Chris Hardie

Blog, Tech, Business and Community Building

relationships

February 22, 2014

On maturity

Edison/Ford TreesAs a young person I was aware of the concept of maturity as something that could be sought, developed, worked on, but I was never quite sure how to measure whether or not someone had achieved maturity.

I've defined maturity in different ways throughout my life, most of them probably flawed.

Recently I've come to see maturity as a measure of someone's ability to understand the motivations of other people, to build for themselves a context about how a given situation or set of decisions has come about, and to have empathy for those motivations and that context.

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December 30, 2011

My 2011 Year in Review

Family PortraitIt's "year in review" week!

There's just enough time between the Christmas holiday and New Year's Eve for people to get bored, but it's not a good time to launch new TV shows or announce new political initiatives, so we have to have something to keep us entertained.

(As a kid this meant me listening to countdowns of the top one billion songs on the charts for that year, and somehow a Celine Dion or Aaron Neville song always made it into the top five...this was painful, but perhaps reflects more poorly on me and the particular genre of music station I was listening to than it does on all of the music produced in those years.)

But it's been an unusually full year for me, so I thought I'd take a moment to reflect back on what that has included:
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May 20, 2011

I'm getting married

Cute pairThis weekend I will have the honor and joy of marrying Kelly.

There are many things to say about the institution of marriage that I might normally be tempted to blog about; the legal, political, religious, cultural and social norms involved, the zaniness of the logistics involved when one decides to have a celebration with guests for the spectacle of what Ian Hay called "a ghastly public confession of a strictly private intention," the total failure of contemporary wedding rituals to incorporate modern technological tools and devices into their proceedings ("what do you mean I can't read my vows off my smart phone!?"), and so on.

But today, as friends and family gather to witness our commitment to each other and help us celebrate it, I can only speak of my deep appreciation for the community that has held and encouraged our relationship, the sense of adventure and happiness that I feel about what lies ahead, and my tremendous and growing admiration of and gratitude for who Kelly is - in my life and in the lives of so many others.

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January 18, 2009

Choosing when to go deeper in conversation

Alive MenuI've been thinking lately about the moments in a conversation when the people participating make a choice - conscious or not - about whether to let it go "deeper," or to keep it at a pleasant and polite level of chit-chat. I'm exploring that because (A) I really enjoy deconstructing how we communicate with each other, and (B) I want to take responsibility for my own part in the cases where more depth would have been a good thing, but was avoided. (I even kind of wrote a little poem about it a few years ago.)

I put "deeper" in quotes because it's one of those touchy-feely words that needs a little more definition to be useful here. When I think of a conversation reaching a new depth, I think of the people involved taking on topics that are significant or meaningful to them in ways that invites personal vulnerability or reflection, where you might have to take a stand, where the stakes are higher and there is something to gain or lose by going there. The topics that achieve this will of course vary widely by personality, community and culture.

So, what do those turning points look like? Here are a few I've noticed:

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December 5, 2008

How to Leave a Board of Directors

FutureWhen I first started joining the Boards of Directors of various organizations in Richmond, I was intimidated by the thought of learning the proper procedures and cultural norms that dictated successful participation. What I found was that each and every organization seems to do things completely differently, and often seem to be making it up as they go along. :) Yes, there are the Robert's Rules of Order and the bylaws to follow, but there's still such a wide range of behaviors related to joining, serving on, and leaving boards, and it's been fascinating to learn all about it.

One aspect of board culture that seems to be in total chaos everywhere is how a board member can leave a board of directors before their natural term is up in a positive and professional way. Based on my own experiences - sometimes as a board member who did a poor job of leaving early, sometimes as a board leader who was disappointed in how others parted ways - I've some unsolicited advice to offer:

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November 20, 2008

Is eating locally produced food a bad idea?

Green Tomatoes 2In yesterday's Palladium-Item, editorial board member and local blogger Matthew Hisrich proposed that eating locally, and other kinds of localized consumption behaviors, might be ineffective, or even bad for us:

[W]here does this drive for relocalizing come from? Perhaps it has to do with a vague sense of ethical rightness more than anything scientifically verifiable. University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt classifies such efforts as attempts to attain (and potentially guilt others into) a sense of moral purity. "Food," he says, "is becoming extremely moralized these days."

