It was late afternoon and I saw a flock of starlings.

In South Gippsland, on a farm with sheep and working dogs and other distractions, it was a flock of starlings that pulled me away from my conversation.

Watching that flock maintain its parallel characteristics of cohesion and fluidity reminded me of Ethan Marcotte.[1]

If I’m lucky, starlings may always remind me of Ethan. His 2019 talk, ‘The World-Wide Work’, is one of the best I’ve ever seen: I have watched it multiple times.

In it, he shows us the beauty of starlings in flocks. He introduces us to the word “murmuration”. He shows us the potential beauty of collective coordination.

Individually, starlings are beautiful. Collectively, starlings become a wonder.

When I see starlings in flight, I think of Ethan and his talk: It offers hope through the potential of collective, generous efforts, contrasted with the despair and harm caused by isolating and exploitative efforts. In it, he demonstrates an informed and aware, measured positivity.

I find it difficult to mimic that sensibility, these days. Most days I battle negativity to make it through.

But some days I see a flock of starlings; I think of Ethan and his talk; I remember that the potential is still there. I feel encouraged and even slightly hopeful.

I am grateful for the way our brains can maintain these delightful associations, that sit dormant but instantly awoken in surprising moments.

  1. Ethan’s most recent book is You Deserve a Tech Union. You should read it, because you do (deserve a tech union). ↩︎