Collaboration as Commodity: What does CSCW have to offer?
European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET)
CSCW as a research field has contributed to the development of digital tools and platforms to support collaboration. Historically, detailed studies of collaboration have played a central role in the development of theories in CSCW. Parties to collaboration have been the main actors, engaged in synchronous or asynchronous, co-located or distant collaboration. CSCW has often considered the platform, i.e., the place where data about collaboration is stored, as a neutral actor without own agency or agenda. This picture has however changed drastically with the recent emergence of digital labor platforms and data- driven business models. Digital labor platforms move the focus from collaborating actors to platform owners, from supporting collaboration to trading collaboration as commodity. In this paper, I attempt to describe this development from a CSCW perspective. I propose a way to re-frame existing knowledge to fit into the new paradigm of collaboration as commodity. I propose to use research from neighboring fields such as information systems to increase our impact as CSCW researchers. Finally, I discuss several research questions for CSCW. This is work in progress.