TalentLab: Among intelligent machines – session I

Last Wednesday we conducted the first session of the workshop “Among intelligent machines,” in the Research Institute in Artificial Intelligence IIIA (CSIC). This was part of the TalentLab project.

An intensive work program was scheduled for that day, starting with a site visit guided by David Sierra. His explanations helped to introduce ourselves to the different research lines undertaken at the institute, including a demonstration of dog-like robotic football players to explain how they manage machine learning.

After entering the work room, participants were divided into three groups and we began the session itself. In the inspiration stage, common ideas emerged within each group, although with different approaches. The first group  suggested the idea that “everything is connected,” and proposed a kind vision about technology, based on thought and physical reality (people, nature), combined with the use of the network and the “cloud”. This framework of connections could collapse under pressure of cutbacks. The second group drew some “axes” to be positioned between the “information chaos” of the network and the abstract order, on the one hand, and the boundaries between utopia (thought) and reality, on the other. These axes guide the use of technologies by people in everyday life and decision making. The third group showed the role of people in the “choice of the future” desired, taking into consideration knowledge, people and their own needs. They placed the dichotomy between two realities according to the role of technology: one supporting autonomy, responsibility and sustainability and another that creates dependency, is unsustainable and wants to control.

Then, the three groups proceeded to imagine the newsworthy events of an 8th March 2025. The predominance of digital format and new ways of communication were highlighted, while the shortcomings of infrastructure to bring connectivity to schools and the problem of energy resources were evidenced, as well as the possibility to have cars autonomously driven or the incorporation of robots in real life. There were also some coincidences in imagining a return to the pesseta (old currency). Regarding user profiles, was deeply discussed the idea of curiosity among young people, despite their lack of perseverance in completing tasks. Music, sports and technology were highlighted as main interests of this target group deeply based on friendship and social relations. Other comments pointed to their ability of not being always faithful to the truth or trying to invent excuses somehow suspicious.

Considering the ideas, concepts and debates hold during the three previous exercises, participants in each group did a quick brainwriting about educational resources that could allow teachers to work with technology and artificial intelligence in the classroom. Among all the proposals, the first group showed a preference for generating a networked resource that would promote an individual game to work with ecology and/or musical issues. They envisioned the possibility of linking this resource with robots or virtual reality, make it fun and, if possible, multi-platform. The second group proposed an online resource intended to promote collaboration for solving a current problem or challenge. Finally, the third group proposed work in a cross-resource that include patience as an ability to be learned.

In coming  days we will evolve ideas and we will continue with our work dynamics next session to help us define an unique educational resource.

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Laura Valls. Unitat de Cultura Científica Delegació del CSIC.
Irene Lapuente. La Mandarina de Newton S.L.

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TalentLab: Living Experiments session II

On Wednesday November the 2nd, we run the second session of the workshop “Living Experiments“, part of the TalentLab project, at the Agrigenomics Research Center (CRAG, CSIC-IRTA-UAB). We continued working with the same groups as the previous session. This time, though, we had three new members and a missing one. The three groups summarised the initial ideas of the resource proposals that they had defined in the first session. They also added new contributions from the reflections that participants had done online between the two sessions.

From there, the groups did a 3D prototype model of each of the proposals. The idea was to think with their hands using low tech materials to better visualize the resources and to identify areas for improvement that have not been taken into account. The first group proposed a cooperative resource based on bio-energy in order to disseminate their current research in the production of clean energy using living organisms such as microorganisms or transgenic plants. The idea was to provide an online platform for generating informed debates. The second group proposed the creation of a big challenge contest focus on fighting againts human hunger on our planet. Under this proposal, students were asked to offer solutions from different perspectives (scientific, social, North-South relations, etc..). This proposal was also based on an online platform. The third group proposed the design of an ecological footprint graphic adventure. The goal was to make students became more aware of the unsustainability of the nowadays consumption of energy.

At this point, in which the proposals were already quite defined, several iterations were made to refine them. Each group received two people from another group that raised doubts and questions about the educational resource, assuming the role of the character he or she had created in the previous session, ie, a hypothetical end user. This activity was repeated twice changing groups of people.

Later, the members of each group met again to discuss the feedback they had received from the hypothetical users. Each group defined its education proposal in its final version. They filled a matrix with concrete and concise information about their educational resource proposal: main topic, worked concepts, audience, methodology, technical requirements, feasibility, possible difficulties, budget, etc. The groups presented their proposals taking into account these aspects. Finally, they all proceeded to vote individually for the proposal they liked the most.

The result of the voting process was a tie between the second and third proposal. This hold into a general discussion. Among other issues, participants proposed to include the positive aspects of the first proposal into the most voted ones. They also studied how to integrate all the ideas into a single proposal.

