Our conversations are changing; Cooperation is taking hold

Much has been said about Web2.0 about being a “conversation” between parties on the Internet- shifting from the “broadcast” model of radio and TV where listeners were passive receivers of information to listeners being actively engaged in conversation.  Web 2.0 conversations are happening many places, have been enabled by many service providers, including Austin’s own Bazaar Voice.  Yet there is a shift happening, a major shift.

Just like the Internet was not “just like TV, but better”, the shift that is coming is not “just like Web 2.0 but better”.  A fundamental shift is occurring.  Do you see it?

Activities on the Internet are shifting from (1) broadcast to (2) Web 2.0 conversations to (3) cooperation (taking action together).  Greater than at any point in the history of the Internet cooperative behaviors are taking place- where people are not just talking with each other, but an even greater amount of collective action is happening…. and in this, what is significant is not the large system collective action (as an example, political campaigns like the Obama campaign) but the small scale activities.  What is unique about these new small scale activities, compared to grass roots activities of the past?  This is not just grass roots happening, but the fact that these small scale activities are producing real business impact.  Small groups of entrepreneurs around the world are connecting together, getting real work done, and creating better economic outcomes.

For myself, I have been doing this round the world with working with software developers world-wide- and other business people both in Austin as well as at considerable distance.  Constraints- whether they be financial,  skills, or resource limitations are being more easily overcome than at any point in the history of the world.  Cooperation, not just conversation is the new, coming language of the Internet.  We see this already in open source software projects and in the remix of certain parts of the music industry… but cooperation is not going to stop there.  Although risk abound, a new language and new practices for cooperating world-wide is emerging.  We’ll keep around Web 2.0 just like we have kept around our old TV’s… but it is time to make space for the cooperation-economy, and realize that it is not going to be “just like Web 2.0 but  better.”

2 thoughts on “Our conversations are changing; Cooperation is taking hold”

  1. Kevin:
    Interesting observation. My question is: are you talking about collaboration or cooperation?

    I tend to think of my virtual partners as collaborating rather than cooperating. There is some special interest that binds us together, be it a project, joint venture, or just plain service.

    Regardless of what we call it, here is a quote from Margaret Mead that fully supports the power of small scale activities:

    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
    Margaret Mead (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/margaretme100502.html)

    As usual, you are on the bleeding edge! 100% agreed this is a huge opportunity for like-minded knowledge workers to accomplish more together than they ever dreamed possible.

    Looking forward to reading your book!

  2. Thanks Byron for the comment.
    Over the last few months I have been thinking about this distinction between the two words – collaboration and cooperation- and I have decided that what I see happening- I think- “cooperation” is more appropriate for what I mean.

    In the example with your virtual partners- I see that you are collaborating. You have some common goal around which you are coordinating work- or another way we might say is “collaboration is cooperating with a common goal between the parties involved.”

    What I think is happening, more generally though, is “cooperation”- in that e.g. I help you, you help me, but neither of us is working on the same common goal. We might have over all life goals that are complimentary- but we might not be working on the same project. Yet, through our cooperation- we are helping each other get to our own end points…. We don’t have to work on the same project to still cooperate.

    Thank you for your input, and thank you for making me think this through over the last few days even deeper than before. And yes, I look forward to sharing my book with you!!! :-)


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