Research: Issues involving collaborative action

Howard Rheingold, a writer, artist, designer, theorist and community builder, talked about the power of collaboration and collective action in a 2005 TED talk. Collaboration is a natural instinct rooted in the human mind in order to work in a group. Rheingold covered the impacts of a collaborative mindset, from the ancient ages of hunting with a tribe, to building empires, to the digital era where Google is able to enrich itself by enriching others.

So, if collaborating is able to bring us such great things, why do we struggle to work with one another?

In the video, Rheingold discusses about The Prisoner’s Dilemma and The Tragedy of The Commons which are both tied to social dilemmas involved in collaboration.

The prisoner’s dilemma is a game theory that shows why two individuals might not cooperate with each other, even when it’s beneficial to do so.

These individuals would much rather pick an option which benefits themselves the most, rather than risking what they have to cooperate with the other person.

Similar to The Prisoner’s Dilemma, The Tragedy of The Commons is another theory about the issues involving open access. According to Investopedia (2016), it is an economic problem in which every individual tries to reap the most benefit from a resource that was given to them. In that case, the more an individual takes from the given resource, the less that are left for others to benefit from it.

Rheingold mentions that he wants to continue to explore and understand the forms of suffering that could be alleviated from these issues and what forms of wealth that be gained if we learn how to cooperate just a little bit more.


Rheingold, H., (2005). Howard Rheingold: The new power of collaboration. [online]. TED. Available at:

Agar, J., (2014). The Prisoner’s Dilemma. [online]. Youtube. Available at:

Agar, J., (2015). Tragedy of the Commons │ The Problem with Open Access. [online]. Youtube. Available at: 


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