Starting here this post is about collaborative blogging. Up until about five years ago when a partner and I began developing a program for training virtual teams, I had never collaborated with anyone, especially when it came to writing. That was for a couple of reasons.
The first was that early on anything resembling collaboration could fall under the heading of plagiarizing, to me as a student and to me as an instructor. Trust was not implicit, hence the occasional surprise of the in-class paper where it was just you the blank paper and the ball point pen.
The second was that any kind of idea, style or content exchange could itself be viewed as plagiarism. I can’t imagine what it is like with all the electronic devices, forget about the Web. I suspect nowadays there are many in-class papers.
Here is where the light went off. For a few years, we were involved with a network marketing company. People who joined were part of a team in name only. These were mature and motivated men and women but had limited experience setting their own goals or mapping out strategies and even less success implementing them.
We developed a prototype for helping these people form real teams. The prototype grew out of trials with virtual communities, electronic teams, if you will, groups of entrepreneurs who had a common desire to increase the profitability of their businesses and found a forum wherein they could exchange ideas and garner support. We developed the forum, and then realized the benefit of documenting a system to help other like-minded people.
Because more and more people are going virtual. World wide, there are more than one billion Internet users.
And they are communicating. There are the social networks, such as Facebook and You Tube and the more business oriented networks like LinkedIn. These online social networks are “webs of relationships that grow from computer mediated discussions” noted Howard Rheingold Associates way back in 2000.
The same article concludes that the effective conversion of these social networks helps an organization become more than the sum of its parts. Small groups no longer isolated –whether they be groups of employees, entrepreneurs, consultants or work-at-home-moms — can leverage their network to identify opportunities and resources to help each other and the group meet its objectives.
What will help them all, as Hackman noted, is structure. In Part Three we will discuss the structure of collaborative blogging. To be continued.