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

4 Responses to “PICNIC 08 – ‘We Think’ by Charles Leadbeater”
  • September 26, 2008 at 11:06 am

    There were quite a few useful points to take home from Leadbetter’s talk. The post mentions the metaphor he used of the beach with pebbles. To clarify, the metaphor was of boulders and pebbles (boulders being big corporations/institutions, pebbles being individual) to describe the landscape of cultural production, which he claims is gaining more pebbles with interesting relationships emerging between them. This metaphor may have some use but seems oversimplified.

    Perhaps my favorite morsel from his talk was the quote from Linus Torvald, who, when asked if we are asking too much of the WWW (to provide an infrastructure of collaborative, participatory creative production and exchange) he answered: “The danger is not asking enough of it.” Well, yes and no. Such a comment, like much discourse about technology and culture, seems to forget that technology is made by people, presumably for people. In other words, in my opinion, we cannot expect anything of the WWW, but we must expect a great deal of ourselves as the creators and users of it.

  • September 26, 2008 at 11:17 am

    If I recall correctly that was a quote from Tim Berners-Lee Leadbeater was referring to, not Linus Torvald.

  • September 28, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    […] the field of collaborative power, creative industries, user generated content and so on. As Inge Ploum in her post already addressed, he expressed a rather simple view on the web as natural space, where people […]

  • September 29, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    […] PICNIC 08 – We Think by Charles Leadbeater […]

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