"collective genius" is sort of a conflicting concept. genius is an
exclusive "post" and usually used for individuals, no need to mention
what collective is. maybe there is need to expand upon the nature and
various definitions of collectivity first. some concepts that come to
- integration (staying as an individual but maximize sharing, help. some
social networking tools of the web2 concept are good examples; but i do
not mean anything like facebook since it is full of ads and therefore
highly commercial, i rather mean independent blogging activity which
usually does not involve ads and is a great opportunity for creating
personal histories as alternatives to "heroic" institutional histories
written by the states)
- distribution (scattering power centralizations around the world and
trying to avoid concentration on very few focal points; e.g. google as
the hegemonical and the almost sole search engine / information source)
- foster unforeseeability and serendipity as opposed to predictability
and preventability in social, political, cultural cases (taking
databases, sampling, statistics not so seriously and treat anything with
a novel and contextual approach to avoid biases). social databases are
collective but most of the time used by individual sources to improve
individual profit (scientific, medical, educational and similar
databases are exceptions, of course)
- anonimity is a notion that is to disappear soon unfortunately. a lot
of enterprises, products, ideas, designs, theories, formulas are titled,
named, credited, patented, copyrighted, reserved, registered, branded,
etc. such registration is not highly compatible with the notion of
collectivity since only a person, company, institution, etc. collects
the profit. sometimes we learn that this person, company, institution
was not the first, original creator of the idea; it/he/she just acted
more quickly than others in a canny way. what about the tales,
traditions, habits, stories, rites, rituals, ceremonies, etc.? nobody
feels like paying for them, they are the "free" tools but a lot of
people charge money for the supposedly "new" ideas that are based on
these anonymous experiences. what about nature? we continue to destroy,
exploit, abuse it but nobody pays a fee for this...
On 12.08.2009 13:02, Simon Biggs wrote:
> Hi Roger
> I think the open source software movement is an excellent example of
> collective creativity. It is interesting that this and other similar ways of
> working and creating have developed. There is a zeitgeist which seems to
> continue to gain momentum, a social understanding.
> Distributed agency is clearly linked to this and as we develop more powerful
> technologies that function to augment our capacity to perceive or act upon
> the world the better we understand that agency need not be, nor has ever
> been, restricted to the human. I am not familiar with Mayer-Schonberg¹s work
> but find the insight that most peer to peer work is incremental in character
> interesting. That has not been my own experience of collective working
> (committee drafting of a policy document is another example), where sweeping
> changes can occur to how a document or other artefact is structured and
> oriented. This capacity for paradigm shifts in collective working is one of
> the more exciting outcomes of learning to see with other¹s eyes. The kind of
> working that Mayer-Schonberg describes sounds less like intensive collective
> activity and more like networked individual activity which of course is a
> completely valid way of working but is very different.
> You mention models of working employed in business and industry. As you are
> aware, these models have found their way into and have been further
> augmented within other large scale institutional contexts, such as
> education. A lot of research today involves numerous individuals and
> departments across diverse institutions, often in different countries,
> working together on complex problems. How the work is organised is critical
> to its success and an important part of such work is determining which
> organisational model will be employed. It is a matter of finding those
> structures and methods most likely to deliver against the aims of the
> project. Many research teams now incorporate experts in such processes, from
> anthropology, psychology, economics and other relevant areas.
> The eMobil-art project you describe sounds like an example of this type of
> working that could have benefitted from the involvement of such an expert.
> You are aware of the art/science collaborations that Arts Council England
> and the Arts and Humanities Research Council initiated in the early 2000¹s.
> I had been involved in a number of similar initiatives like this over the
> years and what made this particular series of projects interesting and
> successful was the role played by expert facilitators who were embedded in
> the the trans-disciplinary research teams. This did cost money but the
> outcomes more than justified it. As a result of the confidence built in
> those early experiments in placing a few artists in research environments
> there is now an annual programme of such publicly funded projects across the
> UK. Numerous artists and scientists have benefitted from the opportunity to
> work together in an environment that is supportive and able to focus
> appropriately on the aims of each project. That applicants to the programme,
> from all sides, have to articulate from the outset how they will organise
> their work and what methods they will employ, justified against their stated
> aims and objectives, helps here. However, this highly calculated way of
> working does not suit everyone, at least all the time. It might be nice if a
> higher tolerance was set to allow for productive failure. Research/practice
> should be fun and the open source model does seem to sustain this option.
> Simon Biggs
> Research Professor
> edinburgh college of art
> AIM/Skype: simonbiggsuk
> From: roger malina<firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Reply-To: YASMIN DISCUSSIONS<email@example.com>
> Date: Mon, 10 Aug 2009 14:32:45 -0700
> To: YASMIN DISCUSSIONS<Yasmin_discussions@estia.media.uoa.gr>
> Subject: [Yasmin_discussions] collective genius
> in your critiques of the concept of genius you state:
> I do not think there is such a thing as genius. As I have already
> I have a lot of time for Newton's idea of team-work.
> I regard individuality as a contingent characteristic, preferring the
> Foucauldian notion of the distributed self or Latour's of expanded and
> diffused agency. In these models the individual is regarded as an instance
> of the collective and enabled through that context, drawing on and defined
> by the resources within and without them (there is no notion of an essential
> or irreducible self .
