A question i often ask myself. Most weeks on the blog, a link gets posted from Timothy’s site, linking to something i’ve written. Every week i think “that’s nice“, and go no further. There’s a broad community around the blog, providing momentum, reflection, challenge, support and ideas. It’s a broad group: doctors, directors, musicians, artists, technologists, warriors, students, professionals, poets and explorers. To name but a few. People engage for many different reasons, but for Timothy, it’s an act of curation, interpretation and sense making. Actions borne of generosity and humility and embodying what it means to be a Social Leaders in the Social Age.
So today, Timothy, the blog is for you.
I’m sat in Hutspot, Amsterdam. A collective working space that serves great coffee. Throughout the day, people come and go: students, web developers, artists. I love it: energy and a constant murmuring of people thinking and sharing.
To my left sits Bill. He’s older than me, a former BBC news editor, who specialises in Storytelling. We’re working together and he’s flown in to spend a few days with me in person. Last time we met was in Exeter, before that in London. We are connected online, work virtually, but occasionally like to share coffee and stories in person.
Opposite me is Paul: we’ve been working together too for some time, but this is the first time we’ve met. He came in by train from Germany, eight hours, to work with us. So we are bought together, in a democratised, shared workspace, to collaborate and co-create a story. True Social Age working.
But our network is wider: we use Google Docs and Sheets to collaborate with a wider team, pursuing conversations that migrate from WhatsApp to email, to live work on shared documents and on into PDFs. Agile technology: agile working. Office not required.
And wider still, to the people in our respective communities who write, who share, who engage. People to whom we can turn for knowledge, sense making, inspiration, challenge, momentum or support.
People who are nodes in our network: connectors of dots, amplifiers of good stories.
When publishing was democratised and the printing presses fell to the mob, the publishers said ‘but now everyone can self publish a book we will sink under a million pages of dross‘. And they were right. But then the community came along and sorted it out for us: emergent sense making by the community, a truly Social approach. Which is why, when Sae recommended a book to me last week, i’ll read it: because a recommendation from someone you respect is worth more than any amount of paid for advertising.
Timothy publishes a regular blog, conducting ‘sense making‘ activities. It’s about curation, interpretation and sharing, the first three parts of the Social Leadership model. And he does it from his own, unique perspective.
Timothy and i are not the same: his worldview and mine are not the same. We may be aligned in values, aligned by curiosity, aligned in our intent, but our specific views on a given article or situation may not be the same. Which is the value of community: diversity of thought, diversity of perspective, diversity of opinion. But united in shared values and shared purpose. In this case, our shared values are around curiosity and making sense of the world.
So, each week, Timothy curates articles from a broad range of sources: blogs, formal publications, first hand accounts, and each he relates to his core area of interest, providing anything from a few lines to a few paragraphs of context and interpretation. Building reputation over time through his actions.
This type of connection is typical of the Social Age: people we have never met, never spoken to, never even seen a photograph of and yet, in strange ways, they enter our thinking, influence our views, co-create a story with us.
I’m sat in a room of strangers, and yet in some ways i feel i know Timothy better than them. Just through reading what he writes, just through his sharing of his story.
This is what i mean when i say that the collaborative technology of the Social Age, alongside the evolution of our relationship with knowledge and the sense making functions of community are fundamentally changing social structures. Loose social ties across vast distances: united by interests. Unafraid to share our stories.
I travel widely: almost 20 weeks away last year. Increasingly this time brings me into contact with people i’ve been connected with for years. Bloggers, Twitter friends, people who have read the books. It’s like meeting old friends, but old friends who i’ve never met (depending on what we mean by ‘met’…).
So today’s post is for Timothy, connected by the most tenuous of threads: connected by curiosity and storytelling. Connecting my work with that of others and, in the process, remixing and interpreting it to his world. This is the reality of the Social Age.