Towards the (week of) Collaborative Futures

During the upcoming week I will be working in Berlin with 6 super smart people (Adam Hyde, Mike Linksvayer, Michael Mandiberg, Alan Toner, Aleksandar Erkalovic, Marta Peirano) on writing a whole book from scratch titled “Collaborative Futures”. The format for this collaborative writing was developed by Adam Hyde and the Floss Manuals community which is devoted to extending the accessibility of free software through the compiling free and liberally licensed manual books. The books are published online and their PDF formatting allow for an easy print on demand option.

Our book sprint is not setup as a manual though, commissioned by the Transmediale (a Berlin based new media art festival) the only piece of information we will have will be the book title. Unlike a software manual (like the one for Inkscape) or a digital practice manual (Like the one titled “How To Bypass Censorship”) this one will not have a solid rational task to bounce off of. Beyond that, throwing “futures” into the mix makes our concrete collaborative basis even thinner.

None of us know what format we will choose but all of us come with a pretty extensive experience in collaborative work so I definitely expect it to be insightful. Some of the themes I would be interested in exploring are:

  • Bridging between “sharing” and “collaboration”
  • Possible lessons from code revision technologies (like SVN vs. GIT)
  • The boundries of networked productions (like the challenges to open source design)
  • Networking beyond enemy lines – when “collaboration” is a bad word (in the Israeli/Palestinian context it is often interchangable with treason)
  • What can we learn from Haiti?

Ahhh… thousands more are comin up as I write this… but my plane is about to leave so I’d better publish before I leave NY (writing this on my phone… hard!)

Last thing: This project is open to collaborations beyond the 6 of us, we will publish how to contribute and help probably on Tuesday morning.

Last call… more updates to follow…

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4 Comments

  1. Posted Jan 18, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    when will lunch be served ? it isnt mentioned anywhere.

  2. Posted Jan 20, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    how can one avoid ego issues in collaborative projects? How can the objective of equality (if at all?) is mastered among brave and great souls? With your experience, what kind of engine works?

    • mushon
      Posted Jan 20, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      Some ego issues are destructive while others are actually productive. Martha, one of our collaborators actually suggested we use the term “productive selfishness”.
      In the case of our collaboration we definitely have some big egos in the room (trust me) but the collaboration is enabled by a social pact. One that is heavily based on mutuality. So on any collaboration ego should be managed and directed towards the common goal. And I mean that as a practical practice, not some high social ideal.

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