In his TEDTalks discussion, Rheingold (2005) presented an interesting take on the evolution of collaboration (see http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/howard_rheingold_on_collaboration.html). In the examples that he portrayed, he suggested that humans have a natural tendency to form groups to accomplish particular goals. However, the formation of these groups is influenced by particular goals and social factors and, in turn, influences how future interactions and group dynamics.
In general, I agree with Rheingold’s perspective that humans are naturally social and seek out opportunities to interact with others. Collaboration serves as an opportunity to share ideas, to get feedback from others, to explore one’s creativity, and to continue to progress forward.
As noted by Rheingold, the process of change continues to accelerate; technology has both contributed to the increased pace and allowed individuals to keep up. Current technology makes it possible for individuals to collaborate in a variety of forms, communicate ideas, and construct new understandings. Constructivist learning is essentially based on the opportunity for individuals to actively explore concepts and construct their understanding of those concepts. Current technologies allow individuals to construct information and quickly share it with the rest of the world. This sharing of information creates the opportunity for unprecedented collaboration (both direct and indirect) with others around the world. Although Wikipedia (as noted by Rheingold) has come under its share of criticism, the net result illustrates the ability of people to collaboratively create, gather, and connect vast amounts of information. And in the modern world, information has become a premium commodity within the global community.
As collective group, then, how will people evolve in order to function effectively in collaborative efforts that span the globe and that result in massive amounts of product? What will collaboration have to look like in order for us to maximize the potential afforded by our innate abilities and technological tools we have developed to support those abilities?