Collaboration: spatiotemporal movements, incommensurability and collective authored outcomes

Higher trust makes collaborations more smooth and effective and therefore also more cost-effective as Karen Armstrong claims (Kleiner 2002). To create a ‘trusted’ sense of place in only mediated environments is a challenge, which is why ‘being a witness’ and creating a ‘to be witnessed presence’ in mediated environments requires attention.

In social networking sites, like Facebook and Linkedin, the purpose is to connect people to other human beings and therefore these sites facilitate a witnessing and being witnessed around the clock and from all over the globe. The popularity of these sites proves that new configurations are being invented to connect natural and mediated presence to create a trusted sense of place in which people can witness each other, possibly testify and possibly act upon what they witness. The context these mediated environments offer (in addition to the platform they provide), appears to be the ‘being in relation with other human beings’ it self. It appears that people trust what they perceive on these sites for 100% (ten Kate 2009). The ‘neutrality’ of technology generates a great sense of trustworthiness even though most users are not even aware of license agreements to which they have agreed. People argue that the information about others is also to be trusted because all information links to real life situations, networks, cultures and people. Any untruth would surface easily because of this (ten Kate 2009).
In professional realms, be it in geographically distributed teams of collaboration or not, technologies play a crucial role in the work processes and new configurations between on- and offline work are being invented (Vasileiadou 2009). As a result, how and when to meet in real life, in natural presence, has become a choice. In collaborations a significant hurdle to over come between the participants involved is incommensurability, the fundamental not sharing of an understanding. Thomas Kuhn has been studying this phenomenon extensively. To be able to interact, Kuhn argues, members of the community have to share certain concepts or no interaction is possible (Kuhn 2000). Collaborating actors share terrains of commensurability and also terrains of incommensurability, otherwise they can not collaborate. Witnessing the presence of others informs about the identity of others and these identities are, among other things, formed by conceptual schemes as well as by the spatiotemporal trajectories that are identified (Kuhn 2000). To be able to recognize spatiotemporal trajectories of other participants is a requirement ‘tuning’ participant’s presence’s, which is necessary for tackling incommensurability and being able to interact. However, identifying spatiotemporal trajectories in mediated presence is very different from identifying spatiotemporal trajectories in natural presence. To mediate nuances of spatiotemporal trajectories of enacted beings is difficult and may even be impossible. Just as the sense for well-being and survival is difficult to mediate since it is highly context dependent and context can hardly be mediated at all (Nevejan2007). Therefore the conclusion can be drawn that when issues of ethical nature are at stake, when questions are asked about what is good to do and what is beneficial for life, people have to meet in natural presence. Only in natural presence the shared sense of what is good for well-being and survival can be ‘collectively authored’ in such a way that all stakeholders will base their future acts on the ‘collectively authored outcomes’ that have been agreed upon (Humphries & Jones 2006).