I’ve chosen “Collaboration” as my topic, and I’ll be examining it from the point of view of Biology and Sociology.
For the sake of this assignment, I’m using collaboration to mean co-operation to achieve some aim – Whether that is the production or something or simply survival. On the web, such collaboration is the basis of Wikipedia, open source software, films (via the blender foundation) and even the technical standards that we use to engineer the web (via the W3C, RFCs, IEEE etc.)
Collaboration is exhibited, in various ways, by numerous organisms. From swarming organisms like ants or termites, to complex colonies of specialised organisms that appear to form a single unit, like the Portuguese Man o’ War. The majority of my research will focus on Ecology, as this is the branch of biology that deals with interactions between organisms and their environment, but I’m not averse to stepping into other areas of Biology (to explore, for instance, the theory that some cell organelles such as Mitochondria started off as distinct micro-organisms).
Collaboration is governed by social interactions. In the case of ants these interactions are explained (or at least studied) by Biology, but in the case of humans these interactions are more thoroughly explained by the study of society, sociology. In fact, the mere existence of something that we term “society” is the result of the collaboration of individuals.
I’ve put together an initial reading list, that will hopefully give me a better idea of where to go next. I’ve included the library shelf numbers, for my own benefit.
Approaching sociology : a critical introduction - Coulson, Margaret Anne. (HM 51 COU)
Sociology – Giddens, Anthony. (HM 51 GID)
An introduction to evolutionary ecology – Cockburn, Andrew
Ecology : from individuals to ecosystems - Begon, Michael. (QH 541 BEG)
Ecology - Krebs, Charles J. (QH 541 KRE)