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There has been an ongoing conversation the past few days over at Newsgang Live, a conference call/podcast that I sometimes participate in. I suspect it’s actually been going on since it’s inception earlier this year. When Steve Gillmor opened the doors to people outside the Gang (well, Calacanis did, but Steve always could have flipped the switch), this somewhat open source roundtable began to find its feet behind the Democratic primaries and Twitter. I have participated as my schedule allows and also done my best to listen whenever I can; I miss a few either way.

This group has begun to develop a voice of its own, distinct personalities and interest points that usually start around political news and end up either at an unexpected vista or in the weeds. The risk you take with an amorphous group and no clear format or topic is the chance for either the freedom to go wherever the group needs to go or total anarchy. Steve is good with making sure that his opinion is heard; some will use this as a starting off point or react to it like a magnet pole charged oppositely, compelled to go directly away from the point of contact.

Recently Steve has left the group to its own device, chiming in when either the ship starts taking water or lifting into the sky. The effect here has been both chaotic and strangely stimulating, others having to assume roles they either haven’t had to or didn’t want to. For the most part, everyone wants to talk about what they personally want to talk about. The political types are up on the latest news and angles; the tech types are watching the flow and looking for workarounds. The interesting part to me is those who are attracted to the intersection points, who, like Steve, see it all as one big organic organism that may be too big for anyone of us to see the connections or perhaps too simple for those of us who tend to complicate every equation.

I often expound my thoughts on how groups and group energy can be focused or wasted depending on either the effort or mutual release of control by the group. I work in a business where I see crowd control and crowd manipulation on a grand scale. The efforts to control a crowd for safety or efficiency often look futile; when the kids are released from the ticket line in order and told to walk orderly to the pit, they often ignore the security and each other, running with total abandon to secure the spot they want, that they feel they are entitled to, that they feel is threatened by the person behind them, often putting themselves in harms path. The container fills much like a bathtub, the low points filling first and leveling off as physics allows. In the time before the show, the crowd amuses itself with games, including chants, cheers and doing “the wave”, all requiring the ability to interact with others.

The next example is a little different. A good performer with charisma can make a crowd do things with a simple hand gesture, a funny look, an outrageous action. More often it is with words or a melody that the most powerful effect is reached, often songs that a group as a whole knows very well and has an emotional attachment to. The group moves as a single organism, sings together as a single voice, maybe not at pitch but remarkably close to either what their brain remembers from a recording or the reference of the sound coming from the speakers.

(from Wikionary)

  1. energy (plural energies)
  2. The impetus behind all motion and all activity.
  3. The capacity to do work.
  4. (physics) A quantity that denotes the ability to do work and is measured in a unit dimensioned in mass × distance˛/time˛ (ML˛/T˛) or the equivalent.

What I now offer is a theory I have been playing with for a while to try to explain my own personal energy experience with work. Certain people have the ability to take groups and get them to direct their energy towards them in order to perform at a higher level. This is true with a good team leader or performer. With certain performers I find that I am twice as tired because they require intense focus from every one of us. When energy is processed properly, it can be a positive but draining experience. Sometimes if you don’t stay centered and allow the exhaust of the energy burning process to be removed, it can be toxic. Ask a massage therapist who does a poor job of releasing the tension they removed from a client.

The audience also feeds the performer. A better audience often inspires (fuels) a better performance. The energy fed to the performer is focused and redistributed to the crowd. The artist can either hog the energy or be free with it, making the experience more intense for the audience.

OK, where does this intersect with a podcast and micro communities?

(from Wikionary)

community

  1. Group of people sharing a common understanding who reveal themselves by using the same language, manners, tradition and law. (see civilization).
  2. Commune or residential/religious collective.
  3. The condition of having certain attitudes and interests in common.
  4. (Ecology) A group of interdependent organisms inhabiting the same region and interacting with each other.

I have personally experienced similar energy transmission within the web community. It may have not been as physical but was certainly just as visceral.

(from Wikionary)

visceral

  1. Having to do with the response of the body as opposed to the intellect, as in the distinction between thinking and feeling. Often described as intuition; cf. gut feeling, gut reaction.

The people I have met with my connection to Newsgang Live are certainly intelligent and passionate about their interests. While some people become charged over elections, they are not all interested in the details. The same with Twitter and “social media”; I constantly get the dog-watching-a-card-trick face from very engaged and smart people. I know that among us are ADD, OCD and ADHD types who latch onto things hard or just to any bright shiny thing that catches the sun. Perhaps I’ve lived in a tour bus too long or in a city without many friends, but the community I’ve fallen into there is both stimulating and confounding.

Of all the people involved I’ve only met Steve and Tina; that was short and rushed in a work situation but you get a great sense of so much more from a face to face. That said, those I have not met, I still have a visceral connection to, the way we tumble the rocks put before us and find gems that pave the way forward. We are learning to listen as well as trying to clearly express the merging ideas in our heads. We get sidetracked but we seem to keep moving, perhaps some days away from where we’re headed, perhaps in circles, but we are moving.

I again wonder if we need to stand still and listen for answers, the difference between prayer and meditation, the act of group listening an action, not a defeat in a race to be heard or get the perfect spot on the barricade. This is not submission, it is surrender, an action, a choice to no longer fight the traffic and allow the chaff to fall around us, exposing what we’re looking for. Our actions will resume soon enough if I am right about the people involved but these moments of quiet are not only good but mandatory for me. We’ll find the words, the vocabulary, the questions and the answers…

(from Wikionary)

community

  1. Group of people sharing a common understanding who reveal themselves by using the same language, manners, tradition and law. (see civilization).
  2. Commune or residential/religious collective.
  3. The condition of having certain attitudes and interests in common.
  4. (Ecology) A group of interdependent organisms inhabiting the same region and interacting with each other.