Collaborative Participation

In critiquing exaggerated claims of ‘self-organizing’ behaviour in social media, Alan Levine (AKA @cogdog) draws on Emergence theory to argue that patterns of corresponding participation – such as Twitter users tweeting on an event – “arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions” and do not necessarily indicate collaborative or coordinated acts.

Resulting ‘constellations’ of participation are frequently interpreted through network analysis and increasingly complex visual data representations. But how do we go about examining any claims that these are more than merely the result of cumulative activities? This requires exploring the interplay between individual and social agencies, motivations and influences, and understanding how these are acted out within cultural contexts and protocols. To use Levine’s example, actors may acquire a ‘sense’ of collaboration (for example, in producing a collective digital archive) but is this realised through a shared cause or an environment for debate? Is the participation – and the nature of the contributions – the result of individual self-will or coerced? What hierarchies, power relations and modes of influence might be at play here? And how does the technology influence these things?


4 Responses to “Collaborative Participation”

  1. Tweets that mention Collaborative Participation | PhD Blog (dot) Net -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Grainne Conole and Hot In Science, Andy Coverdale. Andy Coverdale said: New post – Collaborative Participation […]

  2. virginia Yonkers Says:

    One of the interesting findings of my dissertation (which others seemed to be more excited about than I did initially) was that the team I was following continued to communicate, developing a “hidden” channel of communication, when those in power wanted them to move on and stop discussing the task they were working on. When I was asked why I thought this was, I realized that it had to be the level of ownership for the task they were working on.

    In looking at the two tasks they were given to work on, the one had a much greater direct impact on their work, giving them a greater sense of ownership (and therefore, involved their social identity) whereas the second task was using a format imposed by those external to the organization, needing approval from those in power. As a result, the second task resulted in a much more shallow level of contribution. In looking at your post, they really did not collaborate at all on the second task because they did not feel personal ownership, nor did it impact their social identity.

  3. Andy Coverdale Says:

    This sounds interesting Virginia. Do you have more details of this somewhere on the web?

  4. virginia Yonkers Says:

    I have some of this on my blog (under the tag, “dissertation”.) I currently am writing up the findings and hope to have something in the next month or so on my blog.

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