Ebook in Epub format

Introducing the Cooptic project

Cooptic is an initiative for innovation transfer funded by the European Commission within the framework of the Leonardo da Vinci project. Four partners specializing in innovative teaching methods - Suprago Florac and Outils-Réseaux (Montpellier), the Cooperation School Aposta from Catalonia and the Regional Centre for Environmental Initiatives (CRIE Mouscron) from Wallonia – joined forces to work on adapting a training tool for collaborative project facilitators.

During the Cooptic project, fifteen people from three countries (Belgium, France and Spain) received training to become trainers of cooperative project and network facilitators, in their respective circles.

Cooptic today has 60 network facilitators forming a real pool in three European countries. This network developed over the course of three years:

image Coopticpresentatio.png

Introducing the team of partners

The Cooptic programme linked four structures:

image LogoSupAgro_458x300_72dpi.jpg (22.9kB)
Supagro Florac: Agriculture and Environmental Education Institute has been providing training to facilitators of many themes and geographic networks on public agricultural education for many years, as well as providing technical support for them. Recognized nationally for its expertise in education sciences and its experimental teaching activities and for promoting innovative training tools, Supagro Florac shares its knowledge with its partners in this project. It also oversaw the creation and coordination of the whole project.

image LogoOR_AvecNom_582x656_72dpi.jpg (58.7kB)

The ‘reference’ association in France for networking. Its main mission is to start and accompany cooperative networks and practices using methodological tools and the Internet. In 2010, Outils-Réseaux created the Animacoop training tool for facilitators and professionals working in the fields of cooperation and network facilitation. This Animacoop tool was a part of the European Cooptic project.

image LogoAposta_1181x695_72dpi.jpg (0.2MB)
Catalan association: Cooperation school in charge of transfer in Catalonia.

image LogoCrie_591x296_300dpi.jpg (90.0kB)
Walloon association for environmental education in charge of transfer in Wallonia.

These partners brought together the skills of several institutions, universities, researchers, and local actors and groups engaging in participatory development who actively participated in drafting the e-book you have in your hands.

Introduction to the learning tool

The Cooptic learning tool is based on educational principles that aim to accompany trainees along the path to autonomy and building their capacity to carry out informed actions. Trainees are the main focus of the teaching tool. These principles lead to the choice of teaching methods and resources that are articulated around three ideas: the crosscutting nature of knowledge and collaborative skills to be learnt; a link to the professional projects of trainees; and the use of the possibilities offered by digital tools to innovate in teaching practices.

What can be learnt with the Cooptic training?

The training contents favour the development of operational skills linked to the facilitation of cooperative projects: managing information, co-producing resources, starting network dynamics, group facilitation…
These contents are structured around 12 key concepts and 12 crosscutting collaborative skills:

image schema1Cooptic.png

These collaborative skills are dealt with in parallel at three different levels:
  • at an individual level, training develops the engagement of a person in a collaborative project,
  • at a group level, training deals with understanding group dynamics, networks, groups and skills to manage a group,
  • a third level relating to the environment refers to openness factors and communication “outside” the network.

How is the learning done?

During a training period of 14 weeks, trainees work remotely and on-site following a progression in three parallel itineraries:

  • Individual itinerary:
On-line contents follow the stages in a network’s existence.

image schema4_Etapesreseau_Cooptic.png

  • Creation of the network: the group is established, a “group of individuals” becomes aware that it is a learning group.
  • The network becomes informed: exchanges on the projects lead to a set of common experiences and problems.
  • The network is transformed: individual and collective events are created in small-group collaborative work.
  • Network outreach: spreading the outcomes of the cooperation works outside the community brings value to it.
  • Network consolidation: this allows for an assessment and a reflexion on how to maintain the dynamics alive and how to open up to others.

  • Collective trainee itinerary :
Trainees produce new contents collectively

image schema3Cooptic.png

  • Project itinerary :
The creation of a collaborative project by the trainee is a pre-requisite, and the activities refer to this project throughout the training. During the first week, trainees introduce the context and the object of their project, and then test the methods and tools on their project, explaining the whole experience relating to their own personal learning process. At each of the three meetings, an update is given on how the training has contributed so far to the project’s progress. Training actions speed up the project in its professional context and the lessons learnt from the training reciprocally become more “tangible” since they are implicit in the action.

A pedagogy impacted by new technologies

A training ecosystem:
A methodology to move from “network facilitators” to “trainers of network facilitators”
A combination of on-site and distance exchanges using Internet-based tools
Using collaborative tools and methods during the training process.
Moments to exchange practices
Individual work on the trainees’ collaborative projects
Co-generation of knowledge: pedagogical training plans.

The Cooptic ebook

The ebook that you are handling contains the resources used during the CoopTic training session. Some were written specifically for the ebook because the contents were presented orally during training. This book is a state of our knowledge in the field of cooperation and collaboration at the time of writing in late 2013. But this is an area that is just beginning to be studied and we continue to experiment, to imagine, to try, to dream ... To make it short, even if the publication of this ebook is the outcome of the European project Leonardo CoopTic, this is not the end but just the bases of our future projects: a resource center on collaboration? A MOOC? Or perhaps something that does not exist yet!
Enjoy your reading and your "small irreversible cooperation experiences" to come!

They took part in the adventure !

Coordination :
Hélène Laxenaire

Authors :
Gatien Bataille
Jean-Michel Cornu
Antoine Delarue
Mathilde Guiné
Claire Herrgott
Emilie Hullo
Corinne Lamarche
Hélène Laxenaire
Heather Marsh
Laurent Marseault
Daniel Mathieu
Jordi Picart i Barrot
Manon Pierrel
Frédéric Renier

Violette Roche
Elzbieta Sanojca
SupAgro Florac
Vincent Tardieu
Laurent Tézenas
Françoise Viala
and the Animacoop trainees.

Drawings :
Eric Grelet

Conception of routes
Claire d'Hauteville
Hélène Laxenaire
Elzbieta Sanojca

Translation in French :
Collaborative translation by members of the group AnimFr (article about stimergy)

Translation in English :
Suzy Lewis-Vialar
Abdel Guerdane

Translation in Catalan :
Jordi Picart i Barrot

Proofreading (of the French part) :
Caroline Seguin

Standardization of texts :
Cathy Azema
Gatien Bataille
David Delon
Corinne Lamarche
Hélène Laxenaire
Christian Resche
Cécile Trédaniel

Florian Schmitt

Graphic standards :
Imago design

Settlement and monitoring of the Leonardo project
Guy Levêque
Cathy Azema
Martine Pedulla
Stéphanie Guinard

This work was achieved within the framework of a project of transfer of innovation (TOI) funded by the European Union through the Leonardo Da Vinci program.

All the contents (texts, images, videos) are under Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 FR license. This means that you can freely distribute, modify and use them in a commercial context. You have two obligations: quote the original authors and the content that you create from ours should be shared in the same conditions under CC-BY-SA .

Introducing the Cooptic project

Cooptic is an initiative for innovation transfer funded by the European Commission within the framework of the Leonardo da Vinci project. Four partners specializing in innovative teaching methods - Suprago Florac and Outils-Réseaux (Montpellier), the Cooperation School Aposta from Catalonia and the Regional Centre for Environmental Initiatives (CRIE Mouscron) from Wallonia – joined forces to work on adapting a training tool for collaborative project facilitators.

During the Cooptic project, fifteen people from three countries (Belgium, France and Spain) received training to become trainers of cooperative project and network facilitators, in their respective circles.

Cooptic today has 60 network facilitators forming a real pool in three European countries. This network developed over the course of three years:

image Coopticpresentatio.png

Introducing the team of partners

The Cooptic programme linked four structures:

image LogoSupAgro_458x300_72dpi.jpg (22.9kB)
Supagro Florac: Agriculture and Environmental Education Institute has been providing training to facilitators of many themes and geographic networks on public agricultural education for many years, as well as providing technical support for them. Recognized nationally for its expertise in education sciences and its experimental teaching activities and for promoting innovative training tools, Supagro Florac shares its knowledge with its partners in this project. It also oversaw the creation and coordination of the whole project.

image LogoOR_AvecNom_582x656_72dpi.jpg (58.7kB)

The ‘reference’ association in France for networking. Its main mission is to start and accompany cooperative networks and practices using methodological tools and the Internet. In 2010, Outils-Réseaux created the Animacoop training tool for facilitators and professionals working in the fields of cooperation and network facilitation. This Animacoop tool was a part of the European Cooptic project.

image LogoAposta_1181x695_72dpi.jpg (0.2MB)
Catalan association: Cooperation school in charge of transfer in Catalonia.

image LogoCrie_591x296_300dpi.jpg (90.0kB)
Walloon association for environmental education in charge of transfer in Wallonia.

These partners brought together the skills of several institutions, universities, researchers, and local actors and groups engaging in participatory development who actively participated in drafting the e-book you have in your hands.

Introduction to the learning tool

The Cooptic learning tool is based on educational principles that aim to accompany trainees along the path to autonomy and building their capacity to carry out informed actions. Trainees are the main focus of the teaching tool. These principles lead to the choice of teaching methods and resources that are articulated around three ideas: the crosscutting nature of knowledge and collaborative skills to be learnt; a link to the professional projects of trainees; and the use of the possibilities offered by digital tools to innovate in teaching practices.

What can be learnt with the Cooptic training?

The training contents favour the development of operational skills linked to the facilitation of cooperative projects: managing information, co-producing resources, starting network dynamics, group facilitation…
These contents are structured around 12 key concepts and 12 crosscutting collaborative skills:

image schema1Cooptic.png

These collaborative skills are dealt with in parallel at three different levels:
  • at an individual level, training develops the engagement of a person in a collaborative project,
  • at a group level, training deals with understanding group dynamics, networks, groups and skills to manage a group,
  • a third level relating to the environment refers to openness factors and communication “outside” the network.

How is the learning done?

During a training period of 14 weeks, trainees work remotely and on-site following a progression in three parallel itineraries:

  • Individual itinerary:
On-line contents follow the stages in a network’s existence.

image schema4_Etapesreseau_Cooptic.png

  • Creation of the network: the group is established, a “group of individuals” becomes aware that it is a learning group.
  • The network becomes informed: exchanges on the projects lead to a set of common experiences and problems.
  • The network is transformed: individual and collective events are created in small-group collaborative work.
  • Network outreach: spreading the outcomes of the cooperation works outside the community brings value to it.
  • Network consolidation: this allows for an assessment and a reflexion on how to maintain the dynamics alive and how to open up to others.

  • Collective trainee itinerary :
Trainees produce new contents collectively

image schema3Cooptic.png

  • Project itinerary :
The creation of a collaborative project by the trainee is a pre-requisite, and the activities refer to this project throughout the training. During the first week, trainees introduce the context and the object of their project, and then test the methods and tools on their project, explaining the whole experience relating to their own personal learning process. At each of the three meetings, an update is given on how the training has contributed so far to the project’s progress. Training actions speed up the project in its professional context and the lessons learnt from the training reciprocally become more “tangible” since they are implicit in the action.

A pedagogy impacted by new technologies

A training ecosystem:
A methodology to move from “network facilitators” to “trainers of network facilitators”
A combination of on-site and distance exchanges using Internet-based tools
Using collaborative tools and methods during the training process.
Moments to exchange practices
Individual work on the trainees’ collaborative projects
Co-generation of knowledge: pedagogical training plans.

The Cooptic ebook

The ebook that you are handling contains the resources used during the CoopTic training session. Some were written specifically for the ebook because the contents were presented orally during training. This book is a state of our knowledge in the field of cooperation and collaboration at the time of writing in late 2013. But this is an area that is just beginning to be studied and we continue to experiment, to imagine, to try, to dream ... To make it short, even if the publication of this ebook is the outcome of the European project Leonardo CoopTic, this is not the end but just the bases of our future projects: a resource center on collaboration? A MOOC? Or perhaps something that does not exist yet!
Enjoy your reading and your "small irreversible cooperation experiences" to come!

They took part in the adventure !

Coordination :
Hélène Laxenaire

Authors :
Gatien Bataille
Jean-Michel Cornu
Antoine Delarue
Mathilde Guiné
Claire Herrgott
Emilie Hullo
Corinne Lamarche
Hélène Laxenaire
Heather Marsh
Laurent Marseault
Daniel Mathieu
Jordi Picart i Barrot
Manon Pierrel
Frédéric Renier

Violette Roche
Elzbieta Sanojca
SupAgro Florac
Vincent Tardieu
Laurent Tézenas
Françoise Viala
and the Animacoop trainees.

Drawings :
Eric Grelet

Conception of routes
Claire d'Hauteville
Hélène Laxenaire
Elzbieta Sanojca

Translation in French :
Collaborative translation by members of the group AnimFr (article about stimergy)

Translation in English :
Suzy Lewis-Vialar
Abdel Guerdane

Translation in Catalan :
Jordi Picart i Barrot

Proofreading (of the French part) :
Caroline Seguin

Standardization of texts :
Cathy Azema
Gatien Bataille
David Delon
Corinne Lamarche
Hélène Laxenaire
Christian Resche
Cécile Trédaniel

Florian Schmitt

Graphic standards :
Imago design

Settlement and monitoring of the Leonardo project
Guy Levêque
Cathy Azema
Martine Pedulla
Stéphanie Guinard

This work was achieved within the framework of a project of transfer of innovation (TOI) funded by the European Union through the Leonardo Da Vinci program.

All the contents (texts, images, videos) are under Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 FR license. This means that you can freely distribute, modify and use them in a commercial context. You have two obligations: quote the original authors and the content that you create from ours should be shared in the same conditions under CC-BY-SA .


A change in posture for associations: embracing cooperation

Card's author : Corinne Lamarche et Claire Herrgott - SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : Setting up a one-day training course on network facilitation for local associations.

Why CoopLoc ?

After the training course CoopTic, we were asked to explain to some fifteen facilitators what we had learnt, in what was called a "scaling-down phase". Inhabitants from Lozère, with a dense associative fabric, wanted us to share our experiences with the local associations. We often heard: we always find the same people attending the different associations, people don't participate,…so, how can we encourage participation? How can we provide paid people or volunteers with a tool to optimise the way they facilitate these association networks?

