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April 24, 2007

Weapons of Mass Collaboration

This week, I am attending the ARL RLLF Institute in Raleigh, North Carolina, where I was given a copy of Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything (2006) (which provided the title for this entry). It's an interesting book that argues, in a nutshell, that Web 2.0 technologies and the environment of openness and collaboration that they facilitate are indicative of a new era in economic and social history.

While the authors focus on the threat that this new environment presents to traditional hierarchies and understandings of expertise, there is much also to be said for the possibility for "mass collaboration" among professionals, especially in the information professions.

At UIUC, we are members of consortia like the CIC and CARLI, which allow us to see the power of collaboration across a variety of library services. We are also members of the Open Content Alliance, in which we collaborate with others to bring a wealth of content from our unique collections into the digital commons.

The power of professional collaboration is also demonstrated in an article in the current issue of Reference & User Services Quarterly, in which Karen Anello and Brett Bonfield from the University of Pennsylvania describe the development of an inter-institutional database of frequently asked questions in business information services.

It's hardly the "mass collaboration" of Wikipedia or the social knowledge development of flickr, but it's a start. It will be exciting to see in what ways the rest of it comes.

Posted by swalter at April 24, 2007 2:31 AM

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