6 best books on social collaboration – A recommended reading list

books on social collaboration

The moment we hear the term ‘social collaboration’ what comes to our mind is people interacting and sharing to achieve common goals. That is correct.  But little do we understand that this simple behavior has deep roots in the very survival and evolution of the human species.

Not withstanding, the Twitter wars of  our world leaders.

Social collaboration is multi disciplinary in nature and involves in good measure, disciplines as diverse as Sociology, Cognitive Psychology, Computers, Mathematics and Ethnography to name a few.

In most of the cases it is viewed from an enterprise perspective, but we should not forget that our immediate surroundings, the environment where we live and work and our upbringing have a huge impact in the way we interact and share with others. There is diversity.

Needless to say that it is the social behavior that we exhibit in our personal lives is what we bring it to our professional lives as well. How much of this diversity is respected and accepted as part of an inclusive development within an organization and the society at large remains to be seen.

I have always emphasized that social collaboration is art as well as science. The following books give us a good starting point to understand as well as a first hand account of the experiences of thought leaders and examples from industry practitioners.  Just like in other fields, to excel in it we need to practice it.

Please excuse me. I have not provided direct links to the book author’s site nor to any online store. Lets do our bit on the online search.

Book 1: Social collaboration for Dummies

This book cannot be understated. Dummies as a book brand with its various titles and subject topics provides for simple reading with friendly instructions. The book series serves as a great reference book for starters and learners. It has around 2500 titles under its kitty.

‘Social collaboration for dummies’ written by David Carr details how social collaboration and social networking can be applied and put in place within an organization context for achieving organizational goals. Specifically, it looks at

1. How to introduce social collaboration practices in workplaces.
2. How to transform an organization into a social business.
3. The book also presents case studies and best practice examples of adopting social collaboration and creating a learning environment.

This is a good book for anyone looking to understand how social collaboration can be used to enhance productivity, innovation and creativity within the workplace.

Book 2: The social life of information

The book is written by John Seely and Paul Duguid. John Seely was the former chief scientist at Xerox corporation and Paul Duguid is the professor at UC Berkerly school of information.

The book argues that increased digitization cannot necessarily give us a better future. Organizations need to rethink the how information is shared within organizations and not follow the tunnel vision methodologies of the technology enthusiasts.

This book gives us a solid grounding as to how information needs to be managed, shared and the business practices that need to be followed in a business context. Though it is written in the year 2000, the principles stand relevant even today.

Harvard University reprinted it in 2002. Undoubtedly one of the best books for social collaboration.

Book 3:  Wealth of networks – How social production transforms markets and freedom

The book was written by Yochai Benkler in 2006. The book received critical acclaim and is unarguably one of the best books for social collaboration in our modern day internet society. Yochai Benkler is a Harvard Law school Professor.

In his book, he argues that we stand in transition phase as internet produces enormous amount of information as we share and interact. Our sharing of information presents a huge opportunity to reshape the markets, enhance our individual freedom, recognize and accept our cultural diversity and lastly our perspectives on political discourse and justice.  A though provoking book at that.

You can also read one of blog posts on the Wealth of Networks and Yochai Benkler- How internet’s social ties bonds us together.

Book 4:  HBR’s 10 must reads on Collaboration

Harvard Business review’s best collection of articles on collaboration. A must have for industry practitioners and technology enthusiasts as well. The book was printed in 2013. All the articles in the book emphasize on how to work collaboratively not only within your teams but also outside the departments.

The articles provide strong advice and insights on how to move away from silos, have good relationships with fellow colleagues, sharing knowledge and fostering a collaborative environment and culture within an organization.

Book 5: The Tipping Point – How little things can make a big difference

This book was written by Malcolm Gladwell and illuminates the concept of ‘Critical mass’. Once an idea or a trend reaches a certain point (Tipping point) it just spreads like wildfire. This book is an acclaimed best seller and spread like wildfire. It changed the world’s thinking on how ideas get diffused.

The book explains most of the everyday life sociological changes and how they spread in an connected world. He analyses a host of areas from smoking, fashion,Television, email and infectious diseases. The book gives a fundamental understanding on how world works in spreading information from a sociological standpoint.  Good read.

Book 6:  Networks, Crowds and Markets – Reasoning about a highly connected world

This is one of the good books for social collaboration and looks at it from an interdisciplinary angle. Written by David Easley and Jon Kleinberg both are from Cornell University.

If you are technical oriented and want to understand the details, then this book is for you. Though they have positioned it as a introductory book, it provides a solid understanding and in-depth view of how networks operate, the concept of incentives and how aggregate behavior works. Also an indepth view of an epidemic spreads, information spread in a financial crisis, the graph theory and the interconnection of links of the WWW.

The rise of Google,  Social networks and validity of the Wisdom of Crowds are the other areas. It is worth understanding the concepts from a networks stand point.

And there’s two more

Give and take – Why helping others drives our success. Written by Adam Grant.

Connected – The surprising power of social networks and how they shape our lives. Written by Nicholas A Christakis and James H Fowler.

If you think there are others that need to be included, let me know or you can comment below.


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Ramkumar Yaragarla

I am 43 years old. Founder, Loving dad and Husband. Worked as an IT Business analyst and program manager in several Fortune 100 companies.Alumnus at the University of Warwick, UK. I love the WWW and write on Social aspects of information, Social collaboration, Digital Sociology, Digital Humanities and Work life balance. I enjoy playing on the beach with my 9 year old daughter. I am open to your suggestions and comments.
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