Formalising the project

At first we were wondering what the duration of the training should be, the number of participants, the content of the course: we wanted to deal with so many things we had heard and experiences in Cooptic.
At the Moustic Meeting, we signed up for a workshop on the Project accelerator method. After forty-five minutes at last we had found the answers to our questions: "Conceiving a 6-hour training tool for 15 people with three objectives: living an irreversible cooperation experience, discovering collaborative tools and formulating a change in posture to facilitate participation of a network or association's members".
Thanks to this method, around ten people cleared the way and opened action tips to us.

What tools for organisation tasks ?

The tools used depended on the tasks to be done:
  • a wiki: where we created a section called Organisation (pedagogical plan, questionnaire), a section on Training (a page for participants where everyone could introduce themselves, a page for the day's tempo, a picnic page to organise a collaborative picnic) a section on Resources (links to networks and facilitator training resources, sites, articles, tools and a bibliography)
  • a file shared on Google Drive: a form for the registration of participants, for the report sent one week later; a text file to write an email between two people to then send it to the participants; a text file to write the press review article after the training course where all participants could contribute;
  • a Pad: for collaborative writing during the day of training;
  • a freeplane: one for a summarised introduction to the session, with Internet links; and another one that was completed on-site, at the end of the session, to explain the remarks made by the trainees;
  • a Doodle: to organise a picnic, which was sent to each participant to foster a bit of sharing
  • a Dropbox: to save final documents (the final email on pdf, the freeplane, the attendance sheet, the chart for the barcamp).

Pooling resources on the platform CoopTic during our own training allowed us to recover some parts of the course, (especially the course by Jean-Michel Cornu on Cooperation in 28 keywords)
On site, we were asked to fill in an on-line chart with the associations everyone knew, giving an email address or a physical address to increase our outreach.

Using these tools allowed us to reduce the number of meetings, and we were able to work on on-line documents, at a distance, between several people (to improve their contents) and to get the trainees involved in the training right from the start, as well as along the way.

Animation of collaborative tools : restraints and enablers.

Card's author : Outils-réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : animer

What restrains

  • Lack of participation
  • At tools level
  • At facilitator's level
  • At project level
  • Lack of time

What enables

  • At people's level
  • At tools level
  • At organisation level
  • At projects level
  • The 9 laws of cooperation

1. What restrains

Main pitfall : lack of participation (non-collaborative situation)

At people's level

  • Lack of time : to handle the tools, to use them
  • Fear of other people's opinion, of judgement (from peers), of being ridiculous
  • Problem with writing, with the language
  • Disconnection with real life (too virtual, which person(s) and which project(s) are behind the tool ?
  • Difficulty to change one's practices to adopt those of the group (resistance to change)
  • Problems of copyrights, intellectual property, fear that information might be stolen, Fear of losing power by sharing information.
  • Difficulty in handling tools, technical fear :
    • fear of difficulty
    • fear with web tools
    • computer = complicated
    • heterogeneousness of the group with the handling of tools.
  • A difficult access to internet :
    • slow connection
    • obsolete software
  • Difficulty to get logged in :
    • loss of the password
    • loss of the web address
  • Lack of motivation for the project, members don't make the link with their own personal interests :
    • fear of misunderstanding messages
    • habit of a centralized working
    • institutional environment

At tools level

  • Fear of tools, of difficulty, of an not enough ergonomic interface : the computer is a problem.
  • Equipment, obsolete connexion
  • Protection, identification.
  • Not adapted needs.
  • An implementation that is not progressive enough, that doesn't take sufficiently into account the different stages of the group's life.
  • Difficulty to translate texts with emotion and hidden meaning.
  • Several tools for the same use.
  • Need for a paper base, for concrete.
  • Complicated Tools.
  • One can't find how to participate.
  • An evolution of tools that goes too fast (displays, features).

At facilitator's level

  • Too many requests (urgent ! To validate, misled question).
  • Omnipresence or absence of the facilitator.
  • Messages too long, too many items of information , not enough transparency.
  • Founder = gravedigger.
  • Employee : the financing of the job overrides on the network's objectives.
  • Not enough listening of the group's needs.
  • The facilitator does himself instead of making do.
  • Mixing up in the roles : management, leadership, facilitator.

At project level

  • Ethical drift, risk of rupture.
  • Institutional representation ( Fear of losing power by sharing information.).
  • Demobbing : bad apprehension of involvement.
  • Difficulty in perceiving concretely the projects, its results.
  • Relevance of the project.
  • Vocabulary : level of the shared jargon ?
  • Complexity : members can't see the entirety of the project any more.
  • Level of involvement that is too high.
  • Lack of visibility: of the time required, of the project's interest, of its purpose.
  • No facilitator.
  • No tracks of the project's story.

The time

  • Lack of time :
    • for the handling of tools
    • for the involvement in the project.
  • Different rhythms: employees / volunteers.

2. What eases

At people's level

  • Physical meetings, friendliness
  • Esteem assessment, quotation of all contributors
  • Mixing up of audiences (see forum)
  • Reduction of the risk of participating, enabling exit and multi : -membership : simplified membership procedure, possibility of disengagement!
  • Virtuous circle of motivation :
    • Project / meaningful action
    • Feeling of ability
    • controllability :
      • cognitive engagement
      • perseverance
      • success.
  • Making up individual interest with collective interest.
  • Showing the mechanism.
  • Win-win strategy
  • Questioning people on their objectives
  • Welcoming new comers, sponsoring.
  • Technical back up : knowing where to find the technical referent, getting instructions for use, assistance sections

At tools level

  • Behaving rules
  • Netiquette
  • Progressive implementation
  • Simplify !!! Hide features
  • Instructions for use, assistance section, trainings...

At organisation level

Upload file Cea.jpg
  • Showing the group's activity : summary, reformulation, historical background, showing what is happening in sub-groups, regular news : summaries (TST)
  • Strong incentive to develop habits : only put reports on the wiki, make mistakes in the spelling of people's names on purpose
  • « Professional » facilitators :
    • emerging jobs
    • separating organization from facilitation
    • know how to be rather than know how to do
    • being in permanent alert
  • Synthesizing, reformulating, gardening

At project level

  • Propose an historical background, an notebook of events
  • Minimize the needs at the beginning : putting on line unfinished productions
  • Control critical tasks : compromise between flexibility and continuity of the system, the project must content itself with a minimum contributions
  • Work rather with thoughtfulness than with intention : and projects emerge by listening to the group, pinpointing objectives instead of expected results
  • Risk analysis : will of success or fear of failure ?
  • Definition of purposes and running (SAGACE matrix)
  • Clear objectives , charter
  • Productions : Free Licenses to turn them into common properties

The 9 laws of cooperation

  • Reduce participation risks
  • Lower the threshold of acting out
  • Non consumables goods and environment of abundance
  • Communities which last converge on cooperation
  • Evaluation by esteem
  • Minimizing needs at the beginning
  • Minimizing failure risks by controlling critical tasks
  • Time for opportunities
  • Never forget any of the rules !

Lowering the threshold of acting out

Acting out with human beings tallies with a rude fall

  • Free software :
    • Giving, before any other action, an a priori authorization for use and modification thanks to a license rather than imposing an authorization request is another example of elements which ease the acting out. (Jean-Michel Cornu)
  • Tela Botanica :
    • Registration is easy, licence and charge free.
    • Use of Forum and Wiki
  • Incentive to participation with simple exercises :
    • Make a mistake on purpose in the spelling of a person's name to have her react and encourage her to correct it by herself

Non consumables goods and environment of abundance

  • Tela Botanica : the Flora of Metropolitan France project
    • Stemming from the work of one person : work of naming and taxonomy on 75 000 names.
    • 55 599 files modified by members of the community
    • Adding of 46 794 vernacular names (several languages)

Communities which last converge on cooperation


  • Joining very much upstream to avoid competition downstream.
    • GNU/Linux
      • GNU and Free Software Foundation : 1985
      • Linux : 1991
    • the Flora of Metropolitan France project : 2001

Evaluation by esteem

  • Tela : Project of compiling botanical articles (25674 articles)

  • De Boissieu Henri - Un acer hybride nouveau pour la flore française. - 1912 - dendrologie, plante hybride, acer x bormulleri, localité, p. 77-78 - Société Botanique de France, Bulletin de la Société Botanique de France, Bull. Soc. Bot. Fr. (1904), Tome 59 - Fascicule 1 - Saisie : Jean TIMBAL -Art. n°13807.

  • Delahaye Thierry, Henze Gaston, Lequay Arthur - Les orchidées de Monthoux - 1996 - Savoie, Avant-pays, Acéracées, acer monspessulanum, Fabacées, Argyrolobium zanonii, p. 15-19 - Départ./Région : 73 - Société Mycologique et Botanique de Chambéry, Bull. de la sté Myco et Bota de la Région Chambérienne, N°1 - Saisie : Sylvie SERVE - Art. n°479.

  • Delahaye Thierry, Lequay Arthur, Prunier Patrice - Les découvertes botaniques de nos sociétaires en 1996 - 1997 - Savoie, violacées, Viola collina, loranthacées, Viscum album, acéracées, acer monspessulanum, joncacées, Juncus arcticus, liliacées, Erythronium dens-canis, p. 31-32 - Départ./Région : 73 - Société Mycologique et Botanique de Chambéry, Bull. de la sté Myco et Bota de la Région Chambérienne, N°2 - Saisie : Sylvie SERVE - Art. n°495.

Minimizing needs at the beginning

  • Linus started by re-using codes and ideas of Minixa (the whole of Minix code has been given up or completly re-wrote since)
  • The "Cathédrale et Bazar " example : Fetchmail based on popclient and Fetchpop
  • Tela :
    • Recovery of a synonymy work by M. Kerguelen on 75 000 names
    • recovery of numerous data bases constituted by amateurs.
  • Putting online unfinished documents because they can be improved by contributors. If the putting-online needs the completion of the document, the group's dynamics won't get under way.

Minimizing failure risks by controlling critical tasks

  • Brooks Law : "adding manpower to a late software project makes it later " : complexity increases as well as the number of exchanges and therefore as the square number of persons.
  • Tela Botanica :
    • The association contracts partnerships and et takes responsibility for the consequences
    • Employees are on duty and provide tools and services
    • Members of the community carry out plans and give sense to the network
    • The piloting committee operates coordination and validates decisions

Risk analysis

  • The fear of failure leads to a minimum risk-taking. One is then tempted to protect everything, and this is typical of today : everything is tagged, locked (in particular legally saying). For example, within administrations, there is a lack of opening which reflects a rigid mental functioning.
  • On the contrary, willing to succeed implies the implementation of means to reach the appointed aim. This approach refers to a mental model much open and dynamic.

Auteurs : Association Outils-Réseaux et tous ses stagiaires
Crédits illustrations sous licence Creative Commons : CC-By Outils-Réseaux - CC-By Ell Brown - CC-By Cea - CC-By Marc Smith

A pad for a rural accommodation. What for?

Card's author : Corinne Lamarche - SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : Creating a pad in an association

Why use a collaborative writing tool for the meetings?

As a member of the accommodation's office, I would receive several emails to prepare the meeting agenda and at the end I never knew which was the right one. Also, the minutes would be sent fifteen days after the meeting, announcing an event that had happened three days before. Since I didn't attend the meeting, the information was outdated. There was another issue that was a problem: I blamed it on not being physically there at the meeting and not being able to participate in the meeting.
That is why I suggested created an on-line space for collaborative writing, using framapad or piratepad.

Before the meeting

Ten days before the meeting, I sent the address for the pad by email with an initial draft agenda asking the office members to complete it. Everyone could mark on it whether they would attend the meeting or not, instead of sending emails to everyone saying if they would attend or not. People would complete the agenda and sometimes discussions would start before the meeting, or some issues were discussed beforehand, reducing the actual duration of the meetings.

During the meeting

Locked at home, the day of the meeting I could participate from home. I would read the discussion thread, typed by two people who were at the meeting, and I could intervene by asking questions, or asking for clarifications by adding them to the discussion thread. I really appreciated being able to participate despite my own personal constraints, and feeling as if I were there thanks to the chat and the engagement of those who were attending the meeting. This made me feel reassured since even if I was not physically at the meeting I could still find out what was going on and follow the discussions from home. The guilt I felt disappeared and my desire to participate was partly covered.

After the meeting

The day after the meeting I would export the notes taken on-line to a word document and saved it in my "CR Foyer rural" file. The facilitator did not need to send me the minutes by email.
Internet link : http://framapad.org/

Art students creating a wiki book

Card's author : Stephan Barron
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : Stéphan Barron set up a collaborative space for his art students. This space is a wiki. He is a teacher and researcher at the Paul-Valéry University, Montpellier III.

Why do this?

  • for a space to submit papers and homework,
  • for a space to find information, create, and share documents ...
  • for collective creation of contents
  • for a space for information on pedagogy, professional careers, exhibitions…

How can we conceive the courses?

This is the logical continuation to my teaching methods, which have always been open and participatory. It is a way of teaching that is half-way between the one used in fine-arts and the one used at universities. I hate traditional teaching methods at universities; I find them absurd and grotesque: doctors who have written a thesis on a highly-specialised topic, as an extension to their studies, under the umbrella of such or such professors, force their students to learn words that are set in stone and to repeat them like wise apes. What I am interested in is learning to learn, discovering, knowing and improving…that is the real sense of teaching for me. There is a text on this in the wiki below http://archive-driver.ru/


How do students relate to this?

Of course there is a different relationship that is less hierarchical and frontal, more distributed. Even classrooms must be different: forming a circle and not a pyramid. I am with the students and I am there to share and learn also. I do not have the absolute truth, knowledge changes constantly and everyone knows something they can contribute to the group and to me. It's not demagogy, it's true. Each generation of students know something new (techniques, or books). An example of this is the video-art wiki: we talk all together and if a student has something new and interesting to share, it is posted on the wiki…

The difficulties and barriers to avoid

There are technical difficulties. Sometimes students delete key functions, like a student who placed his file in the page for research and blocked this function for a whole year until we finally understood what had happened. Some student profiles were blocked on the tool, but it's a broader problem all together. Others simply just don't understand why we are using it and are simply not motivated and lazy. They prefer sitting at their desk and listen to words, just because they're lazy
Internet link : http://www.artwiki.fr


A taste of OpenStreetMap, technical skills and a lot of patience for a citizen mapping and the valuing of scrubland heritage

Card's author : Manon Pierrel - Association Collectif des Garrigues
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : Members of the Collectif des Garrigues managed to converge two of their projects which, at first sight, seemed far apart. One project was on participatory mapping, requiring some technical skills, internet tools…and a project to learn about and value the scrubland heritage lead by people who are passionate about history, books and the scrublands…These two "groups" met within the Collectif des Garrigues to set up a lovely collective project, rich in knowledge and innovative! The main goal of this project is to contribute to the dynamics of the network between the actors in the scrublands by co-drawing interactive maps (with collective contributions) as a support to show the rich heritage in the area, to share knowledge and to bring value into the scrubland territory.

