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Punctuated Equilibrium vs. Gradualism: New Orleans (NOLA) Edition

To understand why I gravitated towards evolutionary concepts, you have to understand I have a biology degree and that my first job after graduating was in an E.coli chemotaxis lab. I felt that worth a mention since it’s not something many people associate with me today. Regardless, you need not understand the biology concepts to understand this post.

It’s well known that stepping away from a project, even for minutes (apparently 17 is good), can give fresh perspective to a project. We think of sleeping on it. We even think of summers abroad or summers at camp. On an even longer scale, we call this wisdom. For the purposes of my metaphor, I’m going to call this gradualism.

There is, arguably, competing conventional wisdom: necessity is the mother of all invention. This is is something like punctuated equilibrium (which I guess turns my metaphor into a simile…simiphor, perhaps). I actually think punctuated equilibrium is a better model for what I am talking about than necessity, though in survival of the fittest, there is some sort of necessity built in. Maybe it’s just all those legal writing classes, but “necessity” is not exactly what I’m talking about here.

Last night a trip to New Orleans became a hot topic. Basically, some of Wendy’s plans fell through and she wanted me to fill in on the trip. It turns out that flights to New Orleans in October are expensive. I’m not sure what it is about October. Maybe they are always expensive. Hotels are also much more expensive than when I went to New Orleans almost five years ago.

The price, along with the abrupt change of plans, temporarily spring me into action. I contacted my friend Edy in New Orleans to see what was going on in town. I contact other people I knew in Mississippi and Louisiana, thinking some of them might be close. I proposed I take the train down, since that’s much cheaper than flying (it turns out that isn’t true for Delta, but was true for the other places Wendy was looking for flights).

I thought about ways to get money quickly, but reasonably. If I *needed* to go to New Orleans, I could do it (I have no credit card debt, for example). Having a goal – and a deadline – is what moved me into action, but there are other deadlines and other goals. I could try a Go Fund Me campaign. I still could, but I feel like crowdfunding my legal writing, or my work in free culture sportsmusic, and/or tech is more important.

The reality is that funding those things long-term will require sustained effort. It’s not a one-time thing like the trip to New Orleans. Thus, it’s not an open-and-shut case. Still, I feel like I need some additional motivation. Maybe the NOLA LUG would like me to speak on copyright and patent issues. Maybe I could pass out Creative Commons literature to NOLA musicians. Certainly printing to literature pass out would require some money. After New Orleans, perhaps I could make a bit of a tour. Perhaps I could arrange talks to speak to musicians about copyright. The spark becomes the fire. The short becomes the long.

The thinking about money did get me thinking about the long-term stuff too. In the past I’ve gotten good support money for conferences. I’ve been hesitant to ask previous funders because I wanted to make sure when I asked the money was needed and it was the right fit. It’s been 7 years (minus a couple of weeks) since Chapel Hill’s Software Freedom Day 2007. Despite a couple of events since then, I haven’t been in the sponsor game. I think it might be time to give it another go. At least on the Music Manumit side, I will need to speak with my co-host, but if it’s something you’d like to talk about, let me know.

Well, I guess I have work to do…

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