The premise of InCommons is to revive among individuals the spirit of idea sharing and gathering to foster collaboration and personal insights about issues and topics that matter to them the most. Consider this invite:
"Are you building your own computer? Terminal, TV, typewriter? If so, you might like to come to a gathering of people with likeminded interests."
Interested in attending? Unfortunately, this meeting notice was posted on a bulletin board in a commons area at Hewlett Packard's San Francisco's corporate office in March 1975, so we're all a bit too late. However, a budding, yet introverted HP engineer named Steve Wozniak indeed did attend the inaugural meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club, held in a Menlo Park garage.
Wozniak was close friends with Steve Jobs. Together, they would co-create Apple.
In Walter Isaacson's biography, Steve Jobs, Wozniak reflects on the 30-person gathering as a "night (that) turned out to be one of the most important nights of my life."
A fellow attendee brought the recently released Altair, which at $495 was the first personal computer kit. Seeing the parts and reading the spec sheets, Wozniak had an epiphany: "That night, I started to sketch out on paper what would later become known as the Apple I."
By June, Wozniak had built the first prototype and presented it to Jobs, who immediately saw the potential to package and present the technology in a design and functionality that would appeal to the masses.
The rest is a history still unfolding today. But, remember, its entire narrative turns on a simple gathering of likeminded individuals seeking to share and discover new ideas, solve problems and foster community.
Could such a moment happen today? Perhaps not. We just don't gather enough anymore. In our increasingly hyper-connected society, too often we're more disconnected from other people - racing from our homes to a coffee shop to work, eating lunch at our desks, and spending our evenings with the shades drawn, exhausted from our hectic days.
As you plan your calendar for 2012, we encourage you to take part in such gatherings. Stay tuned to learn about upcoming InCommons gatherings through this newsletter, the InCommons blog and the InCommons gatherings page. If you are creating your own gathering, please post here as well. And, learn how InCommons facilitators can make your meetings more effective. For more information, you can also contact us at email@example.com or 612.520.1756.
Could such a gathering result in a Wozniak-scale epiphany that forever transforms how we live our lives?
Why, yes. It absolutely could.