Open Collaboration. Really.

January 28, 2009

Open source, open content, open technologies… Open Collaboration. As many of us know, leading the transparent life is not the easy choice. That said, I strongly believe that it is worth every aspect of angst it produces. Look at Obama’s first week. Whether or not everyone agreed with the content of his message, I haven’t heard anyone complain about the process or the fact that he was saying this or doing that in p u b l i c. Some might see it as a political, ethical, or moral choice. Some see it as just plain old practical. So where do I fall?

Can I take a nebulous stance of opining that it doesn’t matter? That one follows the other? (and still have this post be meaningful?). Each might be the door we enter to get there, but after that the benefits continue to drive us to work on these projects, in this way, every day. And pretty soon it is hard to tell whether it is a value, a political point of view, or a practicality.

OK, I’ll be honest. I am writing this as I reflect on another deliverable I have on my plate: to collaborate with several trusted and brilliant colleagues on co-authoring an article exploring the merits and perspectives of “Open” in higher ed. We all participated in a collective brainstorm at the Frye Institute day-long retreat held at the 2008 Annual Educause conference. We decided to carry-forth with some practical output from the very engaging conversation we had around the table that day. We all chose  a theme that emerged from the day with which to tussle in writing (at least, that is my interpretation of the assignment!).

So, back in November, I chose to write about “how open source and open content improves our ability to collaborate both as consortia and individuals.” It sounds pretty boring to me as I re-read it now and prepare to collect my thoughts. Except when I add the concept of Open Collaboration. Really. When we talk about Open source and Open content we can see the end result, the product, as being the goal. And in many many ways it is. However, when I look at the value that these activities (yes, activities) bring to the higher ed community, to my campus, to my team, to my individual staff members, I see much more (and more gray hair). That is what I am going to have to articulate in the few paragraphs I’ll have in this article. One of my colleagues from Stanford, Jenn Stringer,  is going to talk about collaboration credits (as in carbon credits). I love this concept. But can we offset them?

So, what do you think? Help me write this article! Does Open Source and Open Content improve our ability to collaborate?

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2 Responses to “Open Collaboration. Really.”


  1. Hi Mara,

    I believe the way to get people to collaborate is to define a value statement to start with. Every individual I know would like to perform better, and the best way to learn to perform better is to communicate and learn from others.

    I also believe that the more you share, the more you get back from others. It triggers a virtuous circle of collaboration from which individuals develop a sense of community and a responsibility towards that community.

    This post from Will Richardson is a good example of what individuals can do to gain more from their online activities. The Less You Share, the Less Power You Have.

    Mathieu

    • marahancock Says:

      Very good point, Mathieu. I like Will Richardson’s article. I am going to do more research on this. Of course, the idealist in me is happy with just the title!


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