Sunday, April 10, 2011

05 Personal Motivation Meets Collaborative Production

One of the most famous examples of distributed collaboration today is Wikipedia. Wiki is a way in which experts and amateurs can collaborate on their subjects of interest, while their commitment, along with the intrinsic satisfaction they receive for their involvement, allows for cooperative participation through editing other user’s input. Wikipedia articles do not require someone to be an expert to be a contributor. This is the principal advantage of wiki articles’ active growth in terms of numbers and content improvement.

However, collaborative systems such as Wikipedia cannot be understood by focusing on the “average user”, since such a user does not exist (think power law distribution). Instead, the wiki effort can be better understood as collective action. We see this in the recent and ongoing Arab uprisings. While a small group of individuals may account for a disproportionate number of posts (calls to action, facebook groups, march dates, etc..), there is collaboration across the spectrum, and this has led to profound social change in many countries.

The success of Wikipedia does not necessarily rely upon user cohesion, instead it is dependent upon users who are motivated enough to contribute to various wiki content they feel needs to be improved. In short, Wikipedia exists because its users are interested, as well as motivated, to improve upon articles they care about.

No comments:

Post a Comment