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May 22, 2004
IFTF: A New Literacy for Cooperation
This week I participated in a mind-bending IFTF
event shaped by Howard Rheingold
on A New Literacy of Cooperation. They are developing a new famework which challenges the assumptions of business strategy that centers around competition. The rise of open source, intellectual property commons, participatory politics, participatory media, and social software all give rise to new cooperative strategies for business.
One of the participants is good friend and UCLA professor of Sociology Peter Kollock, whose work includes the sociology of cyberspace
, reputation, how markets are actually social and social dillemas
(.pdf): Social dilemmas are situations in which individual rationality leads to collective irrationality. That is, individual rational behavior leads to a situation in which everyone is worse off than they might have been otherwise.
Competition and collaboration go hand-in-hand where social dilemmas arise, so the framework provides lenses and levers to understand and shape how they emerge. Peter provides a great rationale for why you shouldn't be the first one to defect, be envious of business partners and why you should be generous. There are great incentives to be open, but it comes at risk. There is no algorithm for community, there are algorithms for destroying one.
We are just at the beginning of developing language and models for cooperation. Measured by the response of enterprise participants at the event and in the Eventspace to the frameworks presented, Howard is really on to something by moving us past zero-sum thinking. Not just for business, but our survival.
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