Wiki Art: collective works in search of an author?

June 8, 2010

Crowd, photo par James Cridland

One of the characteristics of Web 2.0 as described by Tim O’Reilly is its “hackability”: sites, services and applications are built by successive strokes, by continuously rearranging existing bricks. This is the spirit of mash-ups (aggregation of content from other sources) or applications using other web services’ API (Google Maps, Twitter, etc..)

This trend is not only technical, it is behavioral. It has an impact on various aspects of life, including art. The Los Angeles Times provides a good analysis of this in their article “Essay: Technology changes how art is created and perceived”.

The article relies on several examples. One of them is the Johnny Cash project . It is a tribute to Johnny Cash  on which Web users are invited to collectively build a video clip for the song “Ain’t No Grave”. Participants can submit a drawing for each frame of the video and / or vote for their favorite designs.The result of this process of collective creation (crowdsourcing) will be the final clip.

Another example is Reality Hunger , a book by David Shields, made as a collage of 600 fragments from other books.

The phenomenon of “remix” or enhancements of existing works has gained an unprecendented momentum. True, works inspired by earlier pieces of art are not new.  Pop art has extensively used this creative process, with Andy Warhol or Lichtenstein, for example.  But until now a person was at work, crafted the overall plan, provided a direction, an intent.  It is still the case with Reality Hunger.  But will the sum of thousands of  uncoordinated edits in an initiative such as the Johnny Cash project result in a coherent piece of art? If so, it will not necessarily be anonymous (participants can register a user name) but it will be apersonal if not impersonal ; it will be a one thousand contributors work without an author. Unless we suggest that this collectivity of users  is driven by an invisible hand, a metaphysical collective being,  and that the final work reflects a person transcending the multitude …


An introductory course to artificial neural networks

May 27, 2010

Is it still accurate to talk about “emerging countries” when we can see that the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur can produce videos of such a quality ?

Prof.S. Sengupta, Department of Electronics and Electrical Communication Engineering, IIT Kharagpur

More videos: National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning

Wikiloan, social network for peer-to-peer lending

March 6, 2010

Will the world of finance be shaken by new business models induced by the cooperative phenomenon, as it happened for music, movies and the press? At least, P2P banking and lending are unquestionably on the rise. The latest news in this market comes from WikiLoan, a P2P lending platform that plays the social network card. Just like on Twitter, you can post there short messages, follow contacts and be followed. But the main goal of the site is to allow members to lend to and borrow from each other. You can apply for a loan or conversely lend money in various categories: debt consolidation, education, home improvement, organizing events, etc.. The borrower and the lender can agree on the rate and repayment terms. The site makes its revenues from different types of commissions such as flat fees or percentages on lent amounts.

In April, WikiLoan will launch a new offer: the distribution of prepaid phone cards and other cards to pay for small purchases. This offer mainly targets people excluded from the traditional banking system, that is to say an average 28 million people in the United States. They will be able to buy cards in up to 20,000 small local shops around the US. In other words, WikiLoan is progressively building a click-and-mortar social network for P2P lending , relying on virality to extend its share of market.

Intellectual technologies

July 14, 2009

Yesterday, serendipity brought me from my research on artificial intelligence to the expression “intellectual technologies”, quoted by Nicholas Carr in a recent article. Nicholas Carr explains that this expression was used by sociologist Daniel Bell to describe the tools we humans have developed to increase our mental abilities: reading, writing, calculation, to name only a few. Behaviorist approaches such as organization methods, communication and group interaction practices are other examples, I think.

These approaches have to be learnt. They may become a “second nature” but they are not instinctive, the way language is. We are not genetically designed to read, calculate or interact smoothly in groups.

Yet, it is striking to see that reading and writing have become so intricate in us that they seem quite natural, at least for those who were happy enough to get an education. (True, there is still work ahead before this applies to all people in all countries.)

What if technologies aiming at improving attitudes and social interaction were broadly taught in schools and colleges ?  Should not they be part of every graduate’s ABC ?

In my opinion, they should be a part of what everyone gets to learn at school. There is no doubt that studying books like “Getting things done” (David Allen), The Evolution of cooperation (Robert Axelrod) ou “How to win friends and influence people” (Dale Carnegie) would be as useful and beneficial as studying algebra and literature.

5 reasons why you should be present on several professional social networks

June 20, 2009

In recent years, professional social networks have become mainstream: Linkedin, Viadeo, Xing, to name only the most famous ones. Having an account in several of them seems to be synonymous with a lot of work. You need to update your profile on each and everyone of them and manage various networks of contacts. Is it worth it ?

I think it is a great opportunity for your career and you should seize it for 5 main reasons.

1. Each network has a special focus
2. Creativity pays in the use of online social networks
3. Online networking should be a task with a time allowed to it
4. Online networking is a mid-term investment
5. Social networks are mostly free
Read the rest of this entry »

Cooperation or collaboration ?

