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When forced to make a choice, about 25% of people collaborate spontaneously, 25% follow, 25% are coerced, and 25% won't.

Proactive collaboration is much more rare. People take few opportunities to collaborate when given the opportunity. For example, less than one percent of WikiWorld visitors participate. Here are some of the reasons.


I don't need no stinking collaboration.

Is there nothing in your life that you would want to improve? Is there nothing you want to achieve? Won't these at minimum require cooperation of others? And isn't it your SocialDuty to collaborate in a democracy?

All is well with the world, who needs collaboration?

Have you read a newspaper lately? Creating more value and less suffering is always worthwhile. We cannot do it alone.

It’s not my problem.

We all have a stake our shared resources and social systems. "No man is an island."

I have no power.

We have all the power ultimately, see EvolutionaryGameTheory. But there is no WE unless we participate. Free speech and free enterprise empower us, the Internet can facilitate us. WikiWorld, for example, you have the power to modify anything. Our dreams can be actualized if we collaborate.

I collaborate in my own way.

But there is no WE unless WE participate.

Collaboration is too hard.

This used to be true. WikiWorld is an example of collaboration made easy. Try it, you'll like it :) ObjectWiki and related project aim to make collaboration even easier.

I have nothing to offer.

There are many KindsOfIntelligence. We are all idiot-savants. There are things we can do well and things we suck at. Hang in there and you can find at least one niche where you get the personal reward of feeling you can make a difference.

I'd rather do it myself.

That's your right. Do think about how much more can be accomplished together.

I can't do anything right.

Great==== You can serve as a bad example :) As long as you are not destructive on purpose your participation won't hurt and may help in ways we cannot foresee. ====

I just can't get around to it.

Nothing is stopping you from getting a RoundToit.

To err is human, to really foul things up requires a committee.

They say nothing really important is accomplished by groups. And it is true that individuals are generally much more effective than groups, but that is not necessarily true. They also say nothing great is accomplished alone. We depend on the cooperation of others even to live. Even your freedom to create value in your own way is at the mercy of our collaboration. It is possible for groups to manifest a CollectiveIntelligence instead of the lowest common denominator. Let's do it==== ====

Why not give collaboration a try here, leave WikiWorld a little richer place by leaving your mark. It just may make you feel good :)

Just click Edit on any page or click the little question mark by any undefined Wiki link. For help visit the WikiWorldVirtualClassroom.

Most visitors to a web site/forum do not collaborate/participate? How shocking. How many of those visitors are regular repeating ones? First, narrow down your hit lists to real repeats. Now, how many do not participate? It's gotten to be a much smaller group, hasn't it? A site like this will have many visitors dropping by, based off of search hits, won't they?

As for participation... my experiences, since simple local dial up BBSes, suggest that roughly 80% to 95% of all regular visitors do not participate. They lurk. Why? The reasons are generally:

  • boring (thus, non-engaging/not worth their energy)
  • unconnected (nothing touches/relates to their life experiences/knowledge/perceptions)
  • do not disagree strongly enough to bother adding their voice and objections
  • do not very, very strongly agree with the subject.

I do not see WikiWorld being perceived as different from any other tool for digital discussion/exchange of ideas then from any other BBS or forum.


Your analogy between WikiWorld and BBS systems is correct and your participation is most welcomed. But WikiWorld and BBS systems may be a great example of the heart of the issue of collaboration though many of the same issues apply no doubt. Other examples include:

  • We are lucky to get even 50% of the people to vote even on major elections.
  • Most scientists work secretly to prevent their ideas from being stolen.
  • I worked 5 years as a computer programmer before I went back to NJIT. I worked on Payroll, Accounts Payable, Billing, Vehicle scheduling etc. etc. It seemed to me to be ridiculous that there were thousands of programmers all programming the same application I was programming- I thought computer would reduce redundancy. I figured the answer was in artificial intelligence and decided to go into research (See EIES Legacy). Things are not much better 28 years later.
  • Government is acting as the lowest common denominator rather than the CollectiveIntelligence. There have been no significant collaborative enterprises since the interstate highway system planned in the 50's. We are not collaborating effectively.

Well, the government isn't about collaborating. It's about expanding its bureaucracy. That's the purpose of a bureaucracy, after all. Collaborating is not even in its job function. Preventing other governments from collaborating is in its job function.

And at this point, I feel that our general culture is very anti-collaboration. The 'Security Scare' going around in the US is just the latest phase of it. But the latest version of Digital Copyright is definitely out to stop 'collaborations' and there are new measures being passed in Congress against collaborations. Add to that the general 'Collaborate and someone steals it from you, marks it theirs, and then sews you into a grave if you say otherwise...'.

Collaboration in our current environment is viewed as an 'Anti-Establishment' trait. And treated as such. (Of course, it's true for things like GNU and Linux. :D)

Why is it good to collaborate in small groups but bad in larger societal units? You will notice we have many laws 'preventing' larger societal units from collaborating. That's called Racketeering, Market Manipulation, etc etc etc. (I know, I'm just being a pain, but I think there may be a point in there somewhere. A group of entities collaborating for their success over the larger collection of entities.)


