The Ancient and Future Art of Outsourcing and Collaboration

In addition to my own posts, I also write for ActionMint, an authority on cloud-based project management. Recently I posted an article on their blog concerning outsourcing and collaboration, and that it is an idea that goes back many centuries. Here is an excerpt:

Back in the age when the Romans ruled much of the world, there was a special place, located in what we now collectively call the Middle East, where three major roads met: the road leading northwest to Europe, the road leading south to Africa, and the road leading east to Asia. At the meeting place of these three roads was, so the story goes, a giant pole, upon which passers-by would post messages to other passers-by, in the hope and expectation that the private messages would be delivered to their destinations and that the public notices would be read and acted upon. Some people were looking for investors or business partners; others were selling goods from exotic places beyond the horizon. Others simply wished to leave messages about dangerous routes, commercial opportunities, distant tribes and peoples, and other information that was useful for travellers and traders at-large.

The information that was posted on this fabled pole became the common knowledge of those who needed to know. The place where the pole stood, at the junction of these three roads was called, in Latin, the Tre Via (the three roads), a word that through the ages became rounded down to trivia, and which has come to represent “common knowledge to the point of redundancy.”

The Tre Via could be seen as an early prototype of group communication and collaboration technology. There was no Internet back then, of course, no phones and no reliable mail service. Instead, this open pillar of knowledge stood accessible to all, and opportunities and synergies derived from its presence. The knowledge was not “unnecessary” as today’s definition of trivia might suggest, but simply available to many.

To read the full article, please visit the ActionMint blog here.



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