Organic Communities of Practice

Posted by  Krista Schmeling —January 25, 2008
Filed in Collaboration

I recently picked up a copy of Fast Thinking magazine (summer 2007 issue), and found an interesting article on a group of software developers who organically-formed a community of practice. They call themselves SuperHappyDevHouse, and although they started off in California’s Silicon Valley, they have attracted interest from other places in the world, including New Zealand, which now has its own ‘devhouse’ as an offshoot.
What I found interesting about this is their community, although formed online, is nurtured through regular get-togethers (what they actually call ‘parties’). It doesn’t seem uncommon for software developers to create a natural communication conduit online – this is what they do, right? But what they realised is how important it is to have face to face contact that allows for people to get to know each other and have informal conversations to establish relationships. When conversations start in this more organic way, topics have more spontaneity, and although they may meander, stories emerge and ideas are sparked in a way that isn’t always allowed for in an online forum. Of course, the online forum is emerging as essential in communities of practice, but face-to-face relationship building is something that will never lose its importance in human relationships.
The SuperHappyDevHouse ‘parties’, which are replete with innovation-minded, lap-top toting developers young and old, last around 12 hours, and result in knowledge sharing, collaborative explorations and what they fully expect to roll into innovation.

About  Krista Schmeling

2 Responses to “Organic Communities of Practice”

  1. geoff Says:

    There’s a group in Seattle called Saturday House ( that’s been going for about a year now doing something similar. We get together every Saturday (used to be rotating between members’ houses but now have a fixed venue) for the whole day to hack, talk, craft, tinker, game, or whatever. There’s no single group activity (though some like the Six Hour Startup project have become a subculture within SHouse) and you’re under no social obligation to interact. We have had people show up and study for 8 hours. Many of the folks are dev types, but there’s a number who are not. We even have some regular kid-SHouser’s. The vibe is really exciting though; lots of co-working, lots of serendipitous interaction.

  2. Krista Says:

    Yes, serendipitous……that’s the good part!

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