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Small world eh?

October 28, 2013

The idea of using the Internet for collaborative projects has been kicking about for quite a while now. What may have started with cumbersome email communications and long-winded FTP’ing for file sharing has since been streamlined with a whole heap of developments. For some years I’ve been using both Google Drive and Dropbox for sharing large files, particularly on audio mixing and mastering projects. It’s so much easier to put versions of mixes in a Dropbox folder and await feedback from the client, rather than burn them onto CD and pop them in the post! Since version 10.3 my DAW of choice ProTools has had the ‘share with Gobbler or Soundcloud’ feature making it even easier for individuals to work collaboratively on big sessions (Sound on Sound, 2013). Google’s Calendar feature can also be a useful tool by organizing timelines for working groups and keeping collaborative projects on track.

Collaborative mapping takes the idea of working together to the next level and is “an initiative to collectively create models of real-world locations online, that people can then access and use to virtually annotate locations in space” (Gillavry, 2013). They enable us to create a virtual reality made up of points of interest relevant to our professional field or area of academic research. A quick introduction to collaborative mapping by Eyal Sela (2009) can be found here. Perhaps most significantly Sela adds that the disparate nature of Internet-based global working can be eased with “shared, collaborative maps [which] can improve the perception of proximity by creating a visualization of all the team members’ location”.  With everything in one place the world just got smaller.

A collaborative map can be a vehicle for getting your own research ‘out there’ and also a tool for hooking up with other researchers and professionals in your field or other disciplines. The idea being that it nurtures “processes and methods that integrate people, spatial data, exploratory tools, and structured discussions for planning, problem-solving and decision-making” (Balram & Dragićević, 2006). As my own project grows a collaborative map with points of interest including people researching the same area (both students & teachers), participants for listening tests, locations for testing and leading academics in the field would provide a one-stop visual map of everything relevant to my study.

As part of the #iCollab community, group members are able to visualize each other’s location on a world map and zoom in, instantly accessing contact information, blog addresses, LinkedIn details, areas of study, etc. The whole idea is one of sharing – either collaboration in the same field, or cross discipline hook-ups. There are no longer boundaries, as the Internet, mapping tools and social media have rubbed them all out.  We are only ever a few clicks away from another researcher, academic or professional anywhere in the world who may have shared interests and want to collaborate. The way we are learning is changing and the possibilities are endless.

Below: Google map showing the members and locations of the #iCollab community


Variation on a theme: The future of learning in a networked society


Online Maps: 50+ Tools and Resources

Robin Good’s best online collaboration tools


Balram, S & Dragićević, S. 2006. Collaborative Geographic Information Systems. Retrieved 26th October 2013, from

Gillavy, E. 2013. Collaborative mapping. Retrieved 27th October 2013, from

Sela, E. 2009. How To Create Shared Collaborative Google Maps. Retrieved 28th October 2013, from

Sound on Sound. 2013. A Project Shared…Pro Tools Tips & Techniques. Retrieved 28th October 2013, from

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  1. Online Collaboration pt. 2 | iwebsteraudio

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