June 14, 2009

Why call this blog Cooperatics and not “Collaboratics” ? Both words, cooperation and collaboration, include the same notions: action and a sense of collectivity. Yet the two terms are not synonymous. First, their ethymology is not the same. Collaboration comes from the Latin “laborare” which means “work hard”, while cooperation comes from “opera”, which means “work, activity”. So this term does not have the same connotation of hardship as collaboration.

Besides, collaboration does not imply an individual desire to take part in a common work, while this desire is at the root of cooperation. Collaboration mostly takes place within a structure, and requires an overall plan, which is not needed in cooperation.

In the end, cooperation requires the free participation of individuals to a common work, because they have a personal interest in this participation. It is distinguished mainly by the fact that the person that cooperates brings his/her creativity. Much more than collaboration, cooperation features the concepts of interpersonal network and self-organization.


May 21, 2009

I am starting a new topic on this blog, called The Cooperation Lexicon. It aims at focussing on specific terms, explaining and discussing them, as well as providing examples.

Today, let’s study co-creation.

Co-creation is a process in which an organization creates, in a cooperative mode, with its partners or customers:

  • a product or a service
  • a marketing campaign
  • new concepts

Co-creation is most visible at the time of innovation. When French bank Caisse d’Epargne gives a free hand to youngsters to imagine a new credit card design, co-creation operates in this way: the bank is setting up the contest, provides voting tools, while young people contribute online ; at the end of the day, there is a new product, a freshly designed credit card.

But co-creation can also be a part of a brand’s personality, not only during the creative process, but on a daily basis, because it is deeply rooted in its offer. Take Ikea, for instance. Their consumers co-create the store chain’s offer by getting their items themselves in the stock and bringing them home in their own cars, thus allowing lower prices. The same is true for Amazon: readers’ opinions and comments are one of the main key success factors of the site. Of course, competitors have copied Amazon, but the brand keeps improving the co-creation with the readers, just because it is part of the brand’s identity.

Co-creation does have limits. For a consumer, being a part of it takes time. It is crucial that the company provides the right tools, especially interactive tools, so that co-creation be a pleasant experience. It is also key that the questions asked to or the tasks requested from the customers be clear enough. Indeed, it is very difficult for a consumer to answer questions like: “what do you want ?” or “how should we design our next product?”.  It is often more efficient to show consumers creative drafts to comment on. This is typically what French public transportation company RATP does with its participatory website. Another important issue is benefit sharing. When a consumer co-creates with a company, he/she brings their creativity and sometimes their work. It is just fair that the company acknowledges it some way or other, for instance with prizes or VIP events.

Collaborative encyclopedias’ convergence ?

February 1, 2009

While Wikipedia continues to be the leader on the market of collaborative encyclopedias, it is no longer unchallenged. Other initiatives have emerged, like Citizendium and more recently Knol. In some ways, the fact that these new projects have been unable so far to compete significantly with Wikipedia is an additional clue that WP’s model is a success. Several reasons can explain why Wikipedia remains number one:

  • it can benefit from years of experience and content accumulation
  • it is very well indexed by Google
  • the media have covered Wikipedia extensively for years
  • Wikipedia is fun and enjoyable to use

In my opinion, the “fun factor” is the main reason why Wikipedia leads. No other project so far has managed to create the same excitement and sense of community. Yet, what I have found striking during the past few weeks is that the ideological divide between the various collaborative projects has shrunk . While Britannica has opened the door to user participation, Wikipedia is discussing the possibility of moderation on some articles edited by non-registered users (flagged revisions). The production and sharing of knowledge using wikis decidedly remains a very exciting subject. Larry Sanger’s recent post about this lists numerous areas of research on wiki knowledge and governance  and provides an interesting basis for discussion.

Howard Rheingold’s tips on making value out of Twitter

August 9, 2008
clipped from
Tuning and Feeding: My best practices for getting the most out of Twitter
by Howard Rheingold
I think successful use of Twitter means knowing how to tune the network of people you follow, and how to feed the network of people who follow you.
You have to tune who you follow. I mix friends who I know IRL and whose whereabouts and doings interest me, people who are amusing
, people who are knowledgeable about a field that interests me
, people who regularly produce URLs that prove useful
, extraordinary educators
When it comes to feeding my network, that comes down to putting out the right mixture of personal tweets
, informational tidbits
, self promotion
, socializing, and answering questions. It’s particularly important to respond to people
I also try to be a little entertaining once in a while
you have to spend some time tuning and feeding if Twitter is going to be more than an idle amusement to you and your followers (and idle amusement is a perfectly legit use of the medium).
  blog it

A definition of community

June 13, 2008

Martin Roulleaux Dugage provides a very interesting definition of a community versus a network or a group. A community is a network that has decided to auto-organize by adopting 6 attributes:

  • a frontier
  • You are whether in or out the community

  • a reason of being
  • Why do we decide to stick together in the first place ? What meaning does it have ?

  • a commitment
  • Community members are committed to achieve something. In that respect, for instance, active Wikipedians form a community, since they edit articles and create new ones on a regular basis.

  • rules
  • Community is no jungle. Social interactions are governed by a set of rules, or an etiquette.

  • a language
  • Community members share words. It can be a jargon. At any rate, it helps them communicate and create a feeling of belonging.