New playgrounds for new play

Gerrit Visser blogs about A paradigm for Coworking:

There’s a chapter in the recently published Handbook of Experiential Learning about something called “Junkyard Sports.” The chapter, written by Bernie DeKoven, shows how creative play experiences like Junkyard Sports, can become powerful learning tools for the business world.

Bernie’s Junkyard Sports were originally developed for schools and youth programs. According to Bernie, a Junkyard Sport is any sport that’s played with the “wrong” equipment. He explains that in such events, the “sport becomes a vehicle for the creation of community, where the shared opportunity to play takes precedence over the game itself.”

In many ways, this is a paradigm for effective coworking. People who are seeking out new coworking environments are finding each other in “unofficial” spaces – warehouses, bakeries, lofts, studios, apartments. The people they find in these environments are not all working for the same company or even the same goals. The technological infrastructure is cobbled together from components that were never designed to work together – IM, chat, wikis, blogs, desktop-sharing, shared whiteboards, mindmapping software, calendering software. They share skills when they can, discovering that the diversity of interests, professions, personalities is the source of new insights, new ways to make work better, new opportunities to learn, to work, to play.

more on Junkyard Sports and CoWorking

This is a really interesting way to conceptualize coworking and the value of such spaces… since, after all, it’s not about the spaces themselves, but more about the community and collaborative opportunities that they afford the coworkers.

The Hive Cooperative – an idea for Denver Coworking

Andrew Luter, a Denver based technology misfit, has laid out an all inclusive coworking ideal – the hive – not just a modern internet-cafe, not just a share office space, but a professional working environment embody in a sweet narrative and well laid out wiki. Should you be in Denver or if you are looking to start a coworking space, Andrew’s has a good pulse on creating the contextual elements.

This article is cross-posted on, and mad-props to s.s. trudeau for the link.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Twittering while you cowork

Happy from Snow WhiteIt dawned on me that upcoming “What are you doing now” app Twitter is actually a really good tool for coworking.

I say this for a number of a reasons and will make one and a half feature requests.

First, Twitter is a global consciousness app. Basically, you sign up, tune in and shout out.

You can also use it for productivity or virtual teams, but I won’t get into that here.

What I’m more interested in is 1) finding social energy while you work and 2) knowing that you’re not in the slog alone. These two ideas I think fit really well with the ethos and spirit of the coworking community.

Indeed, more often than not, folks look to coworking to sate a need for social interaction that, let’s face it, you just don’t get from instant messaging or video chat. Being around other people and having them in your peripheral vision reinforces your choice to keep at it and stay focused. it also means that you’ve got people nearby who can help you “unstuck” yourself.

So, when it comes to letting the world know what you’re up to, Twittering allows for the least bit of interaction with the most possible return: with 140 characters or less, you tell the world what you’re up to and receive the same kind of pings in return. When you’re in a room full of coworkers, the social benefits are amplified since you can sense that you’re part of a much larger story than just your coworking experience that will continue on long after you’ve retired for the evening. And, being able to read about what other people are up to and how many of them are doing great things conditions you to get your priorities straight and pursue the things you love to do, just as other people have given themselves permission to do.

Now, in terms of those 1.5 feature requests, I’d love to see publicly joinable groups, in the sense of collated geographies of people. An awesome mashup would take all the people at a Plazes location (like Citizen Space or the Hat Factory) and make them subscribable as a group. This could also be done easily if people used their zipcodes on their profiles, but people move around, so Plazes would be more timely.

Additionally, it would be nice if you could move into an “earshot group” as you migrate from one coworking space to another — automatically subscribing to non-friends as you travel. It would be like being able to listen in to all the calls passing through the the cell tower that you happen to be on at any given time. This kind of “ambient socialization” or “digital overhearing” would nicely accelerate serendipity and potentially increase how quickly you’re able to acclimate to a new environment.

That’s the idea anyway, I’ll leave it up to the clever coworking folks to figure how to mitigate that kind of mass of information.