I’m thinking a lot about why Open Source Bridge is happening.
One of the ideas that keeps popping up for me is constructive conflict. Searching for some inspiration, I googled “open source in-person collaboration” and came across David Eaves’ post “Why collaborative skills matter in open source.” His main point about the collapse of transaction costs comes from Clay Shirky’s book Here Comes Everybody, which I am also reading.
That led me to an older post David wrote about the difference between collaboration and cooperation. And, suddenly, the light turned on.
Yesterday, as I mapped out the five minute “why we’re here” talk I’ll give to kick off the conference, I said to Audrey, “Above everything else, our goal is collaboration.”
Between people new ideas are produced as the result of conflict. Without conflict, we don’t have collaboration, we only have accommodation and cooperation. And I completely agree that online communities encourage cooperation, sometimes at the expense of collaboration.
How do we encourage more collaboration? At least for now, Audrey and I have both focused on in-person connections. For the highly-distributed projects, this poses several problems – cultural, logistical and financial.
Conflicting views need not lead to conflict, if they re amicably sorted out. So then is this collaboration?
Conflict does not necessarily lead to fighting (or flame wars). Directly stating your opinions in opposition to someone else – in a friendly way – is conflict!
Explaining why you hold those opinions can lead to amicable resolution, but not necessarily collaboration. You may agree to disagree with the other person, or just end the conversation and move on.
Without expressing differences, you can’t really create something new. You can add, or ignore.
Collaboration happens when something new is created, brought about through the interaction between the participants.