I’m not participating in GISHWHES this year. It’s a week long chaos-fest of adrenaline and incredibly meticulous planning of improbably awesome things and being resigned- perhaps even enjoying- to the fact that yes, it’s you people are staring at, hurry up and tell those fire men what to do, we’re running out of sunlight. But it’s too much for me to balance with everything else in my life, I feel I have to drop everything for that week but classes and work and sleep don’t go away when convenient so I end up crashing about four days in. This year the pressure is off because I’m not officially participating. Given that my housemate is yet again running Team Apaminions though, I’ll certainly be seeing plenty of crazy action and that suits me just fine. All the fun with less of the pressure.
But perusing www.gishwhes.com today, watching that counter tick away the last four hours of sanity I’ll be seeing for the next week, it struck me that GISHWHES is exactly the point Making Networked Culture is trying to make. Every one of the seven billion human individuals on Planet Earth is a part of hundreds of networks that link us to hundreds, thousands, millions, maybe even billions of people around the globe. Work, school, university, gyms, clubs, neighbourhoods, families, housemates, significant others, cuddle buddies, Youth Parliamentarians, shops, apartment blocks, plumbing, internet, campaigning, politics, libraries. We are linked into others’ lives in so many ways that it’s impossible to name them all. If we just look, if we just think about it, if we just play our hands with a little care, we can use these networks to build successful careers. We can make the right connections because that connection is only a degree or two of separation away from us. I feel like we’re only just learning what the internet can help us achieve and already I have friends and a support network that crosses oceans without ever having met those on the other end.
And GISHWHES. That single week of kind, creative insanity, the entire point is to pull on every single network you have, look at your connections and reach out those degrees of separation. Locate obscure items, get to specific places, contact this person. On your own, even in a team of fifteen it’s impossible to do even a tenth of what GISHWHES requires in a week. But when you reach out to every circle you’re a part of, that’s when the impossible becomes likely. The sheer magnitude of some of the items, the vast spectrum of topics and tasks to complete, it takes all kinds of connections in all kinds of places. Having a friend in Seattle, my father’s co-worker being a Justice of the Peace, a former YPer with a cuckoo clock, teachers with young children and married to firefighters, a neighbour with children and a chook pen. GISHWHES is a perfect demonstration of the things you can do when you utilise your networks.