2Build Together

Necessity is the mother of invention

Plato (2018/375 bce)

This chapter looks at the role of digital in collaboration. The need for a shared language of online collaboration that makes our collaborative work meaningful, effective, and satisfying. We also introduce a proven approach for building together with virtual teams.

The Dream of Collective Construction

In the fifth century BCE, Plato believed that the most effective form of democracy was one where every citizen was involved in policy decision making. At that time, the democratic assembly of Athens met on the hill of the Pnyx, which simply did not have enough space to accommodate the estimated 40 000 citizens who were entitled to vote. The citizens didn't always have the time to be present to deal with the volume of decisions that needed to be taken. Plato's dream of democratic involvement by all was frustrated by logistical impracticality. His solution became the representative democracy we recognize today: have people vote for representatives who can vote in their place.

Now, after two-and-a-half millennia, that original dream could be entirely realized. The gift of digital technology is that the virtual hill of the Pnyx is as large as we wish to make it. If we choose, we can empower every person affected by proposed change to have a voice, not as an afterthought, but as the conversation is happening.

The opportunities we have in the twenty-first century have a dimension that Plato did not envisage. ...

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