Collaboration 2.0

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  • Updated.jpg This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, February 2018


See also Big data | Collaborating with faculty and graduate students | Enterprise 2.0 | EPortfolio | Information technology | Mentoring 2.0

Collaboration refers to a type of activity, usually seen in the workplace, where individuals work together to achieve certain mutually-desirable, articulated and achievable goals. In the digital age, collaboration 2.0 combines various aspects of web 2.0 and social media with the principles of collaboration. Some critical or typical features of collaboration 2.0 should include:

  • synchronous collaboration via social calendaring, online meeting software and instant messaging tools
  • asynchronous collaboration made possible via shared workspaces and annotation capabilities

A new form of collaboration is called collaborative information seeking which Wikipedia defines as "... a field of research that involves studying situations, motivations, and methods for people working in collaborative groups for information seeking projects, as well as building systems for supporting such activities. Such projects often involve information searching or information retrieval (IR), information gathering, and information sharing. Beyond that, CIS can extend to collaborative information synthesis and collaborative sense-making."

Libraries are not only collections of print and digital media, but also spaces for critical engagement with information, creative and collaborative work, and preservation of community memory.

Classic collaboration

Many organizations aim to utilize freer forms of collaboration in order to streamline communication i.e., this includes reducing the number of emails, for example. At a conceptual or theoretical level, collaboration involves several of the following:

  • Awareness individual members are part of a working entity with a shared purpose
  • Motivation individual members drive to gain consensus in problem solving or development
  • Self-synchronization individual members decide when things need to happen
  • Participation individual members participate in collaboration and we expect others to participate
  • Mediation individual members negotiate, collaborate and find a middle point
  • Reciprocity individual members share and expect to engage in reciprocity
  • Reflection individual members think and consider alternatives together
  • Engagement individual members proactively engage rather than take a wait and see attitude

Link to web 2.0

The most important aspect of web 2.0 is the ability to collaborate with others regardless of their location. In a broad sense, collaboration is a coordinated activity among members of a team and where a set of collective goals can be reached and projects completed. Shared ideas, brainstorming and conversations are critical to successful collaboration (Coleman, 2008). There are three ways humans engage in communicative practices: conversations, transactions and collaborations. Several types of software - email, chat, social media and e-forums - will facilitate communicative practices and online transactions of various kinds. In business, this might require the use of eBay, PayPal, internet banking or online shopping carts.

  • Social networking has exploded in recent years, allowing people to form communities and share expertise
  • How are sites such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Ning and YouTube changing how we share knowledge?
  • What are the implications of social media such as and sites for politicians such as Obama - Are you in?
  • With so many streams of data, people combine them in new, disruptive, unexpected ways
  • How are combined services such as Global Incident Map changing collaboration practices?
  • How are practices such as workstreaming and mashups at Yahoo Pipes change how people use information in professional communication?
  • Do desktop visualizations affect how workers see their work in the aggregate?

Other goals of collaboration

  • Collaboration is an action-oriented activity; people must do something to collaborate
  • Through collaboration, something is accomplished - events are arranged, reports are written, software is created
  • To collaborate is to act in concert; the combined set of actions of teams is what constitutes collaboration.
  • Collaboration is goal-driven; we work together to achieve something
  • There is purpose behind actions in collaboration: to create a web site, build a learning object, support each other through hardships and so on
  • Individual collaborators may have personal motivations, but team collaboration is shared
  • Collaboration is group-oriented and members may be geographically dispersed, and have some sense of being part of something larger
  • Collaboration is coordinated where members work together; it may follow a formal method but can also be implicit, informal
  • Well-coordinated collaboration requires a sense of a sequence of actions, allocation of tasks and some way to combine contributions of different members

Why collaborate?

In a 2001 article, Beaver outlines 18 reasons for collaboration:

  • Access to expertise
  • Access to equipment, resources, or “stuff” one doesn’t have
  • Improve access to funds
  • To obtain prestige or visibility; for professional advancement
  • Efficiency: multiplies hands and minds; easier to learn the tacit knowledge that goes with a technique
  • To make progress more rapidly
  • To tackle “bigger” problems (more important, more comprehensive, more difficult, global)
  • To enhance productivity
  • To get to know people, to create a network, like an “invisible college”
  • To retool, learn new skills or techniques, usually to break into a new field, subfield, or problem
  • To satisfy curiosity, intellectual interest
  • To share the excitement of an area with other people
  • To find flaws more efficiently, reduce errors and mistakes
  • To keep one more focussed on research, because others are counting on one to do so
  • To reduce isolation, and to recharge one’s energy and excitement
  • To educate (a student, graduate student, or, oneself)
  • To advance knowledge and learning
  • For fun, amusement, and pleasure
Beaver D. Reflections on scientific collaboration (and its study): past, present and future. Scientometrics. 2001;52(3):365-377.

Some collaborative software

  • b2evolution is a free blog tool that includes traditional features while extending them file & photo management, advanced skinning, multiple blog support and user permissions.
  • Bloglines is an aggregator for RSS that allows you to create a single page for updates from your favourite blogs, comics, newsgroups and so on.
  • Comidor is an enterprise online project management software and collaboration suite, with CRM and finance functionality
  • Drupal is an open source suite of tools with powerful features; Drupal supports websites ranging from personal weblogs to large community-driven websites
  • Edublogs is a free blog hosting tool for educational purposes, and useful for setting up a blog for multiple users as opposed to individuals or one instructor
  • Elgg is an open source platform designed to help people connect, share resources and create social networks. You can decide if the network will be private, or public
  • Journler is a daily notebook and entry based information manager. Scholars and writers of every persuasion use it to connect the written word with media (video and images)
  • Moodle is a course management system (CMS), a free, open source tool designed around pedagogical principles to help educators create online learning communities
  • is a Canadian online community that connects youth to find inspiration, access to information, and take action in their local and global communities
  • Tapped In is an online workplace for a community of education professionals that gather to learn, collaborate, share, and support one another
  • Worldbridges is a community of communities that uses 'homegrown webcasting' and other new media technologies to help people learn
  • Zoho is a web-based online office suite with word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, note-taking, wikis and other applications.

Collaborative writing environments

  • How will these social tools affect communication and collaboration in an era of social media?

Project & time-management

  • How are collaborative projects transformed through distributed-control tools such as Basecamp and Wrike and shared calendars?
  • Do these tools reflect and/or precipitate work and organizational changes?
  • How are distributed knowledge-sharing environments changing academic environments? Libraries? other organizations?
  • How do concept maps, collaborative mind mapping, data visualization, and similar environments affect the way people communicate? (i.e.

The future of collaboration 2.0

  • Some software developers say that the evolution of web 2.0 to web 3.0 or the semantic web will introduce a host of personalization features, more intelligent search agents, automated decision support, and immersive environments. Corporations have stated their requirements to improve the utility of software to facilitate group decision-making and project management. Social networking platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Second Life might also provide value to collaborative activities such as idea generation, knowledge management, information sharing and knowledge translation.
  • To succeed at collaboration, it may be important to be explicit about what the end goals are in any project or program of collaboration. In other words, what are the shared values, priorities and goals that underpin the work of collaboration? How does ownership of technology (or lack thereof) affect our collaborative efforts? How does collaboration help our libraries flourish, self-govern and self-determine? What are the most significant needs and challenges in collaborating? How can redundancy be reduced through collaboration? How might we build relationships within a larger network?
  • How can librarians form stronger relationships, new approaches to problem-solving while creating a shared sense of priorities and values through collaboration?


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