It's been a long string trip, but after 15 years, and after many a nation and neighborhood, I've moved back to Boulder. Sixteen years ago I had an office on Broadway and Pearl Street, and an apartment just a few blocks away. Back then I had my '79 VW Westfalia named Wally and a dream to make cooperation viral. The local paper interviewed me, just as I set out on a overseas exploration of culture, meeting my wife and having a couple kids along the way.
When we left Boulder, and arrived in New Zealand, there was a huge mural on the wall:
The cultural focus on individuals, so strong in western society, is not as visible in most indigenous cultures, and many ethnic groups worldwide have a stronger focus on community and shared values. When two people focus their eyes, on the same page if you will, it's no longer an individual focus. The focus is on others. Even if it's just for a short time, including someone into a co-authoring creative process. I like to call the effort and output of that time together a cooperation.
What cooperation looks like for me has evolved as I spent time, with kids in Cambodia, educators in New Zealand, hackerspaces across the USA, and cooperatives in Europe.
The letter i, when lowercase, visually looks like the representation of a single person. Western culture has a clear and obvious focus on the individual. This is most evident around the "i" prefix branding developed by branding consultant Rob Janoff for Apple, initially for the iMac, but used in products such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. He felt that the "I" prefix was a simple and memorable way to convey the computer's Internet capabilities, as well as its focus on individual users.
If 'i' is a focus on one person, an individual, then 'ii' is a focus on helping each other.
I'd like to explore what cooperation looks like, and see if we can create a movement of putting people first... ii in front of the concepts and ideas that promote going far, together.
I'm writing this from my new office, just across the mall from where I started, just behind the clock. It's a new beginning, a bit of a full circle. Let's see if we can figure out what it means to have iiPhones, iiPods, iiSPs.
We all have different eyes, with different shapes, colors, and perspectives. I wonder what it would look like we took the moment to look through someone else's together.