UPDATE October 19th – Added a list of hands-on practical work we’ll do during the session.
Online collaboration is a key skill enabling desirable outcomes both in working and personal life. If you are good at it, you can engage with lots of interesting people and projects with very limited investment; you simply get more opportunities than if you are not. Occasionally, you can partake or even create “smart swarms” of a great many people, that turn out to be incredibly effective at certain tasks.
Surprisingly few people are good at it, even in an age of digital natives.
Being good at online collaboration does NOT come down to using software – though using software is definitely important. Online collaboration environments are complex creatures made of humans that interact over technology and social protocols. Getting the social protocols right is the hard part: the very many empty collaborative platforms littering the landscape are the result of their creators focusing on the tech and ignoring the humans. In this session, we discuss and practice online collaboration with the goal of making each one of us better at it by sharing our experiences.
We focus on making the most from information and other intellectual input contributed by people collaborating. To this end, we spell out characteristics we want such information to have, and suggest tools for ensuring it does. We also try these tools out: this is a hands-on session. We will run a practical collaborative exercise, documenting the session itself as part of the CookBook. We shall argue information generated during collaboration can be fruitful (and seed further collaboration) if it is:
- retrievable, so we look at permalinks, SEO and metadata.
- accessible, so we look at permission structures (open vs. closed collaboration).
- reusable, so we look at data structures and licensing.
- inclusive, so we look at special needs users might have.
- safe, so we look at moderation policy and leadership in swarms and other unstructured groups.
We use the Edgeryders platform as the context of the session. Why is is the way it is? Does it work? To do what? How could it be improved?
Depending on the interest of Drupal-skilled people, we could add a session in which we, together, tweak the Edgeryders platform according to the results of this session to make it better suited to collaboration for the community.
This session is led by Alberto Cottica, designer and manager of online communities for over 15 years (yes, it started with mailing lists in the 1990s). It is loosely based on the mini-course in online collaboration given by Alberto at the Master in Design For Social Business at Istituto Europeo di Design in Milano in 2011; and Noemi Salantiu, community healer at Edgeryders. A tentative schedule:
Lecture (Alberto) – Online collaboration: how to design it, how to participate in it, how to evolve it. Specifically, we look at Google Docs, Google Groups, blogs, online fora. GitHub (45 mins).
Break (15 mins)
Workshop (Dorotea): the Edgeryders software and community as a platform for collaboration; we then use it to collaborate in documenting our session as a contribution to the Edgeryders cookbook. (45 mins)
Bringing laptops is desirable, but not mandatory. I will also need a projector and, ideally, a whiteboard.
Notice: these slides are from the 2011 course, and will not be used for the session without a complete overhaul.