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Networked Minds: The History and Future of Collaboration (Part 2)

June 4, 2021 at 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm EDT

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Interintellect hosts Bryan Kam and Isabela Granic continue with the second part of their salon series that aims to understand both the history and potential futures of networked thought.

“And he refused to specialize in anything, preferring to keep an eye on the overall estate rather than any of its parts … And Nikolay’s management produced the most brilliant results.” — Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

“Collective IQ is a measure of how effectively a collection of people can concurrently develop, integrate, and apply its knowledge toward its mission.” — Douglas Engelbart

In this second salon in our series on Networked Minds, we will continue the generative and wide-ranging discussion that began in Part 1. You need not have attended the first salon, and the readings remain the same, to allow a deeper discussion of those readings. Together we will see what we can learn from the successes of the best collaborations in history, and from their pitfalls. We will address some of our most pressing questions, some of which came up in Part 1:

Can we collaborate with people from the past, through their books, letters, and journals? What might the eusocial insects, like ants and bees, teach us about productive collaborations? How can we foster shared flow states that are maintained by partners taking turns working and sustaining the inspiration? Can transcendent interests arise online, as they sometimes do in the best face-to-face collaborations? What minor frictions in current collaborative thinking tools might, if removed, release the brakes on creativity?

We would love for you to join the discussion and bring your own questions, perspectives, and experiences with tools for networked thought!

For a list of some of the most compelling characteristics of transformative collaborations, see this twitter thread that was generated at the last salon on Networked Minds:



Context for the Salon Series:

Why do some collaborations result in creative explosions? In this salon, we’ll discuss the theory and practice of collaboration. We will start by considering the history of famous “scenes” throughout the world and across the centuries. Are there common conditions that can explain the efflorescence of philosophy in Ancient Athens, the output of the Bloomsbury Group or the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in London, the Beat Generation in New York and San Francisco, or the Dadaists in Switzerland? Why do musical genres sometimes erupt with such energy — with the wild power and pathos of the Punks in the 70s? How is it that so many scientists came from the same handful of Hungarian high schools? Is there a code to the constructive alchemy or competitive pressure produced in the close (and often fraught) famous partnerships — Lennon and McCartney, Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Freud and Jung, Bogart and Becall, Gauguin and van Gogh, Marx and Engels, Kahneman and Tversky?

In the second half of the salon, we will explore whether the principles that made creative collaborations so productive in the past might shed light on how best to approach the affordances and pitfalls of the digital age. We will cover the pragmatics of collaborative thought on the internet. Which tools are useful, and which are distractions? What can we learn from enormous collaborative efforts like Wikipedia, Github, and the Linux kernel? Could tools or processes provide scaffolding for collaborations which reliably exceed the potential of any of its individual members? How can we capture ideas in writing without impeding the energy and speed of thinking aloud together?


Great to read or watch pre-salon:

Where Good Ideas Come From (5 min video)

Two is the Magic Number: A New Science of Creativity

As We May Think

How Can We Develop Transformative Tools for Thought?

excerpt from Bill Bryson’s At Home




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June 4, 2021
4:00 pm - 7:00 pm EDT
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