Monday, February 02, 2009

Collaboration...what's it worth?

As we continue the shift away from the industrialized and service models of civilization, where do we place value? We have seen what can happen to the monetary value system. It is not a sustainable model and is prone to corruption and failure. So what does that leave us, and what is a sustainable system of capital? I wish I knew without a doubt, but all I can give is an uneducated guess mixed with a little common sense and a whole lot of hope. Just my humble opinion, but I believe collaboration will naturally give us a new definition of capital and in turn create an entirely new value system. These are just a few of my thoughts, which hopefully will continually change as we progress!

Collaboration...just what is collaboration and what do we get out of it's growth as a social norm in this age of expanded communication? According to my sources, (Wikipedia), collaboration exists when two or more people or organizations work toward a common goal. The Internet is allowing a low cost and instantaneous sharing of ideas, knowledge, and skills in order to create sustainable communities of niche interests.
Collaboration is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together toward an intersection of common goals: for example, an intellectual endeavor that is creative in sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus. Collaboration does not require leadership and can sometimes bring better results through decentralization and egalitarianism. In particular, teams that work collaboratively can obtain greater resources, recognition and reward when facing competition for finite resources.

As an individual, what can one expect to receive from their collaboration? It's been said that in the not so far off future, there are three types of capital the individual will receive from their participation in the new collaborative society.

The first is knowledge capital, or perhaps a better definition would be human capital. Knowledge is acquired from the experience of collaboration, as opportunities to learn are inherent within collaborative communities. As knowledge is shared it is expanded and becomes self-generating with use. The more experience, the more the knowledge base will increase. The economics of self-generation eventually replaces scarcity economics. Regardless how narrow or broad the focus, this self-generated knowledge tends to assimilate in niche communities and knowledge management evolves as the process of sharing and learning continue.

The second type of capital is social capital, or relationship capital. Relationship capital allows people to know others who work on a large variety of projects...some of which overlap. Through collaboration on projects, lasting relationships are built with others. There is a mutual sharing of knowledge that takes place between these relationships and common goals are reached through the help of all involved. These voluntary associations and communities will hopefully be conducive of altruism as we learn to give it away in order to receive.
These voluntary associations also connect people with each other, build trust and reciprocity through informal, loosely structured associations, and consolidate society through altruism without obligation.

The third type of capital is reputation capital whose essence can be summed up as trust. The actions of an individual or a community translate into their reputation. Reputation can be the sum total of a good name, good works, and validation. A good reputation creates demand and helps define what is expected of an individual or community.
Reputation Capital is a label given to any attempt to measure this in a comparative way, which is often seen as a form of non-cash remuneration for their efforts, and generally generates respect within the community, or marketplace where the capital is generated.

The order seems to be accumulation of knowledge, then selection of the most useful knowledge, and lastly protection of the knowledge project from inappropriate use. All three of these happen at the same time and run parallel in order to avoid the knowledge from being privately appropriated.


Anonymous rhum said...

A collaborative society is certainly a wonderful concept. However, the ideology to be on guard for is not the system under which a society functions but rather how that society adapts/flexes/treats it's members who don't function well within that ideology.

From Capitalism to Marxism there is very little real difference in the exclusive nature of the societal systems.

Will Collaboration with an "ism" added be any different? Will it accept people who don't like to collaborate? Will it grow and develop based on it's own ideology, excluding those who don't function well with in it?

History would say yes.

We don't need another "ism," regardless of any utopian promise. We need systems that don't function in absolutes. We don't need yet another revolution in thought that puts a different system in power.

We need an evolution of thought that brings all systems together and honors the fact that we are a species that groups as societies but lives as individuals.

No doubt collaboration is important and will hopefully grow as a business/government model but any system that defines a "correct" way to function absolutely breeds sub-sects of resentment that eventually lead to the systems downfall.

Let's be done with promoting new "ism's" and rather focus on individual cooperation as opposed to ideologically mandated systemic collaboration.

Tuesday, 03 February, 2009  

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