I think this question has been on my mind more and more as I consider how I aggregate information and how I make sense of all of the information I receive. I wondered whether it was the action of collaborating that allowed me to "make sense" irrespective of who I was talking to. However I think collaboration at times is complex until I establish a true connection.
Right now I am at the point where I can state that I need a sense of "connectedness" in order to ensure I making sense of information and collaboration. To clarify this further:
The connections we participate in form our identities. We – you, I – know what our networks know in some form or another.
To quote George Siemens (a guru in connectivism in education):
"Every expression and viewpoint is a point of connection, every moment of transparent learning is a moment of teaching others and when we make our learning transparent, we become educators."
To me a community or group is defined by its connections – how people are connected to each other and to the world outside it. Relationships are tight-knit. Social groups, whatever the setting (business, school, volunteer etc) are all part of our social networks, providing a shaping influence on possible connections we draw between concepts, information sources, world views, and even other people.
To me collaboration is complex, if there is no connection. Once there is connectedness, the collaboration loses its complexity despite the system it exists in.
I need to continue to ruminate on this but in the complex systems we work and live in I firmly believe collaboration is not enough. The forming of connections is vital if education and learning is to take place.