Intro to Networked Collaboration

Participatory Culture take away from an Individual’s Professional Value?

Trebor Scholz article: The Participatory Culture did bring up an interesting point, one that he mentioned in passing but did not dwell on. Through collaboration, each of us gives our opinion or information that has come to us through our own experiences or professional practices. Some bloggers have found ways to make money off their blogs by linking to tool such as google’s adsense. Others contribute out of good faith and do not expect any monetary payback.

But doesn’t that dilute each person’s value? Doctors frequently complain that patients tend to over analyze and self-diagnose their illnesses by researching their symptoms on sites such as Wikipedia and WebMD. They have a valid point. They are professionals who have spent years getting qualified enough that they deserve the importance of a patient turning to them for an educated answer to what their illness is and how it can be treated. Collaborative sites such as Web MD and Wiki undermine that authority by making too much information freely available to a patient who is vulnerable to that info.

This is just an example but there are plenty other cases I can think of. Look at the way musicians are struggling with collaborative communities that share music files off their computers via the internet and allow others to download their music. It undermines the talent and art of these musicians and, while they are the creators, they do not receive the rewards for their work.

Surely, there should be a way for information to be shared without taking the value away from the people that take the time out to share that info?


October 1, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Wow, this is an interesting post. There is a lot of research out there in a field called “evidence based medicine” that suggests that doctors are not doing a good job because they rely too much on intuition and make snap decisions about diagnoses based on what they think they know, rather than real evidence, and they make a lot of mistakes that way. It is probably natural for an expert to resist smart mobs. I know it took me a long time to get used to the idea after 20 yrs of being a new product development ‘expert’. Only trouble is, the world has become so complex, and technologies so flexible, that keeping track of all the information one gathers in design research became exhausting, and even debilitating, and error prone.
    I don’t know if I can agree that doctors or anyone else ‘deserve’ to be taken seriously by patients or customers. I think we all have to grow and learn that access to information is expanding our worlds and challenging us in new and constant ways. We can respond by creating more interconnectedness to each other for support, and learning about the collaboration techniques available to us to do so. I love Chapter 2 in Smart Mobs about Technologies of Cooperation. This is the kind of thing we all need to know, especially now, when the Right Wing wants to dismantle our civil and social society which has enabled so much for all of us (of course with a bit of a tax bill)!

    Comment by brettbarndt | October 4, 2008 | Reply

  2. So yes, access to the internet can allow anybody to gather information on a specialized topic, however I agree with the concern that it is causing harm to the value of professionalism in some cases.

    Instead of making money off blog’s, I’ve witnessed people offering free information, out of good will, and I know I have personally saved great amounts of money due to free information services and complimentary online platforms. I think its great, but as the case of jobless-musicians, this is causing a flux in the job market. If I can get free legal advice and step-by step instructions on how to start a company, who need to pay a lawyer? If I can watch how-to video’s on yoga, cooking, final cut pro, photoshop, and many other activities then why would I pay for courses or an instructor? The internet won’t take-away personal interaction, but it is going to get dangerously close in our lifetime.

    Especially now that technology is making computer-use much more user-friendly. Just wait until touch-screen technology hits consumer markets in the near-future. No longer is obtaining information from the computer going to be painstakingly uncomfortable sitting and staring at a little screen.

    We are about to see quite a leap in interactive technology.

    Comment by kelboa | October 9, 2008 | Reply

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