Thus, we concluded the first phase of the work. From here we will consider the three proposals, the results of the voting process and the possible integration of all of them in order to produce a final online educational resource. In this second phase, the TalentLab team will continue to ask for the participants contributions!

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Laura Valls. Unitat de Cultura Científica Delegació del CSIC.
Irene Lapuente. La Mandarina de Newton S.L.
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What is participation?

From the co-creation workshop organized by Co-Creating Cultures at the CCCB

I+C+i // Taller "Disseny col·laboratiu per a institucions culturals"

Photo of the prototype of Hypermedia City realized during the workshop

Foto taken by CCCB (c) Miquel Taverna, 2011

I will not go into how the co-creation workshop was carried out by Co-Creating Cultures at the CCCB because few participants have done it very well here and here (only available in spanish). I would like to talk about how I experienced it as a repeat participant (I participated in the first workshop last year), and what I have learnt from it.

Like Ramón Sanguesa said during the workshop: participation is an attitude. It is the starting point I believe, the fundamental of a participative project. This is what I have learnt from this workshop. There have been discrepancies on this matter during the workshop as we do not all agree on what participation is and what it involves. That is why we can feel, sometimes, that our work is not so productive, or gives the impression that it did not fully answer to the apprenticeship expectations.

I believe the reason why we sometimes feel that we have not learnt enough about participation, that we have not explored further enough the problematic, is due to this attitude we have acquired in school (sitting on benches receiving knowledge): to receive, being passive. Designing forms of participation is based precisely on active participation, that is to give, which is a fundamental element. It is with this state of mind that we will make the most of a workshop like this, that it will answer to our expectations. We will then stay away from the marketing aspect, that companies adopt, giving value, using 2.0 technologies, to the concepts of social currency, reputation, recommendation or networking; which, in my opinion, does not help (but the contrary) to develop a participative attitude.

I noticed during this workshop that my concept of participation must be clarifyed and my attitude improved. I chose the Hypermedia City project. Little after started working on it, I realized it was not a participative project (as I understand participation). This is a participant of my group who made this comment and made me realize it. I did not even realized it on my own! How come? First of all, I believe it is due to few words in the project description, like “networked”, “platform”, “innovation”, “social media”, “interactive technologies”, “web 2.0”, which made me think it was a very participative project, because these words refer to or are usually used when we talk about participation. But taking into account how the project was developed so far: the objective was to bring together on a same platform varius creative agents involved in research and innovation of different cities in the world, where their content on social media was shown according to an algorythm which aims to stimulate the competition between cities. In my opinion, there is no participation because actors of the project do not have an common objective to build something together.

I chose as well to be in the group of the project author because I thought I would understand better his proposal and participate “better”. In the end, it did not help to “hypermodify” the project as the workshop instigated. Trying to understand, through the author vision, the objective of the project, the value proposition and how it was generated, our group remained too close to the author original thinking, without giving another turn to the project, and consequently enrich it.

One difficult exercise is to discuss on a project when you have not developped it, i.e. you know little about it and you do not know your teamates. That is why it is mandatory to endorse this participative attitude, i.e. putting yourself into the skin of the final user to understand his needs and bring relevant modifications to the project. If one wanted to make the most of the workshop, its intensive format allowed to develop an immediate participative attitude, the one we usually adopt in real life, when we are sure something good will come out, or when we gain acknowledgement.

In a participative project, all the voices must be heard. Each of the participant has the responsibility: to give his opinion without imposing it, to listen (here I am referring to an active listening: understanding what the teamate wants to say, making his opinion ours); to make the voices of members who are shy or least interested in the project come out inviting them to give their opinions; and to mantain an elevated concentration without entering and leaving the debate when we feel like.

We experienced some difficulties during the debate because we did not have the same definitions of what participation is. For instance, the author of the project and myself did not agree on the word co-creation: he defended the idea that Hypermedia City is a co-creative project because actors of the platform build a virtual city together just by being on the same platform. I called his attention telling him that the actors did not have a common objective to create something together, that is why we could not talk, in my opinion, about co-creation. To avoid these discrepancies, at A+C+C CoCreació, when we started analyzing the first study cases on participation, Irene saw the need to write a post From interaction to Co-Creation that explained the different levels of participation, which we used as a starting point for our investigation. We have just finished our glossary (the first version, that will soon be published on our blog) based on the study cases we analyzed, to make sure we talk about the same thing when discussing the concepts we investigate.

Ramón and Irene, when we started to work in groups, explained the different steps of the work they asked and gave us a timeframe for each phase. In my group, we did not respect these timeframes (being absorbed by the discussion) because we did not come to make a clear decision, made by consensus, for each phase. We closed the steps because we had to. Maybe that is the reason why we had the feeling of something unachived. Maybe because it was only a workshop and not real life, we kept discussing (and it surely has been the most interesting part of the workshop for me) and we did not oblige ourselves to fulfill the instructions of the workshop. For my part, I admit I did not take into account the timeframes when discussing with the others. I do not think it was positive for the project, neither for the group in general.

