What's old is new again? Bedouin co-working

Anchor for this item  posted Sunday, December 02, 2007 at 2:15 PM MST

*X-posted from ''Gnodal'' at LiveJournal*
Thinking about OpenSource and crowd-sourcing and all of that I found myself coming back again and again to the idea of "going Bedouin". (Now I happen to really admire Bedouin culture and traditions, but that's another essay.) I'm talking about foundational co-working.

Just now I realized with some shock that the concepts that are central to Bedouin-style co-working are exactly the same as what I envisioned with my first startup. (Alas, it succumbed to infant mortality.)

Back-story: in the late 80s Texas Instrument's new generation of video chips gave rise to an awesome breakthrough in capabilities, the best example being the Amiga 2500 and the VideoToaster. Combined, video production costs were 1/10th what they had been previously. I saw that as a massive (if only transient) business opportunity.

My idea was this: provide people who were already working in video with turn-key video studios using those systems ... they would rapidbly find themselves independent. But key to the franchise concept was networking: small shops off-loading cumbersome tasks or repetitive chores to one another ... a sort of load-leveling. Bonus would be that projects would become networked, so contracts that might be far too large and complex for any one studio could be shared.

That was 1988.

In 2007? That, basically, is co-working ... and "going Bedouin" fits perfectly with that business model.
Feeling manic? Pumped for consecutive 14 hour days? Just fine.
Distracted by some aspect of personal life? NP ... 2 or 4 hours of maintenance (email and such) keeps things ticking over for a little while.


Addendum, from MozDawg comments:

Interesting that you brought up InnoCentive here ... it continues the thread I've been working today i.e. alternative business models.
Context: looking through material on Alfresco I find that, while it promotes itself as seriously OpenSource, it is far more closed than the dev communities in, say, SalesForce or FaceBook or NetVibes. I felt like I needed a battering ram to access documentation. (Registering as a developer will do the trick, but still ... odd to see their reticence.)
On the other hand, by way of contrast, I came across Automattic, who specializes in WordPress ... it seems that they're entirely distributed i.e. no bricks&mortar head office, but everybody draws against revenue.
Then reading about a new Drupal support startup, Acquia, I can't help thinking that a lot of hours are spent doing what others are doing, and wondering if there isn't a way of producing better results while reducing over-work.
So many people were so very busy, and pondered why collaboration wasn't lightening the load or leading to economies of scale.
I really have come full circle, back to 1989!


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