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The Enterprise 2.0 Fire, Clearspace, Herodotus and Attention


It's funny how two completely different experiences can connect. In trying to understand the why behind the headlines, I started reading Rory Stewart's books which chronicle his experiences in the Middle East. The Places In Between  recounts his experience walking alone across Afghanistan following the US arrival. A copy of  The Histories by Herodotus, accompanied Stewart on his walk.

Herodotus was an adventurer and a traveler who explored the known world of the time in the 5th century B.C. E. and wrote about the places he visited, the people he met and the stories he heard. He might be considered the first his historian. Certainly he is the first international journalist. On his solo walk Stewart retraces some of the same geography traveled by Herodotus.

I became so intrigued with Herodotus that I'm now reading Travels with Herodotus by Ryszard Kapuscinski, a beautifully written book that is the embodiment of the flow in its rhythm and pace.

About a month ago we started using Jive Software's Clearspace at Attensa for our company and department collaborative efforts. Jive Software is a Portland company focused on Enterprise 2.0 and they have created a remarkable tool. Clearspace has spread across Attensa like wildfire.  As a company we have used, or tried to use, essentially every collaborative tool available. They each have their strengths and weaknesses and have been put to use by departments or project teams to one degree or another. Clearspace is different. Everyone at Attensa has adopted it enthusiastically. That says a great deal about Clearspace.It's not a blog or a wiki. It's a real community and it has fundamentally changed the way we communicate as a company.

This weekend I was reading Travels with Herodotus and I was struck by this passage. We don't gather around the fire very frequently at Attensa but we are a community. The new fire may be the glow from our displays and the connectedness provided by new collaborative tools, social networks and a more honest communication as we go about our jobs.

They listen, the fire burns, someone adds more wood, the flame's renewed warmth quickens thought, awakens the imagination. The spinning of tales is almost unimaginable without a fire crackling somewhere nearby, or without the darkness of a house illuminated by an oil lamp or a candle. The fire's light attracts, unites, galvanizes attentions. The flame and the community. The flame and the history. The flame and the memory. Heraclutis who lived before Herodotus, considered fire to be the origin of all matter, the primordial substance. Like fire, he said, everything is in eternal motion, everything is extinguished only to flare up again. Everything flows, but in flowing, it undergoes transformation. So it is with memory.

So it is with collaboration.

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