Whenever my co-host, Susan Stoner, and I sit down to discuss the venue for another of our YouTube book review series Just Read It, the air crackles with good vibes. Collaboration is something novelists seldom get to experience and while I enjoy the contemplative times of writing alone, sharing ideas with another person taps into a different form of creative energy.
In “5 Easy Theses,” Walter Isaacson writes about those aspects of science and art that work best in collaboration. (“5 Easy Theses,” by Walter Isaacson, Vanity Fair, October, 2014 pgs. 221-222.) “[M]ost innovations of the Digital Age were done collaboratively,” he asserts, (Ibid pg. 222) and may be the reason why Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, ended the practice of working at home for her employees, preferring that they rub shoulders with one another at the office.
John Atanasoff, one of the father’s of the computer, toiled alone in his basement to perfect the technology and failed, Isaacson points out. John Mauchly, working with a team, succeeded. (Ibid pg. 222)
When computers went global, collaborative innovation exploded. New on-line communities emerged: Social networks, wikis, blogs, bulletin boards , newsgroups and electronic gaming, for example. As cyberpunk writer William Gibson observed, “’the street finds its own uses for things.’” (Ibid pg. 222.)
Working in solitary as a writer, I enjoy plumbing my mind’s inner dimensions. But for tweaking the world, community brain power is hard to beat. Group think doesn’t always get things right. Anyone who’s ever used electronic devices knows that hardware and soft ware don’t always work in sync. But the advantage of a collaborative effort is that someone usually comes up with a patch.