I will conclude saying that this workshop allowed me to identify the starting point of participation: the attitude.

EMMANUELLE BRESSON

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Participative dance performances

Last automn, I participated for the first time, as an active spectator, in three different dance performances in Barcelona organized by the Mercat dels Flors. I will analyze in this post two of them which seemed interesting to me from the way they used the public participation. My objective is to analyze the elements used to implement the participative process and the contribution this new type of participative performances brings to the peforming arts creation and to its spectators.

The first performance, Hello!Earth (Projecte Barcelona), consisted in a route in a cityscape in Barcelona. A responsible took first our belongings that he kept away in a secret place. He only left us with our mobile and a plastic bracelet with a mobile number on it. Dressed up as rabbit from head to toe, the voice of an mp3, plus the participation of artists, guided us in the streets of the Poble Sec neighborghood. They made us run, jump, wag the tail, investigate the streets. We even traveled in the space inside a tippi which served as a space shuttle. Yes, yes, I swear! During the second part of the route, we took off our costume and started a trip trough our senses. In an unhabitated flat, bare feet, blindfolded eyes, we danced a moment with another unknown person. The end of the route finished in a bar, the group seated at a table, drinking to its first experience in a participative performance.

The second performance was the creation of Sra Polaroiska & Ruemaniak. A man with a black suit, slicked-back hair, who seemed to come from the 50′s, picked us up in front of the theater and took us to some sort of abandoned warehouse, where he asked us to get on a car. Two people, layed on the floor as if they were dead, under the other car parked next to our, got up and started moving in a dislocated way. The radio of our car switched on by itself. Another woman appeared behing some construction work and headed towards us. That is how the story started. We observed with curiousity and silently these characters who seemed to come from another world. I did not understand what was going on but it did not matter. I liked their strangeness, how they moved and danced under country music. I liked the Far West’s clothes of the 50′s and 60′s with the cowboy boots. At some point, they blindfolfed our eyes, did to us small massages on the hands and shoulders and we danced with them. What a moment! I did not want this moment to stop. Then, the man with the black suit drove us outside the warehouse. He told us to be discreet about what had happened. Before he left, he gave us an envelop to each of us. Inside was a polaroid photo of mi with a gun pointed at my tempe. I had not dreamed, it was true. Hallelujah!

The two performances share the following elements:

  • The “mystery” is a core element in each performance because it prepares the sensivity level of the spectators, which is key in the participative process. It is reflected in the following form: the spectator does not know what the performance and his participation consist in, he is informed at the last minute of the meeting point.

  • Performance site-specific
  • Movement-based performance: the body is the central point of the performance. Everything is designed from the body, around the body and for the body.

  • The public is protagonist: the spectator experiences, feels and makesThe stage does not exist in such wayReduced group of spectators: 6 and 3 peopleThere are more artists than spectatorsMutlidisciplinary approach: there is a mix of different artistic disciplines to create the performances.The public is in touch with the artists: he does with the artists
  • Use of a lot of objects during the performances: the objects in common were the mp3, photos and music

  • A souvenir is offered at the end of the performances: a free drink, a photo

It’s interesting to see how each performance exploited these elements, the emphasis put on each one to answer to the objective. The Hello!Earth project aimed to give the opportunity to the public to discover its environment with other eyes. Sra Polaroiska & Ruemaniak made enter the public in the performance.

“Dance! – you can’t stop the revolution” of Hello!Earth (Projecte Barcelona) was an unexpected route developed specially for Barcelona, that relied on the participation of the artists, citizens and spectators from Barcelona. The artists participated in the design of the route to make appear the social context of the city. The neighborhood of Poble Sec offered its houses that served as stages. And the collective experience of the spectators was the peformance itself. It was a cocreation participative process: all the actors involved in the performance contributed to its design, its development and its content.

“Apuntes sobre animales, encuentros y autopistas” of Sra Polaroiska & Ruemaniak created an experience-piece for the spectator who entered as a protagonist in the story that was unfolding. It was like if the spectator entered as a protagonist in the course a movie. The form of participation used was, what we call at A+C+C CoCreació, interactive (read this post). As a public, we did not create content, neither influence the performance. Our intervention was framed: the actors knew what they were going to ask us to do and at which moment.

In the two performances, the protagonist spectator played the games.

In Hello!Earth, the design of the route favored the interaction within the group. Also to compensate a probable feeling of anxiety generated by the ignorance of what was going to happen, the spectators remained together most of the time.

