Collaborative vs Social

Posting collaboratively and posting socially are not the same thing. If you’ve ever been frustrated trying to collaborate using a social network, this writeup may help explain why, and offer some tips on how to move forward.

Interacting in different contexts

When posting to a social network, if you are too focused on a single ongoing interest people might find you boring. When collaborating online, if you are frequently off topic people might find you unhelpful. Understanding this key contextual difference is the foundation for interacting effectively.

Posting content about an ongoing interest to your social networks can sometimes be good. Inviting social friends to collaborate online can sometimes be good. Socially posting too much specialized information, or inviting friends who are less invested is typically not good. If you understand how collaborative and social contexts are different, you can actively decide when it is appropriate to bridge from one context to the other.

Optimally, your collaboration space should be separate from your social net. Using the right app for what you are doing makes posting in each context straightforward. Using the right app also makes it easy to manage how you interact with your friends and collaboration colleagues. A separate collaboration space augments your existing social sharing, streamlines your collaboration, and keeps expected interactions obvious.

An example

For illustration purposes, let’s say you have an ongoing interest in reef preservation, and you have set up a theme for that on

Now suppose you run across an interesting article about how a school has partnered with their local aquarium to learn more about why reef ecosystems are important. You think this article is worth remembering because it could be useful as a model for other programs. As you are saving the membic, you consider sharing it to your social network but decide not to because most of your social followers would probably not find it interesting enough.

A week later, you hear about an amazing voluntourism opportunity where you can learn about marine biology and do a lot of diving. Fun combined with learning combined with doing some good! Definitely worth remembering, so you make a membic. Definitely worth collaborative remembering, so you post it through to your membic theme. Definitely worth sharing since it would be great if lots of people signed up for it. So as you make the membic, you also click to tweet it. Your Twitter account is set up to post through to other social nets, so that gets the word out pretty well with just one click.

After another week, and more membics, you decide to invite your dive buddy as a contributor to your membic theme. Your dive buddy uses different social media, but she’s excited about collaborating. By reading each others membics, you each expand your knowledge. Together you grow the membic theme into something bigger than anything either of you could have done individually. To mark your dive buddy’s first membic post, you share the membic theme on all your social networks to let people know about it as a great source of information.

After a while you and your buddy, and some new members, build an impressive collaborative memory through the membic theme even though you use different social media. You each decide individually what to share socially and where. Separating your collaboration and social contexts gets you the best of both worlds.

Collaborative vs Social

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