Monday, May 07, 2007

Coolhunt Log #16 - Monday, May 7, 2007

Coolhunt Log #16
Monday, May 7, 2007

On Stage:
Scott Cooper, MIT research affiliate with the Sloan School of Management, co-author of
Peter Gloor, MIT research affiliate with the Sloan School of Management, co-author of
Steve O'Keefe, moderator

MODERATOR: I'd like to remind everyone of the rules of the Coolhunt. We do at least one site, one blog post, one comment on another blog, and try to make one personal connection via email or phone. This is the final week of our 4-week program. Last week we found that Mike's book reviews beat out the New York Times book reviews. Scott, were you able to post to any sites.

SCOTT: I posted a message either via email or by commenting on a blog to every site we visited on Friday.

MODERATOR: I'm calling in from Toronto today from Annick Press. Where are you two calling from today?

SCOTT: Today, I'm calling from my home office in Newton Highlands, MA.

PETER: I'm just returning from a conference in Greece. I'm back in my home office in Switzerland.

MODERATOR: Scott, where are you and Peter taking us today.

SCOTT: We're going to start at the Hybrid Vigor website, and their blog. This is a research organization that focuses on collaborative problem solving for research applications. You can see at the top of the page the five areas of focus: Earth Systems, Health Determinants, Interdisciplinary Practice, Human Perception, and Understanding Risk. The director, Denise Caruso, writes a "Re:framing" column in the New York Times Sunday Business section, and she's the author of a book titled Intervention. Here in her column, she mentions how The Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University is arts driven, similar to how the MIT Media Lab is media driven.


PETER: In the article, Red Burns makes a point on not wanting to use competitive people as researchers. She says the twin forces that fuel innovation at I.T.P. are collaboration and diversity. For instance, based on an analysis of four different organizations, two key criteria -- likeability and competence -- emerged as the basis for creating four employee "archetypes": the lovable fool, the competent jerk, the lovable star, and the incompetent jerk. While research shows that everyone wants to work with the lovable star, and nobody wants to work with the incompetent jerk, when faced with the choice between competent jerks and lovable fools a little extra likeability goes a longer way than a little extra competence in making someone desirable to work with. What matters is that you have competent skills and are able to work within a team.

MODERATOR: Peter's referring to the third article where Professor Burns talks of selflessness, which is brought up in the book. We think normally that this stimulates growth, but research shows us that this is not true.

SCOTT: It's very important what Burns says about about competitive people missing the periphery -- the broad swarm of collective intelligence out there.

PETER: There are people who can predict trends, whether or not they're considered "experts." Both experts and non-experts lead to much better results because they complement each other. Google has lots of prediction markers, and they're doing their own research now on prediction markers by using people who are very good at predicting.

SCOTT: Back at Hybrid Vigor, go to Cooperation Commons under Links on the home page. This is an interesting group similar to Hybrid Vigor, but they're actually coming together to study cooperation in collective action. Scroll down to see the signers Howard Rheingold and Andrea Saveri. Click on the About tab at the top of the page. Here's a brief explanation of the Cooperation, to determine how swarm creativity can be used to solve problems. Rheingold coined the phrase "virtual community." All this helps to produce materials geared to promulgate creativity. The blog on this site is particularly interesting.


PETER: I'm reminded of another website called Alliance for Discovery. At the site, click on Overview to see Julian Gresser in his attempts to create COINS (Collaborative Innovation Networks) such as the Ten Cube Project. (Benjamin Franklin had developed a form of COINS.) Here's you'll see his discussion of COINS. He also talks about a new power source developed by COINS, illustrating the power of COINS. I had dinner with Julian, who's a lawyer, and I learned a little about his background.


SCOTT: Back to Cooperation Commons, and click on Resources, then External Resources and The Peer to Peer Foundation. It looks like Wikipedia.


PETER: This is because an open source piece of software called Media Wiki.

SCOTT: This is another one of the driving theoretical concepts on the web. It encompasses human to human collaborative projects, coordinated under peer governance. Down toward the middle of the page you'll see a list of topics that are being discussed and collaborated on. Click on Topics, then Open Music Practices. The list of articles listed gives you an idea of the broad scope for collaborative effort involved.