> A contemporary example of diffused agency/distributed self is found of
> in open source software development groups. Many of us think of
> open source software development as a source of innovation and creativity
> as compared to commercial development or very institutionalised contexts
> but a recent article by Viktor Mayer=Schonberg in Science on
> Can We Re Invent the Internet
> he points out that in general social network topologies are not
> conducive to radical innovation- and he suggests that the value
> of a 'node''s value in a social network is not proporitional to the
> number of links (facebookers beware) but the connections to
> disparate groups=which span 'structural holes' and enable
> radical approaches= he argues that much peer produced code
> is rarely altered except in an incremental manner= he suggests
> that one needs to create incentives to form network structures
> that, structurally, stimulate and enable innovation-and he suggests
> some prescriptions
> its an interesting thought that the actual 'structure' of the network
> of a collaboration can in itself determine whether the collaboration
> is inventive, and can make radical non incremental innovation
> but it also higlights how even in team work, individuals can play
> key roles in enabling radical innovation by a group= there are
> organisational geniuses ?
> which brings me to Nina Yankowitz comments on the emobilart
> collaboration groups:- have added my comments in CAPS
> Nina says:
> As an emobilart participant>> list some of my thoughts re:
> collaborative projects / establishing good conditions for problem
> 1. Inviting prospective participants - distributing details of all
> participants proposals and profiles at least one month in advance of
> meeting, to ponder, can better prepare invited collaborators to make
> efficient choices when deciding with whom to collaborate.
> ONE OF THE STRENGTHS OF EMOBILART WAS THAT THE COLLABORATORS DID NOT
> KNOW EACH OTHER
> BEFORE THE FIRST WORKSHOP WHEN THE COLLABORATION TEAMS FORMED= BUT THE
> LIMITED AMOUNT OF TIME INDEED MADE THE GROUP FORMATION PROCESS PERHAPS
> NOT AS GOOD AS IT COULD BE=AT THE SAME
> TIME THE FACT THAT MOST OF THE GROUPS WERE ABLE TO COMPLETE A PROJECT=
> TESTIFIES TO THE POWER OF THE COLLABORATION IMAGINATION DRIVE !
> 2. Clearly establishing a non-hierarchal relationship between all
> participants and organizers, with special attention to this when
> participants from each category are creating and exhibiting in the
> same project.
> I THINK WE WOULD AGREE THAT WE DIDNT THINK ENOUGH AHEAD OF TIME ABOUT
> THE COLLABORATION
> BETWEEN THE ORGANISERS THEMSELVES AND BETWEEN THE ORGANISERS/CURATORS
> AND THE ARTISTS.
> PERHAPS A RECOMMENDATION WOULD TO DO ACTUAL TRAINING IN COLLABORATIVE
> TECHNIQUES=THESE ARE WIDELY USED IN THE BUSINESS WORLD FOR INSTANCE=
> ACTUALLY TRAIN IN COLLABORATION TECHNIQUES
> 3. All members should, I believe, have equal access to all meetings
> about the projects and networking meetings too, equally sharing in the
> decision making process and the potential networking benefits that
> these meetings can provide.
> IN STRATEGIC ALLIANCE METHODOLOGY IN THE BUSINESS WORLD, IT IS KNOWN
> THAT ONE MUST ESTABLISH THE CLEARLY ARTICULATED VALUES AND
> METHODOLOGIES AHEAD OF TIME AND IN WRITING
> = IN EMOBILART WE LEARNED BY DOING WHICH IS HIGH RISK !
> 4. I do believe the future, as I think Roger is suggesting, is in
> collaborative pooling of resources.
> A CLEAR PROBLEM WAS THE HUGE AMOUNT OF DONATED AND CONTRIBUTED
> RESOURCES NEEDED TO COMPLETE THE PROJECTS. THE COLLABORATION TEAM
> ITSELF WAS GROSSLY UNDERFUNDED=BUT IF WE HAD
> SUBMITTED A PROPOSAL WITH THE TRUE COSTS IT PROBABLY WOULD NOT HAVE
> BEEN FUNDED. CATCH 22
> 5. Whether small or large groups - formations need structure,
> mutual clarification of goals, and how to best meet specific group
> needs. Assumptions about how projects may get funded by participants
> in respective groups can be problematic and would best be detailed
> within each. Also addressing how grants can / should be fairly
> disseminated if received when individuals apply for project funding
> and are awarded?
> PER MY DISCUSSION ABOVE RE OPEN SOURCE NETWORK STRUCTURES=YES=THE
> STRUCTURE CAN DETERMINE WHAT KINDS OF OUTCOMES ARE POSSIBLE
> 6. Personal aspects - Although numerous snags abound when initially
> cross-connecting myriad cultures, uncovering ingrained biases, intense
> egos that non-cyborgs nurture, that we all succumb - I found flying
> with my teams very valuable to my personal and spiritual growth and
> growth for the future of the planet in general. I look forward to
> THE INTERPERSONAL TENSIONS ARE PERHAPS PART OF THE CONTEXT OF CREATIVE
> FRICTION ? IT MIGHT
> HAVE BEEN USEFUL TO HAVE A GROUP SOCIOLOGIST OR PSYCHOLOGIST ON THE TEAM !!
> Nina (Yankowitz)
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