Regulating Nimbus and Focus: Organizing Copresence for Creative Collaboration

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Creative collaboration often takes place in collaborative spaces that increasingly use virtual modes of interaction. To better understand the organizational conditions and organizing practices that facilitate collaboration in such spaces, we compare ethnographies of an online platform for collaborative songwriting and a physical songwriting camp, with each of these spatial settings coming with distinct advantages and disadvantages for creative collaboration. We identify the emergence of copresence – an active mutual orientation toward one another – as a common organizational condition for collaboration. Copresence was fostered by practices of regulating nimbus (i.e. making people more or less visible) and focus (i.e. directing attention to others) that not only stimulated moments of converging copresence marked by collaborative problem-solving, but also enabled diverging copresence marked by undirected attention and more serendipitous interactions. Our comparison reveals the challenges of negotiating between converging and diverging copresence to counteract tendencies towards excessive, or conversely, insufficient nimbus and focus of the participants, both of which are barriers to copresence. These insights contribute to ongoing debates about the organization of online and offline collaborative spaces by shifting the focus away from co-location towards copresence, highlighting the oscillation between converging and diverging copresence as important for a collaborative atmosphere and identifying practices by which copresence can be organized in different spatial settings.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)545-568
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 04.2023
Externally publishedYes

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