Digesting Reboot, and foveal and peripheral.

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

Warning: somewhat rambling post ahead. I’m thinking aloud here even more than usual.

Rob Paterson has an interesting review of Reboot.

Whilst some speakers still spoke about how to make a better commerce website many such as Doc Searls Euan Semple, J P Rangaswami and Lee Bryant were clear. Community and personal reputation will increasingly be amplified by social software and will creates “Places” in which commerce will take place, just as markets themselves were once social spaces. Participation is not a feature of this emerging paradigm but its centrality. Community will be the container into which things will happen directly between people. Social relationships and hence trust will be the critical factors.

Searching blogs covering Reboot is very satisfying. I feel like I am participating in some collective meaning-making, digesting the ideas that were put forward there.

Here’s an example. I missed Jyri Engeström‘s talk this year. I heard several people enthusing about it afterwards. I thought I got some of it from Kars Alfrink’s notes Then I found this one liner in Anne Vankesteren’s blog

Jyri Engeström: Mobile 2.0 is not about multimedia. Its about enabling social peripheral vision across space and across time.

Suddenly, the penny dropped for me, and what an interesting metaphor.

Peripheral vision, for me, is in the edge space between the conscious and the unconscious, between the explicit and the implicit. We’re not consciously processing what goes on, but it’s a vital part of our awareness. It’s easy in life to focus on the obvious, with our foveal vison. Rob talks about those wanting to make a better commerce site; that’s the foveal vision of the internet. Pausing and taking in more, we see the social relationships that Rob enthuses about. We see the pings that Technorati tracks rather than the static pages Google looks for (as Doc Searls explained it).

I like to play Improv games, and chose a particularly silly one for the session James and I ran: slow motion samurai. I found it a complete hoot. Metaphorically, the foveal view of such a game might be that it is plain silly, or perhaps that it’s a good warmup. The peripheral vision might take in that (IMHO) in these silly games, some rather wonderful and complex things are happening. Not least that people seem to engage with enthusiasm without much carrot or stick. That life may not be about winning or losing, but taking part.

In our second session, we played a game called soundball. People stand in a circle and one player starts the process by throwing an imaginary ball to another player, at the same time making an inarticulate sound. The receiver has to repeat the sound as he receives the ball, then throw it to another player, making an inarticulate sound of his own. And the process iterates from there. It’s a good game for learning about listening, making clear offers and seeing what it takes to get a group sharing ideas at a very fundamental level.

Where it gets more fun is when a second ball is introduced. Suddenly the game is more complex. In the one-ball version, we can just follow the ball to stay in touch. When there’s more than one ball going round, that won’t work. Guess what? We have to shift – and now I mean literally, not metaphorically – from foveal vision to peripheral vision. For me, this shifts my whole experience and alertness onto another level.

PS. Slow motion samurai is a very noisy game. Weirdly, James started calling it Silent Samurai and that appears to be how it is known by several of those who played it with us. I love that.

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