This article describes my experience as a “misfit” in both academia and entrepreneurship.
In recent years, I have found an environment that fits me better than any previously. e-NABLE is a global network of volunteers using 3D-printers to make radically inexpensive prosthetics for children missing hands and arms. It is a model, I like to think, for a new approach to change-making that can not only complement traditional governmental, non-governmental and business approaches but can also provide a home and a platform for multi-disciplinary “connected humanitarians.” (short video here) These are “non-institutional enterprises, that can do things traditional institutional enterprises can’t or won’t do, and that can provide meaningful opportunities for many in our “tribe”.
I can’t say we’ve solved the problem of personal sustainability. (How do you make a living by working semi-independently to make the world a better place?) However, many of us are able to make ends meet, while collaborating in the most meaningful and rewarding activities imaginable.
Nor can I say we’ve solved the problem of self-governance in the absence of traditional institutional hierarchy. We continue to spread around the world, spawn new and allied ventures, and change lives for the better.
But I am convinced that Connected Humanitarianism and other forms of open-source, voluntary, internet-based collaboration, might indeed allow multi-disciplinary systemic thinkers to express themselves, expand themselves, and make significant and meaningful contributions to the world they want to help create. And if it might, we need to find out if it can.