Week 2 – Collaboration

Action Items this Week

  • Visit the forum and respond to the question for week 2 – discuss amongst yourselves;
  • If you haven’t done so: Choose a journal article to review.
  • Form your own groups and choose a topic that you will research, develop and present to the class later on in the term. Choose a topic and lock in your choice via the Group/Topic signup form.
  • For our next class (22 October – No Lecture Next Week) please browse to http://www.fsf.org and explore the Free Software Foundation. What do they espouse? What are the principles behind ‘Free Software’? How is it different from Open Source Software?


Here is a copy of the lecture slide deck for 2 – 8 Oct 2015 Social Computing Collaboration.

We are exploring collaboration and how institutions are being disrupted by the way in which collaboration (whether in the enterprise, in society and on a global scale) is being enabled through the various aspects of Social Computing that our reading from last week identified.  This isn’t a recent video, but I think it still holds very true and has not really lost in the interim in terms of the larger ideas he is exploring.

In class we took a look at: Clay Shirky – Institutions versus Collabouration (2005)

You may also want to take a look at: Clay Shirky – ‘How the Intenet will (one day) Change the Government‘ (2013)

shirky_254x191Clay Shirky’s work focuses on the rising usefulness of networks — using decentralized technologies such as peer-to-peer sharing, wireless, software for social creation, and open-source development. New technologies are enabling new kinds of cooperative structures to flourish as a way of getting things done in business, science, the arts and elsewhere, as an alternative to centralized and institutional structures, which he sees as self-limiting. In his writings and speeches he has argued that “a group is its own worst enemy.”

For our next lecture please take a browse of : 

http://www.fsf.org and explore the Free Software Foundation. What do they espouse? What are the principles behind ‘Free Software’? How is it different from Open Source Software? You have two weeks on this one so explore about a bit. What else has been written about the FSF? What is your own conceptualisation of Open Source?

Forum Question

‘What’s Ireland up to when it comes to Social Computing? Anyone involved with some success stories? Any apparent strengths that make Ireland ripe for success?’ Is Ireland by nature a collaborative national community?’

10 thoughts on “Week 2 – Collaboration”

  1. Clay Shirky – “Institutions versus Collabouration” poses some interesting questions. I imagined
    a scenario involving the closure of all council libraries, citing cost cutting as a reason, followed by their “reopening” online. Registration could perhaps entitle you to a subsidised eBook reader. The search facility would be more powerful than the librarian and your book would almost certainly be available to download. It would also cover the 1% of books that
    possibly were outside the realms of the libraries before. On one level it seems so much more efficient, unless you are a fan of books, the feel of the pages, browsing the library with the chance of coming across an unexpected find. The social interaction of a visit to the library weighed against a super efficient online library. My thought is that our libraries have an important role to play in the community that goes much further than borrowing books but possibly in generations to come, this role may diminish naturally as social computing becomes the norm.

  2. Do I always find the scary side of these things? The Filkr images from the Mermaid Parade were quite amusing, but the fact that these images are accessible to anyone anywhere and are free for use 🙁 it’s a bit worrying. I thought the video was very interesting and entertaining, I don’t know if really addressed Institutions versus Collaboration in the sense of achieving goals. Yes for information sharing it’s brilliant, having something as simple as tagging, or hashtags built into technological infrastructure to organise, group and find data is pretty ingenious. But if you want to actually get a specific task completed I think that institutions are better, you need structure, hierarchy, leaders and management otherwise life tends to get in the way of reaching our goals. There’s great potential for online collaboration, but again you need a driver, motivation, time and usually money to get things done, however Flikr is a perfect example of how industries can cash in on peoples hobbies and talents.

    Here in Ireland I don’t know of any Irish owned social computing successes, I’ve looked into Meetup before for Scuba Diving and Hillwalking groups, but I’ve never made it to an excursion; like Shirky said ‘people don’t make plans anymore’. Plenty of Fish(POF) has really taken off here, for those of you pretending not to know what it is, it’s a free online dating service, and pretty much everyone and their mother has been on it at some stage. Considering Ireland is such a small place POF became hugely popular, with a lot of people signing up just too see if they knew if they knew anyone on it; for a while the main topic in one of my group of friends was ‘did you see who’s on POF… He/She is looking awful’ ah us Irish, give us a way to knock each other down and we lap it up 🙂

  3. My first thought when I watched the mermaid example was one
    of dread to be honest as well. Not for the fear of appearing in his slideshow
    dressed as a mermaid but more in terms of the laid back approach I have had in
    the past in terms of what I have uploaded onto various social media platforms.
    If I have picked up anything over the past 5-6 weeks it is to be more careful
    with what you upload and share online and how easy it is for images and
    comments to be taken and used by others without you knowing about it.

