Thursday, December 13, 2007

The new new thing

David (behind camera) working with Phd colleagues at the Smart Lab in cooperative, sharing exercises.

You meet a guy/girl you have never met.

They do something remarkable that you don't do and perhaps therefore you would wish to be in possession of this.

Conversely, and you're not to know, they may be thinking the same thing about you.

You exchange some tentative words, find you overlap on their space and again conversely they're asking you questions.

Now here's the dilemma.

In that time you probably get a good idea of what they do and you could if you perservered incorporate that into your own way of working.

They might be thinking the same, though again you don't know.

But then something extraordinary happens in this extraordinary climate.

Share Culture

It began many years back; when sapirn sussed that in a bid to stay alive it would be more beneficial if they hunted together which would yield greater rewards.

They cooperated.

But the word found favour and pop stardom in the era of the Open Source - the Net.

Share, Share, Share.

It somehow goes against the grain of things we've come to believe - and often I find its strongest opponents, strangely but naturally, in the alliances of new journalists.

At school you most likely curled your hand around your work to avoid it being seen by others or engaged in subterfuge to get the highest marks above your colleagues - and perhaps, perhaps there was good reason for that.

John slept all day while Jane swotted to pass exams and she'll be damned if she was going to do John that Lazy ********d any favours.

But then we enter a new phase of out lives: dependency from birth gives way to independence ( quick hide your work) then from there hopefully interdependence.

The matra: what you do adds to what we do sits at the front of the cortex.

That's how Robb Montgomery and I in the space of a few minutes of meeting each other in Cairo decided without consultation, without any fuss, how we would mutually we would work together.

It's a bond of trust of understanding which is difficult to determine, to even predict.

And many, many, many of us are doing - much still to the bewilderment of business.

Somewhere in the time continuum of high school to university or life in teens to twenties it may reveal itself.

But how do you engineer it?

How do you effect change

There are cultures and personalities I have come across over the years in my lecturing that eschew partnering.

There are a number of reasons why, often very legitimate in the way we must also respect others customs.

....this profession however, this new dawn of a profession however begs cooperation.

It requires, graphic artist speak to coders, journalists speak to Flash designers, speak to photojos, speak to managers, speak to employers - NOT as a top down.

An ideal state and perhaps a naive one you might say, but there is much value, huge value in this.

And within the ecosystem of cooperation people find each other.

"I will find you" barked Daniel Day lewis in The Last Mohican.

Smartest Person

I'm forever using the phrase borrowed from Dan Gilmor of the smartest person in the room syndrome amongst those I'm sharing ideas with.

Sometimes I'll be asked a question and jokingly refuse to answer because I sense the person posing the question hasn't turned other side of themselves to ask someone else.

That somone who've they've been sharing space with for a considerable time may just know the answer.

70-80% of what you think you know ( the percentage is not definitive) is apparent when you end up teaching someone else.

There are twin rewards.

Confirmation of your own knowledge and more so adding to this unconventional transaction of helping someone else.

Before the film "pass it on" that's what we knew it by.

The road less travelled

Many years ago I got lost in Brindisi, Italy with a friend travelling through Europe.

A young girl, barely able to speak English; our only italian was thank you, took us to her home - shooing us to be quiet as we walked upstair.

Her dad, she showed pictures of was a boxer and we could hear him yelling in the background.

Next day as we set off, creeping downstairs, we offered whar money we had left.

She declined and she didn't have to say what she expected of us.

In essence that's where we are with Prisoners Dilemma; if you don't know it already as part of game theory it's worth investigating.

And that for me is one of the challenges to new journalism, not the technology which we'll have to wrap our heads around but the unwritten quid pro quo.

Meeting new people like Robb and getting excited very quickly at what he does; of talking to students who when you put something in the bank return it with interest.

It is the story of IMB and the open Sources who declined any money; and in my case Al Jazeera's creative director Morgan Almeida who took my site to make their own site and in which I went back to their site to see how I might modify my own.

The difference in approach resides in the value of new thinking; how working together - as new age hunters gets us to the fastest prey, gets us to new planes, gets us away from how our Gimme gimme gimme ways will end up undermining us.

It is being played on the world stage with climate control.

The biggest game of Prisoners Dilemma manifesting itself because some nations have no respect for others and so would probably want to go down togther than find common ground.

But I digress.

There's good reason I hope that as the Net digs deeper into the unit of our work-life's currency; when Net Neutrality reigns, that journalism - the exchange, interpretation of data and information creates something even more powerful and wonderous than we're seeing today.

That is from those already paving the way for change and they quietly know who they are.



Cliff said...

Not sure if I'm commenting on this thread accurately, mate, but I'll give it a go (The English commentary does it get lost to a certain extent by this yank if you know what I mean)

Having said that - there are many (including myself somewhat) who are living and working in a scarcity mentality for this new paradigm. Those who are riding the bleeding edge of pure freelancing and Solo VJ'ism see the profession as being cut throat in the number of people who profess knowing what they are doing, or who have come from the old school ENG background setting up barriers to entering, to any number of other obstacles to this what I feel is a balance of creativity and tech geek'ism.

To go off on a slight tangent, the process of mutual sharing, even at an unspoken level, provides a doorway for the more important things in this life - one of peace and cooperation. Finding commonality that allows like minded individuals to create something that expounds upon the shared vision develops a sense of community (whether temporary or more permanent).

For me, especially when the profession is competitive as it is at a freelance level, is finding stillness and peace with this constant sense of urgency being fed daily to me is something I have been trying to overcome. The equipment and tech end of this profession seems to drive an almost sense of panicked urgency that in many ways, takes away from the pure creative end of being a visual content creator.

As I perceive it we, as thinking outside the box creatives, must strive to look past the collective unconsciousness of the world and create a sense of shared culture that seeks similar goals. We then bring a sense of presence that can show our colleagues that much is possible when the like minded creative community comes together in a spirit of concern for those things that are far more important than the petty bickering's of the self centered human existence.

We as Solo VJ's are a component. Your phrase "Jack Of All Trades - Master Of Them All" does bring a level of competence that requires fewer people involved. We who strive to provide more in many ways, need less of said community - but then again, maybe not.

Enough with my ramblings.. ;-)

Cliff Etzel - Solo Video Journalist

Robb Montgomery said...

Thanks David, for the nod.

The way I talked with you over the Chenin Blanc in Cairo is the way I treat every colleague - be they first-year student or executive editor. We are all on the path - that's my view.

It's great chemistry we have. Rare. Like when musicians meet in a jam session and the songs just start popping out. You cherish those times and keep those players close to you. which is why I am scheming to find more projects where we will collaborate together.

I know exactly the scenarios, instincts and behaviour that you you describe here. Many journalists, unfortunately have been trained in newsrooms to adopt habits that are counter-intuitive to thriving in the network era. To get past the bridge truly requires an inversion of one's thinking to sharing resources, sources, communities. It is only by giving back to others did i find myself on the path to where I am standing now. going on year three as an independent digital journalist.

These old habits cannot die fast enough.

It is a miracle at all that Visual Editors, the social network for digital journalists - has been able to attract thousands of student and professional journalists.