What Collaboration Makes Possible
There is no denying the impact collaboration has had on all of our history. We tend to glorify the individual, but as Isaac Newton put it, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”
We, in our time will only ever be able to build off the accomplishments of others. All new inventions, ideas, and theories stem from our place in history. A single idea may define the times, but it only ever appeared because of the times before it.
On a micro scale we see how collaboration has a major impact day to day as well. Each conversation, exchange, interaction, etc. are the result of collaboration. An argument with a friend is collaboration in the same way two musicians playing music together is collaboration. It’s about being alive with each other.
Collaboration makes everything possible. Even if a single person has an idea, only collaboration will make it great. People have to interact with it. And as people interact the idea changes and transforms into something much greater than the original idea alone.
When we look at social networks we can see that they are a result of collaboration, but they do not encourage collaboration. Collaboration is a process by which we interact with each other, share ideas and perspectives. Social networks as they are do not help us do this. In fact, the egocentric design of social networks inherently works against collaboration.
Social networks are designed for individuals to broadcast an image of themselves to the people they already know. Inherently, they limit collaboration in favor of an individualistic slant. They are not about doing things together; they are about what you have done. Every user is treated like an individual universe, which to a degree is accurate, but to the same degree it is also incomplete.
Social networking works, but it is currently inadequate for collaboration. Fundamentally, social networking is not made for collaboration. What is so incredible then, is that despite this inherent shortcoming, people are finding ways to use it for collaboration. We have a need for collaboration and interaction, and if social networks won’t provide what we need, something else must.