Social Computing is an accelerant for Collaboration

In my recent post, I discussed terms such as social computing, social software, social networking, and social media.  What about collaboration?  I often see the term collaboration used in the same context as social computing.

Collaboration doesn’t require computers, but this discussion will assume computers are involved.  Collaboration occurs when two or more people work together toward a common goal.  People that know each other tend to work better together.  There is a level of trust and alignment of goals.  A common bond motivates people to help each other and have the desire to succeed together.  Co-location is one way to accelerate the process of building trust.  However, co-location is often not an option in this global economy.   The question is how can we get to know and trust each other and strive for mutual success if we are not co-located.   One answer is by leveraging social computing.

Social computing accelerates the collaborative process by extending our collective rolodex.  Most work starts by reaching out to our personal networks.  Social computing helps people get to know and trust each other as well as build reputations.  Every successful endeavor is an opportunity to exhibit and grow one’s skills while adding new network connections.  This knowledge helps us form teams on future projects and be productive more quickly.

While collaboration implies working together for a specific purpose, social computing does not have to be as purposeful.  We can build our social networks through casual interaction, common interests, and fun and games.  Even relationships built socially can prove useful in later collaborative work efforts.

How do we measure the impact of social computing on collaboration?   What is the return on investment for implementing these tools in a corporate setting?  I’ll discuss these questions in a future post.

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