Stephen responds to my contention that we’re all selfish brutes:
“People like to create content, and they like to help each other – they aren’t inherently selfish; there’s lots of evidence to show they want to share, even if there’s no benefit to themselves. What they don’t feel the need to do, though, is to provide institutional-type content to institutional-type repositories.” – Stephen Downes
And I agree, to an extent, in that we are, by nature, altruistic individuals (it’s hard wired, we’d be stuffed without it) and are certainly less motivated to help out institutions (although, ironically, that’s what most of us do, all day, every weekday) BUT it’s important to recognise that at the same time we are inherently selfish… and that that’s no bad thing.
Because, if you want *anything* social on the web to succeed you have to pay *much* attention to that.
This is the point where I reveal where I lifted much of my thinking (and those gmail / social bookmarking examples) from, Derek Powazek’s Design for Community and 2006 post Design for Selfishness where he argues that:
“While it’s true that the net can inspire altruistic sharing of people’s time and talent, you still have to offer those people something for their troubles. If you have to pick between designing for altruism and designing for selfishness, pick selfishness every time.
People are selfish, and that’s okay. People are selfish with their time. They should be – there’s never enough of it. And they’re selfish with their attention – after all, if you pay attention to everything, you’d never get out of bed. Finally, and most importantly, they’re selfish with their talent. Writing that post, uploading that photo, participating in your virtual community … all of that is work for me. So what are you going to do to make it worth it?” – Derek Powazek
It’s a post anyone trying to start anything on the web should read, consider, and apply to what they’re doing.
LOR and other ‘crowd’ applications particularily.
And when you’re done, read about how crowds (if you do get them together) are not necessarily always wise. Brilliant stuff that many of us trying to create the web ignore on a daily basis (myself included!)
We could do with a little less utopianism when it comes to social software and the web, education in particular.