Collective areas developed by the network members

The members of the Collectif des Garrigues (350 people) started a common project in several "areas". The goal was to create, bring value to and transmit common goods (knowledge, photographs, written documents and thoughts) on the scrubland territory.
Since 2010, several works have been developed, such as:
  • preparing a Scrubland Atlas (a co-written book for the public at large including all areas of knowledge relating to the territory – to be published in the autumn of 2013),
  • creating a shared photo gallery,
and also more "themed" work on:
  • harvesting in scrublands, and a compilation of local recipes,
  • scrubland heritage, dry stone and dry stone cabins (Capitelles), coal furnaces and inventories,
  • or even works on the discovery of tools, such as the sound media or participatory mapping.

The network members who participate in all these work areas have spaces on the Internet (wikis) to work on and produce content together and at a distance. They have discussion lists, co-writing tools (Etherpad) and "software" that allows them to organise their work (face-to-face for logistics or the distribution of work) and tools to disseminate their work. Many of these work areas perform very well, make rapid progress, and some are even at the stage of completion (especially the Atlas) while new projects are created almost every month. The network members develop the work areas themselves and facilitate participation in the different work pillars. Once the first productions are ready, works are assessed and disseminated at large, especially though their monthly newsletter and the website of the Collectivité des Garrigues, wikigarrigue.info. This way of working makes members want to continue working together to develop some projects in greater depth...and this creates an even greater convergence of work areas and the establishment of new ones. The proof is in the pudding!

The network members have decided to cross two of their collective work areas

Two work areas, one on the scrubland heritage and one on participatory mapping of a territory, were developed in parallel first in 2011 and then in 2012 with a first conviviality meeting to get to know each other and exchange ideas, the Rendez-vous des Garrigues (Scrubland Excursions) are organised every month, and remote group work sending and receiving emails and co-writing collective summaries. Both these work areas followed their own organization and work method. Gradually, they found an interesting area to explore and converge around, leading to the project of participatory mapping of the heritage to bring the inhabitants of the area onboard to hear of the knowledge and management of the territory where they live.
How did the members of the Collectif des Garrigues work to get these two work areas to progress independently? How were they linked further on?

The project to bring value to local knowledge and know-how

This project to gather the knowledge and know-how of the scrublands is, in fact, the story of the scrubland project! Since 2004, the goal of the Collectif des Garrigues has been to discuss the future of the territory, to share the knowledge acquired and dotted around the scrublands to learn to know more about it and to manage it better.
The theme knowledge on "heritage" gained momentum in 2011 with the organising of the Rendez-vous des Garrigues (Scrubland Excursions) on this theme. Dry-stone heritage is particularly an identity feature of the scrublands and the structures (associations or groups) in charge of bringing value to and restoring this heritage on a local level often face the same problems in all scrubland territories. That is why they needed to meet and take some time to think collectively so they could advance collectively in some projects.
After this Scrubland Excursion, some concrete actions were put in place:
  • discovering the different heritage sites in the scrublands of Gard and Hérault together. (This was done in the autumn of 2012 with a heritage-themed Scrubland Excursion in Poussan (34)).
  • making a directory of associations specialising on the territory to enrich the experiences and exchanges within the group.
  • pooling the documents drafted by heritage actors (presentation leaflets for the sites, studies and inventories).
For these projects to succeed, network members used document sharing tools (Google Drive for excel spreadsheets), and exchanged many emails (using the discussion list created especially for heritage).
In the autumn of 2012, with all the exchanges on the list, a second Scrubland Excursion was organised on this theme. That is when the idea emerged of creating a directory of directories of all the dry-stone cabins in the scrubland territories to end up with a map of the areas with these constructions (400,000 Ha.)
One of the members of the heritage group decided to be in charge of the project.
  • The first work was done there and then, during the Scrubland Excursion, with around twenty participants, with the aim of drawing on large paper maps of the territory all those areas with dry-stone cabins.
  • next, a large part of the work involved sending and receiving emails. There was quite a large mobilisation to have a directory of directories of the territory; this was done by the associations and structures interested in doing so.
  • then there was a significant part of summarising to feed the excel spreadsheet: Determining the areas rich in dry-stone cabins and huts: Gard-Hérault.
  • The following information was collected by department and large landscape area: if a location study (or inventory) existed, the name of the author, structure, number of dry-stone cabins (estimated or known) and the number of them in good state of conservation, if they had been mapped or not, and some general remarks.
  • at the same time we were able to gather and computerise the studies we had received to publish them on the Internet platform of the Collectif des Garrigues,
  • in two months, the map was done. It will serve to illustrate one of the articles in the Scrubland Atlas.

A second work area, the dynamics of free citizen mapping to bring life to a territory

For this work area, the associations Outils-Réseaux, and Tiriad pushed us and encouraged us to discover OpenStreetMap and all that goes with it…They came to us with a one-day training session on OSM followed by a Scrubland Excursion focusing on this tool so we could see what to expect from this approach of free mapping of a territory. This excursion was slightly more technical but it was still able to attract around fifteen people to it. Foregoing members of the network (!) who perceived the interest in this kind of initiatives to bring value to their knowledge on the territory.
This training session took place in Gignac (34) in April 2012, and was followed by a carto-party on site to continue attracting people. The idea for each of these stages was to learn about the data collected and how to put them on-line to gradually specialise in mapping elements that were of our interest (especially heritage). At each carto-party we were able to attract new people.
Since the spring of 2012 a healthy group of around forty have continued with the project "cartogarrigue". They have a simple discussion list to exchange and work together which is extremely active and reactive, and convivial with the help of the Collectif des Garrigues network that helps with the organisation and logistics.
In a first stage, the group "cartogarrigue" took some time to learn to use the tool and to build a common discourse. Then it started to train in real life with the organisation of carto-parties in the territories. The idea of mapping the heritage elements was suggested quite quickly, especially because the group members established many links between their work and that of the heritage group, working in parallel…Invitations were sent and there is room for everyone to contribute their knowledge and experiences in each of the two work areas. This group movement, and the overlapping interest lead to the creation of a OSM glossary adapted to the scrublands with vocabulary specific to the territory. (Olive yards, limestone kilns, dry-stone houses and huts…) and tags associated to them.

Today, the convergence of these two projects offers nice perspectives for partnerships, common projects and common financing opportunities

These two convergent dynamics have lead to a common response to a tender called by the metropolitan area of Nimes in its framework of sustainable development policies for 2013. Participatory heritage mapping to engage citizens in knowing and managing the land in which they live.
The submitted project consists in organising a session to give information and exchange experiences on collaborative mapping. To prepare this project and introduce the experiences of territories that participate in these dynamics, the special glossary on scrublands was made, preparing a carto-party programme for the year collectively. The idea is to work in close partnership with all participants in both these work areas, OSM contributors, the leaders of these two areas and associations or groups interested in heritage…
Other partners joined in later:
  • collaboration with the SILAT masters' degree: Localised Information System for Land Use Planning (in French). The team of professors would like to have a themed approach on mapping, to map heritage more than a city or town…
  • a similar collaboration with the school " SupAgro" in Montpellier.
  • Also, the group cartogarrigue will be mobilised to explain its experience in organising a carto-party with the Carré d'Art in the city of Nimes…
For each of its partners, the Collectif des Garrigues is the reference source for organising scrubland heritage mappings.

The work areas also continue to work independently...

For the project on free mapping on the territory, the Collectif des Garrigues would like to develop a mapping web interface to disseminate the themed maps or the knowledge maps on the scrublands (geology, water resources, bushfire risks…) on the site of the Live Scrubland Encyclopaedia. With a second section and placing a particular emphasis on establishing a participatory tool to make a directory of all the different information and data that are relevant to the future land use in the scrublands (displacements, proximity services, agriculture).
For the heritage project, it would seem interesting to continue with the discussions and to contribute knowledge in the form of collaborative work areas. Especially through co-writing articles and themes to discuss such as the type of buildings, dry-stone huts in literature or these huts in relation to land ownership…for example.

<div class=well style=text-align:justify>

The Collectif des Garrigues, a network of actors at the service of the scrubland territories in Gard and Hérault

Scrublands have a rich diversity of endemic wildlife and plants, a history and an ancient culture that is strongly linked to the origins of human activities (shepherds and coal producers, dry-stone huts and other dry-stone buildings); scrublands also have a rich diversity of landscapes. Until now, they have not been paid much attention and have often been considered as "the underbelly between the Cévennes and the Languedoc Coast" and have never had a structuring project; the scrublands of Gard and Hérault let themselves be discovered and become organised to state their own identity.
Therefore, actors on the territory (researchers, elected members, managers, inhabitants and users) came together to broaden their knowledge, their experiences with the aim of gaining a better understanding a better grasp on and a better management of these scrublands. The Collectif des Garrigues is born! It aims to bring together and bring value to the experiences and knowledge on the scrublands. To contribute to bring actors closer to the territory. Finally, it aims to start a reflection process on the future of the scrublands, preserving and developing the specificities of these lands, respecting the livelihoods of its inhabitants.
</div> <!-- fin well -->
Internet link : http://www.wikigarrigue.info

A wiki at the service of a facilitation work group

Card's author : Gatien Bataille
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : Since 2012, a work group (WG) on "outside" facilitation is organised in the French-speaking Belgium.
This WG targets environmental education professionals, teachers, volunteers and supporters...
It aims to create the adequate conditions for collective work to promote nature walks in Wallonia, for adults and children alike.

After some "traditional" management by the WG (exchanging emails) the network facilitator decided to create a wiki (yeswiki) together with a mailing list.
This step forward allowed creating a more participatory and decentralised dynamic within the WG.

Initially, the wiki was created and customised by one member of the network with the technical skills.
The wiki pages had been conceived so that "everyone could modify them", the network facilitator had control over the whole content on the wiki and didn't depend on anyone to modify the wiki and bring life to it. To reduce the barriers to participation even further (some network members were not at all keen on using ICT tools and the wiki, even if it is easy to do) "pads" (spaces to write directly without needing an account or technical skills) were included in some of the wiki pages (drafting agendas, minutes of the meeting…).

Using this wiki allowed:

Using this wiki lead to the following remarks:
  • explaining the licence used for collective productions (CC BY SA) was met with astonishing enthusiasm
  • co-drafting the agendas and minutes was a joy for some members who weren't used to doing this kind of thing in their structure
  • It will be useful to have a training session on the wiki so that ALL members can make the modification they want to the wiki
Internet link : http://www.tousdehors.be

A wiki for the EEDD network of Savoy

Card's author : Antoine Delarue
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : The EEDD73 network was created on the 27th November 2012.
Creating a platform for participatory exchange was one of the desires of the Steering Committee of the EEDD73 Network. My knowledge and skills for these tools were therefore interesting for the whole project.
In order to create this Wiki, I carried out structure interviews using this platform to get a clear idea on the procedures (REEMA, Outils-réseaux ...).
Having some basic knowledge on how to use this tool, I read through literature and carried out practice "tests".

Meetings in the territory

The space "Meetings in the territory", is a space for information and organisation, as well as a space of participation for all the actors of these events, with the aim of uniting all the actors in Environmental and Sustainable Development Education (EEDD in French) to complete the charter.
We started with some very simple facts: email inboxes were being "flooded" with information and people were unable to process all this information. Therefore, setting up an active process of searching for information seemed interesting to us.
This space is used as a platform for direct exchanges between the people concerned, without going through the network facilitator directly.

An introduction to collaborative tools...

As part of this move, we organised a training course on on-line collaborative tools, with a whole section on how to use the Wiki.
So the information was conveyed in relation to the creation of this participatory site.

A platform like this allowed us to:

  • centralise all data
  • gain time
  • integrate all actors in the project so as to create together and use their expectations as a starting point (organising car-sharing, practical modes, shared meals)


  • People who registered had access to this information and could read this information.
  • Greater referral to the information
  • Low participation but from people who received the introductory training


  • Low direct participation in the pads and the Wiki
  • Not much openness to others

Things to avoid?

  • Going too fast!
  • Prioritising human contact at the start and then incorporating on-line collaborative tools


  • Take some time to ask people's opinions so they can really integrate this tool
  • Introduce future users of this tool beforehand (the importance of physical contact before distance collaboration)
  • Give users some space for freedom
  • Reassure users on the security of data


Card's author : Outils Réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with : Blogger is a blogging platform provided by Google.
Official website : http://www.blogger.com
Tool's boxes : Blogs
Introduction :
Requirements :
  • Knowledge of how to use a word processor.
Using the tools :
Advantages :
  • Simple to use for numerous apps: insertion of pictures, editing, opening of several blogs with the same access code, publishing of text, etc.
  • Great capacity to personalize the design of your blog.
Drawbacks :
  • It is required to configure everything yourself.
Licence : Proprietary software, Free
Using : Easy
Setting up : No setting up


Collaboration in companies: from Coopetition to Collaboration

Card's author : Hélène Laxenaire - SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Ideas developped by the author in the field of cooperation within the book or conference :

Long live the co-revolution: for a collaborative society by Anne-Sophie Novel and Stéphane Riot

Introduction: this is not a full review of this work, but a summary of the chapter on Radical collaboration

In their book Long live co-revolution: for a collaborative society, Anne-Sophie Novel and Stéphane Riot describe collaboration between enterprises differentiating coopetition (a portmanteau word : competition+cooperation) from radical collaboration. For two years, they promoted Radical collaboration within the network Entrepreneurs of the future

The interest for enterprises to cooperate

The term competition comes from the Latin word competere which means to search together, to make efforts together ; thus, originally, there was no notion of adversity or aggressiveness as is the case today when one talks of competition between companies. The idea is not to suppress this, since it is also a vector of innovation and emulation, but rather to reduce the burden caused by an overly aggressive competition and to reduce it specifically in those cases when competition is useless or even dangerous. In this line, the authors note that the first advantage of companies cooperating is the reduction in costs linked to inter-company conflicts, something that should be an interest for all company CEOs! These costs have been estimated to amount to 50 billion Euros in France each year, according to the American researcher John W. Henke, based on projecting the situation of the American car industry.

