Saturday, February 3, 2007

People Happen: Shel Israel Meets with Jangl

Once we were all jammed into the Jangl conference room for our talk with Shel, it was only right to do introductions. Shel asked each person to discuss whether or not they already blogged and, if not, if and why they might try it in the future. A pretty benign question, right?

A few were there as an academic exercise. They wanted to hear what Shel and others had to say. Fair enough.

Another revealed a passionate interest in World Cup soccer. Apparently, he moderates communities of like-minded fans -- communities that number in the hundreds, if not thousands. Wow. Who knew? Perhaps he'll use blogging to cultivate that community, he said.

One of our finest engineers -- a brilliant, incisive guy who fortunately has become, to me, a friend -- locked in with Shel. As is typical when I speak with this engineer, he was able to strip away blogging and communities to their core. . .he talked in almost ontological terms, discussing communities and connections like they were organisms (they are, I'm learning). Soon my head began to hurt, as I struggled to keep up. This particular friend of mine is a guy who breezes between philosophy, mathematics, sociology, and music like a skilled driver selecting the appropriate gear. Shel seemed to get it totally. I was a little lost -- but awed nonetheless.

Another dodged the question completely, but lasered right in: which U.S. political party has best used blogging to its advantage? For the few of us who are aware of the political leanings present in that room, it was a stunning -- almost provocative -- question. Both Shel and the questioner had viewpoints to espouse and defend, and they did, in a crisp exchange that had everyone leaning forward, listening, listening.

The team here gathers everyday, in varying groups both larger and small, to talk about work, Jangl, the market, the service. We gather over lunch for usually light and random discussions. But what I learned yet again that day was interesting: that when you stick a bunch of smart people into a room and raise a wholly-new and unexplored topic, there's no telling what you'll learn.

It was like holding old, familiar gems up against a light and an entirely different angle, and seeing them for the first time. And as saccharin as that sounds, that's exactly how it felt. Fucking amazing.

The one person who struck me most deeply? A young woman who matter-of-factly put her hands on her knees, looked down for a moment, and said in a soft voice, "I don't have anything to say. I work. I come home and raise my daughter. And that's it. I don't know what I'd say."

Of course she has something to say.

Doesn't she?


roam4free said...

Tell me more about the girl

Timothy Johnson said...

If she's okay with it, I'll talk to her more in a few days and share. Thanks, Pat.