Documentation - Online Collaboration

Documentation for this session led by Alberto and Noemi. The session consisted in:

  • a presentation on why and how to set up an environment for online collaboration, based on the task at hand and the cognitive resources of the group trying to collaborate: which requirements to set, which rules of behavior to adopt and (only finally) which tools to deploy.
  • a walkthrough on how to use the Edgeryders platform as an environment for collaboration.
  • a hands-on demonstration: using Edgeryders to document the session, by creating and editing this wiki.

Online collaboration: social and technical requirements

A collaborative environment has:

  • A tech subsystem
  • A human subsystem. Most people only talk about tech. We argue this is a bad mistake.

Proposed requirements from the tech subsystem: any environment for collaboration should have:

  • Findability. Content must be easy to find even (and above all) by non-users (through search engines).
  • (Atomic) linkability. Each piece of content down to the comment level must have a permalink, that makes it easy to reshare it.
  • Attributability. Each piece of content should have an author. Reputation effects shound be enabled. as they are one of few ways to acknowledge people's contributions.
  • Interactivity. Each piece of content should be interactive: people can do stiff with it (comment it, reply to it, edit it...)

Proposed requirements for the human subsystem: any environment for collaboration should have:

  • Directionality. There should be some goal we are trying to achieve together.
  • Constructiveness. People should be encouraged to constructive interaction: contributions are evaluated on the basis of how much they move the communitynearer to the completion of the goal. In the extreme, be prepared to use your moderation admin powers!
  • Respect/Trust. Keep reminding people that the reason collaboration even started is because people respect and trust each other enough to try and make something together. We can disagree, even vehemently, but should not forget this starting point.
  • “Scientific ethos”. Making progress is a matter of how well we disagree. Science has two things to teach: stick your neck out, i.e. make your statements easier to disprove, and don't take disagreement personally – it's not about you. At the same time, try to give people space to express their ideas, and don't shoot them down when they are still embryonic: give them some space to grow.

Setting up an environment for online collaboration

This link to the slides.

The Edgeryders website as platform for collaboration

The collaboration aspect: We conceived the Edgeryders website as a space where we talk about our projects and engage with other people’s ideas for social change & increase the impact of our work: not so much individually, but as a network, as a community

-as soon as you enter the space and have set up a user profile, you see the ongoing conversations taking place, which can sometime be a little confusing because of the speed at which they evolve (lots of new daily content) & because of the diversity and specificity of the topics: some are talking about city resilience, at the same time you see talks of events happening, or who has followed whom -> it takes a while to browse through and get a sense of what the people are talking about.

How do we participate? And get involved? By producing & uploading content: makes it easier for others to know that you’re in the space (update your user profile), and getting your project or ideas across – it increases the chances for you to find like-minded people

1. Postspick a project -> create content -> copy-paste content -> save -> spread the word!

-people are notified via email when you post content, so expect replies and reactions! The norms of online interaction tell us that a nice thing to do is to reply to comments and act as a host for conversations happening around your own post.

2. Wikis : they call for collaborative edits almost by default and they are signaled in the group

  1. Tasks for collaborating on large projects that can be broken down: helps us better coordinate and  understand the processes by which we get things done

A social space 

->  you can move around, follow more conversations at a time and take the time to & also spread posts, comment, pieces of content which you find interesting, using the usual social media platforms like facebook, twitter etc -> connects with the important features a tool for collaboration has: linkability, attributability

! Just as Edgeryders is an open space where anyone can walk in and out of, it is also a public space: each and every one of us takes individual responsibility for what they post. As in any public square, we’re each have a reputation that’s being built with any post and comment that we put out there.  Being mindful to other people’s efforts to communicate, showing gratefulness or praise, … is important if you’re up for becoming a self respected member of the community. 

If you want to learn more about using the Edgeryders platform as a collaborative environment, you can refer to the User Manual. The User Manual is itself a wiki, and you are welcome to improve it.

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