The evolution of cooperation between companies

Adam Smith's theories on the interest of competition and those of Joseph Schumpeter on creative destruction have taken root in the economic sphere. But since the 1980s' some companies realised that networking and setting up strategic alliances brought relational advantages and allowed accessing more resources. Then, in the 1990s', faced with the increase in research and development costs, in parallel to the obsolescence of objects while the convergence of technologies allowed for scale economies, some companies decided to collaborate in developing products with a longer lifespan using components that could be reused by several companies/

Collaboration allows solving common problems

Especially goals linked to the environment and sustainable development. These goals can stem from companies sharing convictions or from legal requirements imposed from outside. Fighting against a bigger common enemy: this is how Google participated in developing the browser Firefox within the Mozilla foundation, when it is actually competing against its own browser Google Chrome; all this to destabilize Microsoft Internet Explorer, the market's giant.


The term coopetition was created by Ray Noorda, the founder of Novell, and became popular in the work by Nalebuff, B. and Branderburger, A. Co-opetition, a revolutionary way of competing and cooperating, Village Mondial, 1996. This is the alliance between cooperation and the market: we cooperate for certain things and compete for others. For the authors, cooperation between a company, its providers and its customers lead to products and services that are similar and therefore to potentially increasing the market share. In addition, this alliance can allow penetrating into new markets by joining forces. The conditions for coopetition require a study on inter-dependencies between companies, defining a concrete goal and an agreement to share the effort and the gains.

Examples of coopetition

  • In 2009, the Prufock Café in London created an “unloyalty card”. Customers had to go for a coffee at cafés from the competition and show their card to get it stamped. Once the card was full, customers could go back to the Prufock Café where they were given a free coffee. The goal was to retain customers of the Prufock Café by showing them that they served the best coffee, but also to force the managers of other cafés to guarantee the quality of their coffee, since they know they face competition. This also allowed bringing a stream of new customers. Ultimately, however, the main goal shared by all was to find a creative answer to the expansion of Starbucks cafés.
  • Fiat and PSA created a joint subsidiary that manufactured commercial vehicles of both brands, allowing scale savings by using the same components.

Radical collaboration

The term radical collaboration appeared in the United States in 2009. Three CEOs of competing companies in the field of green technologies (genGreen, 3rdWhale and Creative Citizen) decided to establish a “radical collaboration” scheme that was facilitated by the fact that they shared the same values and the same conviction on ecological emergency.
The difference between coopetition and radical collaboration is measured by evaluating the competition advantages and shared elements of “intimate” intellectual property. In radical collaboration what is shared is a highly differentiated added value (production secrecy, R&D); in coopetition the benefit is scale savings. Participants in the “unloyalty” card do not share their recipes or their knowledge on coffee.
Radical collaboration favours open innovation approaches, it is not about collaborating together to create a predefined product or service, but about developing an ecosystem to share knowledge and skills that will allow innovation to emerge. This innovation is not necessarily technological, it can also be social. And it emerges both from company collaborators and their customers.

Examples of radical cooperation

  • The field of the environment is very often convergent. For example, collaboration between the NASA and the ESA (in a context of strong competition) regarding environmental issues: managing space waste, the life cycle of satellites and the impact that launching spacecrafts has on biodiversity. This cooperation takes the shape of exchanges between specialists and a joint creation of new materials that are more environmentally friendly (to replace those that were going to be banned since they were too harmful)
  • Green X Change is a platform created by Nike, Creative Commons and Best Buy to share research. Anyone who is interested can put their innovations on this platform by choosing a licence that draws inspiration from free software and that allows other companies to benefit from the invention. This licence allows the owner of an innovation to choose who can have the rights. The idea behind this is to allow companies in different industries that do not compete against each other to share the fruits of their R&D. This platform is finding it difficult to expand outside its founding companies, but its authors see in it a huge potential driver of extending radical cooperation.

Recommendations by the authors for a Radical collaboration

  • Explain the concept, beyond the representations given in French to the terms “collaboration” and “radical”, which have a different connotation in English
  • Changing one's reflexes and one's vision on competition, open up to new opportunities.
  • The four pillars of a relationship: goodwill, reciprocity (also having goodwill with oneself), clarity and freedom to innovate (elements mentioned by the authors of the work: Juliette Tournand, La stratégie de la bienveillance, Inter Editions, 2007).
  • Being sure of the long-term; collaboration requires time to get installed and only shows an effect in the long-term
  • Creating a context that allows participants to be free and to engage spontaneously in reaching a negotiated and consensual solution together. Not distributing tasks between companies, like one would do in a collaborative process
  • Sharing skills and knowledge
  • Ensuring that contributions are complementary: linking the individual interest to the collective interest
  • Anticipating everyone's responsibilities: responsibility for the success or failure, financial setbacks, intellectual property
  • Transparency in the exchanges during the project and communication to all members
  • The simpler the process, the greater the chance of completion
Short introduction of the book's author :
  • Anne-Sophie Novel: doctor in economy, journalist specializing in sustainable development, founder of the collective blog Ecolo-Info, member of the network Entrepreneurs d'avenir.
  • Stéphane Riot: founder of Nove Terra, expert in sustainable development and accompanying the human factor in organizations, a member of a research group and prospection groups for new economies and organizations (bio-imitation, neurosciences, psychopedagogy, management…)
Literature references : NOVEL, Anne-Sophie and RIOT, Stéphane. Vive la corévolution !: pour une société collaborative. Paris, France : Alternatives, 2012. Manifestô (Paris), ISSN 2258-9325. ISBN 978-2-86227-711-0.


Collaborative writing

Card's author : Outils-réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : Conceived as a support for building collective knowledge, Web 2.0 has lead to a deep change in the way information is thought of. By freeing writing from the closed universe of printed supports, it has unfolded a whole change in this field. It is now possible for several people to work on a same document at the same time! The enormous success of the Wikipedia, one of the most visited websites in the World, has opened the door to new ways of writing. Defined as a “project for a collectively written free encyclopaedia”, it has proved to what extent collaboration can contribute quality and make a written document so much richer. Richer for the community who benefits from finding different points of view on a same topic. Also richer for the person participating in a project that will lead them to elaborate new writing strategies and to feed on new ideas.

Co-writing, a difficult process

Collaborative writing is the result of a process that is often considered complex and difficult. The authors explain this difficulty by the fact that to the task of writing individually (based on planning, translation and reviewing, according to the authors), collaborative writing brings in three more levels of complexity. LOWRY, Paul, CURTIS, Aaron and LOWRY, Michelle. A taxonomy of collaborative writing to improve empirical research, writing practice, and tool development. Journal of Business Communication (JBC). 2004. Vol. 41, no. 1, p. 66–99.

A Taxonomy of Collaborative Writing to Improve Empirical Research, Writing Practice, and Tool Development, published in 2004, Lowry P.B., Curtis A. and Lowry M.R.
1. Intellectual
2. Social
3. Procedural

This corresponds to three questions posed by collaborative writing:

1. How do we pool and harmonise individual knowledge to produce collective knowledge?
2. How do we coordinate the members and their different opinions for the project to be successful? How do we overcome social and affective conflicts that arise in this collective exercise?
3. How do we establish a common planning and deadline?

Group dynamics: the core of collaborative writing

The truth is that beyond the intellectual and procedural dimensions mentioned above, what appears to be the real core of collaborative writing is the social dimension that will then allow all the rest to “run smoothly”. By “social dimension” we understand the ability to generate group dynamics that bring each of the members together around a common goal (producing a text), where each of them will find their place. Dynamics that will make it as easy as possible for its members to become engaged and that, if it does not exist, will make the whole cooperative project unavoidably fail.

Collaborative writing can, indeed, generate social and affective conflicts (different points of view, the feeling that one is being judged, etc.) that may seem difficult to overcome. The act of co-writing also requires:

  • A high level of reciprocal interaction between the members that is nurtured by frequent exchanges
  • Taking into account the different points of view and giving value to the contributions of each member to the community, and encourage them all to participate while remembering this sentence by Paul Ricoeur "Tolerance is not a concession I make to the other, it is about recognizing the principle that a part of truth escapes me."
  • That the facilitator is capable to regulate social and affective conflicts arising from different ideas and natures.

The work of a network facilitator is precisely to contribute a convergence within the community and to create constructive work dynamics that promote everyone's participation:

JM Cornu - La Coopération en 28 mots-clés - 4. Convergence et conflit
(Transcript in english)

Facilitating the contribution of everyone using the method of the 6 hats

In order to make it easier for everyone to participate and for new ideas to emerge in a group, the psychologist Edward de Bono, specialist in cognitive science, developed in 1987 a method called the “6 hats”. Starting from the idea that searching for solutions goes through six clearly defined phases, this method invites each group member to explore, in a meeting, six concrete ways of thinking, symbolised by six hats of different colours.

Briefly, the objectives are:
  • to allow each member to perceive an idea, re-think it from a different perspective and thus make his or her point of view on that idea evolve;
  • to avoid any censorship on new ideas that arise in a group;
  • to create a favourable climate for exchange and creativity, favouring freedom of speech;
  • to solve problems in a collaborative way;
  • to offer a global vision and go deeper into the situation;

More specifically, once the problem has been posed, each of the group members adopt, one at a time, a different position by imagining they are wearing a hat, and start exploring new solutions:

  • The White hat represents neutrality. The person wearing it must simply announce the facts leaving all possible interpretations aside.
  • The Red hat represents emotions. The person can freely express his or her feelings and intuitions.
  • The Green hat means creativity. The person wearing it looks for alternatives, while trying to consider the problem from a different perspective.
  • The Yellow hat represents constructive criticism. The person "admits their craziest ideas and dreams".
  • The Black hat means negative criticism, judging. The person wearing this hat announces the weaknesses and the risks entailed by this idea.
  • The Blue hat represents organization, channelling the ideas and process. The person will look at the expressed idea from a distance.

This method that pushes participants to leave their usual way of thinking may prove very useful when it comes to writing collectively.

Three approaches for collaborative writing

Collective writing can be done in many different ways, depending on the levels of collaboration:
  • One member starts by writing an article which is then modified and added to by another member, and so forth until a “document” that is deemed complete by the whole group and that generates consensus is drafted.
  • An approach that is more cooperative than collaborative is when each of the members works on a part of the article. Then the different parts of the document are linked to one another and harmonised to constitute a single and coherent article.
A variation of this cooperation could be that each member, according to their skills and wishes, does one part of the work. For example, one person drafts, the other corrects, the third reads through it, etc.
  • Finally, the most collaborative approach is maybe one that includes all members in thinking about how they are going to write the article; one where there is no real distinction between roles. Each member participates in all the different phases. We will analyse the elaboration phases that could cover this last point.

Elaboration phases: tricks and tips for participatory writing

Each group can find their own method that fits best. However, to have some points of reference, here are some tricks and tips to start with participatory writing:

1. Generating "an irreversible cooperative experience"

When preparing a group for collective writing, there is nothing better than to start by making them live a “Small Irreversible Cooperative Experience” (SICE). This is done to overcome any possible barriers, to bring about the first exchanges and to give a sense to the collaborative task. One of the best tips is to use Etherpad, an on-line service that allows several people to take notes simultaneously, jotting down unfinished contents that will then be corrected or one containing many spelling mistakes. This simple action will instinctively get people to correct the spelling mistakes despite any barriers they may encounter. This tip is even more efficient when the mistake leads to a person: to the quest for perfect spelling we must add ego….The harm is done: the person thus lives their first collaborative experience!

2. Brainstorming

After this first step is taken, then comes a second phase that can be done organising a collective brainstorm; i.e. a meeting to gather ideas that will then allow bringing together all the points of view and the writing proposals of the group. This technique encourages the group members to put ideas into words, to compare them to others and to re-formulate them. It also encourages creativity. Using a mind map is also very useful to gather all this information, create a hierarchy of ideas and have a general overview. The principle is simple: the facilitator creates a mind map covering the points mentioned by each group member and classifies these ideas by topics and sub-topics. Projecting it on a screen, everyone can see if there is information missing and makes it easier for them to intervene. This exercise makes it quick and easy for ideas to emerge and to take all points of view into account!

There are many mind map tools, including Freeplane, which is very easy to use.

3. Drafting

Once the work has been done, the group is ready to establish a drafting plan. The real drafting work will start with this plan. From the start, it may be useful to test different modes of writing (individual or directly in a group, the framework to be used, etc.) to find the way that fits the group best. A reflection on what induces the publication (=exposition) will also be necessary.

Drafting can be done using on-line tools that allow each member to edit and modify the document, improve the common writing work and have a real-time view of the state of the document.

Google Document is quite useful for drafting in small groups. It allows several people to draft an on-line document at the same time that can be modified by each member and where all these changes are automatically included in the document. The advantage of this tool is that work is never isolated and members can see how the drafting process is taking place and, with this, they can make their ideas on the project evolve along the way.

For larger groups, a Wiki could be a good option. Just as Google Doc and Etherpad, it allows publishing all creations or page modifications instantly and having a global vision besides offering other interesting options. In fact, there is the option of commenting on pages, with a more visual display of page contents, to decide on the on-line publishing of the document on the spot and also managing the record of drafting. It also allows a collaborative work that is possibly more structured.

Small feedback on the experience of Animacoop regarding collective drafting

During the Outils-Réseaux training “Facilitating a collaborative network” (Montpellier, October-December 2010), trainers suggested that the group of trainees from Animacoop drafted three articles for their newsletter collectively and at distance. The group members were accustomed to working together and writing an article allowed them to value a common good, a creation. “For the trainers, this writing exercise was sort of a methodological challenge”, say the persons in charge of the training: “How can we test the collective capacity to synthesise crosscutting contents produced during a training? Second challenge: how do we get trainees motivated to do some extra work that is not expected?”

