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Reblogged:Hearing Galt's Gulch?

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Over at Inc. is an interesting piece about the collegial nature of podcasting. Its title? "Want a Lesson in Collaboration and Teamwork? Listen to an Independent Podcast. Yes, Any One." I don't listen to podcasts with any frequency, but I'm pretty sure that Suzanne Lucas is right: The good will she describes has been evident to me each time.

After discussing the phenomenon, Lucas asks some interesting questions:
It's totally bizarre, but could it transfer to other industries?

In a way, other industries do this through conventions and white papers and other areas in which we present and publish things that can help others out. But, the straight up collaboration among people who would qualify as competitors doesn't happen as blatantly as it does in the podcast world.

You don't want to give your competitor a leg up, but what if we remembered that the world is really quite large and perhaps there is room for all of us? With individuals, we call this mentoring, but could we be more collaborative across industries as well?
These are fascinating questions, and I am sure the answer is yes. I have, for example, enjoyed beers inspired by collaborations between favorite breweries.

At the same time, the devil is in the details, so it might be fruitful to ponder what might aid or hinder collaboration. There are hints about the former above, and they remind me a little of the radiant atmosphere of Galt's Gulch within Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. That said, I think the statement that, "It's not all selfless," risks losing the scent. As Rand once noted of creative endeavors:
Men have been taught that the ego is the synonym of evil, and selflessness the ideal of virtue. But the creator is the egoist in the absolute sense, and the selfless man is the one who does not think, feel, judge or act. These are functions of the self.
I think that the spirit of collegiality seen especially in many nascent (or craft-like) industries is a direct result of the quality and quantity of individual effort they require -- effort that only a true, selfish love for what one is doing is going to sustain. The work itself is fulfilling, and that is something that is easy to share without losing it. (In fact, one gains a relationship based on values when one does so.) I think this is at least part of why we see camaraderie in some industries much more than in others. The fun isn't eclipsed by the mundane, and common (but mistaken) ideas about life as a zero-sum game don't get a chance to intrude.

Could it be that in a manner similar to new industries taking off where government hasn't regulated, new communities of rational, implicitly selfish men can sprout where conventional thinking hasn't set in?

-- CAV

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