The Shifting Sands of Collaboration

A few people in my neighbourhood are talking about collaboration right now:

Last month I also responded to an earlier article by James Robertson about collaboration, pointing some of my own models for thinking about it. You’ll also find a reference to an important model I have used for some time in my recent Intranet 2.0 slides (see slides 13 and 25), which is based on the work of Evaristo and Munkvold – see their Collaborative Infrastructure Formation in Virtual Projects [PDF] paper as a starting point.

Stepping back from these conversations, which are all interesting, what interests me at the moment is observing the shift of what were once collaborative applications into the infrastructure level. For example, we might once have looked at presence as specific functionality provided by an instant messaging application, but today I imagine it as a common messaging service provided at the infrastructure level that other collaborative applications will tap into.

Something to think about: As collaboration applications descend down the collaborative infrastructure stack and become services, will it become harder to distinguish between collaboration, “knowledge management”, content management, social network and other information management tools? And how will this affect the ability of organisations to meet different information objectives?

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