The testimonials of the trainees for this experience (method followed, stages, time management…) can be read on-line (in French): http://animacoop.net/formation2/wakka.php?wiki=PageArticlerc

Photo credits under Creative Commons licence: by bgblogging, by Yves Guillou.

Conceive a training session

Card's author : Outils-Réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : A conception methodology formalized in six stages :

  • Preceding survey
  • Analysis of information.
  • Architecture's conception.
  • Course guide.
  • Create material.
  • Finalization.

1. Preceding survey

The first step in the conception of a training session is to carry out a survey on future participants and their needs in training.
Exchanging with the sponsor is important to determine the demand of this latter (conditions of contract or call for tenders) and identify the true training needs.

Knowing the audience

Questions that must be addressed :
Who are they ? What are their jobs and how are they evolving, Do they have experience ? Have they got an initial training ? How is the project of training session going to be presented to them ? What do they need to know ? What are the favourable conditions for their training ?...

Identifying the needs in training

First quality criteria of a training session : it must fit the participants needs.
In this context, the need is specified as a gap between noticed and expected skills.


What is the meaning of "skills" ?
It is the knowledge of how to act resulting from mobilization and an efficient use of all internal and external resources in a professional environment.
  • internal resources : knowledge, attitudes (manners), skills (know-how)
  • external resources : environment, motivation...

How to identify initial skills ?
  • interviews with the future trainees (that happens very rarely)
  • preliminary questionnaire.

How to identify the skills to get ?
  • interview with the sponsor
  • observation in the field
  • analysis of the professional environment evolution (what will be the future professional environment of the trainee ?) ...

Identifying the environment

Where does the training session project come from ? What makes it a stake coming within the competence of training ? Why now ? Which means and resources are already available ? What are the drawbacks ? What may be the consequences of training on trainees environment ? (which impact will the training have on the trainees environment ?)...

Choosing a rallying dea

To give birth and support the interest on the project, it is useful to crystallize expectations on a main idea, a meaningful theme which accompany the project all along its evolution. This idea will often be the guiding principle along the conception.

2. Analysis of information

It's about being in proposal forces by translating the identified training needs into training objectives, available in conveyable content (knowledge) and in means to do it (methods).

Choice of objectives

To start the conception of a training session correctly, one must be sure to have a sharp and correctly stated training objective.

The objective is important because it is :
  • a contract: towards trainees, towards the sponsor.
  • a safeguard: against a great quantity of information. Thecriteria is simple : why saying or doing this will help people to achieve their goal ?

To start with, the major objectives of the training session must be clarified (session). They can be formulated with the sentence : "When the session is over, the trainee must be able to ... "
Afterwards, this objective must be divided into sub-objectives linkable to the different sequences of the session... (three domains must be covered : knowledge, know-how, manners).
The last stage is about hierarchizing these sub-objectives, specifying those which maybe deleted if time is short.

useful to know :
Objectives are expressed in verbs.
The SMART diagram enables to check quickly the quality of objectives. A good objective is :
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • reachable
  • Realistic
  • Temporally defined

Choice of content

From objectives, content and sequences get more precise. Knowledge have to be worked out : concepts, information, examples, activities...
All the things needed by the trainee to get the pointed out skills.


Knowing how to choose educational methods means to know how to be educational.
The method defines the transmission mode for the trainer and the acquisition mode for the trainee. There are 4 great educational methods:


Advantages and drawbacks of the different educational methods


Evaluation indicators

The last point of educational analysis of information. It's about pointing out criteria which allows to say that a goal is reached.
It's a teadous work but it's important to start it as soon as the training session is designed.

3. Design of the training session's framework

When the step of gathering all the information is over, the educational itinerary has to be studied. The main question of this stage is : how do we reach the goal of this training session ?

Considering the initial level of audiences :
  • it can be either done in one sequence but it's rarely the case,
  • or the progression can be divided in several intermediate stages (sequences, modules...)

Division into sequences

The division into sequences more often found in the conception of short training sessions (1 to 3 days). In longer sessions, these intermediate stages are rather called modules.
An intermediate objective called "educational objective" matches each stage (sequence or module).

How to proceed?
A "sequencing diagram " can be used to realize the educational study
for example :

sequence/module (name/ code) objective contents technics technics length
M : 1 objective know the concepts linked to cooperation course 12 facets of cooperation report 3 h
M : 2
M : 3

Framework or educational thread

The framework is an organisation of sequences over time. It allows a global vision over the training but is also a mean to adapt the sequences progress to external constraints (holidays, bank holidays, events specific to the trainees environment) or to daily rythms in short training sessions.

Characteristics of a good framework:
  • logical and progressive
  • with a good pace (steadiness...)
  • which alternates technics
  • which respects les



Card's author : Jean Michel Cornu
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :

Facilitating convergence in an environment of abundance with commons

Paradox of the tragedy of the commons

In a text now famous "The tragedy of the commons" 1, Garret Hardin presents the three unique solutions to live together with a set of goods to share. He describes a field, joint property of the village. The farmers 's cattle graze on it . It browses grass and deteriorates this common leaving behind muddy plots. Without a thorough application of policies, the interest of every farmer is to take advantage as quickly as possible of the field by sending on it the maximum animal that will make the most of it before the whole field is a sea of mud.
The tragedy of commons only forecast three possible solutions to this situation:
  • The field becomes a large field of mud
  • A person who has a power of constraint allocates resources on behalf of the village
  • The field is divided into plots managed by each farmer who has a right of property.
Eric Raymond 2 takes this example to show how cooperation is a priori not so simple.

The limits of the tragedy

To reconcile the individual and the collective interests does not seem obvious in the scenario described in the tragedy of commons (otherwise, we would live better for a long time!). Nevertheless, if Hardin concludes in its work that the only solutions to the lack of men's responsibilities are the privatization of commons and/or the interventionism of the state, he recognizes later that his basic premise is not always valid. His colleague Gary Warner indicates: " Hardin recognized later that the characterization of the negative aspects of the common goods was based on a description... an open (regime), not regulated by an external authority or a social consensus 3.

Without destruction the territory is not limited any more

There are other cases which lead to different conclusions: in the tragedy of commons, the cattle eats the grass and destroys gradually the field. In the field of intangible assets such as software, contents, art or knowledge, the rules are intrinsically different: the reading of a text does not destroy it, to give an information to somebody does not mean that we don't have it anymore.

This simple difference is fraught with consequences. This means that the exchange leads to a multiplication of value and that the land is not as limited as before. As stated nicely by Jean-Claude Guédon, professor of comparative literature at the University of Montreal: "A digitized bird knows no cage."

A new notion of property

The notion of property does not disappear for all that. For example in the development of freeware, rather often, a person detains the right to integrate the modifications proposed by all. Raymond calls him the " benevolent dictator. " But everybody can come to use, copy or redistribute freely the software produced collectively. Everybody can circulate freely on the territory of the owner and it is exactly what gives it value.

A new notion of economics

The economy itself was based on exchanges between the two protagonists (the transaction), and on consumption in the end by what the experts call "the final destructor" (the consumer.) If we want to understand better the rules of commons, we will extend the current analysis to take into account: the collective exchanges (with a global rather than elemental balancing) and the non-consumptive use of property.

The gift economy

One of the examples of economy which is not based on transaction, looks a priori very much like a utopia. It is the gift economy such as we find it in some very specific environments.

Yet the expression "gift economy" must not be understood as a kind of utopia that push each one to become altruistic even if it goes against personal interest. It is rather an asymmetric mode of exchange. When monetizing a property has no meaning because it is abundant and easy to find, and when all minimum needs for survival are fullfiled, the only thing that we can still look for is the esteem of the community. The fact that the counterpart of the gift goes through all the other members helps the convergence of individual and collective interests.

Abundance: source of gift

One of the key elements that favors a shift from exchange economy towards gift economy is the shift from rarity to abundance. The abundance means that players have solved their security needs and they are looking for something else such as recognition. Abundance can exist, as seen before, in the field of intangible assets and in the field of knowledge...

Some examples of gift economy

There are different communities that benefit both from material safety and abundance. In these cases, these communities have seen naturally the emergence of a gift economy.
On certain tropical islands, the food is plentiful. Marcel Mauss studied the implementation of the gift and his various characteristics4.
Closer to us, the scientific community has had for a very long time the habit of sharing all its discoveries. The colloquiums are the opportunity occasion to present to all its results and to gain consideration and esteem from it.

The community of free software developers followed a similar path. It was a question at the beginning of researchers working in diverse laboratories and universities (they thus benefited from a relative material safety). They applied successfully the same methods as the scientists in the field apparently more industrial of software.

Finally, the small community of the particularly rich people spends a lot of time getting involved in great humanitarian causes to gain the respect of their fellow contemporaries.

Abundance is abundant

The affected field is larger than we imagine. If tangible assets seem limited for a majority of people, it can be otherwise with intangible assets. So the proverb of Kuan-Tseu " If you give a fish to a man, he will be fed once ; if you teach him to fish, he will be fed all his life ". The fish is a consumer good which can be rare if there is a shortage or few fishermen. Learning to fish is on the contrary a knowledge which becomes more and more plentiful every time a person teach another person to fish..

Rules of gift

But all is not a bed of roses in the world of gift and abundance. You don't make an altruistic out of everyone just by changing the rules of the game.
Drifts are thus observed when one or more characteristics specific to a gift are not respected. The gift economy is simply governed by different rules than the consumption-based economy.

First deviation: Maintaining the shortage

One of the first deviation is to manufacture shortage artificially in order to return to the better known rules of consumption economy. This is common on physical goods such as oil. It is also possible to make "usable" or more precisely "obsolete" intangible goods. The software industry has been very good at it and now in France the tax administration considers that it takes one year to a software to pay for itself, much less than hardware!

If patents, copyrights and fashion rights are aiming to protect creation, they must be however scanned very carefully not to become a weapon against abundance and... creation.

First rule: Abundance is safe and well shared

The project has to concern a good which can become plentiful to favor gift economy. This should be the case of non-consumable intangible assets (knowledge, software, content ...). In this case, the exchange results in a multiplication of the value. The switch to an economy of abundance or scarcity doesn't only depend on the abundance of the initial good but also on the mechanisms of sharing and protection.

Second deviation: Giving to crush others

Despite the altruism that gift economy "seems to show", it is nothing more but an economy with rules neither better nor worse, simply different. Maurice Godelier describes the rules of a particular gift: the potlatch. It is a sacred act , either a gift or a destruction, a kind of challenge for the one who gets it to do the same. " In the potlatch, we give to crush the other with our gift. We give him much more than he can give back or much more than he gave us 5.

Second rule: Evaluation is global and decentralized

The other big change is in evaluation. It is decentralized, done by all members and on the whole of the gifts done. That is very different from trading where each deal is valued. Consequently, evaluation is there empirical and depends on each of us. It can't be mesured because it is not possible to compare gratefulness with a precise and given unit.

Examples of benchmarks

In trading, "benchmarks'' are more and more frequent and widespread in global markets, any of us can more or less understand their evolution. In gift economy, each one has his own "benchmarking system" according to his own criteria. But the group phenomenon could generate the rise of locally recognized benchmarks.

We will see later the rules to establish a self-regulating mechanism for evaluation.

Third deviation: Claim for one's due

Another deviation is to ask back for one's gift to the person or the family who received it, instead of waiting to receive it from the whole of the pears. This deviation is often seen in African families which have otherwise a great tradition of solidarity and cooperation.

Third rule: A not requested compensation – a two stroke mechanism

The third thing which changes in the gift economy is what the donor earns. In trading, the one who gives the good asks in exchange for another equivalent good or for a representation of the value of the good (some money). With a gift, the donor doesn't expect anything back from the receiver or anyone else. He gets later the gratitude of the whole community, which will not estimate each gift but the whole of what he gave. In a second stage this gratitude brings him advantages as we shall see it farther.

Thus, it is not necessary to expect altruism from all to implement projects involving cooperation. Donors get benefits that are simply more subtle to understand because they are part of a two stroke logic.
Given unit.


A gift economy arise when commons are plenty. This involves new notions of property and economy.

Exchanges of intangible property would normally lead to a multiplication of value and to their abundance. It is often possible to make choices that lead to shortages or to abundance.

There are rules of the gift which if they are not respected lead to deviations:

  • The abundance must be protected and well shared to avoid the return in an consumer economy.
  • The evaluation must be global and decentralized so that no particular gift is used for crushing someone.
  • The compensation must not be requested from the receiver to avoid debts...

Facilitating convergence by giving a long term vision

The prisoner's dilemma

The example of the prisoner's dilemma is a paradox where people can act against their own interest. A thief and his accomplice are caught by the police. Each one can choose to betray or not but they don't know beforehand each other's reaction. In this case, if both agrees, they will pu through much better. But one might be tempted to betray his accomplice to avoid being the only accused, in case of betrayal. By his denunciation he can also get a relieved punishment. Very often, when in doubt, the two prisoners denounce each other and they both end up losers 6.

That kind of situation happens quiet often. When we ignore how somebody can react, we consider the case of a betrayal (or more simply the case of lack of cooperation). In this case the other doesn't play the game, the least bad situation for us is not to play ourselves. However, from a global point of view, the gain is much more important if we both cooperate.

The CRF method

The prisoner's dilemma was studied within the framework of games theory... Lacking information on the other's behavior, the least bad individual answer is against general interest. However, the results change when there is more than a single event, but several iterations. In this case, each can gradually get information on how the other responds.

The simulations done so far show that the most effective solution is to start by cooperating and then to copy one's behavior on the other's: if he cooperates, we also cooperates, if he betrays, we do the same.

More specifically, the most effective strategy was discovered in 1974 by the philosopher and psychologist Anatol Rapaport [RAP] quoted by Bernard Werber 7: it is the CRF method (Cooperation-Reciprocity-Forgiveness). In this case we start by cooperating and then depending on what the other person does we copy his behavior, and finally we reset counters being ready to cooperate again. This approach is the most efficient to help someone who has betrayed once to understand both that you will not let her do and that you're ready to go forward on a cooperative basis.

