Over at TED is a talk from 2005 by Clay Shirky about Institutions vs. collaboration. It is a very interesting talk about how closed groups and companies will give way to looser networks. Clay talks about institutions compared to collaboration, like Microsoft versus Linux. He shows the graphs behind the 80-20 rule, few contribute a lot and many contribute very little. Still, the small contributions can be very valuable.
Clay mentions Flickr and their tagging feature that makes it easy to find photos on a topic regardless of who uploaded that photo.
Clay also talks about Meetup, with the tag line Meetup Groups meet face-to-face to pursue hobbies, network, get support, make friends, find playgroups, and how that system is used as a tool for stay at home moms to create a real life social network.
This was originally posted at Forty Plus Two, another blog of mine.