While this question may seem ridiculous on the surface, it is one that I have been considering for quite some time. I believe that we walk in our own shoes so long that we forget that there are any other types, sizes or styles. We may believe that walking in someone else’s shoes is beneficial, but when it comes to actually trying on those steel toed boots that don’t quite fit, we really don’t have the first clue about how to go about it.
Metaphors aside, the amount of conversations that we have that encourage an us vs. them mentality are staggering. Whether that is IT vs. teachers, VC vs. entrepreneurs, brick and mortar vs. online or any of the other versions of this unending meme; we are forced to pick a side and defend it. We haven’t been able to find a way of really empathizing with the other side. We haven’t figured out just how deep the connections go between those two sides. And it is mostly because it is just easier to not see things from another perspective. It is just simpler to believe that my thought process is right, even when I am staring in the face of contrary proof.
When people talk about scalability issues, I say bah humbug. When people talk about filtering in schools, I say phooey. When people talk about privacy concerns, I blow a big fat raspberry. And yet, all of those are valid if I can find a way to trade shoes with those people on the other end of the table. If I am forced to build the server from scratch, I know how hard it is to upgrade each individual linux package. If I have to be the one who figures out a policy that works for both 1st graders and 10 graders or one that works for techno-phobic and techno-centric teachers, I know that a delicate balance has to be made. If I am faced with real predator or cyber bullying behavior, privacy becomes much closer to my heart. These things start to matter to me, but only if I can trade shoes.
So, here is what I am proposing. I would like to start a shoe trading service. I would like to be able to go into my IT department and figure out from the ground up why they think their ideas are as important as they do. I want to live it and know what it means to have people calling about everything that they must fix and/or support immediately. I would like to trade shoes with a VC and see from their side of the table just how many people are vying for their attention. I would like to know what it is like to tell someone no who believes in their product enough to sink huge amounts of time, effort and money into it. I would like to walk in the shoes of someone who has experienced issues of privacy intrusion and learn from them what makes default public settings such a nightmare for them.
Anyone want to swap shoes for a day?