Enabling the maximum opportunities of long term interactions

From these two examples, we can see that when the experience is unique, the trend is betrayal, whereas a strategy heading towards cooperation becomes possible when attempts are reiterated.

To enable these interactions to happen, there is a need to spend enough time together. The very definition of a community is to gather people for a long time and to create a relationship between them which is based on confidence.

A community for a long term cooperation

One of the most effective manners to make people cooperate is to create a spirit of community. It involves a feeling of membership and a mutual confidence(trust) between the members.

Again, by proposing new game's rules doesn't mean that everyone will become an altruist. Thus for communities there are risks to produce opposite results than those expected.

First danger: The community dies before having a past

The starting up of a community is the most sensitive time. When the interactions between community members grow, betrayals naturally occur which lead to conflict.

Starting up a community is a prerequisite. The benefits of the community are not there yet, and the multiple steps that could help to break the prisoner's dilemma have not yet operate.

Firts rule: Giving people a long-term vision

We have seen that the optimum method was to start cooperation (even if it means acting differently according to others' reactions). It is therefore possible to promote cooperation between people who have no common past if these people have the knowledge that they will spend time together agin in the future.

The sociologists call distance of horizon 8, the lap of time during which people think theywill be together. This very subjective notion is a key factor for wether people will cooperate or not. There is thus much less robberies in small local stores even when the store has just started up, than in large anonymous and undifferentiated supermarkets. Perceived consequences of an act are different according to the story we can later share with the persons concerned.

Of course, it is not an absolute rule. Everyone doesn't act at best for his own interests because the CRF method is not assimilated by everyone. But the vision of a common future favors cooperation while the lack of long-term horizon promotes opposite behaviors.

The more people have had positive experiences of cooperation around them by seeing other people starting to cooperate, the more they assimilate the CRF method and the easier it is to set up a community.

Second danger: The lost past

When we have spent some time with people, many ordeals based on the prisoner's dilemma have occurred. If the group has not died of these tribulations, it strengthens progressively. But one of the peculiarities of human being is the ability to forget. This function is essential not to overload the brain with every useless experiments. But gradually as cooperation sets up, the idea of danger recedes and the memory considers the past ordeals as lower priority events.

If past ordeals are forgotten, the group returns to the more dangerous situation of the community's starting up.

Second rule: History is the basis

The legacy of the group is a key element to enable it to keep on building cohesion rather than rgoing back to the dangerous point of departure.

With the exchanges studied in the previous chapter, inheritance is the second foundation of human society according to Maurice Godelier 9: "Our analyses leads us to conclude that there cannot be a human society without two domains, the one of exchanges, whatever and however we exchange, from gift to potlatch, from sacrifice to sale, purchase, market, and the one where individuals and the groups keep preciously for themselves things, narratives, names, ways of thinking, and then transmit them to their progeny or to those who share the same faith. Because what we keep always constitutes "facts" which drive the individuals and the groups back to another time, back and in front of their origins.

We will see that the fundamental tasks of the coordinator is to develop a history capitalizing the common heritage

In addition to the relations which are gradually established within the community, the community is also based on the sense of belonging. The implementation of "rituals" and common references are also a foundation on which is built the collective heritage.

Third danger: The imitative cycle

It's hard for us admitting that besides our individual behavior which we believe we control, we are submitted to collective behavior. The sways in the crowd and the reactions of panic are familiar to us for because we saw them in movies or sometimes undergone them. But it seems impossible to us to do the same things which we believe are nonsense simply by mimicry.

René Girard 10 depicts a collective behavior anchored in the human behavior which backs up the integrity of the community thanks to the sacrifice of a "scapegoat". The mimetic cycle which he describes occurs in several stages.

Conflict often begins with a "mimetic desire" of wanting what the other has.

When a conflict occurs (and it occurs of course more or less frequently), the person who feels betrayed often has an aggressive attitude. Whether we recognize it or not we have a natural tendency to mimicry and our behaviors take after the others' (even if you don't accept it, advertisers have understood that very well). By imitation, the other person takes an aggressive stance and then gets involved in what psychologists sometimes call the "verbal ping-pong" where the goal is to kill the other's stubbornness with stubbornness, each one pumping energy from the other.

The third step is the spreading of the spirit of aggression, always by imitation, to the whole community and conflicts are increasing. This mechanism is very well described in the comics "Asterix and the Roman Agent." As aggressive reactions increase, the group influences behaviors and engenders a self-cumulative effect.

When the tension in the group reaches a dangerous level that threatens its integrity, either there is a split, each choosing one side or another, or the group voids all aggression through a "scapegoat ". He is preferably selected from outside the conflicts which have no other links between them than the mimetic effect. He is often a weaker and very different person on whom all aggressiveness will strive irrationally.

Once the overflow of aggression is spilled, the scapegoat is "demonized" as the source of all evils to justify the reunification of the group over its destruction and to forget the circumstances of the "sacrifice". The reconciled group has saved his integrity by sacrificing an innocent scapegoat. Oblivion allows the group to resume its course until the next cycle.

Third rule: Clarifying the ''scapegoat mechanism''

One of the difficulties in understanding the mechanism of imitative cycle is precisely due to the fact that it can only work in en environment of unawareness. Participants of this cycle can't accept the mimicry of their behavior, nor its irrational climax up to the spill of aggressiveness on an innocent and moreover the mechanism of oblivion of this atrocity.

René Girard goes on showing that the mechanism of victimization that puts victims at the center of our attention is firmly rooted in our Judeo-Christian civilization. Our data strongly focus on the consequences for the victims, which was not the case in earlier times. This process has a beneficial effect because it prevents the blindness and forgetfulness required to operate the imitative cycle.

Clarifying the mechanism of "scapegoat" can break the imitative cycle. It does not prevent the rise of tension and it is necessary to find a more acceptable new safety valve. The chapter on resolution of conflicts proposes some additional thoughts.
Mimicry of human kind has not only negative effects. It can be seized in a positive way, such as the possibility to spread the CRF method in the community "by the example."

Fourth danger: The closed community

The fourth danger for a community is to close on itself. The group can keep on improving but by cutting itself from the world outside, there is a risk of developping a sectarian behavior harmful to its members.

It doesn't mean that frontiers between the inside and the outside of the community can't exist. The feeling of membership and the existence of peculiarities specific to the group are essential for its existence. But it can grow rich only by remaining open on the outside.

Fourth rule: Allowing withdrawal and multi-membership

It is not always easy to find objective criteria to qualify a group open or closed. A survey on sects conducted by the French parliament 11 recommands tax audits on suspicious movements as they often are intended to bring wealth and power to a presumed guru.

However, there are two criteria that promote the opening of the group to the outside:

Each participant must be able to leave at any moment.
Belonging to other groups should be allowed and even encouraged to enrich the group through these informal links.


If the dominant strategy in the case of a single event is often betrayal, the method CRF (Cooperatio, Reciprocity, Forgiveness) is the most efficient when numerous common and iterative experiences occur.

A community multiplies the opportunities and experiences and thus promote convergence towards cooperation.
There are rules to prevent the community from deviating:

  • Give everyone a long-term vision
  • Enable the development of such behaviors as CRF
  • Develop a history to preserve the common heritage
  • Avoid a ''going back to zero"
  • Clarify the mechanism of imitative cycle and find another safety valve
  • Eradicate the focus on a "scapegoat"
  • Allow everyone to leave at any time and encourage membership in other groups
  • In order to avoid sectarisation as in closed group

Facilitate convergence by establishing mechanisms of esteem

The Peter's principle

Laurence J. Peter studied the paradoxes which urge an organization going from bad to worse. His most known principle indicates that "In a hierarchy, every person tends to rise until she gets to her level of incompetence" 12

Indeed, when someone is appointed to a position and fulfills his task, he is promoted to a new position. The process continues, allowing him to practice his skills on increasingly complex tasks until he reaches a position where he has reached his "level of incompetence". He is then no longer able to fulfill his role as well and is no longer promoted. He then remains stuck to the position where he is the less competent.

This case is just one of many paradoxes that arise when one wishes to evaluate human labor as objectively as practical and scientific facts. From this point of view, the work of Taylor who made the most scientific planning is more adapted to machine than man. At the time this work was published, many people were working machines. Today, the machines are sophisticated enough to take over the most repetitive and schedulable work. In return, the task of creating, as well as those requiring high scalability and subjective estimation are undergoing a strong development.

There is absolutely no denying any evaluation but rather to find new methods that apprehend human characteristics better: subjectivity, motivation or lack of motivation, good or bad faith. These different criteria are peculiar because not measurable even if they can be estimated to a certain extent. So this is a true revolution in the evaluation systems in a world based on objective measures since the XVIIth century. However, we see that the same subjective evaluations can produce phenomena of regulation and self-correction that is their mainspring.

Evaluation of conventionnal projects

The purpose of assessment in a conventional management project is triple :

  • Know beforehand whether a project can be given to someone or to a team
  • Ensure that the project is corrected along its development to improve results
  • Assess the project post factum to see if it was successful

Usually, in the industrial projects submitted to a call for tenders for example, the first and the last goals outdo. The investment of a representative being heavy, he tries to know beforehand if his money is well invested. During the project, he tries to correct it so that the project goes on well. Then finally, he assess if the result can be used for further stages (broadcasting of the results or basic contribution to another project following a ''taylorized'' assembly-line).

First deviation : Beforehand assesment

Often to attract contributors, they are given a "title" in the project. It often helps to motivate the person by bringing recognition from the very start. Beware though, titles have three dangers :

  • It's a beforehand recognition which places us in the Peter's Principle
  • They often give a coercive hierarchical power.
  • They are dangerous when operating because they block a role that can not easily be taken over by another if necessary.

Ideally, the title given is not exclusive and does not give special power. A "binding agent with the Spanish-speaking world" (which does not preclude having other) is better than a "person in charge of translations into Spanish''.

First rule: Assess after the event (post factum)

Let's assume that a project is developped in an environment of abundance, the minimum necessary for its survival needs are fullfiled and that there is sufficient time to allow the group to mature at its own pace. In this case, the beforehand assesment is far less important (except perhaps for the one in charge of the project who must decide whether to launch it or not). In this case it is more useful to correct the project along its development.

Similarly the final assesment is often about assessing the realization of what was expected beforehand rather than judging its usefulness and the use that is made afterwards.

Assesment during the progress of the project may instead provide a mechanism for self-correction afterwards to maximize the use made of the results already achieved by the project. Potential contributors will be involved according to their personal evaluation of the project, of the coordinator and of what they can gain from the results.

Second deviation: Limited assesment

The assesment is usually done at specific times, just like a photo of the project, sometimes only before and after the project. In this case, it doesn't apprehend human evolutions that even small at the start may swell quickly then suddenly switch to cooperation or betrayal. It does not allow to seize opportunities early enough at the source.

Second rule: Continuous assesment

When allowing continuous assessment, we enable the emergence of vicious or virtuous circles "that will magnify until a brutal change of behavior. According to the observers' insight (and we will see in the next section that many people are better than one in this case), differences can be detected early enough to act accordingly.

Third deviation: Assesment by a reduced number of persons

Often, the project is assessed by representatives who want to know if their money is well invested. The evaluation is done by an external person (an agent) which ''only needs'' to be convinced with a well presented report on what will be done or the expected results. Of course during and at the end of the project, actual results are also included in the balance but indirectly.

Third rule: Assesment by the whole community

The assesment of cooperative projects should not be made ​​by the person who facilitates its starting up, but by the entire community which will focus naturally on useful projects, well made ​​and presented in an understandable way. If the project was initiated or supported by a representative, he will know its value of the project according to its progressive use by the targeted community.

Fourth deviation: Objective assesment

Another danger with conventional assesment is the obligation to define objective assesment criteria which by definition approach what is desired without ever reaching it. Only objective factors are taken into account properly. The unmeasurable subjective elements such as good faith or motivation during the progress of the project are neglected, or worse, are subject to an accumulation of objective rules increasingly complex which favor the opposite effect.

Example of country assessment: Rating indicators

Many evaluations are made ​​for countries on financial means (rating indicators) such as Gross Domestic Product. There is a great temptation for policymakers to act directly on the assessed criteria rather than on their causes. GDPwill not enhance for example the difference between a country where the majority of wealth is in the hands of a small group of leaders and a country where wealth is better distributed. We try then to add more and more ''corrective'' financial criteria, but without encouraging the assessed leaders to act on causes rather than on assessed criteria.

A very interesting approach was initiated by the United Nations Program for Development with a Human Development Index based on several criteria which approximate at best the object that is to be evaluated.
These criteria apprehend: health, education and economics.

This is probably our best today to assess human development in a country with an objective indicator, but each rate itself is a mean and only objective, measurable criteria are taken into account. It is then possible to educate better a privileged part of the population or to enroll without seeking to increase school performance indices. Multiplying criteria only makes the task more subtle for those who only strive to adapt their performance to optimize the values ​​of each criterion. But it gives less chance to fulfill at the very best the specific criteria to the indicator for those who very honestly focus primarily on causes.

The traditional methods of objective measures achieved with the scientific advances of the XVIIth century itself require developments to go beyond simple means: sometimes we add standard deviations to average rates (average deviations from the mean). If it gives an idea of the scale of differences, some more subtle points are not taken into account, for example the homogeneous distribution of a population or the division into two or more groups more or less privileged with little chance to move from one group to another.

Side effects (the extreme limits) can also disturb simple objective laws (for example, monopolies). You must have an idea of ​​what happens far from balance and even on limits.

Fourth rule: Reintroduce subjective evaluation

If the evaluation criteria are essential, especially when outsiders must objectively analyze the results, they are however insufficient. On the contrary, the long term collective assessment enables a direct promotion and expansion of a project by attracting new contributors every day, but it s ill suited for an objective assessment.

The problem comes from impossibility to measure good faith objectively. It is only possible to obtain a measurable objective assessment afterwards and with greater or lesser margin between the measured result and the evaluation criteria.

Agrreing on the reintroduction of a subjective evaluation, such as the one provided by the esteem brought by a project, is essential. To lessen difficulties, it is important that it should be decentralized and global and obtained by the whole community and the outside world.

