Meta Collab

Contextual collaboration is a Collaboration theory that asserts that in order for people, especially netizens, to collaborate, the contexts through which they work might collaborate as well.

Scope, goals and the institution of context[]

Groups that form face-to-face associations or online networks are generally focused on some sort of topical scope that establishes what they will cover in the content they present to their audience. In many cases the groups refer to themselves in term of projected goals – as a project. In other cases, a group may place itself in charge of distribution and/or dissemination of goods that are already produced or information about goals that have already been reached making them, in effect the custodian of a product or the recognized agency for a service. In any case, groups must form around a clearly-defined contextual scope.

Context – scope, goals, products, projects, etc., once established is usually converted to content. This content may exist in a number of forms, including pages on the public Internet. Mission statements, bylaws, policies, overviews and other documents define who they are, what they do, how and why they do it, and what they hope to achieve (or announcements of what they have achieved) – goals.

The body of documentation and other artifacts handled by these groups are either collected from the outside, produced from within or a combination of both. The aggregation of everything within an organization and how it communicates with its environment constitute, and if it is effective, institute its full context.

Instutional collaboration via outreach and feedback[]

In capitalist societies, business and industry propogate the notion that organizations and companies must grow in order to realize profits or otherwise succeed. This mindset has instilled into the culture a nearly obsessive paradigm of amalgamation. At the same time, government and academia have complicated ideas and abstractions such as privacy, liberty, security and sustainability with an almost paranoid paradigm of separation – a firewall. These mindsets seem to combine to cause barriers to collaboration and clash and friction within the dynamics of cross institutional collaboration.

Getting around barriers with outreach[]

Individuals involved in working communities are often coerced into accepting constraints imposed by the organization, company or institution which they are committed to serving. These constraints are often centered around frameworks of competition, specialization or institutional policy. Even otherwize community-minded people are restricted when it comes to collaborating with others outside of their organization, even outside of a small department or division of the umbrella group. This can result in a general feeling of helplessnes and isolation felt individually or in many instances, collectively. This creates a need for outreach.

Transcending boundaries through feedback[]

A genuine outreach can replace the rigid "firewall" with a "semi-permeable membrane" that allows collaboration without breaking down natural boundaries. Boundaries are usually there for a good reason. Barriers are generally built by distrust, greed, suspicion or malfeasance.

Some efforts to collaborate can be overt, if the status quo or majority within an association agree to institute an outreach. Other times, individuals or small groups that are restricted by imposed constraints can alieviate their isolation by responding to an outreach of an outside entitiy. The individual can:

  • split from his or her organization joining the other
  • present the details of the outside group's outreach to his or her organization, thus effecting a shift in direction toward the outside entity's ideational frames
  • become an agent in the facilitatation of a contextual relationship between the two groups.

Reaction to an outreach, regardless of how it is predicated, takes place through some mechanism or channel for feedback.

Outreach and feedback - Part and counterpart[]

Outreach strategies are most effective if feddback is accomodated. What is an outreach on your side of the fence may look like solicitation on the other side. The proliferation of malfeasant marketing schemes has further compounded the need for boundaries and borders between domains on the Internet. Persons wishing to make inroads by forming collaborations must do so with an enlightened approach to what belongs where and who should/would/could do what. Too strong an effort could upset sensitivities; too weak an effort will simply be ineffective. It is a question of balencing between parts and counterparts.

Effective outreach strategies[]

Effectiveness in recruiting support for a project depends heavily upon extensive research. Approaching a strange organization with a new proposal is simply a bad idea. One must learn how other organiztions are structured, how they present themselves to the public and how they conduct thenselves on the inside. Organizations develop customs and language just like countries and families do. You stand no chance at all of recruiting help, getting support or facilitating a collaboration without knowing the language and context of the group you're approaching. If you want others to be a part of what you are doing, you must become their counterpart from the context of your own organization.

Forms for handling feedback[]

Contextual collaboration takes place when outreach strategies have balenced feedback mechanisms in place before the outreach instrument is presented. This demonstrates "good faith", especially if you have a well-informed model for making the collaboration as beneficial to the other organization as it is to yours. Again, this is extremly dependant upon thorough research, not only of the other company but your as well. You should provide within each domain matching contextually scoped feedback parts but only after searching diligently for their own outreach counterparts.

Network of actors - Agency of change[]

In the Internet context, the notion of ownership is enigmatic, at best. Within one's home domain, he or she is basically an agent of that domain. What kind of agent, depends mostly on the domain's ownership. Obviously, if you pay for your own domain name registration, your connectivity, your server space, and all other expenses, you may get to be the "GodKing" of that domain. Be advised however, that it could be "lonely at the top".

The rest of us, especially in the not-for-profit sphere, who operate in highly-shared webspaces, are constrained by the abstract principles of good netizenship. We become "Actors on the network" and agents of positive change. Contextual collaboration is a tool that could make us more effective in the roles we have accepted.

Metacommunity collaboration model[]


  • Template talk:META


Meta Collab:Wikiversity - Wikia/Wikiversity Collaboration - Testing the theory of contextual collaboration