Thursday, 15 November 2007
Collaborating with Society
There are some very interesting themes on both the post below on NESTA’s view on collaboration and innovation, and the posting on the RSA Networks Blog about respect and democracy.
One of the challenges I feel about the current RSA agenda are the bridges not only between Fellows, but also collaboration with society, and the boundaries between where online collaboration and discussion end and face-to-face communication begins.
Two books which examine the wisdom of crowds, by actually using other people to write the books are interesting examples of mass collaboration in action. We Think by Charles Leadbeater (pic above) has been online for some time now and uses the We Think Wiki to generate contributions and comment. Charles has continued to be a futurist thinker himself, publishing The Rise of the Social Entrepreneur in 1997.
We Are Smarter than Me was published in September and claims 4000 authors about the collective intellect of mass collaboration.
Reflecting back to Mick Fealty’s post quoting Professor Stephen Coleman about respect my thought about mass collaboration is that it is inherently respectful, and it was a point that I made to Charles Leadbeater when I met him over the summer. Asking people for their contributions, listening and incorporating their ideas and opinions is possibly one of the most genuine ways of showing respect to another person.
Having returned from three days on a course with Dr Jerry Stein from the University of Minnesota on his Learning Dreams program I am more convinced than ever that the face-to-face interactions in live communities cannot be replaced by online dialogue. While the online forums provide us with a fantastic starting point we need to explore how the online social networking will serve and enable the face-to-face.
The most exciting aspect of the RSA’s new agenda is the potential not only for creative collaboration between Fellows, but creating spaces for creative collaboration between the Fellows and the communities in which we live, what Ellie would describe as 'fertile ground'. There can be few who would argue that communities themselves have a deeper understanding of their own concerns, and a greater ability to find their own solutions. Perhaps it could be part of the RSA's role to help facilitate these discussions within individual communities and activate the wide ranging expertise within the Fellowship.