Enclosing the Commons of the Mind
What will remain of us

Narrating the work (II)

This resonates with me so much and I see I jotted down some notes about it before. Re-reading the posts involved, and some others, has set me thinking again. Some significant bookmarks I want to keep to hand:

1) Jon Udell, 2001, on the web:

an environment in which everyone can produce as well as consume web content. The web began in this state of grace, soon fell from it, and has recently been trying to find its way back. It's been a hard road, frankly.

That's both beautiful and true.

2) From the same:

There's one talent common to all these creative disciplines: storytelling. We are, as a species, hardwired not only for language but for narrative. A story is, you might say, an evolutionary mechanism designed to focus the attention of a group. Sometimes the point is to entertain, sometimes to teach, often both. The power of narrative, whatever its purpose, flows from a deep human need to identify with a group, and above all to find out what happens next. … It all boils down to just three things: a storyteller, an audience, and a venue.
3) Dave Winer, 2002, discussing an Instant Outliner:
(…) narrating your work is the way to go.
4) This is Jon Udell, back in April 2004, The participant/narrator: owning the role, writing about the "XML-Deviant column at O'Reilly's XML.com … which began in January 2000, [and] would have been called a blog had the term been more current then":
For people who lack the time to closely monitor activity in some area, these bulletins are a way to keep a finger on the pulse. For the participant/narrator, they're a way to build personal brand and -- perhaps -- influence the agenda. It's been clear to me for a long time that the participant/narrator, armed with easy-to-use Web publishing technology (aka blog tools), will be a key player on every professional and civic team.
Now that the hype about political blogs has died down, it's clear that this is the real deal: a grassroots effort to connect a political process to itself, to its constituency, and to the outside world. No fanfare, just steady and reliable information flow. Every team can benefit from this approach. By narrating the work, as Dave Winer once put it, we clarify the work. There can be more than [one] narrator, but it makes sense to have one team member own the primary role just as other members own other roles.
5) Jon Udell, July 2007, Beautiful code, expert minds, discussing a book where coders narrate their work ("Although this is a book by programmers and for programmers, the method of narrating the work process is, in principle, much more widely applicable"):
Access to expert minds is just inherently valuable. We’re entering an era in which we’ll be able to access many more — and many different kinds of — expert minds. I’m looking forward to it.
6) All this was set going again by Dave Winer's fine post yesterday, Narrate Your Work, "a big part of the future Rebooted News system, imho":
I clicked on the page of NYT editorial people on Twitter that I keep and I saw something very different, and this is the point of this story. I saw a news organization at work. Careful to say what they do and don't know. Informing each other on experience with similar stories in the past. Whether they were all reading all of the others' posts, I don't know. They were reading and passing on reports from other Twitter users, even those that didn't work at the Times. They were coordinating the work of a larger community than just people who work at the Times. … real reporters dealing with a true breaking story not just a simulation of a breaking story, let their hair down and share everything they know with the world. This is the impulse of news …

Jon Udell, 2001: "The web's leading blogger is clearly Dave Winer, who has for years pursued parallel careers as a software developer and storyteller (or, he might say, technology journalist)."

Three other passages from Jon Udell's 2001 post stand out for me:

Could it be that, despite Tim Berners-Lee's dream (and mine), the writable web is not the natural state of affairs? That, in fact, it is appropriate for consumers of web content to outnumber producers? And that tools and technologies are not the major constraint on the production of web content? Recent history suggests that the answer to all of these questions is probably yes. Personal computers have forever changed the way people make publications, movies, and music. But they have not changed the people who do these things. If you lack writing or editing or illustration skills, or filmic flair, or musical ability, then desktop publishing or video or music tools can't change that. What they can do -- and it's no small thing -- is help people with latent abilities in these areas discover and grow their talents. …
Blogging as a form of mainstream web entertainment, with its star performers and its popularity ratings, may or may not be a passing fad. What will endure, in any case, matters more: a powerful new way to tell stories that refer to, and make sense of, the documents and messages that we create and exchange in our professional lives. …
It [his project weblog] looks like a newspaper, and indeed serves a similar purpose.

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