collaboration = conflict + people

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.

Outside the echo chamber

One thing that I like about pub culture is the tendency to end up talking with people you don’t know. Sometimes they’re drunk, sometimes they have very strong opinions. Occassionally, you end up with a memorable conversation that changes how you think.

I’ll be giving a short introduction to the first keynote speakers for Open Source Bridge (for the morning of June 17), and was thinking about this when I came across a blog post about the Demise of Should (via @cshirky).

What I’m writing about is how being confronted, sometimes rudely, can help you gain a little perspective. I know that I live in an open source echo chamber most of the time. But last night I got an ear full from a couple people who think that open source people are ignorant, entitled assholes.

I’ll leave out the punchline… but suffice to say, I had a pretty entertaining drinking buddy for the night.

How do you find opinions in our industry that differ from your own? How often do you have conversations with others, in person, where someone strongly disagrees with you?

Photo courtesy of Jaako under Creative Commons.

twittering on 2009-06-04

  • eating a delicious vegan cookie from @christiekoehler. feel kinda bad i’m gonna wash it down with bacon vodka. #
  • at the volunteer meeting for @osbridge at webtrends. @christiekoehler is SO organized! #
  • hey look! You can indicate your favorites in OCW (the @osbridge conference software): #
  • At bailey’s taproom with josh from webtrends, @spinnerin, waiting for rest of crew #
  • Wanna volunteer for @osbridge? DM @christiekoehler or come to Lunch 2. 0 tomorrow & find her: #
  • DON’T DO IT! 😀 @radiogretchen @djtv maybe you should trade in the dog for chickens? (via @morganpdx) #
  • @Techpaulogy Omg! I how we are neighbors! in reply to Techpaulogy #
  • had a little too much fun at bailey’s taproom last night. #
  • RT @marshallk: Portland’s OpenConferenceWare is Beautiful Software For Events <–RWW coverage #

twittering on 2009-06-03

  • awesome! RT @billiousprime: Going to Austin Postgres User Meeting at 7pm (at Sun, address here: #
  • @reidab HAHAHAHA. yes. #
  • i think @hal_pomeranz just started a #unixpipethrowdown #
  • @stewartsmith mmmm. pie. #
  • .@competentgirl true. i always thought if you can’t get root with sh, cat, cut and tr, you’re really not a sysadmin. 😉 #unixpipethrowdown #
  • finished tabuleh and bag of cashews. now for more contracts. whee! #
  • can’t wait. RT @dberkholz: Thinking about slides for my @osbridge talk: “Assholes are killing your project” #
  • getting ice cream from the icecream truck. #
  • @gorthx addict! #
  • feeling a little lonely, waiting for @mildwail to come home after working late to enter grades. #
  • @plasticbagUK where do you get virgin wool from? Ugly sheep. in reply to plasticbagUK #
  • RT @seobat: is going to install PostgreSQL and porting Twitter Score from MySQL to PostgreSQL #
  • need more coffee before i start the next round of faxing. #
  • @xolotl do they let us bring our own food? how may people can they accommodate? how many rooms? #srsly #
  • RT @osbridge: Apparently, Harvard Business thinks Open Source Bridge is a really good idea, too #
  • and now, its time for some girl talk. #
  • thanks @anselm @pdxyogini @theory @hal_pomeranz @jchris for sweet @osbridge blog posts. #
  • @spicermatthews so glad you’ll be attending!! in reply to spicermatthews #
  • excited about all the folks from OSU coming to @osbridge. #
  • .@parenthacks .@xolotl saving summer concerts also saves summer cyclocross races! two awesome saves in one! #
  • considering bringing bacon-flavored vodka to the meeting. #notproductive #

twittering on 2009-06-02

  • @ddeckelmann couldn’t take me stopping my continuous updates to facebook, eh? #
  • 30 pages of catering agreement. highlights: $3 bottle o’water, lotsa all caps re NO OUTSIDE FOOD. next conference: camping on the beach. #
  • srsly, i can make steak/chicken/tempeh fajitas for 100 people. i got skills! i can train others! #
  • just need satellite hookup, and everyone checkout your repos *before* we get to the beach. #
  • who’s with me? #
  • .@anselm .@morganpdx sweet. i really shouldn’t be doing this, but i’m creating a fucking wiki page right now. #
  • @hal_pomeranz yeah 🙁 I wish they had a better business model. maybe conference centers just need to die. #
  • can’t help self: i’m sure someone else will come up with a better name later 😀 #
  • .@operatic dude – open source bridge water. totally worth it 😉 #
  • .@dropio is a hit for #
  • whew. gonna fix a bug in #hamn and then hit the sack. thanks for the inspiration, tweeties! #
  • @AE3nn hah! #
  • omg. i’m going to nigeria to teach postgres! #
  • .@Crad .@turoczy you jokers. it’s a UN-funded program to gather demographic information & develop voter reg software #
  • @lauracowen just found out today! have lotsa work to do before going, but totally excited! #
  • @ahockley @jshirley thanks! 🙂 i can’t believe how well i set myself up for these jokes. #
  • .@saraford awesome! 😀 can’t wait to meet you. #
  • @pdxyogini probably right after @osbridge #
  • @manimal @operatic @kcomandich thanks! 🙂 #
  • The @osbridge is looking for volunteers! With 8 hours of volunteer time, you can attend for free (via @geekygirldawn) #
  • @russell_h THANK YOU! #
  • @reidab i just counted mine and only saw 55. oh wait, that was just one mailbox. and doesn’t count the ones i deleted. #

twittering on 2009-06-01

Offline community, PUGs updates

Just before heading off to PgCon, I wrote about offline community and how it has positively impacted the tech community in Portland, OR. Specifically, I talked about the factors I thought encouraged women to participate.

My own experience with Postgres has been incredibly positive and welcoming. I always wish that I had more time to contribute.

I did find a little time this weekend to upgrade the PostgreSQL User Group site to the latest supported version of Drupal. We’re still on version 5.x, and hopefully I’ll be able to upgrade that to version 6.x soon. We’ve had a few problems with spammers, but I added a CAPTCHA that I hope isn’t too annoying for everyone.

If you have ideas for how to display the information on the PUGs site in a better way, please get in touch. I have a couple things I’d like to add soon – like a map of locations, and a better preview of recently posted articles.