Stigmergic Collaboration: A Framework for Understanding and Designing Mass Collaboration

  • Mark ElliottEmail author
Part of the Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning Series book series (CULS, volume 16)


This chapter presents a framework for understanding collaboration in any context, at any scale, in order to make conclusions regarding approaches for the design and analysis mass collaboration. This provides a foundation for the introduction of other theories and frameworks that explain how collaboration can scale from small, collocated groups, to large distributed communities like Wikipedia. Key ideas presented include a specific, design-focused definition for collaboration as ‘add, edit, delete rights to a shared pool of content’ and stigmergy (a form of indirect communication common in social insects) as they key means by which collaboration scales online, referred to as ‘stigmergic collaboration’. Stigmergic collaboration also explains how teamwork can emerge, potentially without explicit knowledge of other team members, where productivity is organic and is not managed by any central function. It is my hope that these ideas, along with others presented, will improve the design and analysis of mass collaboration in general, as well as provide new pathways for further research in CSCL and educational contexts.


Collaboration Mass collaboration Cooperation Coordination Stigmergy Stigmergic collaboration Mediated collaboration Online collaboration 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CollabforgeMelbourneAustralia

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