I came across this quote from Larry Smarr, a physicist and leader in scientific computing, supercomputer applications, and Internet infrastructure. This quote struck me, especially in light of the recent events involving swine flu around the world.
“Having a wiki world, and having an ability to instantaneously set up mass collaboration, you can solve problems on a time scale that’s going to matter. So if we start having a bird flu pandemic, or if global warming continues to accelerate, we may not have the luxury of what I think of today as the slow speed of coming to answers for the challenges confronting the human race. And so the idea of being able to apply all the brains on the planet to a time urgent situation is something that we are going to look back on and be really glad that we figured out how to do because otherwise it’s going to be too late.”
Sometimes when I stop and think about what all this means, I start to feel overwhelmed with it all. The idea of what mass collaboration means today can leave me feeling utterly exhausted with the sheer immensity of what it would, and could, look like. Then add in the idea of preparing students for a world of mass collaboration…and it’s almost more than one person can think about. I guess it’s a good thing then we have the ability to think about it collaboratively on a massive scale!
In an article titled Mass collaboration: Harnessing the power of global ideas, the author writes:
The trend of you continues.
You were the person of the year in 2006, chosen for Time magazine’s annual honour.
You are also the focus of a new book by Toronto’s own Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams about mass collaboration: Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything.
My initial reaction to this was maybe it’s time for the ‘person’ of the year to be “us” instead of “you.” If we’re talking about mass collaboration, maybe we need to start thinking about the idea of we instead of me. Dana wrote something similar on her blog post about the idea of mass collaboration and how she could see individual egos being problematic in some situations. I, too, wonder how all of this will pan out in the long run. Will it be easier for students who grow up with the idea of mass collaboration to put aside individual egos? A bunch of us were just discussing the other day that we felt our generation (raised mostly in the eighties) was very much a ‘me’ generation, all about getting what ‘I’ want and need. Will these next generations see things differently because that’s just the way it has always been for them?
Not that I don’t think those of us raised in different generations can’t embrace this new way of being. Dana wrote on her blog:
I have recently worked on an amazing new project called the Connected World with three colleagues. We have never worked better together, and when you combine the skill set of the four of us, you have one powerhouse of a teacher. Together we have created a curriculum that is so engaging to teach. I love going to work and learning as much as my students every day.
This is what it is all about. This is collaboration at its finest. Let’s take this idea, and expand upon it even further. What if these four amazing teachers shared their ideas with four more amazing teachers? And those new teachers did the same? And so on and so forth and pretty soon, massive amounts of teachers feel the way Dana feels. And these super happy and excited teachers are impacting hundreds and thousands of kids.
My hope is that we will all come to embrace and appreciate this age of collaboration. I know my fingers are crossed that we will be able to prepare kids properly for the world of mass collaboration. I have a sneaking suspicion that they are already well on their way to understanding it all by themselves anyway!