The end of coercive power allows an auto-regulated evaluation

Of course, the implementation of an evaluation afterwards, continuous, subjective and by the whole community seems insoluble if we keep a traditional approach of assesment. To get out of Peter's apparently insoluble paradoxes, we will need, as in the previous chapters, to propose a different environment which doesn't impose the same limits any more.

In a cooperative project, we try to obtain the cooperation of the members and to coordinate their works to get a result. The power of constraint (hierarchical or contractual power), is not any more in the center of the management of the project. The end of the power of constraint allows an auto-regulated evaluation.

The pure and simple abolition of the coercive power may seem a heresy heading to the " field of mud " of the tragedy of commons. We will see on the contrary that in an appropriate environment, it allows to get out of usual paradoxes.

When we are not "forced to cooperate" any more, each one gets involved or uses the results according to what he sees of the project. If globally, the project generates esteem, it will develop more and more. The evaluation is then subjective, post factum and continuous by the whole community of the contributors and of the users. The whole creates a virtuous circle.

The power of the coordinator is limited to the ability of integrating or not the proposed changes by the contributors and possibly exclude a person from the community he established. For what's left, he can only encourage people to become user or contributor, with no power to compel them.

Collaborative projects are well suited to projects between structures or inter-service projects. The running of associations sometimes allow to develop non-hierarchical projects of this kind.

Other approaches

One of the difficulties with giving up the power of constraint is that it requires projects requiring a very low involvement when starting up, an environment of abundance and no deadlines nor expectation of a particular result. This is exactly criteria which allow the implementation of a cooperative project, as we started seeing it.

The complete abandonment of power of constraint given by the title or the employment contract is replaced by the incentive to cooperate with the results obtained and esteem. This is a major difference with the conventional project management. It is therefore not easy to follow both approaches simultaneously. We will see in the chapter on mixing methods that projects using fully or partially the power of constraint can simply give some advantages in promoting the greatest possible post factum long term and subjective evaluation by the community.


Assessing a project can be done:

  • After the event (post factum)
  • Continuously
  • Apprehending subjective ideas
  • By the entire community of contributors and users

This can be achieved by giving up the power of constraint and by letting esteem for the project and its members do its self-regulation job.

1 HARDIN, Garrett. The Tragedy of the Commons. Science [online]. 13 December 1968. Vol. 162, no. 3859, p. 1243–1248. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. DOI 10.1126/science.162.3859.1243. Available from: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/162/3859/1243The population problem has no technical solution; it requires a fundamental extension in morality.PMID: 17756331
2 RAYMOND, Eric S. Homesteading the noosphere. First Monday [online]. 1998. Vol. 3, no. 10. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/621
3 "Hardin later recognized that much of his characterization of the negative aspects of the commons, which according to his analysis 'remorselessly generates tragedy'... was based on a description, not of a commons regime in which authority over use of the resources resides within the community, but of an open access regime, unregulated by any external authority or social consensus" : WARNER, Gary. Participatory Management, Popular Knowledge, and Community Empowerment: The Case of Sea Urchin Harvesting in the Vieux-Fort Area of St. Lucia. Human Ecology [online]. 1 March 1997. Vol. 25, no. 1, p. 29–46. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. DOI 10.1023/A:1021931802531. Available from: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A%3A1021931802531
4 MAUSS, Marcel and WEBER, Florence. Essai sur le don: forme et raison de l’échange dans les sociétés archaïques. Paris, France : Presses universitaires de France, 2007. Quadrige. Grands textes, ISSN 1764-0288. ISBN 978-2-13-055499-8.
5 GODELIER, Maurice. L’énigme du don. Paris, France : Fayard, impr. 1997, 1997. ISBN 2-213-59693-X.
6 See the journal "Pour la Science" which edits an article on the prisonner's dilemma every six months (Scientific American). Pour la Science - Le magazine de référence de l’actualité scientifique. [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://www.pourlascience.fr/
Voir aussi Le dilemme du prisonnier. [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://web.archive.org/web/20050302205551/http://www.apprendre-en-ligne.net/jeux/dilemme/home.html
7 WERBER, Bernard. L’encyclopédie du savoir relatif et absolu. Paris, France : Albin Michel, 2000. ISBN 2-226-12041-6.
8 GLANCE, Natalie and HUBERMAN, Bernardo. La dynamique des dilemmes sociaux. Pour la science [online]. 1994. No. 199, p. 26–31. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=4210574
9 GODELIER, Maurice. L’énigme du don. Paris, France : Fayard 1997. ISBN 2-213-59693-X.
BLONDEAU-COULET, Olivier and LATRIVE, Florent (eds.).
Libres enfants du savoir numérique: une anthologie du “Libre.”Paris, France : Ed. de l’Eclat, impr. 2000, 2000. Premier secours. - Perreux : L’Eclat. ISBN 2-8416-2043-3.
BARBROOK, Richard. L’économie du don High Tech. [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://web.archive.org/web/20090917124333/http://www.freescape.eu.org/eclat/2partie/Barbrook/barbrook2.html
10 GIRARD, René. Je vois Satan tomber comme l’éclair. Paris, France : B. Grasset, 1999. ISBN 2-246-26791-9.
11 GUYARD, Jacques, BRARD, Jean-Pierre and FRANCE. ASSEMBLÉE NATIONALE. Rapport fait au nom de la Commission d’enquête sur la situation financière, patrimoniale et fiscale des sectes, ainsi que sur leurs activités économiques et leurs relations avec les milieux économiques et financiers. Paris, France : Assemblée nationale, 1999. Les Documents d’information - Assemblée nationale (Texte imprimé), ISSN 1240-831X ; 1999, 33. ISBN 2-11-108354-2.
12 "in a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." : PETER, Laurence J and HULL, Raymond. The Peter principle: why things always go wrong. New York : Bantam, 1969. ISBN 9780553244151.
See also an interview of J. Peters : The Peters Principles. Reason.com [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://reason.com/archives/1997/10/01/the-peters-principles

Source: CORNU, Jean-Michel. La coopération, nouvelles approches. http://www. cornu. eu. org/texts/cooperation [online]. 2004. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://fing-unige.viabloga.com/files/cooperation2.pdf

Photo credits : StephanieHobson sur Flickr - CC-BY-SA


Cooperating, between efficency and resilience

Card's author : Jean-Michel Cornu
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : Robert Ulanowicz is a theroretical ecologist known for his studies on the organization of flows of energy and nutrients within ecosystems. Other complex fields such as networks are highly impacted by his discoveries. He noticed that completely optimized systems are not sustainable1. Therefore, if we choose to grow only the most optimized corn seedling, there is a high risk to loose the whole crop with the first parasite. The now retired Professor of Maryland's University, got involved in systems' sustainability and demonstrated that this latter was optimum when the right balance between resilience (which needs a larger diversity to the detriment of efficiency in order to increase the adaptability to problems that may arise). This optimum occurs closer to resilience than to efficiency (in a ratio of one to two thirds).
That balance point between optimization and adaptability, between order and disorder2, is where new possibilities stand out; in a nutshell, where the possibility of innovating is maximal. This result, about the risks of only optimizing without developing adaptability, is not only a statement on biological systems, but rather a deep rule on all complex systems. It can thus be applied to innovation, network's running, complex choices and civilizations themselves3.

1 ULANOWICZ, Robert E. A third window: natural life beyond Newton and Darwin. West Conshohocken, Pa. : Templeton Foundation Press, 2009. ISBN 9781599471549 159947154X.

2 Benoît Mandelbrot: "Between the field of uncontrolled disorder and Euclid's excessive order, there is now a new zone of fractal order". See also the Edgar Morin's notion of "dialogic" which links two antagonistic principles or ideas appearing as if they should repel but which are inseparable and essential to understand a same reality".
3 TAINTER, Joseph Anthony. The collapse of complex societies. Cambridge, Etats-Unis, Etats-Unis, 2000. New studies in archaeology [Texte imprimé] / ed. Wendy Ashmore, Clive Gamble, John O’Shea,... [et al.]. - Cambridge : Cambridge University press, 1976-. ISBN 0-521-34092-6. The idea that the lack of adaptability leads to extinction was taken over and applied to economics by Clay Shirky in the article "The collapse of complex business models" accessible on his blog (it would have been better to talk of a complicated and hard to adapt economical system rather than a complex one).

Cooperation explained to a redneck: my brother-in-law.

Card's author : Gatien Bataille
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : A sunny Sunday in June
  • Is it OK for you ? Says my sister-in-law speacking to me and her husband.
  • Yep, we are ready. Bring the meat over, embers are ready !

While we were displaying the sausages on the grill, my brother-in-law asks :
  • So, your seminary in Sète on cooperation ?
  • It was rather nice. I was lucky to get another taste of the power of collective intelligence.
  • Sorry, but this cooperation is still a bit fuzzy for me.
  • Well, I understand... it is not obvious for me to talk about it simply. It is emergent and I have no examples of wide experiments... but it is seething each day a little bit more.
  • For me cooperating means doing things together but it seems to be so far from our society's way of going on. I doubt it concerns many people...
  • Don't me mislead, there are many initiatives rising. Even corporations are getting into it !
  • Corporations have turn to altruism now ?
  • Well, not really ! Altruism is when you forget your personal interest for collective interest. It has well-known advantages in the animal world for example but it is not as well-known on an economic level ! And anyhow, it is possible to cooperate without being altruistic.
  • Oh !
  • Yeah, it's just about converging your personal interest with the collective one.
  • Please, translate !
  • Well, it's no complicated. Generally in the long term, collective interest often meets your personal interest. But if you are roguish, this meeting can be organized in the short term. For example, here we both have an interest in not burning the sausages...
  • Nice your theory but I'd like to see on an economic level.
  • Oh, it's not so rare. More and more corporations embark on radical cooperation or on coopetition, the idea being an association between competitors to develop some aspects of tomorrow's goods and then be well ahead in the competition or on rules to come. As they say, there is more in two heads than in one...
  • Easy to say, your personal interest converging with the collective interest, I don't really understand how you can do it...
  • In fact not so tricky, we have the seeds but they need to be widly spread. For example, sharing a long-term vision helps the rising of cooperation, working on abundance is also a facilitating factor.
  • About abundance, we are undergoing a crisis, no ? I can feel rarety here !
  • Yes it's the case for material goods but if you look closer there is an increasing quantity of immaterial goods around you , these goods that we call non-rival tend to explode with the spreading of internet, computers and even 3D-printers allowing to produce material goods from digital patterns.
  • Yeah, easy in fact but what if the patterns have copyrights ?
  • There you put the finger on one of the other conditions which facilitate the cooperation. When it is not open, free use is more complicated but the arrival of open licenses greatly facilitates the work
  • And it works ?
  • Yes rather, look at thegreenxchange for example. It's an online platform where corporation – sometimes in competition – exchange and share their advances... Stunning but real !
  • Yep, I can hardly believe it...
  • You know the question is no longer whether we will go there because it is there! The world now is to complex to be understood without collective intelligence. Corporations and many others understood it. And those who forget it fail. Look at the Major Company crying their heart out with illegal copies and the benefits of itunes selling dematerialized pieces of music !
  • Well, right but...
  • It's very new, it's true... and we can guess that around this cooperation there is a lot left to invent about corresponding economical systems. Planning, just as economics, which are only keen on rarety, are not sufficient enough. We must turn towards a pattern which enhances also the value of abundance and not only rarety.
  • And while waiting ?
  • While waiting ? It innovates, and it works... Look in the world of the internet and data processing: Linux or the Web 2 freemium strategy which releases contents to finance the service or else Sésamath which produces maths books from collective courses... The crucial step to take now is the scaling.
  • And you really believe that everybody has the time to learn new stuff ?
  • It's like all the rest, cooperation takes time or on the contrary it helps you to gain some if you can mutualize. And moreover if you don't learn to cooperate, you will have to run after those who know how to use it in order to defend their interest through other's, to find economical patterns which create value by abudance and gain time mutualizing...

  • Hey guys, is it cooked ? urged my wife.
  • Yeah, it's perfect, we'll be a minute ! answers my brother in law.
While gathering the meat, I invite my brother-in-law to come along with me to the dinner table.
  • Come on, BBQ is ready ! Anyhow, cooperation always starts with a moment of friendliness !

Cooperation in 28 keywords

Card's author : Jean-Michel Cornu
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :

A multi-faceted cooperation

Very often we manage a group with common sense, trying to make our "best". This allows us to understand some aspects of the group: it may be lacking of conviviality or of a common culture, or else the group is too focused on itself. But this ability to analyze is also, paradoxically, our greatest weakness because it stops us to see other aspects of our group. Thus we focus on one aspect of the group or two or three, but neglecting others. Edgar Morin often talk of ''paradigmatic blindness''1: focus on one issue and all others become hidden!

We offer you a map of the different facets that enable to understand what is happening in your group and the different useful skills for its birth and developement. Some of these facets are counterintuitive, there are the one we will present first. This map is not the result of a single person who is subject by definition to paradigmatic blindness. It is the result of initial exchanges of the 130 members of the group Intelligence Collectif de la Fing2 and grew richer gradually with the latest works. With those 28 keywords, these 28 tools, you and even members of your group can understand better what is happening in your group and help it to grow and adapt to different situations.

A first counterintuitive aspect: the choice after the event (post factum)

They are several strategies according to our environment:
  • Planning: in a predictable situation of rare ressources, there is a need to optimize and not spoil them;
  • Negotiation: when ressources are rare and events unpredictable, negotiation allows to make a choice in the present for lack of being able to make it in advance. This is the case for example of pricing in the market economy;
  • The choice after the event (post factum) : when you enjoy an abundance of resources (a large group, loads of information), but when the situation is not predictable, then you'd better create an abundance of choices and choose post factum among all opportunities. This approach is the basis for cooperation as we will discover.

Often we do not choose our strategy but use the one we master, whatever the context. It is important to adapt to the environment and to select the best strategy. Sometimes the situation can be predictable for some events and unpredictable for others, some resources may be abundant and others rare. In this case, we need to adapt and even juggle with strategies. The one concerning cooperation is rather counterintuitive , because it compels us not to choose as early as possible while we bathe in a culture of anticipation, and they push us to work with plenty when we are used to focus on what is rare.