PETER: This is the power of swarms. The fact that a conductor composed music in collaboration with others is rare because this usually is done by one person. But one conductor composed entire operas by collaborating with jazz musicians who got to know each other during travel, and who also were similar in their own genetic mindsets. I bought a CD and actually got an email from the publisher thanking me and telling me that I'm the tenth buyer of this $15 CD.

SCOTT: This peer to peer example is a teaser to encourage those following along to look at other similar sites.

MODERATOR: It's interesting that you can find forms and other information by those who are willing to share.

SCOTT: Back at Cooperative Commons, go to Meta Collab. As it says here "Meta Collab is an open research, meta collaboration (a collaboration on collaboration) with the aim to explore the similarities and differences in the nature, methods, and motivations of collaboration across any and every field of human endeavour."

PETER: Now the risk of running totally open is that you open yourself to spammers. This is why it's mandated that you have to create an account.

SCOTT: And anyone can create an account by typing in hidden text to show that you're not a machine. Now, click on the link "work towards the development of a general theory of collaboration." This is the open, collaborative research page for developing a general theory of collaboration (GTC).

PETER: Do you know if he's quoting the German philosopher Niklas Luhmann? One of his main works is "Social Systems" (Soziale Systeme) from the mid-1980s, which I believe is one of his few works translated into English.

SCOTT: Go now to some work I'm doing at MIT's Media Lab. But first, go to Rheingold's website. Read About Howard by clicking on the link under the picture.


MODERATOR: He's the founder of one of the first virtual communities in 1985.

SCOTT: I'd encourage everyone to explore all the many links on this page by Rheingold. Now, go to This is a relatively new research lab at MIT by both the Media Lab and Architecture departments. It addresses the ways in which people use mobile technology (cell phones) to redesign connections between people to build greater virtual communities to improve lives using these technologies. Now click on Projects to see the list beginning with Smart Mobility. This is the bus system of the future for social networking portals to order busses and invite people into their neighborhoods. It involves all sorts of technological solutions. Click on Elens. Now, click on "Elense web site." I think this is one of the coolest things anyone is doing at MIT. Frederico and colleagues have gone to Spain to empower teenagers with cell phones to tag buildings in towns, building a virtual community to upload messages to reguide people to have a completely different experience than traditional tours provide. Now go to Field Trial to see how this is building a virtual community of these teenagers, a different way to social network.


PETER: Another theme for consideration is the topic "Is social networking hype over its peak or not?"

SCOTT: I think this deserves a lot more time to discuss, tomorrow perhaps.

MODERATOR: This coming Thursday we have a special presentation.

SCOTT: SpineConnect founder Scott Capdevielle will give us a virtual tour of how their COINS was started.

MODERATOR: We are out of time. Thank you, Scott and Peter. We've been talking today with the co-authors of Coolhunting: Chasing Down the Next Big Thing. Listeners, please post your comments to the blog -- whether they're about any connection problems you're experiencing or commentary on the subject of today's coolhunt. The transcript of today's coolhunt will be posted with previous ones at The Swarm Creativity Blog: Join us on Tuesday for the next installment of our live, online coolhunt with Peter Gloor and Scott Cooper.

Thank you.

Copyright Notice: Please feel free to duplicate or distribute this log as long as the contents are not altered and this notice is intact.


  1. Hey there, y'all - thanks for the shout-out. A couple of minor points, just to set the record straight ...

    First of all, Red Burns is a woman.

    Second my "Re:framing" column runs in the New York Times. Intervention is the name of the book I recently published, about why we ought to use collaborative risk assessment methods for genetic engineering and biotech.

    Shameless self promotion alert: Available for sale at your local online bookseller, pick the one of your choice at

    Thanks! Denise

  2. Thanks so much, Denise, for "setting the record straight." It's been a real challenge to keep a "transcript" of our hour-long coolhunting web tours, and we don't always catch every mistake. I have corrected them in the actual blog post. Keep up the great work at Hybrid Vigor!