Here's some more of a continuing exploration of the politics of collaboration.
I find it helpful to distinguish between two dimensions of collaboration: Emergent versus Imposed and Loose versus Tight. There are presumably many more.
Emergent collaboration comes about in response to a discovered need that is shared amongst a group of people. This is often seen in the group-forming associated with weblog networks.
Imposed collaboration is arbitrary group work where frequently the shared need is given (by some outside force) to a group that has been created for the task. People get this in their work as employees or students.
Loose collaboration occurs when there is no formal relationship between the participants. They are associated by their shared understandings and shared beliefs, often across distance and time. I'm in Seb Paquet's creative network and I think of him as being in mine. I've never met him, and emailed only twice.
Tight collaboration occurs where there are relationships and roles which are more formal: co-workers, teammates on sports teams.
Any collaborative event can presumably be mapped onto a coordinate plane representing these dimensions. Blog-style collaboration is highly emergent and loose, for example.
My contention is that emergent and loose collaboration is the most natural style. By this I mean that it is the most in tune with human nature. From this I'm willing to state that emergent collaboration and consensus building is not simply emergent democracy in action as some people like to think, but is in fact communal anarchism in action.
Anarchism can be about the emergence of communal process and communal authority. That is, process and authority is not imposed but rather is emergent because the forces that create enabling processes and structuring authority are allowed to act and evolve; through consensus, through willful appreciation of diverse voices (see ThinkOutLoud), through attention to simple needs.
A community which is the result of communal anarchism has participants that believe themselves to be in a CovenantingGroup and act accordingly: in accordance with one another.
Take ExtremeProgramming from a political perspective. It eschews the external authority of leads and specifications for adherence to an evolving set of shared understandings and shared goals. The developers perform well because they are performing "naturally". They are doing what they do best in an environment that is supportive of them. That's Anarchy (with the capital A) in a nutshell.
Unfortunately Anarchy is probably a lost cause at the macro scale, but in smallish groups it has a huge amount of potential and is directly aligned with buzzword compliant terms of the day like emergence, complexity theory, systems theory and can probably even be rolled back to intersect with ideas such as AutoPoesis.
So I wonder if there are threads of connection that we can draw between extremist political theory (and history), systems theory and discussions of collaboration. Even if the threads prove ephemeral the exploration will probably be productive.