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See how the concept of cooperation possible differs from Collaboration.


From the Wikipedia:

"Cooperation or co-operation is the process of working or acting together, which can be accomplished by both intentional and non-intentional agents. In its simplest form it involves things working in harmony, side by side, while in its more complicated forms, it can involve something as complex as the inner workings of a human being or even the social patterns of a nation. It is the alternative to working separately in competition. Cooperation can also be accomplished by computers, which can handle shared resources simultaneously, while sharing processor time." (

Robert Axelrod on the 3 Necessary Conditions for Cooperation

Howard Rheingold=

Summary by Howard Rheingold of:

In The Evolution of Cooperation, written in 1984!, Robert Axelrod suggests there are three necessary conditions for people to cooperate with each other.

1. A likelihood of meeting in the future

If people don’t think they’ll meet again in the future, there are no repercussions for not cooperating. Threats of not cooperating are of no use. People will act selfish if there is no future to the relationship. Therefore, the knowledge of future meetings changes our behavior because we feel some level of impending accountability for our actions.

2. An ability to identify each other

Identity is really important for cooperation because it allows us to know who we’re dealing with. If people can’t identify who they’re dealing with, then they can’t hold that person accountable. This doesn’t mean that we have to know everything about the person, like their address and where they live, it means that they are identified as a person to the system they’re in and the people they’re dealing with.

3. A record of past behavior

We have learned to assume that the best way to judge future behavior is by looking at past behavior. Thus having a positive record of behavior leads to cooperation. eBay’s seller ratings are a great example of this in action. Sellers accumulate status over time as they do business on the site. Sellers who have a rich transaction history with a high percentage of positive transactions are much more likely to be successful than those with no history."

Harold Jarche

"What I find very interesting in these games of conditional reciprocity, direct and indirect reciprocity, we can make the point that winning strategies have the following three properties: they must be generous, hopeful and forgiving.

Generous in the following sense: if I have a new interaction, now I realize (and this is I think where most people go wrong) that this is not a game where it’s either the other person or me who is winning. Most of our interactions are not like a tennis game in the US Open where one person loses and one person goes to the next round. Most of our interactions are more like let us share the pie and I’m happy to get 49 percent, but the pie is not destroyed. I’m willing to make a deal, and sometimes I accept less than 50 percent. The worst outcome would be to have no deal at all. So in that sense, generous means I never try to get more than the other person. Tit-for-tat never wins in any single encounter; neither does Generous Tit-for-tat.

Hopeful is that if there is a new person coming, I start with cooperation. My first move has to be cooperation. If a strategy starts with defection, it’s not a winning strategy.

And forgiving, in the sense that if the other person makes a mistake, there must be a mechanism to get over this and to reestablish cooperation." (

Discussion: Cooperation vs. Collaboration

Stephen Downes:

"collaboration means ‘working together’. That’s why you see it in market economies. markets are based on quantity and mass.

cooperation means ’sharing’. That’s why you see it in networks. In networks, the nature of the connection is important; it is not simply about quantity and mass …

You and I are in a network - but we do not collaborate (we do not align ourselves to the same goal, subscribe to the same vision statement, etc), we *cooperate*" (

Additional Reading

The Origins of Virtue: