All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts ….
(William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 1623)
Working in a collaborative online-environment has some resemblance with a stage play. Here´s the observation:
As we work online, we perform. We create work artifacts, that appear in an activity stream, which is a stage. What we post, is immediately perceptible by a larger audience. Before their eyes, work unfolds, taking the form of a drama, comedy, problem play, impromptu, show or whodunit. The perfomance might captivate the audience´s attention or bore them to death, trigger frenetic jubilation or harsh criticism.
Online collaboration can take on the form of a modern play, where the line between performers and audience is blurred and anyone can enter the stage at any time, or, vice-versa, retire from acting out. Performance through individual and collective contribution and improvisation.
Or, to the contrary, online collaboration can follow a stricter dramaturgy, probably called business process, with well-defined roles, timed entrances from the left and from the right and a text rendered closely to the default.
For some it is easy to conquer such a stage. They seek the ramp, claim lead roles, they can play themselves in the foreground, sometimes undeserved.
For others it is much more difficult to step into the limelight. It requires confidence and trust. It may cause stage fright and come along with a shaky voice and feelings of exposure and vulnerability.
And there´s always the third group, that feels satisfied with the role of the passive viewer. Consuming the play out of the darkness of the auditorium. But probably applauding after the final curtain and taking home a little bit of wisdom, understanding or joy. Yes, that´s important too.