On the contrary, there was no communicatin among the spectators of Sra Polaroiska y Ruemaniak. It was not the aim of the performance. Additional factors intimidated the public: there were more artists than public participating during the performance, the artists knew what was going on, not the spectators.

It’s interesting to see as well the color of the component mystery in each performance. The mystery in Hello!Eart was a surprise. With the costume, you knew you were going to have a laugh. The costume is a tool to forget oneself and allows to see things another way. The route reminded a bit of a gymkhana, something recreational, like a tresure hunt.

The mystery of Sra Polaroiska & Ruemaniak was more worrying. On one hand, the public had more information about the performance but on the other hand, this same information was somewhat disturbing: the synopsis of the performance described unusual characters and situation. Listen to Country music is also unusual for people from Barcelona. The dislocated moves of the dancers gave a sensation of uneasiness. And the man with the black suit spoke to us with an emphatic voice.

At the end of the performance, we commented that we all liked it, especially the moment of the blindfolded eyes. I think now that this is because there were so many strange things in this peformance, that dancing with blindfolded eyes allowed us to let it go.

I don’t know if Hello!Earth made me see my environment in another way. I was not able to fully relax with the costume, so I never let it go totally I suppose. The unfolding of the performance was like a serie of activities without transitions between each one. It brought me back to the reality between each activity and I was not able to see my environment with new eyes. However, the performance left me with good feelings.

The project of Sra Polaroiska & Ruemaniak filled me with enthusiasm. Even if I did not participate in the creation of the content, it allowed me to let it go and enter in the story, be in another world. The closed stage offered more intimacy than the streets. The experience of the spectator during the performance was fluid. The collective Sra Polaroiska & Ruemaniak used the elements of the performance with more strength and answered to its objective with accuracy.

We see that the objective, the components and the design of the project will determine the type of participation of the public. It will be key to condition the state of mind of the public to favor its participation: its senses must be awake and available to react and respond to the project’s proposal. The public must have an optimal experience.

I think participation offers to the public a unique and more intense experience that just sitting in a theater. The artists through participation have an intimate communication with their public and can make innovative proposals. Each participative show is for the artists a unique and different experience everytime, which enriches them as professionals.

EMMANUELLE BRESSON

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Credit of photography: Colectivo Sra Polaroiska & Ruemaniak

Sources:
- http://www.nativa.cat/2010/12/sobre-apuntes-sobre-animales-encuentros-y-autopistas/

Pdf Participative dance performances

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P.U.P.E. (1)

This is the first article of a series dedicated to the public, the user, the participant, the spectator… (from now on the P.U.P.E in its Spanish version). As it is a topic with a lot of shades of meanings, I think it is appropriate to dedicate more than one article. Today, we will make few considerations about this key topic in the cultural participation.

We will go back in time remembering Walter Benjamin – it is always interesting to have a Renaissance attitude with the classics. We can never forget the fact that it has been 75 years that we are observing the shifting of location of the cultural object and its addressees. Since art has entered in the age of technical reproducibility, its aura, the hic et nunc, it remains depreciated due to its accessibility and projection in favour of the citizens. The art work for the first time “goes to meet its receiver, under the form of a photography or a disc. The cathedral gives up its location to be welcome at the studio of an art lover; the choral piece that has been interpreted in an auditorium or in the open air can be now listened in a room”.

I would like to start this trajectory of the p.u.p.e around the planet emphasizing what apparently looks like an obviousness, but which often, we do not pay attention to. Like Víctor Molina explains in a wonderful and surprising article that opens his book Querido público (cherished public in English) “it exists a close tie between the intimate body and the social mankind”. This mysterious comment highlights the trend (proper as well of the social sciences) that the p.u.p.e is seen as impersonal, like if he was an independent and external body, when in reality, the p.u.p.e, this is us!

With these two premises and by changing perspectives, we will be able to make an approximation a lot more precise and loyal of the interactive paradigm.

At the initial contact with the participative universe, when I thought about the role of a cultural centre as an interconnector, a facilitator, a creator, a co-designer or a platform, I thought that the complement of these subjects was the “cultural product” (these role have first been stablished by Nina Simon and during our first Tallers 2.0., Ramon explained to the crew) . But later on, I understood that the complement had to do with the “user”: cultural centres, creators of users, co-designers with the users, platforms for the users, etc. like the anglophile trends name user centred projects. So the best way to link the p.u.p.e to a cultural project (social, citizenship, etc.) is to make it his, going a lot further than only giving him voice and vote, or giving him the keys of the house for him to go at ease.