It's because ethics works in layers; It's tied to survival, in that laws / ethics are about survival of an 'entity' - an individual, a sewing club, a nation... Initially there is conflict between the different levels - the nation would like me to fight their wars, I'd rather save my skin. The rules about cooperation flip at the point where the size of the collaboration threatens the survival of the entity making those laws.

The most unacceptable thing you can do in any group is to criticize or undermine the forces that hold the group together.


Humm... but in a purely cooperative system, it is important to examine what the group is doing, and see if there is a better choice/way/strategy. And to keep an eye on things, for when situations change, the old way may no longer be optimal.

In a group, it's only unacceptable to criticize the group amoung it's peers. It's encouraged for thinkers/analyzers/group members to criticize the parts/group individually/out of peers sight.

In a dictatorship/hierarchical structure, the worst things one can do are: -criticize ones superiors, and -disobey ones superiors. If we cannot criticize something, it is a dictatorial/hierarchical system, not a consensual/consensus system.


In life, people are important, not things or ideas, (MyFathersWisdom), but in the search for truth, only ideas are important. This Wiki does not prescibe the ordinary Wiki rule of UseRealNames because WE do not want to inhibit the free flow of ideas that can occur in hiearchical systems.

It is possible in theory to trace an update back to someones computer, but there is still always plausable denieability particularly when we dont require passwords. I expect at some point we may want to require passwords but we should always be sure their is a degree of plausable denieability available to participants so they can speak freely without worry of it comming back to haunt them.

GroupThink invades any organization and it will stagnate us from time to time. Our only defence against it is insuring that new people can speak freely and show us the stupidity of our ways.

I refuse to acknowlege "the government". We are the government, we have the power, WE have just reliqueshed our control by lack of involvement and participation. We won't do that anymore. WE will take control. First WE need to decide what must be done. -- JimScarver

Humm... actually, we do not control the national government. We lost that ability some time ago. At this point, 'America' is really run by a small, elite, aristocratic type oligraphy. While there is some upward mobility into the circle of power, it is an extremely narrow opening. And if you have been paying attention over the past few decades, you can see how our elite rulers have continued to tighten their control and reduce 'ThePeople' to merely 'TheRuled'.

Which is truly remarkable, when compared to the 'local' level, the same system leaves the power in the people's hands. When my councilman deals with local issues, that councilman remembers that if I, as one of the voters, don't like how they did, I'll fire them. Admitted, Big Business and their Personal Ego still bends them away from the path I'd have them take, but it doesn't remove them entirely... else they will be removed entirely.

The people's loss began when the Founders ratified TheConstitution. They had tried leaving ThePeople as the most important element in Government, but that had failed miserably, as the Federal level had no powers. By setting up the Federal level as King and more important then ThePeople, they left the path clear for the Self Interest of the Federal Lawmakers to insulate themselves from their duties, and the morals of ThePeople. (The rulers, though, never have the same morals as those they Rule. That's why they are the Rulers rather then Ruled.)

The American Civil War is an unfortunate thing, but it settled the issue once and for all that Federal is King. The Rights of the Individual got trampled in the fight for The Rights of the Individual.

Other events were just tossing a few more layers of Federal is King.

These days, there is a real fight going on between Congress (Our Elite Ruling Oligraphy) and The President. Which is to be expected (that's the design of our system), but the Balance of Power is in favor of The President. He can always just ignore any law that is inconvient that Congress might pass. And Bill Clinton is an excellent example of a President doing so. (Frankly, almost all Presidents have, but until recently they were not so blatant about it).

The only reason we do not have a President For Life is that our Military Forces have not had a vested interest in seeing one stay. That is one advantage to a high turnover in our standing army. Enough of them would tell the President to take a Long Walk off a Short Pier if he were to order the dissolution/arrest of all of Congress... But whether that will remain true for the life span of our country remains to be seen. It's not like there is any form of effective resistance that could be done to counter the Modern Armed Services by the Common Citizen these days (Rather then in Colonial Times when the Common Citizen was the Modern Army :-D).


It all depends on your perspective. EvolutionaryGameTheory suggests the people always have the power ultimately reguarless of the form of government and so does history. The real american IS the militia, with the right to bear arms in the defense of freedom.

I worship Jefferson who felt his greatest accomplishment as president was that ordinary citizens were not taxed.

America in the 50's was a very different place, there were advancements in civil rights, but spirit of america has largely been lost, the revolution seems to be over at long last. but the revolution has never been won and in the last century we have added taxes on income and sales to the burdon of the ordinary man. Taxing the leading indicators of a chaotic economic environment is wrong. We must stop the madness.

Printed law and enforced law are different, street law is something else again. Money interest and public oppinion (political correctness etc) influence all of these. We have the ability together to out power the richest man if we have the will and know whats right and wrong. WE should be able to figure out what that is in so far as we can agree on it and claim our throne.

