The power of collaboration

I find it odd that despite the multitude of online tools, the collaboration doesn’t exist. Each person brings in a different perspective that would collectively enhance the ability to understand something in context.

Not everyone, though, shares that enthusiasm.

One of the earliest attempts was to share links on Twitter (automate them by filtering through PubMed RSS feeds) and then collect “likes” on Twitter in a separate channel. This may sound complicated, but it isn’t. PubMed allows boolean operators to generate RSS feeds for specific queries. This helps keep track of the developing literature. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out a powerful solution to identify and discuss new papers; say for example, on oligometastases. Each time a new paper is published, it gets piped to Twitter; interested individuals can “like” if the paper is good enough, and that can come through another means.

However, Twitter plays a spoil-sport. It’s algorithms are messed up. It is a consumer application-it preferences “politics” and negative news for engagement, and is definitely not meant for “academics”. This explains why my experiment never took off. Despite the multitude of links on my Twitter account, very few get traction. It would be nice to have preliminary filters, drill down to specifics and then narrow to a few to discuss.

Hacker News is an awesome resource for developing and breaking news. I don’t necessarily agree with the community’s broad strokes and futile moralistic stances. However, it doesn’t diminish its value in underlying tech – how the community collaborates on weeding out spam and generally keeping the low value comments (by careful calibration of downvotes/upvotes) on specific issues. That forum style works everywhere (on mobile devices) and desktops, and has almost minimal tech. I use specific services (and filters) to ensure I get the updates (which fuels many links posted here) and allows me to blog almost daily. It ensures I get the complete value of my time.

This power of collaboration, though, doesn’t get filtered out for others. It requires due diligence to think in terms of “collective good” and an understanding that collective thinking helps eliminate some degree of biases too. Humans collaborated for hunting (for collective good), and cohesive societies work by collaboration on a large scale. A breakdown in the order results in anarchy, but effective collaboration results in efficiency. Unfortunately, you can’t peg the “return on investment” on efficiency, that remains a poor quantitative metric to define everything in monetary terms.

The blog effectively remains a collaborative effort; I merely connect the dots. The front-end of WordPress is a collaborative effort of the team. My reading is essentially a collaborative effort of people who collate, write and form opinions, shaping the outlook and utilise the technology rails to deliver content. We can’t underestimate this power of collaboration; we just need to be aware of its potential.

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