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C - Cooperation
CRAFTED technology - pt. 1/7
Convivial technology promotes co-operation.
This does NOT mean that technology breaks all barriers and turns us into a hivemind. Co-operation does not mean communal operation. Co-operation means operating together.
We need to deliver products and services to the benefit of others - thus openings are necessary; but we also need to focus on the products and services (also to the benefit of others!) - thus walls are necessary. Radical liberality and openness, which seeks to destroy all walls and boundaries, will leave us exposed in the elements. Constraints and boundaries, in appropriate ratio, facilitate cooperation.
Guides and Constraints
Within rules and limitations, there is freedom.
Common systems allow us to work together. We as a people have standardized on the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to transmit data on the web, and a few standards for interacting with email. We have these standard ways of interfacing with people; implied assumptions that make co-operating possible and easy.
Sometimes, fragmentation is a curse.
Standardizing on a common system (or few systems) like email and phone - has enabled us to have conversations quickly without the overhead drama of figuring out how to interact with someone.
A comfy home must have walls and boundaries. A place without walls is cold and desolate in the winter.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and scatter-brained, or your friends or coworkers are, consider if you’re using too many fragmented technologies in pursuit of the best thing - maybe you’re better off accepting fewer technologies, even if on paper, they can’t do the same.
Working In Parallel
I love Google Docs, Notion, and OnShape. Seamless collaboration. There are those times where you just need all hands on deck of a creative task, but in a conventional editor, it just isn’t possible. In a team environment, Word and SOLIDWORKS are like sending emails back and forth trying to write an essay, or at worst, a bunch of people watching one person write. The old tools have given us an idea that the only way to be productive is for one person to do it.
There are times this is true.
But by and large, we can get more done with multiple people working in parallel. Not hand-in-hand, but side-by-side. Each person working in the same environment, on a different particular piece.
In creative endeavors this is most amazing - you design the robot arm gripper, I’ll design the outfeed chute. We for the most part do our own thing, but we’re in the same environment. When we need to talk, we can talk quickly; I can show you immediately what I’m doing; you can immediately walk over and take a look.
They key to this is - again though - good boundaries. We aren’t both working on the robot gripper. That would be too many hands in a small space. To have good cooperation in work, we need to be in the same environment, focusing on different things. Maybe the different things are one person running a lift truck and the other person in the lift - but the rule still holds. The two workers are in the same environment (lift truck) focusing on different things.
The most fundamental technology, which emerges whenever there are two people, is so amorphous and powerful.
That technology is the system.
Lowercase-s system. I mean the capacity to systematize and make rules, implicit or explicit, that extend into the future.
That is powerful.
We create - by reinforcing or destroying - systems every day. A relationship or rapport with your best friend is a system. Consider how you are using the basic technology of system in your day-to-day, and how it is impacting your life. Are your systems encouraging cooperation - do they promote conviviality?