Video: “Don’t Ask Permission” by Rebecca Stavick (Do Space), an Ignite talk for the Openlab Workshop Unconference, December 1, 2015, in Crystal City, VA. Published on Jun 27, 2016

All Ignite talks

Transcript

DON’T ASK PERMISSION

Rebecca Stavick, Do Space

@RebeccaStavick

Hey everyone. I am Rebecca Stavick. I am a librarian. I’m a civic hacker, and leading a community tech movement at Omaha, Nebraska as the Executive Director of Doo Space.

And I'm here to talk to you a little bit about what I'm passionate about, and when I think what I'm talking about I think about this piece of art. It is so powerful right? I mean if you want to achieve greatness stop asking for permission.

I think about this a lot, but when I look at this, I really want you to take a look at this woman’s face. Right? It’s a look of defiance. It's a look of determination. It's kind of like saying, “Go ahead and try and stop me.” You know? It’s great. I get this look a lot.

So I’m here to chat with you a little bit about the hacker mindset. The woman in the art, I think she really kind of has has something going there. You know hackers they view barriers as challenges to overcome, or you know to either smash through, or to get around. And I think this is interesting. I think there's a lot that we can learn from hackers in terms of getting to our goals by getting around the barriers.

I'm a hacker. I started a civic hacking organization in Nebraska, and but for the most part I'm really a hacker, because there is nothing that gets me fired up like challenging the established way of doing things. You're a hacker too. You okay an Ignite talk, this is a hack on the kind of traditional presentation. An UnConference again, it’s a hack on your traditional long boring conference. Since we're just a bunch of hackers here, I want to share with you my favorite quote from a girl Clara, “It irritates me to be told how have things always been done. I defy the tyranny of the precedent. I go for anything new that might improve the past.”

And now you're thinking like oh my God don't talk to me about innovation, I hear that all day long, what does that even mean? Like what does innovation mean. I don't know, but I know it's important, and we've got to constantly strive for it. And so my opinion is big organizations, it’s tough, it’s really tough to innovate. Rapid change is really hard because when you have more people you've got to have more rules, or it’s just gonna get chaotic, right? That doesn't mean though that you couldn't possibly form small groups, and get some innovative rapid change going on.

So it's a little bit easier when you're a small group of people which is you know right here. I consider this pretty kind of grass roots in a way, so rapid change is hard. It's super uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable. It makes a lot of my colleagues uncomfortable. But here's the thing: we work in information organizations during the information age, so kind of what did you think you were going to get? So I wanna get really uncomfortable with you right now, and say that I feel like there aren't enough people having uncomfortable conversations in libraries. I wanna see a lot more of that, and I think it's gonna push us forward.

We've got some grumpy cats, and we have some grumpy cats in our profession, and these are the people who are like totally chill with the status quo. They’re just like whatever, maybe there are some issues, but we’ll pass those down to those pesky Millennials, and see what they have to do with it. So when I worked at a public library, I had this poster up in my little cubicle, and I actually had some co-workers complain to my managers about this because it made them so uncomfortable. And that really stuck with me because it's nonsense. Like that’s so crazy. Libraries and innovation go hand in hand.

I mean libraries have always been about technology, always been about changing ways, and the new thing. If we have the hacker mindset, if we take a look at all those things that are in our way, and we try to either smash through them or go around them, it's fine. I say bring it.

And so I'm here to challenge you to defy the tyranny of the precedent. I'm here to ask you take a look at those things in your job that are stopping you from greatness, and don't ask permission to smash those barriers. Remember remember this woman I want to see this look on your face, and also remember that ignite means to set shit on fire, so I'm hopefully setting you guys on fire a little bit. Also I run Doo Space which is a community tech space in Omaha. We just opened. There's nothing like this in the country. I am not going to tell you a lot about it, beacuse I'm so confident you're gonna go on to our website and check it out, but we're all about smashing barriers in terms of access to tech and education. Thank you.