Technologies of Cooperation

I’ve already referred this excellent document to two of my colleagues, so I guess that I’d better blog about it. Entitled Technologies of Cooperation, this paper from the Institute for the Future is available on Howard Reingold’s site as a PDF. A small or a large map is also available. The large map is great to read on your computer but a pain to print.
Technologies for Cooperation is a follow-up and a synthesis of a paper that I talked about last year, called Toward a New Literacy of Cooperation in Business. The recent document is worth a read for those immersed in Web 2.0 as well as anyone trying to get a handle on the two-way web and online communities.
What triggered me to read this report was the recent CCL e-learning workshop. I was reading the Executive Summary just as we were discussing how the CCL could facilitate the creation of communities. The strategic guidelines for the use of these coooperative technologies are covered in detail in the document:

  • Shift focus from designing systems to providing platforms
  • Engage the community in designing rules to match their culture, objectives, and tools; encourage peer contracts in place of coercive sanctions by distant authority when possible
  • Learn how to recognize untapped or invisible resources
  • Identify key thresholds for achieving “phase shifts” in behavior or performance
  • Track and foster diverse and emergent feedback loops
  • Look for ways to convert present knowledge into deep memory
  • Support participatory identity

The information in this report is useful to anyone starting or trying to maintain some type of online community. It also shows that top-down approaches and constrained spaces with explicit rules will not foster cooperation. Cooperation is becoming important for all organisations, as the authors conclude, "competition and cooperation will likely become a pair of evolutionary strategies for organizations".

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