Today was the end of something quiet and amazing. This was the 9th anniversary of and the end of the road for a regular call hosted by Jerry Michalski (@jerrymichalski) and co-founded by Jerry and Pip Coburn. The call was named Yi-Tan and as Jerry informed us every week, that means conversations about change in Mandarin.
Ostensibly the call focused on tech issues like the Commons, changes in UI, the Singularity, the State of the World - small topics. Subversively though, the call was a community, a space...a space in which people from all stripes and walks came together to listen, talk and debate (gently). It was quite remarkable really.
Much of the credit for the remarkable nature of the space came directly from Jerry. Rarely do you get to meet someone of such rare gifts; intelligence of breadth and depth, a quick wit, an ability to draw connections between seemingly disparate items and somehow make those connections seem obvious without making the rest of us (me really) feel slow for not seeing them earlier. Layer that with an amazingly generous personality and you get someone and something special. Thanks Jerry for making that possible.
Now let's be clear - Jerry isn't dying (no more than any of us are) - he isn't going to another planet (or at least he won't tell us) and a large part of the call today focused on what could become of the space and conversations that Yi-Tan had created and hosted. We're still working on that but it should be testament to the impact of Yi-Tan that nobody on the call today really wanted to let it go. I hope to be a part of whatever comes after this and I'm willing to help out in any small or big way I can - 9 years on and this conversation isn't stale, hasn't degenerated into partisan arguments or personal attacks - that kind of achievement needs to be remembered and in some other form, continued.
That's all except that I wanted to write about it and make sure that maybe a few more people knew about it. I was always torn about telling people about it. On the one hand, you want to bring more people in to share but on the other hand, you kind of want to guard it. So I'll close with thanks again to Jerry and Pip and leave you with these links that you should use:
Yi-Tan: the main site and home to an archive of all the past calls
REX: the Relationship Economy Expedition (Jerry's ongoing venture)
Make me 12 Again: an amazing talk Jerry gave on rebuilding our education system
Jerry's Brain: No, seriously.