Testing Backpacker Rules

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Sometimes I think many of us dream about the potential to use our power to connect to build networks which go way beyond the traditional boundaries of state, or church, or cultural boundary.  It is early days, but there are many things happening which rattle the cage of beliefs we might have about just how things ought to be.

I still find it inspiring that a person with strict localised cultural, religious or political beliefs can, in a connected world, zoom between levels of engagement with these: sometimes wide-angling, and connecting with a potential new market, or relationship network which was formerly beyond possibility.

How then, do we define the ‘rules of engagement?’

Recently. In Melbourne, I was staying up the backpacker end of town, and wandered into the All Nations Nomad Hotel for a drink.  The pub is connected to a Backpacker Hostel and, another chalkboard over the bar offers treats like:

  • Goon Rouge or
  • Goon Blanc

Along with a scale of prices for beer in pots, schooners and jugs.

Music requests

They obviously have a computer set up running iTunes or similar and punters ask the bar staff for requests. Some simple rules appear in bold caps on a chalkboard above the bar.



There are some key messages here about setting clear guidelines and expecting co-operation.  By the time we read number 3, it puts some responsibility back to us and may make us re-read 1 and 2, which also ask for common sense and respect for the role of the other.  Calls for respect of property and common courtesy simply reinforce the potential for more civil ways of interacting when we are able to recognise that all parties have sometimes complementary, sometimes competing, needs.

This may or may not be a good example, but, for me, it says a lot about how there are different possibilities around gaining common understandings for the way we do things or would like to see things happen. A faith in this, however, requires a shift toward an environment in which there is a ‘bias to yes,’ and a promotion of that curious tri-chotomy of tight ~ loose ~ tight.

The underlying premise is that we have something to offer you: a song to sing

  • Ask us for what you want and we’ll try to help
  • Please understand that if we are busy we will still try to meet your needs but your understanding would be nice and would make it best for all of us
  • Think about the current vibe and the collective feel and reflect on how ‘what you want’ fits within this landscape of ideas.
  • So that we can continue to provide this, please don’t play around with our equipment.
  • Courtesy and ‘manners’ are trans-cultural matters which demonstrate our commitment to a ‘meta language for cross-cultural positive interaction.’

I then sat and watched young people, and listened to a variety of accents, and saw the possibilities of a ‘metaverse’ before me: where we can construct other possibilities for the way that we work and make decisions.

I then think about the possibilities which are provided in a connected web 2.0 world to enable a very much more varied ‘message stream.’

This will take much longer if there is anchorage in a past culture which seeks to garner support for collective action by employing rhetoric around solidarity which could be seen as exaggerated in an Australian work environment where less than 20% of workers belong to unions.

Our education system should be able to embody some simple rules for backpacker song requests in a pub.  And it would be really nice if everybody who wanders in to have a drink is happy to take note of a mutually beneficial and respectful way of doing things.

Then, if you are putting your hand up to ‘have a go’ we ought to be doing whatever is possible, to support you.

2 Responses to “Testing Backpacker Rules”

  1. Glenn Mullaney Says:

    A world wide movement born out of adventure, rites of passage, unity & free WiF and iTunes! NOT just for the under 28′s! Low fat, made on earth? Here’s to ‘Backpacker High School’! Could this be the ‘newest’ religion to SOS’s?

  2. Ben Jones Says:

    I love the analogy, sadly one of the most misunderstood elements of social media is Self Regulation. The assumption from many observers is it’s a fee for all. The reality is its high self regulated by rules, restrictions and cultures.

    We know from schools that rules hidden inside the school tome don’t work. Rather schools build cultures and norms. This enables a school to self regulate. It is easy to make rules, impossible to police and control (unless you are easily fooled) and even harder to discipline as even black and white rules have their interpretation.

    Culture and self regulation disseminate all this to the population and enable them to become valued within the system. Something many young people feel lacking in modern society.

    Bring on the Backpacker song rules…

    Ben :-)

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