The ‘why’ of mass collaboration

I’ve just got my copy of Wikinomics and am trying to fit reading this into a pretty hectic evening routine, so end result is I am a long way from being done.But having said that one of the things that my mind immediately leapt to was Why mass collaboration, web 2.0 whatever terminology you like is here in the first place.

All of the blogs i subscribe to describe the what of mass collaboration. This technology does this, company A bought company B. Some of the better ones describe the How, as in how it works and what that means.Might seem a little pedantic but sometimes the why is often very important. If you can understand the why, you can tap into it better. Now this might have already been covered, and I’ve not even made an attempt to find out if it has. But i was awake till all hours last night thinking this through and here are my two cents. 

Mass collaboration, like everything else is the result of more than one force. In my opinion it’s the result of these three.



Technology is kind of obvious, there are now a lot of people who have access to the internet, smart routing, DNS, and we as people have developed news feeds, shared coding banks, CAD programs, IM, myspace etc etc etc. All of this means that we CAN mass collaborate. It’s the foundation layer for mass collaboration. If you don’t think so turn off the power in you home and try it.

 The Second factor, need to connect, is i believe related. We are essentially social beings but due to our current societal structures we have become strangers to each other. We commonly don’t live in extended family groups anymore, we barely interact with our neighbours anymore and the people I would class as friends aren’t that many. Take my personal situation. I live in a city of 1.5 million people. Of all of them I would call maybe 10 friends, 4 of those good friends. I know a whole bunch more but I’d class them as mates. People i know, but not closely.  I do know my immediate neighbours. Not well and in a polite kind of way. When I lived in London in a shared building (3 flats in the one building) i knew the guy above me “David” and but not his room mate (“the coughing guy”).

You get the point, in today’s society we are essentially disconnected from each other.  I think this has created a latent need too connect. Look at the way forums and discussion boards went wild in the early 2000's. People love to talk too, and get information from other people. It’s also interesting to note how the anonymity of the net brings out the most extreme forms of human interaction. Flaming, overtly opinionated people, people who try to disrupt, or are deliberation provocative etc etc. Again i think this is manifestation of our society, possibly because we have to suppress it on a day to day basis.

The third factor is eco-friendly consumerism. Now i know consumerism has been around for a long time. But i think particularly since WW II the world at large has been fixated on things. Much of this is being driven but societal wealth increases but it must also be argued that it’s been fuelled by advertising and the corporate balance sheet. There are in my opinion lots of examples of governments and corporations doing things that aren’t for the greater good of the people. Cigarettes, petroleum, cosmetics, fast food, even Iraq.  Anyways, my point is that i think that people as a whole got tired of being told in an impersonal, dictatorial (it is one way after all) way what to buy, and do every minute. You gotta have this thing, your bum is to big, buy this burger, that cars isn't going to be fast enough. Television in its own right isn't interactive either. You might get entertained but at what cost?I think people got tired of the incessant pressure to buy bigger and better, the lack of input or even the lack of personalised appeal.

I also think deep down (like me) they aren’t comfortable with the state of the planet, they feel slightly guilty every-time they put out the rubbish because of the amount of stuff in the bin. They don't like what they see when the news shows the polar icecaps melting, or the Amazon having a drought!!!  I think they are tired of seeing governments, companies and organisations like the UN fail to do anything and they simply got to the point where they said ….


This is different from communism, especially they way it’s portrayed in the early chapters Wikinomics. I’m sure there are some fringe festival communist into this. But i think this is more about people saying it’s not ok anymore. I think they are saying we want to be involved. I think they are saying that the products companies are making aren’t quite right (why else would they tinker with them?). I think they are saying that profit at the expense of our future planet isn’t acceptable.

I’m not a sociologist, perhaps i’m wrong.  Maybe they cover it in Wikinomics.  This just lept out at me as being very important.

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