Nice speech and thoughts. I don't agree with you. The common citizen's voice disappears. It's only the common person in the military that has kept our system in place. No American Army would back a president. And there's been a couple that have checked.

But when it comes to anything else, WE do not matter. Only Enron, Gates, Ellison, Case, Jobs... anyone who can contribute a 1/4 of a million or more counts. Your economic worth is your political worth, nationally. And that's all there is to it.

I find it a strange dichotomy between Theory and Reality. Something so good 'locally' sucks so bad 'nationally'.

On the local scale, I helped get my Vice Principal, while at High School, fired. A concerned individual acting locally. Improved my friends world by doing that. Improved the HS, for those that followed. But Nationally, that doesn't work... because only the elite can affect the elite, peacefully. We are not in the same strata. And thanks to that, and the fact that we cannot punish the Criminal Elite (or just not reward it, which leaving them alone is the same thing, as it allows them to profit themselves), we end up screwed.


WE do not matter. Only Enron, Gates, Ellison, Case, Jobs...

Even the most powerfull are subject to public out cry and ultimately go to jail or lose anti-trust suits or whatever. WE need to stop crying about "the government" and become government.

We hire government through our vote. Goverment works for us. I do not deny that special interests play a large part in controlling government within the window of what the public will tolerate, but WE can be a special interest which advocates our CollectiveIntelligence, and if there are enough of us, we can make a real difference.

The only thing that is constant is change, we have lost and gained much, change is not going to stop tomorrow, we can reclaim what we have lost and actualize the american dream if we have the will.

It's a statement of fact. 'WE' do not matter. 'WE' do not hire the government with our vote. Enron, Microsoft, GM, etc hires the government with their 'contributions'. Even the government's studies on the matter show that 'WE' do not matter. The level of corruption, wheedling, dealing, have reached the exact level designed by the US founders into the US Constitution. It's at the exact level that Big Business and the Educated Elite can govern the Pathetic Unenlighted Masses.

According to studies commissioned by the USofA Gov'mint, there hasn't been an honest election since before Licoln was elected for President, on a national level. Maybe those studies were faulty, but it's something our Gov'mint waste our money on, from time to time, whenever a key election seems to not go the way that the majority 'voted'. And they've been commissioning them since the early 1900s. Our esteemed leaders have admitted to doing so, time and time again. Perhaps it's time for a concerned citizen to drop a plane on Congress during a State of the Union address? But then what? What would you replace it with? That's the key... nothing tends to work on such a large scale. Whether it's one person or one hundred, human self interest will always mean that those that offer more money will be more equal in considerations.

Democracies and their variants only work so long as all the group decides to play honest, to cooperate, and the participants voting can directly pressure their representatives and leaders. You can do neither, pressure your representatitive nor your leader. And not everyone is playing honest.

In order to have control, WE must assume control. Our failure to do so in the past does not mean we don't have the power. As long as WE are willing to die for a government of the people, for the people, by the people, there is no power on earth that can stop us.

In the 60's WE defeated the establishment, but WE had no idea what to replace it with, and let things get really screwed up. If WE decide what WE want to do, there is no stopping us. Today the Internet, and tools like Wiki can enable us.

The first step, before you drop society into anarchy, is to know what you are going to replace it with. Otherwise, all you do is allow something worse to replace it. Things rarely randomly get better, but often randomly get worse. Our forefathers knew this, and acted accordingly. They pulled off one of the few successful revolutions, from start to completion, because they knew what they wanted as a replacement for their existing system.

What are you going to replace our current system with? Or do you view the current system okay, just in need of some slight reform/adjustment?

Deciding is easy to do. People decide all the time to loose weight, quit drinking, stop beating the kids, etc. But they rarely do. Doing takes effort, and most humans are just lazy mental cowards, following the path of least percieved trouble/work for this instant in time, rather then following any morals or 'social compass'. Thank goodness for our leaders and rebels, else we'd still be up in the trees, collecting fruit and nuts while watching for snakes and big cats.


Deciding what to do does not necessarily enable an individual, but it is key to enabling a group due to group pressure added to individual will, particularly where only a few participants need act to actualize the decision as opposed to schemes that require 100% participation which rarely succeed and should be avoided.

It is generally thought that the primary preconditions for collaboration are communications and agreement.

  • Common Language - semantical disputes defused
  • Shared Principles
  • Shared Objectives
  • Shared methodology for actualizing the objectives

'Objective Criteria 'Clear responsibilities and timelines 'Monitoring and evaluation (continuous quality control and measurment of results)

OneWood 'High School IT educator' Are there any ppl actually making use of Wiki's for educational purposes? I can see great potential and am interested to hear how others have used Wikis in teaching, especially computer science related. --onewood

Wikipedia appears to serve an educational purpose. PythonWiki appears to serve a computer science educational purpose.

Wikipedia is awesome, see WikiPedia:Collective_intelligence

Many schools use Wiki as a content management system for courseware and course information resources and links but I don't know of any classes using Wiki for collaborative learning except here in WikiWorld VirtualClassroom.

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