In trying to gain some understanding of collaboration patterns, I came across an interesting article that proposes a layered ontology or model of collaboration that reconciles the many ideas on collaboration patterns expressed elsewhere.

Towards an ontology of collaboration patterns proposes a “collaboration stack” which clarifies the relationship of collaboration patterns to collaborative services and to the underlying communication technologies.

The collaboration stack shown below identifies the various levels of abstraction, ranging from abstract collaboration patterns to collaborative services and communication technologies.

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An example of how this might work is given below. Each layer directly makes use of the patterns from the adjacent lower layer. 

The top layer reflects Aldo de Moor’s categorization of collaboration patterns into Goal, Communication, Information, Task, and Meta-patterns. The lowest layers, “collaboration services” represent the facilities and technical underpinnings which enable collaboration.

Reductio Defaultum is a pattern in which a “Plan A” is selected as a default, and then discussion/argument takes place to determine the best plan. If none can be agreed upon by a deadline, Plan A takes effect.

Although it looks to me as if this is still a very preliminary organization of concepts, it gives us some useful tools to describe and plan collaborations.

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