To transmit this message, it is recommended to bring it on the personal sphere.  We need to become conscious that our p.u.p.e is used as an argument to justify the success and failure of almost everything. This is why we consider honesty as a core value to guarantee that our project works. With this series of articles, we propose to do a 360º tour around the p.u.p.e. Our contemporaneity (maybe due to the mercantilism of the society) does not conceive any public activity or citizenship proposal without the complicity of its own p.u.p.e. Even like this, it is necessary to be careful with this complicity and not loose the north, nor generalizing, neither renouncing to everything to get the aimed success.

And if, at the same time, we know that there is nothing that pleases “everybody”, we will get a lot closer to the reality that surrounds us or that surrounds our project, and the one we belong to.

It is compulsory to be clear regarding who is our addressees, how he/she is, who he/she is, how he/she acts, what we can give him/her, etc. i.e. all the questions answered by the market studies but brought to our field. Determine who we speak to and how is our p.u.p.e for all agents to feel part of the same project. Determine who will be the addressees or groups of addressees towards whom we will concentrate our efforts of communication, will help us optimize our resources to adapt the media, the style, the message, etc.

Social sciences have spared no efforts, neither studies to classify the human groups. There are endless typologies and variables: level of studies, geographical, age and vital circle, economical, etc. Of course, there are as well specific variables regarding the studies of cultural consumption: level of instruction, attendance, geographical, vital circle, generated benefit, enjoyment expectations (emotional, intellectual, apprenticeship, escape, fun), reaffirmation to the affiliation of a social group, cultural militancy.  There was an attempt as well to define these groups of consumers according to external factors of the cultural environment (demographical, economical, technological, political, legal) and internal factors (cultural, social, personal, psychological,  linked to the self-esteem, to the social acceptance, self-realization, etc.).

All these typologies are put to the service of the emotional and cultural marketing with mercantilist ends. Besides any ethical or moral consideration (or prejudice), you cannot deny the utility of these tools when it comes to refine the content of message. In the same line, we find interesting studies like the one adapted to the microanalitycal EKB buying behaviour to the live experience, that draws an interesting formula to take into account: “all these sensations felt by the spectator while experiencing the show, added up to the others which have to do with the attention received from the personal and the facilities of the venue, make, as a fact, the cultural product itself” and determine the grade of satisfaction of the public.

Even like this, and at the same time, Ricardo Antón gave us another key to understand this new paradigm in a recent interview we did with him from A+C+C CoCreació. He commented, talking about the participative user, that there is no need to go to look for him as he emerges on his own being a proactive character. He underlines that the work of a cultural agent should focus more on looking for the ways to transmit this attitude to the people whom cost them to let it go, who do not recognize his/her own value and capacity to bring added value.

In the line of Dolors Reig, we should bet on the citizen, the one that feeds the projects, but as well it is compulsory to know who is our “citizen”.

to be continued…

Flora Bacquelaine, 04/11/2011

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Bibliography::

Benjamin, Walter (1936). L’obra d’art a la època de la seva reproductibilitat tècnica. Tres estudis de sociologia de l’art. 1ª ed. Barcelona: Edicions 62/Diputació de Barcelona, 1983 (Col. Clàssics del pensament modern; nº9).

Sellas, Jordi i Colomer, Jaume (2009). Màrqueting de les arts escèniques. Creació i desenvolupament de públics. 1ª ed. Barcelona: Quaderns Gescènic.

Duarte, Ignasi i Bernat, Roger (eds.) (2009). Querido público. El espectador ante la participación: jugadores, usuarios, prosumers y fans. 1ª ed. Murcia: Centro Parraga, CENDEAC y Eléctrica Produccions.

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Participative Business Models

Human Tower

Since last year, I have been paying special attention to existing business models within the creative & cultural industries as I joined A+C+C CoCreación. I was especially interested in business models related to crowdsourcing/open innovation because they lean on “participation”, which is the focus of our investigation. I would like to sum up in this post the existing business models that use crowdsourcing and draw a parallel with the level of participation. I will refer then to the different levels of participation detailed in a previous post.

Donation-based business model enables users to donate money to help sustain a project or enterprise, like Wikipedia or Radiohead. The key to make it a sustainable business model is the community: having a strong community of fans is necessary to live only thank to its donations. The organization must find the right correlation between the community volume and the average sum of money received per person for the project or enterprise. It was the first time a band, Radiohead, direct sold via its Web its music to its fans, without intermediary. It was probably a mixed success as the last album “the king of limbs” is actually selling via online prepayment on the official Web of the band. In addition to the official Web site, the band uses the other distribution channels of the music industry. It is the first level of participation on our scale. This model allows an interaction with the public who can only react to the content.

Wikipedia is slightly different. There is a double condition for the business model to be sustainable: donations from the community to keep maintaining the project alive and user-generated content.

