Naked Mole Rats and Submarines

8 of them arrived around 1:30 in what was likely several thousands of dollars worth of business suits. They wanted to talk with us first about sharing and secondarily about caring. They were in search of core human truths which would help them provide information for their client.

i asked who the client was and they said they would happily tell us 2/3s of the way thru the interview, but that they did not want to bias our answers by knowing who was paying for the research. This made perfect sense.Because they had been a bit vague in their desires for information, i decided to bring in some of my favorite ringers to support me: GPaul from Acorn and Sky from Woodfolk.  And i do have to say, we gave them quite a show.  These fast talking boys, all experienced in public speaking blazed thru a number of examples of sharing practices and philosophies.One of my favorite moments was when GPaul briefly described the labyrinth Twin Oaks decision making system and then said “At Acorn we sit in a room and talk about it until we all agree.”

Sky gave an eloquent brief description of the origins of the polyamorous star family and our researchers eyes got wide.  Sky covered the worker cooperatives he and Kas have helped start in Cville: The Alexander House hostel and Cville Foodscapes edible garden installations.  And of a network of cooperatives using their various resources to support each other.
GPaul spoke of Acorn’s ubercool seed business and how it grows and functions basically without managers.  He shared a slightly poetic vision of “worry sharing” which is a level deeper than simple income sharing where people feel jointly responsible for taking on the management and work flow of areas, rather than simply being worker bees.

They wanted to know about holidays and culture creation.  We waxed on about Validation Day and the 6 creature game.  About multi-generational parties and low crime societies.

our sponsor

When they told us it was Hershey’s Kisses that was sponsoring the research we amzed and amused.  And perhaps impolitely all three of us cracked up laughing.  When they described the process as looking at how sharing works: from interviewing sailors on a submarine in compressed shared space, to their planned trip the next day to the national zoo to watch naked mole rats and meerkats, we were blown away.

Six of the eight were from Hersheys and only two from Leap Research. Which explained why the breakout sessions were so uneven.

I called three hours after they left and spoke with the lead researcher who explained that they would create perhaps 600 brightly colored large post it notes, with core human truths on them.  And then they would be sorted into “clues” for the thesis they were unearthing.  That the final report would not likely mention Twin Oaks or any of today’s interviewees at all.  And that the final result would likely be either an ad campaign or a new product or both.  They also said they had been talking about our presentation constantly for the three hours since they left us, which was satisfying.

At the end of the interview, the team lead gave me an envelop, which when i inspected it contained the agreed fee in crisp hundreds.  I have never felt so much like a prostitute and it felt great.

About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

7 responses to “Naked Mole Rats and Submarines”

  1. cardin says :

    why did it feel good to feel like a prostitute?- they just kind of thieved and bought your aesthetic. they’re gonna figure out how to turn it into name brand, ready to wear fashion. Remember Nike and their display african tribes? I dig your choice of pictures BTW-

  2. paxus says :

    The choice of pictures credit goes to Sara, who helped me with this post and often helps. I felt like a prostitute because it was working with people i normally would not choose to be with. It was both a beautiful experience (i love presenting about sharing) and it was slightly poisoned by the motives of the people who are paying. And i was paid in large untraceable bills (which will go to the communities of the speakers).

  3. oroboros says :

    You get to a core issue of trade here, with the observation that the transaction “was slightly poisoned by the motives of the people who are paying”.

    How is sharing different from trading? I imagine it goes to the unconditional nature of something freely shared with no return expected, vs the implicit return expected from a trade or sale.

    In both cases we usually have a sense of fairness that must be satisfied for us to continue sharing or trading. In the case of sharing, I think a person’s generosity is measured by the degree to which they give without needing any return to feel it is “fair”.

    There’s some paradox I like about you effectively selling information on the value of sharing.

    I’ve pondered the role of sex workers in a gift economy, and whether they’d still exist. I think some would because some do get joy from giving joy.

    Suelo has shaped a lot of my thoughts on gift economy.

  4. kelpie says :

    Are they going to give us chocolate?

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