Collective collaboration practices are perhaps the most important form of social practice. What we do with others and how we do it shapes our worldview, our priorities, our values, our norms, our communities, our societies; how we participate in solidarity.
Individual collaboration habits are critical to how we shape our lives – how we learn, how we grow up, how we work, how we manage our health, how we act as citizens, how we have fun and enjoy life, how we overcome crises…; how we ensure and develop the dignity of our lives; how we exist. Togetherness comes from the interaction of habits and practices. How we interact to collaborate shapes with whom we collaborate and why we collaborate, as well as the other way around.
ALC starts from human togetherness. This implies that we start from human reality, that we take into account the cognitive potential but also the cognitive limitations of people – our memory, our attention, our energy, our capability to cope with complexity but also with boredom; our mimetic needs; our sensitivity to social status and social pressure; our need to give meaning to our life and hence to feel “special”. That we cope with the reality that we have so much in common but are also so different. When people will symly with each other, they will develop new individual habits and practices which will be facilitated by the orchestration and guidance by the symBots.
These limitations are reflected in our ways of collaborating – of communicating, of solving problems, of getting things done, of helping each other, of organising processes, of doing business together… ALC is nothing more than a combination of social and digital technologies to provide us additional means of collaborating, freeing us from those activities which are neither conducive to obtaining the practical results they are supposed to deliver nor add social value. We can just meet a group of people for the fun, but probably organising the nitty-gritties of this meeting will not be particularly rewarding. We can organise a daily scrum meeting of software developers to update each other on progress of development, but then we want to focus on the very essentials to optimise our work, but then do not want necessarily to meet all our colleagues at the coffee machine, but perhaps just chat with a few of them, we share other passions with. And we will organise both types of togetherness very differently from each other, but also from a collaborative workshop on “Metamodernism and economic development” with different speakers from different countries and backgrounds; the latter will include activities such as getting “stakeholders” to agree on the programme; motivating authors to contribute papers; contracting experts to review these papers ; organising panels and discussion groups; pulling all that together in a programme and sharing it; running the registrations; organising logistics…; this is hard work, which most of us would happily give away. ALC frees us, at least to a substantial degree, of all this tedious work by augmenting collaboration by symBots, and to progressively increase this sub-contractable part as the symBots and the practice ecosystem learn. Extended identities (hold in our own private data space) will enable us to prove our reliability and trustworthiness. Learning about the types of commitments and reminders will make people deliver on their promises. The “right” timing and pacing of interactions will facilitate a good mix and iteration between slow and fast thinking…
To use a metaphor: people have been getting since thousands of years from Paris to Rome by walking and riding, but getting back and forth in a weekend will better work with a night train or a plane. ALC is the technology that enables to get quickly from Paris to Rome, and back, instead of walking, and to choose between flying or taking a night train.
We tend to believe that we choose with whom we interact– our spouses, our kids, our friends, our colleagues… – in line with our worldviews and values. That we choose which norms we respect and which ones we ignore. That we collaborate the way we do because that’s how things work. After all we are free. But reality is more complex. Our social environment conditions our worldview and values, because we (often more or less unconsciously) adopt the opinions of our friends and colleagues, because we fear loneliness, being ostracised, missing on opportunities which we know to be reserved to those who are “in” and not to those who are “out”. We use methods and tools because they are already there, and nobody dares to change them. And how we collaborate influences our relations, how decisions emerge. Our values result from our attitudes which result in turn from our behaviours, because we are engaged in a permanent process of maintaining the consistency of our “self-fiction”. Improving our ways of collaboration is not easy because the per default consensus in a collaborating group is to keep the established practices.
The first benefit of describing symFlos in a no-code collaboration modelling language, as planned by SymPlace, is to enable us (individually and collectively) to develop a conscience of how we collaborate in practice, what our processes look like, how we organise our (individual and collective) time, what we commit to (or not), how we mobilise our energy. This conscience then becomes a deeper understanding not only of what works and what does not, but also why that is the case, and to identify opportunities to redesign and improve our ways of collaboration. Collaboration habits and practices then become themselves objects of collaboration: metaSymFlos, combining different human perspectives, augmented by savvy algorithms, allow us to experiment with possible models, to evaluate them and choose the most effective ones, to then agree, more or less firmly, to use them, at least for a while, as the new reference approach for getting things done in groups either because efficiency and effectiveness are critical, or because the complexity inherent to the diversity of members and possibly the risks of conflict and / or undue social coercion need to be mitigated.
Social practices embody social values and rules. MetaSymFlos hence embody how we jointly explore transformations, how we govern them, how we decide about them and get community members to commit to them.
All this is essential, because our collective collaboration practices and individual collaboration habits impact all spheres of our lives and of our society. They implicitly carry our world views, our values and our norms. By making collaboration habits and practices evolve as a whole, we change the world. And that is everybody’s “business”, our common endeavour.