A donation-based business model alone is probably too limited for a project to live. The community needs to engage itself in another way in addition of donations. If the community is not actively engaged, the project will need extra earnings on the side or change business model. That explains why Wikipedia can only live on donations: the community is engaged at the highest level of participation via co-creation. The community is then stronger and more keen to sustain the project.

Crowdfunding business model enables citizens or entities to contribute to an enterprise or project by becoming stakeholders. The contribution, usually via an online platform, takes the form of an investment prior to the work being created, a micro o macro credit, or donations. Four categories of crowdfunding business models exist:

The Direct Crowdfunding enables a project to receive donations via its personal online platform to promote itself, engage the community in the production in exchange of merchandising, exclusive goodies, etc. The key in this model, as the one above, is the community. You need to have you own community of fans, important enough, to be able to reach your funding goal to complete your project.

Crowdfunding of non-existing project platform: Kickstarter is the most eloquent exemple of this model. Creators present to the community their project and the funding needs they are looking for on a crowdfunding platform (along with other projects). When the funding campaign becomes active on the platform, direct donations are possible. The funds collected are visible on the platform. If the project meets its funding goals, the producers commit themselves to reward his founders via, merchanding, etc… Similar exemples in Spain are Lánzanos y Verkami.

Crowdfunding existing project (also blogs and websites) business model is a donation system based on voting the sites you wish to support. The user registers to the online platform and set the amount of money which will be distributed among all the projects that he will click on. Always loged on, the user clicks on the platform’s button everytime he wants to fund a site. The money is then distributed to these clicked sites according to the number of clicks per site during a predetermined period of time. Kachingle and Flattr are two exemples.

This business model, in comparison to the previous ones, takes into account the reality of the browsing activity of the cybernaut and reflects better what his/her interests are.

Prefunded project: The platform allows institutions and artists to produce cultural projects together which will later be exhibited in said institutions. The institution is active in the creation process as it contributes to its completion. This model allows artists to freely develop their projects and do not rely on intellectual property to get paid for their work. Goteo is an exemple of this type of business model category.

The key for direct crowdfunding, crowdfunding of non-exhisting project and crowdfunding of existing projects is again the community. Platforms need to have developed, prior to go online, a community that will be strong enough to fund the projects.

These business models are lightly participatory: the community affects the project creation by supporting it financially, giving feedbacks and opinions.

One negative point of these models is, I think, that they only support the initial stage of a cultural project: the funds to produce it but not the rest of the process: distribution, marketing, communication and sales. In a future, these platforms, I believe, must go beyond and try to assist via the crowd participation the creators in the entire cultural process.

To go further, these platforms will need to know the profile of its community to understand why it supports the projects in order to reinforce the values and beliefs of the community. Following are few questions that will need to be answered: to make the community stronger, rewarding it by giving away merchandising, exclusive gifts, etc. is enough on the long term? When the hype around these new platforms will fade away, does the community will be strong enough to keep funding projects only giving away money? Is giving money a level of engagement strong enough to make sustainable these platforms on the long run? The crowdfunding comes from the US as the charity business being quite developped. Will it work as well in Europe as people give less in general and will it last on the long run?

The prefunded project seems to me the most interesting from a participatory point of view and complete: the artist is free to create his/her work after having designed the outlines of his/her project with the institution and is guaranteed to have an earning for his/her work. On the other side, the institution gets the chance to have a tailor-made exposition for its premises and collaborates with the artist in the design process of the exhibition from inception to realisation. The collaboration brings an equal interest for both sides and the artist is accompanyed during the entire process of his/her work: production, implementation, marketing, communication, sales. Both parties brings their respective community. It is the highest level of participation: co-creation.

In most cases, Free as a business model consists in generating revenue via advertising. The companies using this model create an online platform to enable users to generate content so advertisement can be placed on the platform.

There are subcategories for this model that require the participation of the users:

The Freemium business model is a mix of free and paid offers for the users via an online platform. The small percentage of clients that subscribes to the paid service subsidizes the large base of users that do not pay. Flickr, the photo-sharing site of Yahoo! is a well-known exemple: users enjoy a free basic account while users who pay for a pro account benefit from additional features.

The Open-Source Fremium business model enables the customers to enjoy a free product while this one has been developped for free in open source by experts. The entity that serves both parties earns money by offering paid subscription to companies that want a full professional service of the product (client support, maintenance, etc..). Red Hat is an example of this business model. In this business model, the keys are the platform and a strong community of users-creators whom a small percentage will transform as clients by subscribing to the paid service.

In the case of Flickr, the user participates in the content-generation of the platform but not from a co-creation point of view. The content-generation is for its personal use. For Red Hat, there is co-creation from the users as they work together to build a product. It uses the philosophy of open source.