The problem, of course, is that purity is hard to come by in a world as complex as ours, and simplistic answers often have consequences that their proponents do not intend. Consumers should think twice before jumping on the localvore bandwagon.

I'm all for thinking twice before jumping on any sort of wagon, but I think Mr. Hisrich's logic is flawed in a number of places. Read on for my point-by-point analysis of his column: - Read More -

November 19, 2008

4 reasons to start using Gravatars right now

I've said before that to truly participate in public life, we must do so as ourselves, with our identities revealed.  Online discussions are now a part of the public sphere, and when used well, can bring people together in ways that complement and enhance real-world community.

A related trend I'm appreciating is the increasing number of tools available to help make online conversations more personalized.  A particular tool I'd like to encourage you to start using right now is that of a Gravatar - a "globally recognized avatar" - which displays an image of your choosing (sometimes a photo of you) next to your contributions to online conversations.

Here are 4 reasons why you should: - Read More -

October 7, 2008

Study Hall with Craig

Cut ApartLately I've been recalling one particular day early in high school. My "study hall friend" Craig and I were giddy with excitement because he had just bought a copy of the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, a book that was basically the detailed explanation of how all of the tools and technologies in the Star Trek universe actually work. He kept it at his side in the plastic bag from the bookstore, only bringing it out for glances here and there as we tried to avoid the watchful eye of the study hall monitor.

But really, he didn't want smudges on the cover and he didn't want to break the spine, and that was great with me because I would have demanded the same. I might not have even brought the book to school - who knows what could happen to it!? We whispered about holodecks and warp drives, and let our minds wonder. Though we didn't use the word at the time, we were totally geeked out, in awe of this seeming bridge between science fiction and real life. Craig and I only saw each other for this brief period a few times per week, and we'd only seen each other outside of school once or twice, but we had a connection that only comes with being a bit (or, okay, a lot) uncool together.

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October 14, 2007

Using real names in online communities

E7EBC5781A8911DA.jpg I remember the first time I was logging onto a remote computer system (a BBS) and was asked to choose a handle - an alias for my online activities. There'd been plenty of times where a computer game or other piece of software had asked for one, but this was the first time when other people were going to know me by this name. Wow! I thought about it carefully...what nickname would be the best representation of my personality and my approach to life, while also exuding the appropriate amount of playfulness, mystery and anonymity? At the time, I chose something that might politely be called "lame."

Since then, I've used a few other handles that were more appropriate and cool (to me, anyway), but lately, I've decided that the handle that best represents of my personality online is the same one that represents it offline: my real name. And in most cases, I'm of the opinion that we should all use our real names when engaging in online discussion and community-building.

It's sometimes a suggestion that makes people uncomfortable, so I want to provide some additional reasoning to consider and discuss:
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March 11, 2007

Why I Am Quiet

A lot of people notice that in many settings, I'm a pretty quiet person. I don't mind telling them that I generally have an withdrawn personality, and that I tend to do better in conversations that are one-on-one or with small groups of people who I know, as opposed to large groups or gatherings of strangers. I notice that I can be very outgoing in situations where I have a clearly defined role to play - such as a talk I'm giving on a topic I feel knowledgeable about, or a party I'm hosting. But on the whole, I'm quiet.

It's important to me to distinguish this way of being from the classical definition of what it means to be an introvert, "a person who is more interested in his or her own self than in in other people." I know plenty of people who fit this definition well - they become so occupied with their inner existence and interests that they forget (or never learn) how to respond well to external stimuli, how to be sensitive to the physical and verbal signals given off by those around them, how to communicate well with others. While I understand and respect the ways that someone could manifest that personality, and while I see that they can find other ways to be brilliant communicators or express themselves magnificently, it's very important to me to be sensitive to and interested in the beings and happenings in the world around me, as much as I am in my own self.

So if I'm not a classic introvert, what am I? I think I'm just someone who prefers to be quiet in settings where quiet is not always the norm. I do this in part as a way of bearing witness to the many kinds of ways in which there is not enough quiet in our lives.
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