Collaborative Technology

I agreed to work on an article for a friend about the collaborative technology "stuff" that I've been thinking about for a long time. I don't have an archive that covers this subject, but perhaps I should, because I think I've written about the technology that allows people to make things with other people a number of times, though I have yet to pull together these ideas into some sort of coherent post or essay.

This has been my major post-graduation intellectual challenge. I have interests, even some collected research, and no real way to turn these half conceptualized projects into a "real paper." So I've proposed working with a friend to collect and develop a report that's more concrete and more comprehensive than the kind of work that I've been attempting to accomplish on the blog. Blogging is great, don't get me wrong, but I think it leads to certain kinds of thinking and writing (at least as I do it,) and sometimes other kinds of writing and thinking are required.

Regarding this project, I want to think about how technology like "git" (a distributed version control system) and even tools like wiki's shape the way that groups of people can collaborate with each other. I think there's an impulse in saying "look at the possibilities that these tools create! This brave new world is entirely novel, and not only changes the way I am able to complete my work, but how I look at problems, and make it so much easier for me to get things done.." At the same time, the technology can only promote a way of working it doesn't necessarily enforce a way of working, nor does any particular kind of technology really remove the burdens and challenges of "getting things done." More often perhaps new kinds of technology, like distributed version control, is responsible for increasing the level of abstracting and allowing us (humans) to attend to higher order concerns.

Then, moving up from the technology, I think looking at how people use technology in this class allows us to learn a great deal about how work is accomplished. We can get an idea of when work is being done, an idea of how quality control efforts are implemented. Not only does this allow us to demystify the process of creation, but having a more clear idea of how things are made could allow us to become better makers.

The todo list, then, is something like:

  • Condense the above into something that resembles a thesis/argument.
  • Become a little more familiar with the git-dm ("data mining") tool that the Linux Foundation put together for their "state of Kernel development."
  • Develop some specific questions to address. I think part of my problem above and heretofore has been that I'm saying "there's something interesting here, if we looked," rather than. "I think w kind of projects operate in x ways, where y projects will operate in z ways."
  • Literature review. I've done some of this, but I've felt like I need to do even more basic methodological and basic theory reading. And even though an unread Patterns of Culture is on my bookshelf, I don't need to read that to begin reading articles.

That's a start. Feedback is always useful. I'll keep you posted as I progress.

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