Howard Rheingold: The New Power of Collaboration

People are only prisoners if they consider themselves to be, and can escape such a mindset by creating institutions for collective action. Collaboration, not competition, is an approach rooted in humanity’s natural instinct to work in a group. That’s what Howard Rheingold discusses in his TED Talk: The New Power of Collaboration about the web-based world of collaboration, participatory media, and collective action. He covers the social and economic impacts of the collaborative mindset, from the time when hunting to eat trumped fighting with the neighboring clan to the ability for data giant Google to enrich itself by enriching others, like the thousands of bloggers who profit from AdSense. He says the new mantra has transformed from the competitive “Neither of us can trust each other, so we have to make competitive moves,” to the collaborative “You prove to me that you are trustworthy and I will cooperate.” Rheingold says he wants to continue to explore what forms of suffering could be alleviated and what forms of wealth could be created if we learn how to cooperate just a little bit more.

Howard Rheingold is a writer, artist, designer, theorist, and community builder. He’s one of the catalysts behind our web-enabled, open, and collaborative universe, which has created a powerful method for forming communities. One of the earliest and most active members of the Well (a “computer conferencing” system), Rheingold is the author of Smart Mobs  and the cofounder of HotWired and Electric Minds, two groundbreaking communities that were created in the mid-1990s. Currently, he’s active in Second Life, where he teaches, writes, and consults on social media. His latest passion involves teaching about participatory media literacy.