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Fwd: [p2p-research] [p2pf] Scenius, Innovation and Epicenters

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  • Pamela McLean
    Interesting concepts.Scenius, Innovation and Epicenters (if you don t want
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 29, 2008
      Interesting concepts.Scenius, Innovation and Epicenters
      (if you don't want to go to the link you can scroll down and read the information at the bottom of the email below)

      These ideas seem very relevant to  Minciu Sodas - which I think fits the description of a Scenius epicentre - granted the author seems to think that a physical space is needed for an epicentre - but I think Andrius has managed to create a virtual one.

      It could be worth commenting to the blog - only open for comments for about ten days more


      ---------- Forwarded message ----------
      From: Michel Bauwens <michelsub2004@...>
      Date: 2008/6/29
      Subject: Re: [p2p-research] [p2pf] Scenius, Innovation and Epicenters
      To: p2pf@yahoogroups.com, Peer-To-Peer Research List <p2presearch@...>

      Thanks Kev, some comments on the article below here at http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/networked-scenius-private-patronage-and-the-partner-state/2008/06/29

      On Sun, Jun 29, 2008 at 7:44 AM, simul8 <kev.flanagan@...> wrote:


      Sent to you by simul8 via Google Reader:


      via WorldChanging by Alex Steffen on 6/26/08

      Ally Kevin Kelly has a terrific piece up about Brian Eno's concept of scenius:

      Brian Eno suggested the word to convey the extreme creativity that groups, places or "scenes" can occasionally generate. His actual definition is: "Scenius stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene. It is the communal form of the concept of the genius."

      Individuals immersed in a productive scenius will blossom and produce their best work. When buoyed by scenius, you act like genius. Your like-minded peers, and the entire environment inspire you.

      The geography of scenius is nurtured by several factors:

      • Mutual appreciation -- Risky moves are applauded by the group, subtlety is appreciated, and friendly competition goads the shy. Scenius can be thought of as the best of peer pressure.
      • Rapid exchange of tools and techniques -- As soon as something is invented, it is flaunted and then shared. Ideas flow quickly because they are flowing inside a common language and sensibility.
      • Network effects of success -- When a record is broken, a hit happens, or breakthrough erupts, the success is claimed by the entire scene. This empowers the scene to further success.
      • Local tolerance for the novelties -- The local "outside" does not push back too hard against the transgressions of the scene. The renegades and mavericks are protected by this buffer zone.

      Scenius can erupt almost anywhere, and at different scales: in a corner of a company, in a neighborhood, or in an entire region.

      I've been lucky enough to be involved (at least peripherally) in a few really vibrant scenes of communal innovation, and in my experience, the one thing they all have in common is what I've called an epicenter:

      [E]very community needs the space where people who do innovative, creative, risky, noble, worldchanging things get together and fuel each other's ardor. Meeting your allies -- shaking hands, sitting down and eating together, talking, laughing, getting to look one another in the eye, getting to know someone in all the rich, primate non-verbal ways which can only happen in actual physical proximity -- is powerful. Epicenters are tools.

      Kevin quite rightly points out that scenius is difficult, if not impossible, to create on demand, and the same is true of its epicenters. You can't just open a bar and expect collective genius to erupt. Artists can tell you that the same thing is true of any form of human creativity -- it just doesn't turn on like a tap. But artists can also tell you that while you can't command creativity and innovation, you can create a welcoming space for it and increase the likelihood that it will show up. It can't be commanded, but it can be courted.

      The art of courting genius is one that people hoping to solve the world's big problems would do well to learn, because truly worldchanging solutions don't arrive steadily or predictably on schedules as deliverables for rational investment. No, truly worldchanging solutions tend to arrive in unruly clumps, in great non-linear spills of changed thinking.

      This reality vexes today's philanthropists and social investors. For the past two decades, the trend in the practice of giving money intelligently in an effort to do good has been all about measurable outcomes and predictable returns on giving. This approach has had some benefit, driving social enterprises to leaner operations; but mostly it's been an abject failure. Indeed, as I wrote last summer, many social investors are finding that in trying to bring predictability to their work, they've become incredibly averse to risk, and that this fear of risky giving has left them almost completely incapable of finding and funding efforts that would create the conditions for the emergence of the kinds of innovation we most need.

      (Worse yet is the trend towards half-assed citizen media and social networking approaches, projects based on the insane assumption that all that's needed to court collaborative creativity is a website and a good advertising campaign. This tendency to think that innovative collaboration comes free of cost, bubbling up out the Internet like spring water, betrays a poor understanding of the actual workings of either online collaboration or quality thinking. Most often, when these open/ citizen-media/ online-collaborative approaches work, it's because a core group in the project provides most of the important input, and usually curates most of the other participants' input into useful forms. So, frequently, funders' hopes that they can create transformation on the cheap actually just create a system that appears cheap because it externalizes the cost of expert participation onto the shoulders of others... and when their enthusiasm lags (or they need to get day jobs), the project falters or dies. The examples of failed peer-based social innovation efforts outnumber the successful cases by orders of magnitude.)

      I suspect what we need is an exploding number of epicenters, independent and creative people and groups, and well-designed networks to support them -- things that set the conditions for a planetary explosion of new thinking. We need to prepare lots of welcoming spaces where genius can take roost. That's going to take some risk-oblivious, keenly perceptive, imaginative money.

      But even more, I suspect it's going to take worldchangers understanding how valuable networked scenius is, and joining efforts to welcome it into their own lives and communities.

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