The recent reorganization under Hestia Society was less sudden than it seems. The sudden bit which I didn’t know anything about until it actually happened was the shift made by the volunteer staff at More Right, along with the closer cooperation under the Hestia umbrella organization.
It’s been the product of a couple years of social jostling, getting to know people in person, attempts to quell open drama, and work behind the scenes to create formal organizations to coordinate our efforts better and to socialize profitably.
Most people are passive. They don’t tend to understand all the informal and formal work that has to go into making it possible for a bunch of strangers, most of whom have never met or worked together before, from different backgrounds, in different parts of the world, to cohere into a functional institution (or in our case, some affiliated proto-institutions). People tend to expect the benefits of new institutions without putting in much of the work that goes into organizing them.
For a long time, people in the ‘peanut gallery’ have asked us to go get organized and get our moon base together — and have been carping that it didn’t happen in an hour. This gets mirrored by the complaining that the various high-grade people who got this whole ball rolling, many of whom are high earners outside the unpaid blogosphere, don’t donate their effortful time (sometimes worth $100s, $1,000s, or more per hour) to various ungrateful blog readers and commenters in return for nothing.
When everyone started taking the first steps last year, it wasn’t really feasible to do this, because people just didn’t know each other well enough, opinion hadn’t gelled sufficiently. Most of us were communicating on public channels, often generating more noise than communication.
There were several abortive attempts to create private channels for communication. It took a bunch of false starts before people started using the things consistently and actually coordinating on projects. And we’re still a lot worse at that than an ordinary for-profit company would be.
Trust takes time to develop, in part because it’s based on people building a reputation and a track record for behavior. There’s no shortcut around that.
What happens when you build up a large crowd of contributors who are disorganized is that the work environment comes to resemble an open plan office, but worse. The chatter increases the cost of coordination, making it so that the only way for anyone to get anything done is to put on the noise cancelling headphones and work in solitude.
Now that we have the beginnings of some more formal organization in place, the noisy drama should be reduced. That formal organization couldn’t exist without a quorum, and it took some time to accumulate that stable number of people. At least within that smaller group, our communication costs are low enough to actually get some things done.
As far as what I do, very little is changing. I now have an editorial role at Social Matter, and we’re going to continue to improve it as a publication. In particular, I’d like to do better at soliciting submissions on certain topics. We’re also doing better at raising and managing funds — to start, internally, and later, through other operations. At the very least, I’d like to encourage just about every project that we put together to be materially self-sustaining without demanding self-sacrifice from all the contributors involved, without creating too much of a racket.
The other plus is that, because we now have a sort of virtual back office, it’s becoming less necessary for people to be effective hacks to be useful to our general intellectual and political goals. Most people don’t want to be hacks or to have to address the public. It’s easy to get over your head when serving in a public role. Further, getting out in front of people paints a target on your back. Most people don’t like being pelted by things by the mob — nor should everyone have to do that in order to be useful.
That’s about all there is to say at this point. Over the past year, a lot of the writing going on in our space could have been intended for a smaller, more internal audience. Now that those various private speaking clubs have been put together, more of what makes its way to the general public will be more polished and organized.