Category Archives: collaboration

The Flavour of Cities – My deck from OpenCities

UPDATE: oh and my speaker notes are here on the slideshare page which might explain things a *little* more clearly.

A great commentary by Edward on the discussion that followed (thanks!):

“At the final session, insulated by a Creemore, it was interesting to think of as flavour as taste: in the look and feel and design and form and method and means of how we, for example create/make architecture. In other words do we permit taste to be acknowledged by sampling flavours and then understanding preferences based on this sampling? Is this an exercise in nostalgia or form of connoisseurship? We mourn the passing of a time-stamped culture and its intrinsic forms of expression its aesthetic? We contrast this with what might seem the harshness of the new. I like the new. You admire craft. Is there craft in contemporary design? Is contemporary architecture the triumph of pure design—conceptual as opposed to crafted? Even if we wanted to recreate or recapture neo-classical architecture would we not end up with kitsch? Something so artificial that it would be at once Disney. The time-sense, the aura of the object (the neo-classical bank building for example), it is irreplaceable ‘having-been’ or being ‘of the past’ cannot be replicated. And how do we assess what is going to be understood as valuable, beautiful and fabulous? Everyone I know under 15 in Toronto thinks the new Royal Ontario Museum Crystal is fabulous and when told some ‘grown-ups’ have divided opinions about it they are incredulous. What kinds of architecture tend to work and continue working? Perhaps buildings designed to listen to people and anticipate function (it was suggested that people refer to: How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built: by Stewart Brand) will last and be enjoyed: understood over time as beautiful.”

And this response from Kelly Seagram

Tip O’ the day. If presenting at a conference, ensure a wonderful turnout and a warm reception by simply announcing you’ll be kicking off your session by handing out a free beer to each participant. OpenSauce, because sometimes it should mean free as in beer.

OpenCities was a great event, you can find lots moar notes here.

And yes, that is a vintage glass plate photograph of Zepplin over Jerusalem that I’ve added to the cover. Flavour and dead media egads.

The office as occupied territory, and three rules for collaboration

Jevon today had an entertaining riff on positive vs pejorative connotations of “collaboration”.

However you look at it, whether it’s collaborating with the occupying regime or subversive collaboration among La Résistance (so to speak), I would argue that effective collaboration in an organization requires 3 things:

  1. Opportunities to collaborate.
  2. Are your people finding where they are most needed, when faced with a major challenge or just a simple question, how easy is it to even find someone who could help you out. Are some cube dwellers near the breaking point with stress while others bored silly?

  3. Willingness to collaborate.
  4. Just because your people could be collaborating, are they? As a rule, the best people are already too busy, and no doubt the monthly/quarterly/yearly targets are already made up and probably your request isn’t on there. Are the social bonds, and the social incentives in place to do the right thing when the opportunity arises vs guarding one’s fiefdom, playing politics or just catching the home on time?

  5. Efficiency of collaboration.
  6. Okay assuming people are actually working together, how quickly and efficiently can they get stuff done? How quickly/easily can you share knowledge, keep track of projects in order to delegate work?

Traditionally IT has focused on doing a really good job at #3 (not that there isn’t still room for improvement in this area alone). Meanwhile, the softer human elements of 1,2 has been left to the fuzzy world of HR.

In my mind Social Computing*, when it works, is about putting in place the tools and practices for accelerating all three of these conditions for collaboration.

Vive La Revolucion?


* a.k.a. “Enterprise2.0” though more an more I’m liking the term Social Computing better.