A crash course in changing the world.
Kenyan Proverb: A house cannot be repaired when the owner is destroying it.
In Mission 8, this week, we are told that “local communities know better than anyone else the richness and variety of their complex ecosystems—and how they can best be used and managed. Indigenous knowledge is touted as playing an important role in creating sustainable solutions to development challenges.
On the About Page, Alchemy wrote: EVOKE is a ten-week crash course in changing the world. It is free to play and open to anyone, anywhere. The goal of the social network game is to help empower young people (recommended age 13 and up) all over the world, and especially young people in Africa, to come up with creative solutions to our most urgent social problems.
Sarah O. Connor, a proud young person not from Africa but South America (and, as a bit of recent history, her boyfriend Pan), came to play EVOKE, came to test creativity, knowledge and resilience, came to develop sustainable solutions to our most urgent social problems.
But the problems became urgent for Evoke itself, and for Sarah, and for Pan. The development changes became questions of censorship, of freedom of access for all members, some of whom are in high school, and of freedom of expression for some members, who are prodigious contributors, technologically skilled, and extremely outspoken.
In the local community of Evoke, we were tasked with preserving indigenous knowledge, in effect, tasked with preserving the richness and variety of the complex system that is Evoke and its membership.
Evoke is a game. But it is a new style of game. Evoke states that top players will earn online mentorships with … social innovators and business leaders from around the world…seed funding…scholarships… The learning and knowledge arm of the World Bank Institute, and alternate reality game master Jane McGonigal developed Evoke, framed the challenges, prepared for the response.
And yet, it seems their preparations lacked contingency planning. And the administrators of Evoke, most notably the redoubtable Nathaniel Fruchter, Mita Williams, found themselves rushing into the breach, hoping to stem the tides of insurrection and photo-posting, inflammatory blogs and emails, slash-and-burn techniques not of agriculture, but of blog posting—all-or-nothing, take-no-prisoners, test-the-limits posting.
And, like the Evoke Agents in Episode 8, many of us find ourselves saying “I wish [they’d] given us more information… What happened here? Who’s responsible?”
Alchemy states, “Clarity can be painful, but it has its gifts. The right choice, however hard, becomes UNAVOIDABLE.”
Were Sarah’s photos really so harmful or inflammatory? That is a matter of opinion. As there are over 18,000 agents in Evoke, there may well be over 18,000 opinions on the matter, over 18,000 outpourings of interest and participation. A house built upon the promise of a game prizing individuality and innovation. A house claiming to be “open to all.”
And yet, the house of Evoke summarily closed its doors, game over, shutting out Sarah O. Connor, and Pan, and perhaps others.
How many warnings are enough, before the Avatar of Sarah O.Connor can reasonably be thrown into the virtual purgatory of the void; “no longer a member of Urgent Evoke”?
Can Evoke stand upon a position of “My house, My Rules” and dismiss players who won’t voluntarily self-censor content?
Should Evoke stand on that position?
Evoke cannot have meaning if reconciliation and compassion find no
reality in both the virtual and parallel "real" forums of Evoke itself, as well as in the world at large.
How can Evoke’s social innovations succeed in reality if the Evoke community has become the site of unresolved conflict, which some, if not all, of the community witnessed—in wh***, in part, via rumors, and in blog posts?
If designers and players on Evoke are truly to "own" their community
and take responsibility for the ideals and possibilities of the act of
evokation, it is not sufficient to remove a player from the field of
the game, and simply pretend that the player and the act of removal
have no further relevance.
Without a reconciliation of the principles of the conflict--which must involve a reconciliation of the principals to the conflict, the conflict remains.
A house cannot be repaired when the owner is destroying it—Kenyan proverb
Conflict inhibits the synergy and resiliency of the community.
If the players and designers of Evoke wish to "own" the Evokation concept, process, and promise, they must share a commitment to community ownership, participation, sustainability and transparency.
If the players and designers cannot commit to "own" their participation, to share in mediating conflicts, to accept responsibility to build bridges towards reconciliation, the clarity that could have been Evoke, the promise, will stagnate.
If the community cannot come together, there can be no growth.
Evoke is a challenge to learn skills of entrepreneurship, social innovation, and consensus-building, to change the world.
The evokation is a call to action, a challenge to begin the changes necessary to achieve a more resilient, sustainable, peaceful future.
To Jane McGonigal, the Administrators, the Participants of Evoke, and the “banned players”:
Please answer this evokation to mediate and reconcile this conflict,
to reach a mutual understanding, and to restore all Agents to a
participatory status in the evolutionary forum of Evoke. It is necessary to recognize the responsibilities, and the possibilities attendant upon the power of social innovation and change. And it is urgently necessary to act responsibly upon them.
“It's an old African proverb: "When an elder dies, a library burns." Some of our most important knowledge about the world isn't contained in books. It's living knowledge, embedded in local practices, and passed on from one generation to the next.”
When an Evoke agent, a responsible Agent for positive social innovation, is banned when transparent reasoning and support might have prevented it, important knowledge, which might have been shared, sparking untold innovations, is lost.
When an Agent is banned, a library burns.
Please practice the social innovation and peace-building, sustainable skills that Evoke invokes, seeks to teach, and affirms. Affirm those sustainable practices for all.
Thank you for your consideration and positive steps to mediate this conflict, and support the responsible participation of all Evoke members, active and banned, in a sustainable solution.