Category Archives: Collaboration

A Few Provocations on Collaboration

Hey all,

I’m sorry I’ll be missing you today in class– I’m having some health issues. While I think we’ll probably have more of a discussion on collaboration later on, I did want to post a few ideas or thoughts that I had in response to the articles we read for last time to prompt discussion.

– In Collaborative Futures, the authors make mention of the privilege inherent in collaboration. That is, it takes a certain amount of privilege in order to be able to pursue collaborative projects, as it assumes extra time, energy, and other resources to work on any collaborative project. I think this is certainly a valid point and I’m glad it went acknowledged, but I didn’t feel at any point that viable opportunities to remedy this were provided. It was kind of like, ‘Well, it sucks that collaboration is a classed process, but what are we going to do about it?’ So– would there be any ideas on rethinking collaboration so that it isn’t as much of a classed processed?

– It seems across the articles that collaboration is relied upon as a buzzword now and has lost some of its intrinsic value as a result (or so it was suggested by a few of the pieces). I think we had this conversation about the word ‘gamification’ as well last week– but what’s in a word? If something becomes buzzy or catchy or trendy, does that mean that we need to find ourselves a new word in order to continue our work? Or are we taking a very hipster-ish approach in our unwillingness to use words that have been appropriated by other establishments…especially business-centered ones?

– Once more, I’m going to draw from Collaborative Futures— mostly because I had some bones to pick with the book in general, if that wasn’t abundantly clear. There’s a whole chapter on how the book might be useless. First, well, yes, isn’t any text…that depends on who you are as a reader and your experiences interacting with the text, in my opinion. As a second point, the argument that seemed to be made about this uselessness was not, in fact, about the content but was instead about the fact that we’re all collaborative beings in the first place and we’re reliant on others for xyz and shouldn’t we just really all think about how interconnected we are. I’m oversimplifying, but I did take major issue with the idea that breastfeeding was used as the example that got the writer thinking about the collaborative nature of life. To me, that’s not collaborative– that’s one being feeding from another being and dependent on it for survival. The breastfeeding mother does not need to breastfeed in order to survive, nor is it common for more than one person to breastfeed a child in Western cultures. So the questions that arise out of this issue for me are: 1) are they trying to reconcile too many different ideas of what collaboration might be to make their point? 2) even though humans tend to be a social species that do involve themselves heavily in the goings-ons of other humans, does this count as ‘collaboration’? and 3) how do these ideas of interconnectedness  connect back to the idea of privilege? Or do they? I see a clear connection between the way that these chapter presented the idea(s) of collaboration and the way that the authors had initially brought up about the privilege inherent in collaboration.

Wikipedia Day

A quick event announcement. On Saturday, February 23 Wikimedia New York City is holding a 12th birthday party for Wikipedia. It will be held at my graduate program NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. That is an interesting place to visit if they allow a tour while you’re there. I won’t be able to make it unfortunately, but I hope some of you might be able to.

Best, Chris


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