    In terms of the points raised in the video, I also agree
    with Steph that institutions are still better in terms of getting a specific
    task or project completed as there is always a need for structure and high
    level management to complete a goal. This doesn’t take away from the benefits
    available in using online collaboration though.

    We are encouraged in work to use SharePoint when possible
    for documenting solutions to technical issues. The system is not monitored by management
    and there is no pressure on staff to document resolutions, it is more designed
    for team members collaborating together and sharing information in a non formal
    way. As there is no end goal or timeframe for the completion of a task, it
    works quite effectively.

  4. Just had a quick search and it looks like some communities around Ireland
    are getting involved in providing cheap computers to community groups thus
    enabling the elderly and unemployed etc to interact online and share a common

    My aunt who is in her late 70’s started using a laptop for the first time
    after her husband died and it was the transition year students from the local
    school who dropped into her once or twice a week to see how she was getting on. She is now confident enough to book flights and order stuff on the net. She
    is one of the lucky ones as she is able to pick up a signal with her Vodafone
    dongle and was social enough to accept help.

    One word you always here when older people in the country are mentioned is
    ‘isolation’. Technology may not replace the pub for a social outlet but if
    older people were encouraged to avail of new technology and support from
    volunteers they could get over some of the sense of isolation by staying in
    touch in a new way. Even if that only means eves dropping on their grand kids
    on Facebook!

    1. That’s actually something I’ve never thought about. I do know that some older people can get to grips with newer technologies, but I never thought of the possibilities with regards communications and keeping in touch with relatives, friends, etc. That’s a great idea!

  5. The Flickr photo/data access example is a great illustration of the increased
    functionality and evolution of the Internet as a global dynamic database, but
    also highlights the fundamental importance of responsibility and awareness when
    a user is uploading photos/personal information/data, to ensure that the
    preferred level of privacy/copyright settings are chosen.

    I liked his comment: ‘the inventor doesn’t know what the invention is’, whereby he
    won’t see the true value/potential of a product/application until it reaches popular mass
    exploitation. And does mass popularity invite the institutions, IPOs, revenue
    projections etc. etc.? And is this necessarily a negative thing?

  6. I think, with a bit of lateral thinking, we could make a go with the shared services (in the community sense!) side of social computing i.e. I’ll mend your fence if you help me bale the hay. This is the Irish Meitheal tradition and it is making its way online in the past few years and it is exactly the sort of movement that Shirky alluded to when he spoke of the power of the stay at home mothers meet-up groups. A quick look online shows meitheal traditions informing the activities of community groups, schools, boat building groups, grow your own groups, healthcare, palliative care and bullying supports as well as the more traditional activities around sharing of knowledge, expertise and services. The sense of community in Ireland is still alive enough to start a quiet social revolution in the social media sphere. These are small online groups under the radar of more glitzy and shouty online commentary so its easy to forget they are there, paddling quietly at the edges.

  7. Davy – Clay’s great but is he God?! Only joking – your question made me go off and do some googling and here’s a transcript of an interview Shirky gave on the Arab uprisings and the role of social media…he may not have predicted it but he does along interview covering this and some other topics in the link below – there is a full transcript of the interview.

    note – I had to amend the link slightly in order to play beat the blog!


  8. My favourite parts were the two samples that Clay Shirky used regarding community collaboration where he mentioned the French bus company suing the people for forming a car pool – I got a bit of a giggle with this one 🙂 – and the other example was the Stay at home mams meetup site. I think that every country should embrace the online tools for collaboration and use it to bring people closer and recover the personal touch that technology has taken away throughout the years.

    Looking through some Irish websites I came across http://www.neighborgoods.net/ a site that specializes in the sharing of goods between neighbours, friends or anyone registered on the site. The site incorporates Facebook, Twitter and Open ID, so it links to social media sites to get more exposure. You can see here the way Ireland is adopting online collaboration. The government should really look at supporting these small groups to get more exposure as it’s very good for the communities.

  9. Shirkys insight into collaboration through technology is refreshingly intuitive and ’emphasises how encouraged, it breeds innovation.The financial cost is nominal in comparison to institution and coupled the their structured management, individual contribution can be guided, shaped and shared through future collective innovation for bigger and better things.

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