PICNIC 08 – ‘We Think’ by Charles Leadbeater

On: September 24, 2008
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About Inge Ploum
- MA New Media @ University of Amsterdam - Research: mashing aesthetics and media philosophy to question every cultural object related to digital technology. Particular emphasis is placed on the construction of images of the future. - Spare Time: founder Science Denied (http://www.sciencedenied.net), independent film director/producer, graphical artist & musician 'Die Samplemännchen' & 'Guitar & the Melodies'


Charles LeadbeaterAfter the opening of Picnic Amsterdam, Charles Leadbeater (author of the book ‘ We Think‘ ) talked about the new dynamics of creativity and innovation using new media. Firstly, he briefly discussed the influence of the web by comparing people and their postings with pebbles on a beach (similar to the butterfly effect). Finally, he discussed how we could use our social networks and collaborations to enhance our society while avoiding the pitfalls.

Leadbeater thinks we need the following ingredients to stimulate collaborative creativity: 1. Diversity, 2. Adequate ways to allow contribution (we should be able to add information as easy as possible), 3. Adaquate ways to connect people together, 4. A shared sense of purpose and direction & 5. Implementation of a social structure (a hierarchy-based social network). According to Leadbeater, we should ask ourselves the following questions: Is collaborative creativity just a fad, or is it able to trigger change? And if collaborative creativity is able to change our society, will it be for the good or for the bad?

In my opinion, Leadbeater is just a little bit too optimistic about the possiblities of the Internet and social networking. Even though he shortly mentioned the downfalls of ‘social creativity’, he didn’t mention how our contemporary Information society (in terms of control) should change in order to accomplish his goal of equal ‘collaborative creativity’. In the discussionphase he says: ‘the Web has created neutral space’, that enables us to collaboratively be creative. Yet, one could question his reasoning. Has the Web really created a neatral and ‘in-between space’  in which people all around the world can contribute to? Or is the Web just an enhancement of our Western society and politics? And are we, as Western people, able and willing to create that kind of neutral space that Leadbeater is talking about???

I don’t think this ‘neutral’ webspace exists, but I do agree with Leadbeater that our collaborative creativity should be enhanced, because this maybe the answer to our hierarchy-problem in new media in general

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