The collaborative potential

3 09 2008

If you wiki “Web 2.0” you will read under the Definition section: “Web 2.0 has numerous definitions. Basically, the term encapsulates the idea of the proliferation of interconnectivity and social interactions on the Web.” It changes communication from “one-to-many” to “many-to-many.” Wikipedia itself is one of the clearest examples of a Web 2.0 creation and the power of collaboration. Other examples include facebook, ebay, craigslist and flickr.

When I think about the potential this platform offers to connect us collaboratively I picture a dam opening up – releasing vast amounts of previously untapped resources. Tapping those resources can be pretty risky and failure is more likely than success. But, if you keep imagining and trying different ideas something may grap hold and then mountains will move.

So here’s where I see the connection to the church. When was the last time we asked “them,” the congregation, to collaborate with “us,” the leaders?  In the past this was practically difficult and thought by some to not even be appropriate (having determined that God only speaks to leaders). So why not move in this direction now? Well, the same old reasons apply – we are risk adverse, don’t like change or losing control and there will certainly be ideas that fail. What remains lost by not moving in a collaborative direction, however, is that the congregation will continue to sit and wait for the leaders to figure it out – and the leaders will be figuring it out without the resources available from the congregation.  More on all of this in a new post I’ve been working on and will complete in the near future.

Let me revert to the Web 2.0 discussion by introducing, if you have not already heard of him, Clay Shirky.  Recently Clay has been getting much attention with the release of his new book Here Comes Everybody and his many speaking appearances, including Colbert, and being featured on Ted and RAS.  The following video is his presentation at the Web 2.0 Expo in April 2008.  The title of this talk is “Gin, Television and Social Surplus” in which he explains how the Web 2.0 platform is releasing what he calls the “cognitive surplus” and the impact that has had and will have on our society.  There are a few other excellent Clay Shirky presentations online – I’d particularly recommend the presentation about his new book which you can watch here. 

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