Archive

for June, 2010

June 26, 2010

My Foo10 session–Secrets of human nature: 5 experiments you can do with strangers

Below are rough unedited notes from the session I did at Foo today.

About me:

-I make things out of words (stories, explanations), and really the main thing I’m always trying to do is show you something that was invisible to you before. I do this as a fiction writer (just finished first novel), that’s what art is all about. And I do it as a teacher at ITP. I’m also an interactive copywriter.

-I teach about individual social dynamics and relational technology. one lens is intimacy, another is stranger behavior. So I’m sort of a people hacker.

-My classes are a mix of studying existing knowledge and doing field experiments—it’s like Human Nature Lab.

About the experiments:

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June 16, 2010

It’s pay what you can, not what you want

[Originally published June 15, 2010 at The Literary Platform]

We are living in generous times. I don’t mean that in a hippie, random acts of kindness sort of way. I mean that we are living at a time when sharing as a model of exchange is increasingly common.

Right now, our models of getting paid and paying for things are both up for grabs in fascinating – and potentially society-changing – ways. As newspapers fail, crucial experiments in how to pay for news – especially investigative reporting – are underway. Ebooks, creative commons licensing, and ever-more legitimate forms of self-publishing are challenging the book publishing industry’s way of doing business. As I writer, I’ve got a vested interest in what’s going to happen – and the open question applies to everyone who makes any form of culture, amateur or professional or anything in-between. One place to look for lessons is the open source movement, which began as a collaborative, distributed model of making software, and is fast becoming a pervasive set of values taken up by communities as diverse as open source sewing and amateur unmanned aerial vehicles development.

Notice that word, communities. Open source production and some of its consumption happen in communities. The model is most efficiently sustainable when most of the community respects the ethics of mutual sharing that open source is built on. That is to say they are freeloader-tolerant, and able to function when some of the participants are taking but not contributing. The point is, within a community, ethics are agreements, not abstractions. Within a community, generosity is a social contract.

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