Digital Aboriginal, by Mikela Tarlow with Philip Tarlow, proposes a rather unique approach for those seeking innovative ways to stay abreast of today’s high-tech business environment: reach back to the “magical, networked, multidimensional world” of the aborigines for inspiration and direction. The authors–she’s a specialist in organizational learning; he’s an internationally recognized artist–believe knowledge of the nomadic ways of the desert meshes perfectly with the modern needs of the workplace. In four sections that look into aboriginal behavior in the context of the digital age, they show how various key aspects can be appropriated with mostly familiar strategies and skills.
To be absolutely transparent, I had not read the book yet… but after our conversation, I absolutely will. Here’s a preview of the four sections:
- Who owns the Wind? this is an in-depth discussion of intellectual property and our ownership of things. The question is a metaphor and points to the ancient attitudes of “we” versus the modern day attitude of “me”. Mikela and Philip believe the pendulum is beginning to swing back to ‘we’… our attention to peace, global warming, spirituality, self-improvement, etc.
- Return of the Story Tellers if you have been a blogger for a while, you’ll find that some of the most successful blogs tell a story. For thousands of years, it’s been how people educated one another. And it’s still a successful methodology. (At my work we use “Use Cases” to describe to our development teams how people our going to use our application… we tell the story!)
- Tribal Mind this is about collaborative workspaces and how people naturally come together to gain productivity. A fantastic evolution of the web has been the ability to collaborate with people you don’t know, developing entire Operating Systems, Applications… and even an online Encyclopedia.
- Riding the Song Lines is a discussion of our ability to follow our intuition and instinctive nature. Mikela commented that Malcolm Gladwell did a great job of describing this in Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. With the volume of data we are faced with today, one is bound to get analysis paralysis. Trusting our instinct is not the same as taking a guess – there is a lot of evidence that there is much more to intuition than we realize.
The conversation was stimulating. Everyone at the Book Club was furiously writing notes and devouring the conversation. Mikela and Philip are already working on their next book, The Return of Storytelling, that will go into great detail on the topics they touched on in Digital Aboriginal.
Here’s the amazing thing about Digital Aboriginal… it was written in 2002! Based on the information gathered through their research, Mikela and Philip actually touched on technology advancements and new businesses that had not even existed yet. Since it was written 5 years ago, you can buy it at Amazon for $3.99.
Inspiration for the book actually came from viewing a piece of art where a circuit board resembled an ancient aboriginal painting.
Mikela and Philip were as excited about the conversation as we were, it was fantastic. We literally called their hotel in Greece to discuss their book, our book club, and our thoughts on how the landscape of business and technology is changing. I could literally go on and on – I have 4 pages of notes from a 1 hour phone conference.
I’m already rethinking some of my material for my lecture on Corporate Blogging next week to infuse it with some of these thought-provoking ideas.