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July 22, 2006 / jadettman

Interesting reading

In my reading for my More Theory post below, I ran across some very interesting points of discussion that I feel have relevance to gaming.

1. Collaboration is dependent upon communication, and communication is a network phenomenon.

Collaboration being dependent upon communication (in some form or another) is self-evident and requires no explanation (collaboration cannot be a solo venture), and the notion that communication is a network phenomenon is also reasonably intuitive. However it should be stressed that communication not only makes use of networks as channels, but also generates networks through its very being – entities communicating using any medium become connected nodes. Both these factors – collaboration requiring communication, and communication being a network phenomenon – make collaboration especially well suited to the Internet’s hyperlinked network structure.

2. Collaboration is inherently composed of two primary components, without either of which collaboration cannot take place: social negotiation and creative output.

That collaboration is inherently composed of two primary components – social negotiation and creative output – is not to say that there aren’t other important components, but rather that these two are fundamental to the process as it is generally regarded. In formulating a theory of stigmergic collaboration, it is important to note that the social negotiation that takes place during collaboration may be implicit and unknown to the participants. As collaboration is a fundamental biological behaviour which takes place anywhere humans work together, it is not necessary to ‘know’ that one must negotiate one’s identity, values and ideas prior to and during collaboration. By simply being in the presence of other humans one can collaborate without having any regard for or knowledge of the process’s existence. However, even if it is unconscious, social negotiation (the delineation and identification of personal boundaries, interests, stakes, objectives, etc.) must take place as the result of the communication required by collaboration.

Another caveat to the second primary component, creative output, is that the output may take the form of an ongoing process instead of a final conclusion. An example would be an intimate relationship – the parties involved may collaborate very closely towards the successful continuance of the collaborative process.

3. Collaboration in small groups (roughly 2-25) relies upon social negotiation to evolve and guide its process and creative output.

Research has shown that the ideal size for collaborating groups (where technology is not being used in any way) is 2-8, with an upper limit of around 25 (Lipnack & Stamps 180-1). In these smaller groups, successful collaboration is generally reliant upon social negotiation to evolve and guide the development of the group’s creative output. In such scenarios, discussion plays a key role in the negotiation of emergent, shared understandings – this is, perhaps, the essence of face-to-face collaboration. Discussion acts as a point of mediation between the individual collaborators and the creative outcome which may or may not eventuate. It is in this shared space, the space ‘between’ the participants, where the traditional collaborative process develops its third member – that is, the member who is the sum of the whole and who seems to guide the process while developing ideas that are beyond the individual contributors’ capacities.

–from Wikipedia’s entry on Stigmergic collaboration

This has also lead me to An interesting article on Emergence and Emergent Design which may also have application to RPG Theory.

More thinking is now required.

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