The Future of Collaboration: Sharing and Work in the Networked Age

Saturday 17 October, 6.00pm until 8.00pm, Brighton

NEW VENUE: The Thistle Hotel, Kings Road, Brighton, BN1 2GS (overlooking the Brighton seafront)

Tickets: £7.50 (£5 concessions) per person. Tickets are available from the Academy of Ideas website.

The 21st century looks set to be age of online collaboration. While old forms of community and solidarity have waned, leaving us apparently more fragmented and individualised, the social web enables many of us to work, play and organise with others in ways previously unimaginable. Technologies like Flickr, Delicious and Wikipedia evidence new means of sharing information and working together. Many suggest these technologies will have far-reaching social implications, and even presage a new form of production and work outside the market system. While traditional free market capitalism is compromised by the worldwide recession, the world wide web is said to promise an exciting alternative. Wired’s Kevin Kelly suggests we are entering a new collectivist epoch, a ‘New Socialism’. Technology guru Howard Rheingold sees these developments as disruptive, and will change the way people ‘meet, mate, work, fight, buy, sell’. Charles Leadbeater, author of We-Think, sees the new means of networked collaboration as presaging a new production model: ‘Mass Innovation rather than Mass Production’.

There are challenges to the optimists, though. What about privacy and authorship, if innovations, ideas and information are open to all? Does ‘sharing’ our photos, ideas, and writing open up egalitarian and creative possibilities, or merely allow multinational corporations to take advantage of free labour and have access to our intellectual property? Cory Doctorow argues we are in danger of becoming IP serfs having to pay to access ideas which should be freely available, and champions a ‘creative commons’ as a bulwark against this trend.

Can and should these new forms of production be regulated? If so, by whom and how? Is new technology really a utopian challenge to the market, or merely more of the same in virtual space? Can the profound problems of social fragmentation and an economic system in crisis be resolved by sharing technologies and collaborating and innovating with online ‘friends’?

Dr Michael Bull
reader, media studies, University of Sussex; core member, Future Trends Forum; author, Sound Moves: iPod culture and urban experience

Cory Doctorow
novelist; co-editor,; author, Content: selected essays on technology, creativity, copyright and the future of the future

Nico Macdonald
principal, Spy; writer, consultant and researcher on innovation, technology and media

Dr Robert Clowes
chair, Mind & Cognition Group, Nova Institute of Philosophy, Lisbon University; chair, Lisbon Salon

Produced by
Sean Bell secretary and founder member, The Brighton Salon; copy-editor, writer and journalist
Dr Robert Clowes chair, Mind & Cognition Group, Nova Institute of Philosophy, Lisbon University; chair, Lisbon Salon
Dan Travis director, Brighton Salon; tennis coach; author How to teach Young Children Tennis and In Defence of Competitive Sport.
Recommended readings

Perry and Lester invent things. All sorts of things. Seashell robots that make toast, Boogie Woogie Elmo dolls that drive cars. They also invent an entirely new economic system.

Cory Doctorow, HarperVoyager, 29 October 2009

The New Socialism: Global Collectivist Society Is Coming Online

Bill Gates once derided open source advocates with the worst epithet a capitalist can muster. These folks, he said, were a

Kevin Kelly, Wired, 22 May 2009

The dialectic of wearing an iPod

Michael Bull argues that the wearing of iPods signals the emergence of a new self, one that is cut off from 'chilly' urban landscapes. Perhaps. But that is not the whole story.

Rob Clowes, spiked, August 2008

Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright and the Future of the Future

Readers will discover how America chose Happy Meal toys over copyright, why Facebook is taking a faceplant, how the Internet is basically just a giant Xerox machine, why Wikipedia is a poor cousin of "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy", and how to enjoy free e-books.

Cory Doctorow, Tachyon Publications, 1 January 2008

Sound Moves: IPod Culture and Urban Experience

Tthe Apple iPod acts as an urban Sherpa for many of its users and in doing so joins the mobile army of technologies that many of us habitually use to accompany our daily lives. Through our use of such mobile and largely sound based devices, Sound Moves demonstrates how and why the spaces of the city are being transformed right in front of our ears.

Michael Bull, Routledge, 12 December 2007

Session partners