Getting on the Same Page

Yesterday I participated in a meeting at a client’s office where six people sat in a small conference room reviewing the contents of a PowerPoint presentation they are to deliver in a few days, and it struck me how exactly alike are PowerPoint and Wikipedia, the grassroots encyclopedia that anyone can contribute to. Well, they’re alike at least in this one regard: Having to work together on a single page forces people to override their personal interests in favor of their shared values. At Wikipedia, that value is achieving a neutral point of view. At the business meeting, it was clarity and persuasiveness.

Of course, at the in-person meeting, the social structure inevitably gets in the way: The junior person doesn’t push too hard and the senior person doesn’t have to. I wonder how different the PowerPoints would have turned out if they’d been created in an environment where anyone in the group could comment on them or edit them anonymously.

David Weinberger posted this on April 8, 2005, in Trend$.
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