Everybody knows about network effects: the value of a network increases exponentially with the addition of each new node. (Metcalfe’s Law.)
Imagine what can happen if those nodes are people. Each new node gives them more opportunities to learn and to perform better. When people are actively pulling in learning resources rather than taking what’s pushed at them, the value of the network goes turbo, an effect the authors call the collaboration curve.
The evidence for the collaboration curve is, as yet, mostly anecdotal. But these curves may explain the rise of network-centric efforts ranging from open source software development to “crowdsourcing” to “networks of creation.” In nearly all of these group efforts, rapid leaps in performance improvement arise as participants get better faster by working with others. These leaps in performance describe the shape and power of the collaboration curve, a new force in our professional and personal lives that turns the experience curve on its side, and explains why the whole of us, working, playing, and, learning together, can often be greater than the sum of our parts.
This underpins Informal Learning 2.0. Learning is not like pouring knowledge into a pale; it’s like igniting a fire. A collaboration curve makes for a flammable learnscape.