The companies that use Open business model open up its research process to collaborate with outside parties in order to create and capture value. There are two subpatterns recognized for this business model: The Outside-in approach brings in external partners to leverage internal R&D resources. Procter & Gamble is the first to have exploited this method successfully. The Inside-out approach consists in offering the results of intern R&D to organizations in other industries that may need it. GlaxoSmithKline made use if this last pattern.

The company Innocentive uses both methods thank to its online platform by connecting the companies in need of solving a problem with experts willing to solve this problem.

The open source philosophy is the best exemple of co-creation.

The last type of business model that calls on external participation is the multi-sided platform business model. The platform is the intermediary that connects two interdependant groups of customers. Both groups’ interests must be served simultaneously. Nintendo used this pattern to create its Wii video game console. They earn money from the sales of its consoles and also from game developpers who create games for its console via pockets royalties. The App Store of Apple would be a similar exemple.

The challenge for the platform is to attract sufficient customers on each side, one side being able to answer to the needs of the other and vice versa.

It’s a participatory business model as the platform invites creators to build a product.

We notice that the more participatory the business model is, the more rewarding it is for the community. Some business models are still very capitalists as they take advantage of the knowledge of the crowd but do not give back all the fruits of the collaboration (they keep the revenues within the company and the impact of the success for their brands). For participation to be a learning experience, to last and be beneficial for the society in a whole, it will have to be a co-creation process and no less.

Emmanuelle BRESSON

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Credits of photographies: Blausaure http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=all&q=people+together&m=text
Sources:
- FCForum http://fcforum.net/sustainable-models-for-creativity/declaration
- Javier Megias http://www.javiermegias.com/blog/2010/08/algunos-modelos-de-negocio-innovadores/
- Book Business Model Generation of A.Osterwalder & Y. Pigneur

 
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From Interaction to Co-Creation

Some days ago we had a long discussion among several members of A+C+C CoCreation about the differences between the various projects that we have been reviewing.

It helped us to ask ourselves about what characterizes the different labels that are being used by several projects and cultural institutions where new forms of relationship with the public are experienced. We also wondered how the public is no longer a passive element and to what extent each institution or project dares to change.

Each one of the used terms has its difficulties and ambiguitie. Certainly each one can evolve on a different scale. But for the time being, the scale of co-creativity that we present helped us in thinking about several projects and cases. Somehow, we have simplified the scale of participation that can be found in “The Participatory Museum“. We tried to introduce our own vision to go a little beyond participation. At least if participation is understood mostly as the promotion of social relations between the members of the communities around a project or a cultural institution. That is, we go a little beyond the concept of contribution, contributory projects and try to see how to characterize co-creation.

So here are some adjectives that we worked with.

Interactive: These are projects and institutions that promote participation in a limited and predefined way. Much of traditional science museums that were created or renovated between the 60s and the 80s fall into this category. Clearly, this was an important step for museums at that time. A paradigmatic example in the field of science is the Exploratorium in San Francisco. In art, the concept of interactivity is perhaps wider, but it could be identified with a tradition of interaction with viewers. We can book this definition for all projects in which the user does not provide content and reacts to the content prepared by others who are not part of the group of viewers/users.

Open: These would include projects or institutions that intend to show their work processes that are needed to prepare their contents or activities. For example, the MOMA in New York is inviting the public to see the “props” of preparing exhibitions. Halfway between the observation and the collection of interests and needs of the audience, the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey has opened a part of the exhibit design process to users, who may participate in meetings of museum professionals. This could be the zero level of participation.

Participatory: The institution or group leading a project invites participation, with great variability of what is required in this participation. Here sometimes it is worth making a distinction between what is “participatory” and what is “contributory” as Nina Simon remarked in her book. Participatory actions can simply consist in giving opinions, However, they can be more than that and eventually affect the decision making process of the project itself (event, exhibition, etc.): these are the ends of the famous scale of participation of Sherry Arnstein. Contribution also evolves from the simple action of minimal interaction, provision of feedback in the form of opinion, to the contribution of content.

An possible example in the participatory category would be the exhibition organized by Barcelona Center for Contemporary Culture, CCCB, “La ciutat dels horrors” (“The City of Horrors”) where they asked viewers to contribute with photographs of their town that would show some show some “horrific” aspect of it. We have analized this case and we will discuss it in more detail on a future post.

Another example would be the exhibition organized by Mediamatic in Amsterdam around the concept of travel. Mediamatic developed several cycles of invitation and group curation. They created a website on cities around the world, imitating the typical site of a travel agency informative website. They invited local artists of the different cities to act as “guides” in their own city. Travelers scored the artists according to their proposals as guides. This was the basis for selecting an artist from each city to produce an exhibit about his or her city (which should occupy a space of 2x2x2 m in the final exhibition venue). Finally, the  global exhibition was held at Mediamatic. The process was not designed by the participants but by the institution, that is, Mediamatic. Contribution by each artist was done on an individual, apparently there was no much cooperation between artists working on the exhibit of different towns. The institution acted mostly as a promoter of the initiative and as a content aggregator. It was not clear if there was interaction between artists and the public during the process conducive to the final exhibition other than in the “tourist guide” phase.

