There are at least two kinds of games: Finite and Infinite Games. This is a book by James P. Carse which was recommended to me by Mike Wagner. It is also the perfect tool to introduce some link love of my own as we look at some applications of the material and concepts to social media.
In the book, Carse talks about a vision of life as play and possibility and I think both words apply to our daily interaction, even the ones online.
Nuggets of wisdom
"Because infinite players prepare themselves to be surprised by the future, they play in complete openness as in vulnerability. It is not a matter of exposing one's unchanging identity, the true self that has always been, but a way of exposing one's ceaseless growth, the dynamic self that has yet to be."
"Education leads toward a continuing self-discovery; training leads toward a final self-definition."
"Titles are given at the end of a play, names at the beginning. [...] Titles are abstractions; names are always concrete."
"Power is concerned with what has already happened; strength with what has yet to happen. [...] Power is finite in amount. Strength cannot be measured."
Applications to Social Media
As we all go about our writing and interactions with social media tools, we are in fact collaborating on sharing information and knowledge *and* on our growth as well as the growth of others. We post a series of thoughts and we allow others to come in and inform our thinking with their comments.
Would you consider this learning education or training? It may seem an easy question when in fact it requires a little bit of thinking. The posts that give me most are the ones that open a new door for me, a new way of looking at things. Top ten or five or three lists, the darlings of blogs, are fine on a short term basis to exchange information about how to do things.
When we started publishing online we chose a name for our blogs. Indeed, names are given at the beginning of infinite play, regardless of how long we decide to go on with our work and collaboration online.
And we come to my favorite topic of strength vs. power. Marcus Buckingham talks about us living in a remedial world. If you think about it, we are almost obsessed with fixing the weaknesses we discover. We start that in school with the red marks, we continue it at work with the performance appraisal. We are hired on because of our strengths, yet as time passes, we are evaluated against our weakest points. Why?
The reality is that as we grow, we become more of who we already are -- that is also true online with our voice and presence. And we grow most in the areas of our greatest strength. If you dig a little deeper in this jewel of a book, you will discover that we are strong because we allow others to do what they wish in the course of our play with them. A great team member volunteers his strength to the team most of the time.
Are blogs places where we can showcase our strengths? What about power? Power, writes Carse, is measured in units of comparison. It is a term of competition: how much resistance can we overcome relative to others? This is worth pondering as we strive to establish professional credibility online.
We do many things right in this environment, including the famous Z-list created by Mack Collier at the Viral Garden (thank you, Mack for adding the link to your blogroll), and spread by Gavin Heaton at Servant of Chaos with the help of many, including Drew McLellan who put Conversation Agent on the list.
Regardless of what kind of games you are playing, no one can play a game alone. We are who we are relating to others who are also who they are in relationship with others. This is the fabric on which life is built upon and so is social media. Our lives are fluid. To say it with Carse in a Zen image: we are not the stones over which the stream of the world flows; we are the stream itself.
I know, I know I've given you another brain workout. Thank you all linked here for reading, for posting comments, for passing by, for getting to know each other or for coming here for the first time.
[image by Clarita on Morguefile]