We Are the Source

By the time I finished film school in 2010, I’d pretty much had it with the production of long-form linear narrative. I also found the concept of intellectual property increasingly awkward. Ideas seem neither solid nor separate to me. They flow, mix and mingle through and beyond impermanent barriers.

After college, I researched multimedia interactivity, and tried to lead (often stumbling) in a boldly open social and political discussion group. I also got into an adventure game project which taught me the power of crowdfunding — not only to get things done, but to build engaged and inspiring community. So, by the time I became an Enspiral contributor, I think I was quite ripe for the vision of the first Open Source//Open Society conference, and its provocative question:

What happens when we open everything?

After much related study and reflection, I’ve grown to feel that open is the source of a sustainable future. I believe that in the absence of artificial, arthritic barriers, we’ll find that the open exchange of ideas and information outcompetes our walled garden organizational models. I believe that open media networks and enterprises can amplify our personal and collective potentials to design, produce and distribute mutually valued goods and services, on all scales of genuine community.

Perhaps ‘open source’ is the simplest way of saying that there is no discrete source.

We are the source.

So, yeah, the tricky part…

Open source is already an immensely productive paradigm in software. Open source is the foundation of the Internet, the World Wide Web, and countless practical tools. It’s easy to argue, in fact, that behind the scenes — away from mass media consumer culture — open source software already won.

Creative arts and entertainment media, however, defy the purity of programming. Looking beyond our frequent attractions to cultural comfort foods, I’ve asked myself:

Can complex creative media goals be sustainably crowdsourced?

Are there algorithms, in any sense of the term, for that?

Sam Rye’s searching post on ‘cultural tech’ inspires me to explore.

Ridiculously Broad Topics:

  • Identity and Decision Process
  • Granulation, Aggregation and Emergence
  • Open Source Creative Careers

Equally Broad Questions:

Is an emergent group decision possible? What would it look like?

Who gets to regulate the flow of ideas and information in online social networks, and why?

Can we build nuanced grammars, vocabularies, and dialects of intermedia language?

Dialog> Monoblog

I believe we stand (or shuffle, uncertainly) between worlds. It’s almost like an ancestor had descended from the trees of the twisted jungle, and wondered which way to go on the wide open savanna. Collectively speaking, we’re not used to expansive intellectual freedom — not nearly. I expect it to change us.

We can’t see all that far, but we know that we’re neither beasts nor machines. Can we see beyond our histories of material and cultural violence and the closely coupled, tinny echoes of ‘modern’ industry? Can we reimagine and redesign our collaborative arts for a peer-to-peer information age?

Can we afford not to?