A Brief History of Mass Collaboration: How Innovations Over Time Have Enabled People to Work Together More Effectively

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


There have been a series of innovations over the time since our species first appeared on Earth that have enabled people to work together more and more effectively. The first great innovation was the development of trade, which enabled people to specialize in their occupations and thereby refine their ideas and skills to be more productive. The next great innovation was the development of cities, which brought people together in close proximity, where they could share ideas and learn from each other. The invention of writing later made it possible for ideas to spread across greater distances and to later generations. The invention of the printing press greatly enhanced the spread of ideas and led to the development of mass education. The development of the worldwide scientific community created a community working together to develop new ideas, new methods of investigation, and new tools for uncovering the way the world operates. Now we are experiencing a blossoming of mass collaboration, because of the invention of the Internet. This has spawned a wide variety of new capabilities to enable mass collaboration, such as web communities, collaboratories, digital libraries, crowdsourcing, MOOCs, and collaborative enterprises. These innovations have profound implications for both society and education.


Collaboration Mass collaboration Innovation Cultural development History of mass collaboration 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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