Bob Thompson – People working together towards a shared goal

I think that the last decade has been dominated more by trying to automate processes of various types and, you know, we are really just beginning the age of true collaboration. There is a – for collaboration I think I would like to start and just say what I mean by it, because I suspect that a lot of people today, when they hear the word collaboration, they have lots of different things running through their minds. To me it simply means people working together towards a shared goal. It does not necessarily have anything to do with the tools, but I suspect that most people now, because collaboration has become another buzzword, it’s part of the so called Enterprise 2.0 movement.

The first thing that people think about, is that, well, “what kind of tools are we getting with this?”, but they are really not the same thing in my view. Collaboration is a group of people, few or more people that are joined together trying to accomplish something. And I think you know in that context there is a lot of opportunities for technology to help, but that’s not – either. I did an article about Web 2.0, I guess it’s two and a half years ago now, and Web 2.0 wasn’t a new idea in 2009, but we were beginning to see how it was maturing, and it has moved to a lot since then.

One of the things that I did was I interviewed some people who had been active in collaboration for many, many years, social scientists and the like. And I did some other research, and basically discovered that the idea of computer-assisted collaboration, sometime called groupware, has been around for 20 or 25 years. And that was 2 years ago. So, you know, we are talking about 3 decades of how do we take technology and help people work better together, but I think fundamentally that unless you have an organization or a group of people that really committed to work together towards a common goal, the tools are absolutely irrelevant.

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