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6 Tips For Open Collaboration - A Perspective

Posted on by Brandon Klein

My name is Alpha and my interests is in open collaboration – emergent, non-hierarchical, collaborative, open, networked, gift economy complex adaptive systems and how to grow these open collaboration projects – projects like Burning Man, Wikipedia, United Religions Initiative, open source software, and the Transition Town movement.

There are many factors that have to gel to allow a collective intelligence to emerge and produce something. My spidey senses were awakened and as I watched and then participated in this Junto and emergentbydesign phenomena I began to get a sense of what she was doing. Here are some of my observations :

1. Taking the time to reply to people - Whenever someone tweeted or commented she would reply. This allows the conversation and the relationship to build

2. See things from anothers perspective Venessa had a beautiful ability to understand how the other person was thinking. She would see things from another’s perspective and be able to engage whilst holding both hers and the others perspective. This allowed the comment section to have a good flow on her site. People felt heard and were interested in further engagement. Even when she disagreed with the other person, there was a sense that the space could hold differing opinions.

Personally I was used to spending trying and fitting other’s people thoughts into my framework, and then trying to language my own thoughts so that others could understand it. But I spent a lot less time trying to understand how the other was thinking initially. Trying to see things from others perspectives is something I had tried and do more of over the last year, and now inspired by Venessa I focused on it even more. I did find it kind of hard – I had to put aside my thoughts for a moment, and figure out all the assumptions and worldview the other was coming in with and then see how they built their thoughts on top of that. But like many things that are initially hard I seemed to begin to get better at it as I practiced. And emotionally I found more stability in talking to people, I wasn’t so quickly reactive.

3. Invite others to join in – How do you get people to participate in your open collaboration/open source project? The answer lies in issuing the right invitation at the right time.

I had been reading Venessa’s blog and the comments on it for awhile but had never left a comment myself. Perhaps it felt a little disconnected. Whilst Venessa had sent me a friendly tweet once, it still felt like this was simply some strangers blog on the net that I had did not have much connection to. But we exchanged some more tweets, I got a tweet from her inviting me to post a comment to the unfolding Junto project. And so I posted. Having to think about what thoughts I would add to the project and adding them to the comment section I then began to feel more part of the mix. And I was now cross-fertilizing with others in this emergent vortex.

4. Reach out and connect. Build the human connection. – Having made these initial forays she then suggested we might meet when she came out to the west coast.

I met her at the Caltrain station and then we went to a nearby cafe to chat. She was younger than I thought (somehow when I read really intelligent thinkers I imagine them older than they are) , vibrant, and friendly. She seemed really nice, someone I would hang out with even if she wasn’t doing all these cool worldchanging projects. I am an energy worker/healer and can see and feel energies, and there was a kind of glow around her, and a sparkle to her whole field. On hanging out with her I could also see she had a whole spiritually awake side to her too and that she was growing quite fast as this Junto and emergentbydesign project unfolded.

And now that she and I are friends I am much more likely to contribute and be part of the openly collaborative Junto project.

As Venessa has been reiterating in some of her posts, the point really is about the human connection. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in thinking about social architectures and social design I begin to think that is the endpoint. But really the endpoint is the human connection.

5. Having conversations awakens the collective intelligence of the system to grow itself.-

The day I met her at the cafe she also was visiting a number of others in San Francisco that she had met through twitter and her blog. By talking to people in person and online many interesting ideas, concepts, directions emerge. These conversations she was having with everyone helps bring in new resources and paths for the Junto project to grow.

There is an interesting field in complex systems theory called cellular automata. Imagine all these little interconnected cells interacting with their neighbours in rule-based ways. The sum connection of all these interactions can birth really complex phenomena even if the initial local interaction rules are very simple. The local interactions interact in a systems way to birth global patterns.

So it is with conversations, the interaction of all these local conversations can birth complex new patterns at the open collaborative project level.


6. Be vulnerable and allow yourself to be transformed.-

One of the most beautiful things about following the Junto/emergentbydesign project is to see Venessa open up, share deeply. To see herself in her humanness. And to watch the transformation in her as she opens her being, and connects on a deep level with others.

And really thats probably the real reason to do open collaboration projects – to transform individually and collectively into higher states of being.

…. Originally posted on Open Collaboration