Collaboration seen thru many lenses

This morning I've been making connections in my mind (cognitive network) between the many different ways that increased collaboration is emerging globally. I then pondered the possibility that each of these different ways of collaborating are the same thing, looked at though different lenses. Here's how that possibility played out for me.
  1. When we think about labor and production, we see peers who are sharing files, contributing to projects, responding to requests. We worry about exploitation of workers and the capitalization of labor.
  2. When we think about property and ownership, we see commons getting shared, maintained and protected, We worry about any encroachment on, enclosure of or privatization of the commons.
  3. When we think about archives, creative works and publications, we see open source and open access models of dissemination. We worry about destroying incentives to continue creating and investing in the infrastructure for advanced research and productions.
  4. When we think about gatherings benefiting from inclusiveness, diversity and mutual support systems, we see communities and cooperatives. We worry about debilitating conflicts, ego trips and abuses of power.
  5. When we think about individuals expressing themselves through writing, pics, recordings, video, tags, comments, tweets, and texts, we see social networking platforms. We worry about echo chambers and evil spammers.
  6. When we think about the authority to administer governance over collectives, we see collaborative networks comprised of constituencies. We worry about over-representing special interests and charismatic leaders abusing their power.
  7. When we think about innovative services and breakout value propositions, we see customers co-creating value with providers. We worry about hackers and inventors selling out to corporate greed.
  8. When we think about how individuals mediate the messages they receive and uniquely transform common information into subjective comprehension, we see connections being formed, maintained and strengthened. We worry about isolation and disconnects missing out on the available complexity.
  9. When we think about social evolution and disruptive changes in the status quo, we see incumbents getting replaced by new entrants. We worry about the startups building a following, generating revenue and enduring the lull after the initial excitement.

With so many ways to see collaborating occurring with so many pitfalls to avoid, it's small wonder these are exciting times to follow.


  1. There is one more area, but I'm not sure how to articulate it. Collaborating on "learning". It used to be that we would have conferences in a central place where people would exchange what they had "learned". Now there are online conferences, learning communities that are ongoing, and even blogs that are used to develop learning. I'm not sure that is represented in any of the catagories you have identified.

  2. Perhaps 5 and 6 are lenses to see what you're describing. They both disaggregate central locations in real time and support ongoing, 24/7 asynchronous exchanges. 6 would also look at policies for grading & attendance among learners, publication & presentation among academics and plagiarism among either.

    Thanks for stimulating these further thoughts!