Everything Is Now Your Responsibility

  • by , Featured Contributor, September 19, 2014
For the past three years, I’ve been attending an annual unconference here in New Zealand: an event with no pre-set agenda, no keynote speakers, no topics declared in advance. It is entirely designed by its attendees. On arrival, the walls are covered with gridded sheets of paper indicating available rooms and session times; when we’re given the cue by the organizer, we run a kind of organic, self-determining scrum, putting Post-its on the wall to co-create the schedule.

There is only one rule of an unconference, and it is the Rule of Two Feet. If you’re not enjoying a session, you leave. If you’re running a session and not feeling it, you leave. If someone takes over, great. If not, it wasn’t meant to be.

The Rule of Two Feet could be phrased another way, as the Rule of Personal Accountability. It is entirely up to you to craft your own experience, and if that experience is not to your liking, well, there’s not really anyone else to blame.



Unconferences succeed when the attendees throw themselves into it and take both the co-created agenda and the rule seriously. There should be heaps of choices on the schedule -- and, yes, you are expected to contribute -- and you should be confident enough in the rule to wander in and out of different rooms, or spend an entire afternoon talking with someone new and skipping the formalities altogether.

Have you spotted the metaphor yet?

Right now, we have access to an environment where there are heaps of choices. You have every right to contribute. And how you choose to spend your time is your decision.

In this environment, where you have access to near-infinite possibilities and total control over where your attention goes, you have no excuses. Want to learn Spanish? Easy. Mad keen to make a sweater, but never picked up a crochet hook before? Piece of cake. Calculus? Programming? Robotics? All at your fingertips.

Or maybe you don’t want to learn new things. Maybe you want to teach your own thing. Or write. Or create videos. Maybe you want to dance or sing, do accounting or learn about protein folding.

In this environment, the options are near-infinite. What you decide to do is your responsibility, and yours alone.

You also, in the place I’m describing, have the freedom to make choices that are less personally uplifting. You can choose to troll, or to foster animosity among people. You can choose to consume content that reinforces pre-existing stereotypes and misconceptions. You can ignore the opportunities to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, and instead focus on who is divorcing whom, who sexted and who got arrested, and who is going to rehab.

When we have, as we currently do, access to unlimited information, it is no longer good enough to say, “I didn’t know I could do that!” You can do that. And if you don’t yet know how, I can help.

The environment I’m talking about could be all of life, of course. But this is Online Spin, so I’m referring only to the Internet.

Further extrapolation is entirely up to you.

1 comment about "Everything Is Now Your Responsibility".
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  1. Paul Sebastien from Udemy for Business, October 10, 2014 at 6:24 p.m.

    Hi Kaila, totally agree that the world is our oyster and most things we need to learn are a Google-search away. But I think it’s time that businesses share the responsibility of educating their employees. The field of marketing is a good example of an area where businesses could step it up with corporate training. Marketing and associated technologies are changing so fast (Scott Brinker’s 947 marketing technologies anyone?) that a lot of people find their skills out of date only a couple of years after graduation. If employers want the best people working for them, they need to invest in continually educating their people.

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