw this on one of the displays in my office. I had to explain.
You don't win a Nobel prize by doing what you're told. The American civil rights movement wouldn't have happened without civil disobedience. India would not have achieved independence without the pacifist but firm disobedience of Gandhi and his followers. The Boston Tea Party, which we celebrate here in New England, was also quite disobedient.
There is a difficult line--sometimes obvious only in retrospect--between disobedience that helps society and disobedience that doesn't. I'm not encouraging people to break the law or be disobedient just for the sake of being disobedient, but sometimes we have to go to first principles and consider whether the laws or rules are fair, and whether we should question them.
Society and institutions in general tend to lean toward order and away from chaos. In the process this stifles disobedience. It can also stifle creativity, flexibility, and productive change-and in the long run-society's health and sustainability. This is true across the board, from academia, to corporations, to governments, to our communities.
I like to think of the Media Lab as "disobedience robust." The robustness of the model of the Lab is in part due to the way disobedience and disagreement exist and are manifested here in a healthy, creative, and respectful way. I believe that being "disobedience robust" is an essential element of any healthy democracy and of any open society that continues to self correct and innovate.
As an experiment, I also uploaded to YouTube and embedded it below. If you have the energy, please try both and tell me which you like better.
More broadly, this is an experiment in video but also in "fly on the way" streaming. Please let me know if you find this interesting. Trying to decide whether to do more of it and whether to do it on FB, YouTube, Periscope or some other platform.
Also, other than a better lens and a better mic, what can I do to improve it?