Last Tuesday I tuned into a webinar hosted by content gathering software people GatherContent. The session was run by content expert (and Brighton local) Ellen de Vries, and covered an important subject close to my heart: collaboration.
The session was fantastic, and involved some thought-provoking practical activities. One analogy particularly stuck with me from the talk: digital projects having the same affect as camp fires.
To quote Ellen, campfires are "a great mixture of conviviality and responsibility".
So what attracts us to a campfire, and how is it's enticing glow maintained?
A good campfire is visible from a distance. Digital projects (particularly in their early phases) should be like this; available for all to see, encouraging contribution and nurturing curiosity.
Your project campfire could be a collaborative space, where outputs, outcomes and aims are pinned for all to see. They could exist online too, open for encouraging input and welcoming new voices who prefer to communicate this way. The campfire might not be a place or space, but a time when collaborative action is encouraged and project relationships nurtured.
And what about the people who contribute to the campfire's health? Some start the fire, sparking it into life but perhaps only returning periodically. Others tend to it constantly, keeping it a manageable size and encouraging others to collect fuel.
Many watch it from a distance, occasionally getting close out of curiosity. There's a chance someone might lead a fireside chat or two, helping others feel comfortable to ask questions or open the conversation wider.
The campfire is a great metaphor that I'll be using in future to explain the purpose for developing rituals, values, and shared responsibilities around digital projects.