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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Success - Part 1

Today was a day I should be particularly grateful for.

I have made very tangible progress on an idea for which I have been seeking a means of implementation for quite some time.

Looking back, the idea started with a response from the Universal House of Justice--a response which has really remolded my entire life.

In response to some psychological-type questions I had asked, they responded with an set of advice, the nature of which was quite unexpected by me. Rather than address my points like a psychologists, they urged me into practical matters of planning for service. Once absorbed in these suggested pursuits, I realized I had no such time for worrying about the other matters that had preoccupied me.

When they mentioned that "One should seek to identify practical steps in each important area of one's life and then make a plan to effect these...", in order to do this effectively, my questions then became "What is "each important area of one's life?'" and "What does the infallible guidance from our Writings have to say about each of these areas of life?"

I believe I was already working on an idea from college time to create a comprehensive handbook which could be used by future Baha'i Assocations. Although this format was not adopted by our NSA, the process led me to develop one for consideration of a framework of planning for life, especially from an individual's perspective, but also accommodating for community, administrative, family, etc. and on other institutional planning.

Although I had, for the college club book, attempted to incorporate a lot of my own ideas (or those of others) into the list (e.g., possible social activities such as pizza parties, coffee houses, etc.), and although I still think such a list has its place (possibly as a wiki), I realized that what was really lacking was a comprehensive, well-organized, and most importantly, as it turns out, expandable/updatable resource which showed us what the Writings already had to say about the subject--once we had this information, we could confidently make our own plans to fulfill them. For, if we were following our duty to read the Writings, were we just turning the page on the guidance and neglecting to implement what we had read? Having an easily expandable tool (which led me to wiki technology) would allow this to be possible. But would this resource simply be developed by an individual or even an institution and go undeveloped, when there were individuals out there who had the power to make contributions to enhance the work? In order to tap this full potential, it would thus be especially important for such a resource to be potentially collaborative (except perhaps in the component of personal notes and goal-making, though even these might collaborative, at least with granting of selective access to others) and have content that was free and could be open content (as in "open source" software). Again, this was wiki.

And although institutional questions have, at least for the present, led to this project being on hold, the other component, of allowing individuals the power to make goals alongside information they have collected (or alongside the Writings themselves) but accessible in different formats (such as integrated into one's calendar, categorizable to be also viewable according, for example, as to who the protagonist of the goal is), without requiring any duplication which would unduly increase the need for extra work and increase the likelihood of incomplete storage for any particular view (i.e., a real "unity-in-diversity" as our Writings put it--one which allowed for many differences, but which harmonized and tapped them effectively and efficiently) is still on my to-do list.

As I developed http://bahai-library.com/browse0.php to serve as a user-manipulatable tool for choosing the Baha'i Writings one desired to view (with the potential to transclude these pages into other pages, such as discussion forums--especially with user-editable infinite subforums--and wiki pages) and showing alongside them any other relevant notations (whether public wikis we could produce or private notes), I also started to think that it was silly that one should expect that the user should be restricted to add relevant columns defined by the developer.

More to come...

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