Below is one of the few videos of the late sociologist Peter Kollock giving a lecture that I know of. It is a great example of Peter’s style: entertaining and rich with ideas and insights. The video captures Peter’s talk at Howard Rheingold’s Stanford class on “Literacy of Cooperation” – a review of computer-mediated collective action in Winter 2005. Peter speaks about strategies to avoid or resolve social dilemmas, covering the Tragedy of the Commons and Prisoner’s Dilemma situations, and applying these concepts to social media and Internet collective action.
A podcast from the Yi-Tan conference call was devoted to a discussion of Peter Kollock’s work.
If you know of additional videos of Peter, please send them my way! marc-at-connectedaction-dot-net
When the late Peter Kollock and I published Communities in Cyberspace with Routledge in 1999 there were few broadband connections, no iPhones, and little WiFi. Today, there is an ebook version of the book and Amazon sells a version for the Kindle, a device it was hard to even imagine when the book was written. Google lets you browse most of it and search all of it. But the key ideas of the volume: identity, interaction, collective action and emergent order remain relevant in a wireless broadband netbook mobile social network real-time web world. The book is now ten years old.
“Since 1993, computer networks have grabbed enormous public attention. The major news and entertainment media have been filled with stories about the “information superhighway” and of the financial and political fortunes to be made on it. Computer sales continue to rise and more and more people are getting connected to “the Net”. Computer networks, once an obscure and arcane set of technologies used by a small elite, are now widely used and the subject of political debate, public interest, and popular culture. The “information superhighway” competes with a collection of metaphors that attempt to label and define these technologies. Others, like “cyberspace,” “the Net,” “online,” and “the web,” highlight different aspects of network technology and its meaning, role and impact. Whichever term is used, it is clear that computer networks allow people to create a range of new social spaces in which to meet and interact with one another.”
Earlier in the year, in March 2009, many people gathered at De Neve Plaza at UCLA to remember Peter Kollock.
On Monday, September 14th, at 10:30 PST, I met on the phone with Jerry Michalski and other participants for one of his regular weekly Yi-tan conference calls to discuss the scholarship and personal legacy of Peter Kollock. In this podcast, I spoke about my years of working with Peter to apply the models of collective action dilemmas, common pool resources, cooperation, and conflict to the creation of Internet social institutions and resources. I discussed Peter’s work with his colleague Jodi O’Brien, and the lasting impact of his research into studies of cooperation, collective action, and common goods as well as his impact on students, business, and the field of social science. Jodi and Peter were colleagues and co-authors for many years, creating a widely used text The Production of Reality: Essays and Readings in Social Psychology as well as several other publications. I worked with Peter while studying for my Ph.D. at UCLA in Sociology. Peter and I wrote about the sociology of the Internet together and co-edited a book Communities in Cyberspace.
I will post a few links to some of Peter’s work that has had the most impact on me in upcoming posts.
I share the loss of Peter Kollock with the many people who knew him. Peter died Saturday after a motorcycle accident near his home. Many people in the social sciences and beyond have been influenced by Peter’s works of scholarship, teaching, mentorship, entreprenurship and friendship.
Peter had a big impact on his many students at UCLA and the larger academic community that built on his scholarship. A lecture from Peter was a great thing that left his audiences feeling both smarter and challenged with a whole new landscape of choices. Peter brought many people to a better appreciation of the issues of cooperation and conflict, collective action and common goods, of trust and deception in risky transactions. He made it clear how most of our biggest challenges on this planet are cooperation dilemmas. He gave many of his students the inspiration to think that conflicts could be resolved and cooperation sustained by leveraging insights from studies of these situations. His was the only class I ever took that proved mathematically that it paid to be good to other people, even if there were short term costs. He saw early on the importance of communication networks to change the landscape of cooperation and collective action. His scholarship extended to the very real world of high tech entrepreneurship- building tools for markets on the Internet.
My thoughts are with his family and friends who appreciate the great presence Peter had.
I am shocked by his loss and will miss him deeply.