Co-Creative: In these processes, it can be difficult to tell who is the “public” and who is the institution or the artistic or scientific leader of the project. At the top of co-creativity, the public creates as much as the institution or there is not institution to speak of (apart from the fact that the relationships between the public conducive to the project are a set of norms that can be understood as a temporary institution). The public helps defining the process, its content and its outcome. It is difficult to find fully co-creative projects either in the field of arts or in science. CoCreative processes have some similarities to the processes of meta-design (or P2P Open Design, for example) in which participants (“co-creators”) decide how the process will proceed and then, they join the project playing various roles at different levels of commitment and responsibility, building and providing knowledge in the process. In the project “From contemplation to participation and beyond,” participants co-created the exhibits, but the design process was defined by the leaders of the project. MediaLab Prado has several open formats in which the objective of the project, its process and the contributions are defined by working with the “public.” In these cases, collective creative dialogue is generated.

Traditional institutions are rethinking where they stand in terms of these categories. There is a wide range of response from those who believe that traditional forms of the museum should remain as they are to those who believe that these institutions, both in science and art, must work in more open spaces and weave co-creative relationships with the “formerly called” public. The question is whether or not each institution wants to evolve towards symbiosis (a concept of the A+C+C CoCreation Contextopedia which we will comment in the future), or explore other possibilities in between.

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Credits of photographies:
- Alaskan Dude: http://www.flickr.com/photos/72213316@N00/
- La Mandarina de Newton S.L. 
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Cooking up a new exhibition at the Liberty Science Center

The Liberty Science Center in New Jersey is creating a new exhibition on “Cooking”. This time, though, they have decided to open their kitchen to the public and let people participate in the creation process of this exhibition on the subject of cooking

They have created the network “Cooking up” the Liberty Science Center exhibition, to bring together the exhibition team and outside people who are interested in participating in the development and design of this new exhibition. Their main goal is to create a nice group of people who we can share ideas and add some flavour to the final exhibition.  At the moment, they have more than 700 members that have joined their network.

They also invite people to go to their weekly meetings so there we were for the last two weeks. Each session they discuss about new parts and spaces of the global exhibition. All the details are brought into the conversation and the final conclusions of the meetings are uploaded online. The creation process travels from online to offline to go back online to eventually become offline… During the whole journey contents change thanks to people’s contributions and on the top of that, anyone who follows the journey will, for sure, learn more things about science, food, cooking, technological applications and museum tricks.

This is a great project that we are very pleased to follow!

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Science of the City!

Co-Creating Cultures will start a new participatory exhibition about the Technology and the Science that it is present in the city soon. We will work with the Tech Virtual Museum at San Jose collaboration.

One of the main aim of this project will be to explore the technology and the science principles that are inside and around a city.

Science of the City is an exhibition that wants to enable citizens to participate in its own creation. People will be asked to upload their videos about where they can find technology or science in their own city or any other city that they visit during their work time, hollidays or just travelling around. This project wants to show people that tech and science are not just disciplines made in a lab. We find them everyday in our way to the school or enjoying a movie at the cinema. With this initiative we want to encourage people to look for that tech and science for themselves. They will be the new tech and science communicators!

Here you will find more information!

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Workshop on ductile and transformable exhibition materials, “exhibition matter”

This year was the eighth edition of the meetings of science, art and thought organized by Art Santa Monica in Barcelona. This time the concept of matter was the focus to be addressed from different cultural perspectives and knowledge backgrounds. Ramon Sangüesa and Irene Lapuente from Co-Creating Cultures facilitated a workshop on transformable and ductile materials for exhibitions, on Saturday 2nd of October at 11am.

Again, the participants’ creativity, dialogue and good vibes were the most important highlights of the day. During three hours, twenty people were organized into three groups using clustering techniques and they were fast to organize themselves and build up three proposals: “the Spiral of knowledge”, “the scientific city” and “art without a message”. When the first hour of work was over, and a first sketch of what would each proposal be made, each member impersonated a character to behave as users critically “visiting” the other projects. Characters were not short of personality and originality at all! At this stage of the workshop, participants gave life to an art dealer, speechless people who communicating only by writing, or  a specially rebel teenager, among other colourful additions. Finally, a lively debate and discussion finished a pleasant early-morning session. We would like to thank all the participants for their comments, dicussion and creativity. Thanks to all of them!

In the afternoon, the schedule of the meetings followed with cooking workshops, conference and many more activities!

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