A Study in Online Collaboration: Open Mosaic

April 2, 2009

Open Mosaic makes for an interesting study in the ways of collaboration. Earlier this evening, AxisPortals visited the site to add a tree.  The tree was all branches and leaves.  It wasn’t fruit bearing, and it had no background.

Less than five minutes later, the tree was dotted with apples,  and surrounded by a jaunty teal sky with its very own square yellow sun.  Grass and a hot pink and red flower in full bloom soon followed.  Who knows what’s next?  Before the evening is over, the tree could be part of an entire forest, or it could be entirely gone.

Watching the mosaic evolve reminds AxisPortals that digital collaboration with far flung colleagues often requires a certain je ne sais quoi.  To participate fully in the process, and to enjoy it–and to allow others the freedom to do the same–one must be enthusiastic and willing to chase a vision, but must never be so unyieldingly focused on a single vision that it  disrupts emergence of the always shifting whole.  Yielding gracefully, after all (as gracefully as the digital branches in the mosaic yield to the pixel wielder of the moment) , plays a crucial role in collaboration.  There’s plenty of room for individuality and originality, here, but there’s little room for the fixed or the permanent.

Collaborative Mosaic

AxisPortals Aphorism: Online collaboration isn’t really about thinking outside of the box.  It’s about sharing the sandbox willingly, with good humor, and with grace. (So, wish AxisPortals’ tree good luck, but don’t mourn its passing when it goes–something new is sure to grow there.)

The Delicacy of Balance

January 2, 2009

 “Balance“, Wolfgang and Christoph Lauenstein’s Academy Award winning animated short, is one of AxisPortals’ favorite animated films, and it’s a good one to ponder in January.

After all, balance is a perpetual problem, isn’t it?  We constantly strive to balance the professional and the personal.  When we’re working, we worry that we should be spending more time with our families, and vice versa.  Technology makes the balance both easier and much harder to strike.  If we’re with our loved ones, but constantly checking our Blackberries and iPhones to ensure that we haven’t missed a single professional communication, then are we really focused on our families at all?  It’s perfectly possible to be physically present at a meeting, but totally absorbed in texting our teens about their crises of the moment, or to be physically present at home but so totally connected to our workplace technologies that we might as well not be there at all.

AxisPortals loves “Balance” for perfectly capturing the intricacy and delicacy of any balancing act that involves others (as most balancing acts do), and for suggesting the price we must pay when we attempt to put ourselves (our needs, interests, and passions) too much at the center of things. 

AxisPortals Aphorism One (Courtesy of Confuscious):  Balance is the perfect state of still water. Let that be our model. It remains quiet within and is not disturbed on the surface.

AxisPortals Aphorism Two:  Being thrown off balance is an essential and inescapable aspect of cooperative relationships.

AxisPortals Aphorism Three:  Balance is a Delicate Dance