Thursday, November 11, 2010

Credit (or blame?)

I was out tonight with a bunch of people who are working on the Manaiakalani project.

I think I've said it before - I'm the worst person ever for selling myself. I sum things up in a series of stammers which result in a single statement along the lines of "yeah I ah do ... you know ... computer stuff" while my hands seem to carry that stammer even further - not helping make a point at all, just waving about and really just distracting from what I'm saying.

Anyway, we're sitting at a pub for a drink after the event (I might do a blog post on the event itself at some point) and someone turns around to a few of asks us "So you're all involved in making the image for the laptops?" and while I'm nodding, someone pipes up and says "That's mostly Nevyn". Laughingly I asked why I was being lumped with all of the blame. The truth of the matter is that they have been involved very early on which effected the way it was approached. Their contribution really can't be overstated.

A few months ago, I had been working with a couple of friends on a project - the establishment of a "hackerspace" in Auckland (I'm not terribly involved anymore myself but you can find more information at and Anyway, soon after our first meeting I had a great big hissy fit. I mean, a full on, "you just don't appreciate how brilliant I am and how much you all suck" sort of a hissy fit. Practically fighting the floor on it's own level sort of hissy fit which any mother in any mall would have been embarrassed by. The problem was with credit.

It seemed to me that one person was taking credit for the efforts while there were 3 of us involved each taking very active roles in getting it off the ground. While I wasn't that great at presenting the idea (public speaking definitely not being my forte), my strength was in the planning (putting up the website, the promotional material inviting people to participate etc.).

Another friend of mine has just won an award for her contribution to the open source world. Now I'm not meaning to take anything away from her - she's a motivator and brilliant at it. It needs to be asked though, how many of her accomplishments are a result of the help/work etc. of other people?

The point is, this isn't really a fault of hers. And I think I just really needed to recognise the issue.

We're selfish. Recognising that is important. We do things for our own reasons. Whether it's the feeling of doing something that we consider selfless, the recognition, the warm fuzzy's, the avoidance of something more unpleasant (taking out the garbage) or the money etc. We all do things for our own reasons. We make time for those things important to us.

With that in mind, does capitalism have to be just about money? I have to pause for just a second here - this is actually something a friend brought up while on one of our walks. If our reasons for doing things isn't always about money, but the accumulation of those things is much the same as the pursuit of money (or rather, value), then capitalism could be extended to describe the accumulation of those other things.

So even when we're not doing something for financial gain, we're still vying for position for that recognition or the warm fuzzys etc.

So can we get away from this? Can it be about getting the job done and valuing everyone equally? Would we even want to? Oh course, when things go bad (I'm sure there's a television show in that), who takes the blame? There's a whole other subject in here which I'll get to when I've thought on it some more - a conversation I heard in a car which I think definitely bears some thinking about and hopefully a big long discussion.

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