Tag Archives: generosity

Share your shit

[An old post reposted in 2012 after having been down for some years]

af Tor Nørretranders

In late June, Thomas Madsen-Mygdal once again pulled off one of his great Reboot conferences – this year Reboot #10.

The theme was “free” and Thomas asked me to give a brief presentation at the opening session. I chose to discuss the theme of “free” in relation to the theme of “flow” that I presently work on – with flow meaning the constant flow of matter and energy in the biosphere.

All living creatures are in a constant flow of matter of energy. The Sunlight power the plants in their capture of carbon from carbondioxide in the atmosphere. Plants produce oxygen that animals take up and combine with plant material to produce movement. Everything works in such a way that one organisms’ waste is another organisms’ food. Plants get rid of the oxygen that the animals inhale. Animals get rid of cardioxide that plants inhale. Waste is food, so your shit is food for someone else. From this follows that being a good planetary partner means to provide shit for others to eat (and to eat the shit from someone else).

I summed up this business in the slogan “Share your shit” which of course also applies to the world on mental food and waste – ideas and plans. Share your shit – your own wasted ideas will be the food of someone else. So, here I share my slides from the presentation: Slides from Reboot 10.
The slogan “Share your shit” was well recieved at Reboot 10. Marjolein Hoekstra: “The mantra-like phrase “Share Your Shit” was reiterated throughout the conference by several other speakers”. Jelle Koeman called it “Reboot’s unofficial theme”, while Ton Zijlstra called it “the tag-line for Reboot 10″. Zijlstra also took this photo of my presentation:
Photo from presentation at Reboot 10

Ilko Batakliev: “The conference kicked off with an invigorating talk by Tor Nørretranders in which the proverbial line ”Share your shit” was born.”

Janis Joplin, the singer, played a role in my presentation, as she made famous the phrase “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” (with the last word misspelled af “loose” in the slides – sorry!). Having nothing left to lose is the same as being entirely dependent on the environment/context, as you have no depots and only rely on the stream flowing through your life. The ultimate in freedom is really total dependence, not trying to keep alive the illusion of independence. This, really, is the true meaning of “Share your shit”: Don’t try to stay isolated. Go with that flow – of shit.

Which brings me to my final apology for not keeping this blog alive for so long. I will try to walk my talk and share my shit a little more often – there is plenty of shit around here, it’s only that I have failed to share it. Sorry!

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Generosity talk from 2006

Keynote as podcast

My keynote talk “Attention, please! Glow, Show and Flow” at O’Reilly’s EuroOSCON – European Open Source Convention – in Bruxelles in September 2006 has now been posted as an audio file by O’Reilly Networks Weekly Podcast “Distributing the Future”. The title is “Spirituality and Altruism”.


So that was what I was talking about! I have wondered why people were so enthustiastic about the presentation and turned up in such numbers the next day when I gave another presentation on the related theme “Dare, Care and Share”.

This second talk was not a keynote but part of one of several parallel tracks, yet it attracted a fine audience, indeed. My own explanation for the interest was that I was talking about sex. But it turns out that I talked about spirituality – well, at least according to the title of the podcast.

But, OK, it turns out that the spirituality part of the podcast is actually covered by an interview with Craig Warren Smith from University of Washington. I am only involved in the altruism part of the podcast. But still, altruism seems more noble than sex. Or does it?

That, really, is the point of the talk … (and the book on which it is based, “The Generous Man: How Helping Others is the Sexiest Thing You Can Do“). A brief summary of the book is available here.

US paperback Generous Man

It was recently out in paperback in the US. The also recent paperback-edition in Germany is curiously published under a different title than the hardback. The the original and more expensive hardback edition of the book in German is called “Homo generosus”:

Generosity in German hardback

while the less costly paperback version is called “Über die Entstehung von Sex durch generöses Verhalten”:

German paperback

The German subtitle is probably the best of all the translations (and better than the original Danish one): “Warum wie Scönes lieben und Gutes tun”.
Why we love the beautiful and do the good.

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