Size of groups and role of members

As soon as a group is over a dozen people, each member adopts a proactive, observer or idle position and can move from one to another according to a number of criteria. Rather counterintuitively, it is observed that the percentage of active persons stays remarkably constant (principle of 90-9-1): proactive people are one and over percent and reactive peoiple are between ten and a few dozens of percent.

Different types of groups differing from the number of members:
Small groups up to twelve people whom can be managed restrictively (expecting the action particular to each different member);
Intermediates groups between twelve and a hundred people whom need more efforts from the manager to get reactions;
Large groups between a hundred and one or two thousand people which allows to produce collaboratively... provided a focus is done on reactive persons;
Very large intermediate groups of several thousand people where the group composed by proactive people becomes easily illogical;
Very large groups over several dozens of thousand where proactive people are numerous enough to make management less restrictive.

Convergence and conflict

We consider often implicitly that each one should act in the interest of the group by forgetting his own interest. It is the definition of altruism. Although it is present in the animal kingdom and in mankind and even favors survival under certain conditions, it is not easy to develop it in all situations. Cooperation uses a different approach than altruism: it seeks the conditions that will converge individual and collective interest. There are cases where each one will genuinely act in favor of general interest: in an environment of abundance a gift economy develops, different from the economy of rarity, giving the group a long term vision, behaviors become more cooperative; mechanisms of esteem (a form of recognition dynamically assigned by the entire group unlike prestige) form a system of regulation that encourages acting for collective interest.

But too much convergence can turn the group into a herd of sheeps... A little divergence can be added (other points of view, other ways of questioning) as well as a dash of conflict to allow the group to question itself. The role of the coordinator is to feel the weigh the balance between convergence, divergence and conflict and to encourage one or the other to enable the group to go ahead and growingg richer of its diversity.

If there is only convergence and opposition, a conflict occurs. A crisis is a difficult but very useful time for the group : several approaches require questioning. But conflict unlike a crisis will only head hin two directions: for or against, each sticking to his line. A good management of the conflict requires to turn it into a crisis by creating a third position, or even more. Mapping the members' different ideas by encouraging them to add new issues is a particularly efficient method in this case.

The three types of influence in a group

The first three previous aspects illustrate very well the three constitutive dimensions of all groups : these are of course influenced by their members, but the group's organization and its history as well as its relations with its environment :
  • Convergence and conflict illustrate clearly the influence of people on the group
  • The size of the group is a data specific for a group , regardless of the peculiarities of its members
  • Unpredictability and abundance which encourage to make choices after the event often depend on the environment

The following aspects are combined according to these three dimensions. Those describing the influence of people go along with a aspect more difficult to deal with, although it is not always negative (as conflict associated with convergence, which allows questioning). Involvement, with its opposite withdrawal, is the next facet and the fourth counterintuitive facets. The following will often call for our common sense.

Involvement and withdrawal

We often mingle mobilization and involvement . But if we mobilize people - often by paying them - so that they do what we want, they have to get involved themselves to take the risk of making what they think is good. Indeed, the coordinator is not always everywhere. The people who get involved can take initiatives according to information they have but not the coordinator. Involvement is absolutely necessary in an unpredictable environment which changes permanently, for example in the field of innovation or else when we working with people rather than machines or objects.

Three things can influence on the level of people's involvement :
  • Motivation (esteem, pleasure, learning new things...)
  • Restraints (lack of confidence, precarious self security, fear of being unable to withdraw...)
  • The threshold level of acting out (an easy-to-understand project, reactive managers ...)

A special alertness about withdrawal is neededbecause it is a contagious illness in a group. Two expressions must alert us:
  • "Holy Shit!" (spotted out by François de Closet on the problems with the ORTF, the former French TV broadcast)
  • "It's not my problem !" (we stay mobilized but not involved...)

Other aspects of peolpe's influence on the group

We have seen the convergence of ideas and interest (and the conflict when there are pros and cons) as well as involmement and withdrawal. Two other aspects concern people: the level of awareness of what is going on and the different coordination tasks.

The level of awareness of what is going on in the group varies. It can happen that no one is aware of a particular phenomenon. Nevertheless it doesn't prevent cooperation. Thus, stigmergy is a shape of auto-organization used in particular by social insects as ants or termites for which communication is made by the tracks left - not necessarily consciously - by others. If the coordinator becomes aware of what takes place in the group, then he can act to favor some balances (convergence/difference, size of the group, the level of involvement). But if members themselves become aware of what is taking place, then they can act on many more little things than one or several managers can. The ideal is to reach a level of collective consciousness, i.e. that not only members are conscious.
No group is completely aware and still, there is always even a phenomena that everyone ignores. But the purpose of the coordinator is to favor the maximum of individual and collective awareness. On the contrary any aggression, voluntary or not, aware or not, opened or hidden, causes fear or anger and brings the group back to a very low level of conscience. The coordinator's job must be a permanent fight to bring back more awareness in the group... by minimizing at most his own fears and angers in order to avoid becoming unaware himself.

There are multiple tasks of coordination. Some are turned towards people (making involvement easy, helping convergence or divergence, boosting exchanges), others towards group itself (defining objectives, preserving the history of the group, identifying the tasks to be made and the critical tasks, giving the members an overall view of the group and the diversity of ideas) and others are aimed towards environment (value what has been done). Some tasks can be done in a centralized way - by the group's coordinator or by a group of nominees – or in a decentralized way. It depends on the group and of its level of developement (definition of goals, one of the first tasks which can be decentralized).
But in all cases, the tools of coordination must remain the coordinator's tools and not replace him in order to prevent him from discarding his responsability.

Very often, we try to drive the group with a specific intention. If this is relevent for aspects specific to the group (size, vocation...), it is no longer when you expect the members to get involved or to take initiatives. It is not wise either to manage the impact of environment on the group because we do not always have great possibilities for action. In this special case, it is important to drive the group with care and not with an idea in mind. That means that we must keep aware to what occurs and know how to adapt by seizing opportunities. It is even necessary to accept a small dose of incoherence to allow the group to solve problems insoluble otherwise...

Other specific aspects of groups

We have seen the influence of size on groups. Three other specific aspects must be added : its vocation, its level of maturity and its commons.

There are three kinds of vocation for a group: a network has for goal to put its members in relation, a community creates mainly a collective identity and a working group is aiming to produce - documents, events... - for the rest of the environment beyond members. The three dimensions are there : persons, group, environment. The coordinator must identify the primary purpose of the group without neglecting the others.

A group grows following different maturity stages. When the group is a child, the coordinator is the one taking initiatives (we talk here of benevolent dictator). After 18 months to two years (sometimes more for "Tanguy groups5" which stay very long in the lap of the manager), the group becomes a teenager. Then some try to take initiatives and which in the beginning are against the coordinator. They adopt then a role of ''negative leader''. It's sometimes a tough time to go through for human but it's fundamental because it opens up on the appropriation of the group by the members. During this time, it is often difficult for the coordinator to justify himself, even protect the group from a negative leader who, if he goes too far, endangers the group. During the following stage, the group grows adult. Enough members have made the group their own and are even ready to stand up for it. It's no use going too far too fast, for a group as for a human, each step has to be taken. Willing to build an adult group from scratch could be called the '' Frankenstein's syndrome... Sometimes the group becomes senile. Then it may die, but perhaps it has disseminate giving birth or inspiring other groups, hence ensuring its offspring.

What is sharing in a group? First it has a common culture (a past, common events, sometimes its own vocabulory...). But is this culture reachable to all, including new comers ? Has the group found a good balance between collective and individual identities of the members ? A second aspect to share is absolutly fundamental. It is commons (information defining the group, its functioning, its rules and productions, tools and methods used by the group ... ). Are they easily accessible to all, including people outside the group ? In addition to the provision in an accessible location (web. ..) it is important that these commons respect some rules for sharing: Creatives Commons licenses for documents (particularly cc -by -sa which allow a real sharing and a constant improvement6) and free software for apps (particularly the Gnu license7). Tools and methods used in the group should enable everyone to develop personal autonomy and its radius of action without provoking masters and slaves (see in particular the rules of Ivan Illich 8).

Other aspects depending on environment

Besides the notion of choice after the event which bases the cooperation when the environment is at the same time unpredictable and plentiful, there are three other aspects which depend on environment : external constraints, legitimacy and exchanges.

Environment can have external constraints: expectations about what the group will produce, requests from the hierarchy when the group is included in an organization... But there are two ways of perceiving these constraints : they can cripple or otherwise stimulate and push the group to produce a result (without deadline, it is sometimes difficult to complete a task). We must therefore see if it is possible to organize the group so that such constraints are stimulating rather than paralyzing, if there is a space of freedom and whether to expand.
One of the biggest difficulties is the difference in pace between external expectations and the production in a group. Another aspect is to know whether we run after external demands and after other groups that do similar things or if on the contrary we feel that we run before, leaving others following us, which is more comfortable.

Legitimacy is the equivalent for environment of the level of maturity, which is internal to the group. As for the latter, there are three main steps (childhood, adolescence and maturity): at first the group is not very visible from the outside. In a second time he tends to carve out its own place often positioning against other groups doing similar things.
Once mature, the group and its members are considered as legitimate. This then becomes a force to attract new members. Some groups have trouble getting out of an "against" position, sometimes because of the group's goals themselves. But to fight against the outside can end up fighting... against the inside, and some of these groups go as far as disintegration. To ensure longevity, it may be important to know how to redirect its goals and transform a culture of cons in a constructive culture.

The group's balance is very fond of its exchanges with the outside. A group exchange ideas, information but also people (which come in but also come out of the group, some also taking part simultaneously in several groups). So that the group adopts a balanced diet, it is necessary to ask the question of the regularity of these exchanges (did the group stay for a long time without integrating new members ?), but also of their quantity, of their quality and their diversity, to find harmony between the appropriate identity of the group and its renewal.

Specific skills to cooperate

After seeing the 16 facets which allow us to understand what is occuring in a group, we still have to see the 12 skills to act better in a group.

The skills related to people are useful not only for managers but also for participants. They consist in knowing how to integrate people in a group (and integrate yourself ...) to behave collaboratively, to manage "info-besity" (which is inherent in an environment of abundance and of transparency) and to position oneself (including being aware of being a mere observer or even to act as a negative leader, while understanding that it is only a role and what place it has in the group). Skills linked to persons are useful for coodinators but also for members themselves.

Skills specific to a group are : how to start a group, to liven it up, to map ideas and position 9 (to produce collective intelligence or deal with conflicts) and how to evaluate the group to understand what is occuring and debate with other members of the group as much as possible (this last skill can it can be particularly useful to transfer to members of the group, beyond coordinators).

Skills turned towards environment consist in knowing to produce (a document can be produced in a cooperative way – by allocating parts, or collaborativelly - by working on the same text. It's even possible to produce that way with several thousand people10), to organize events open to the outside, to document what the group can do 11 and finally scale up. This last skill has not spread very much yet but it is fundamental to multiply the results of cooperation by reaching the larger number possible, including the ''non activists" 12.

There are several levels for each of these skills which we can go through progressively. This can be easily illustrated with the ability to organize an event. At first you may be exposed by attending an event, then you may have taken part in the organization. Next step is to understand and know how to explain the organization of an event. One can then develop an ability to do and even during the useful stage, to be able to innovate in this field.

Cooperation in 28 keywords: what to bear in mind ?

Coopération is sometimes misunderstood and hence rejected as a utopia or else as an idea which can not be implemented because of money or time constraints. But cooperation is above all to converge individual and collective interest. It can save time and money... or waste both 13. Depending on the context (search for innovation, involvement of people ...) and according to how it is implemented, it may be in some fields far more effective than other strategies.

It is not easy to remember all the 28 keywords. But fortunately this is not necessary. There are tools. Thus, a self-administered questionnaire14 shows each of the 16 facets that allow us to understand what happens in a group, under the form of questions. Rather than looking outside the group for answers, it is much more effective to ask the right questions (including to other members of the group) as the best answers crucially depend on a deep understanding of the group's peculiarities... and of the choices enriched by the diversity of points of view.

If it is useful to have tools to find 28 aspects which allow to understand cooperation, it is also essential to be able to keep in mind some observationtips which have to become a true reflex. There are three aspects to integrate. They constitute "the ICE conditions" (Implication, Commons, Exchanges):
  • 1. The involvement of some persons: not of all of them because as seen before, observers and inactive persons are a majority in a group of more than 12 persons. However, it is essential to be sure that at least one person or more get involved in the group and behave proactively. Hiding behind tools which would create cooperation magically is a utopia in groups under several thousands see dozens of thousand persons.
  • 2. Reachable commons: Are the fundamental of the group (objectives, rules of functioning, tools and methods used) accessible to all including new comers ? Are the productions of the group easily reachable and reusable including outside the group ?
  • 3. Means of exchanging : It is important tohave several tools and rules of exchange to insure comunication between the participants who will allow to make the group converge : in face-to-face and remote, during synchronous meetings and in asynchronous (on-line exchanges for example), during organized exchanges and during informal relationships (the "coffee corner")...
These three conditions have to be organized in a effective but also diversified way (Robert Ulanowicz showed that the maximal durability of a system depended on the balance between two opposite aspects: 1/3 of efficiency and 2/3 of resilience by diversification 15.


Cooperation or collaboration : what differences ?

Card's author : Outils-réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : Between cooperation and collaboration, the difference is finely shaded.
F. Henri and K. Lundgren-Cayrol analyse in a very clear way the difference between these two notions.
The following presentation resume widely this analysis.

The first difference : how is the work shared?

Generally, collaborative and cooperative groups work together on a common or shared purpose.
The difference is very much visible in the way the work is shared :

By cooperating


The group is divided in specialized teams which take over part of the tasks. Members of each team have specific responsibilities. The set is achieved only when all members have done their part of the work.

The first difference : how is the work shared?

By collaborating


Members of the group work on a common purpose. But each, individually, tries to reach by himself the consensual purpose. Two productions occur in parallel : a collective production and the individual productions of each participant.

Other differences

From this way of doing the common task ensue other differences :
  • Groups maturity
  • Interactions between people
  • The way to consider the purpose

Groups maturity

  • The cooperative approach is more structured and framing. The manager organizes and "checks" the work. That kind of work suits better the "child group";
  • The collaborative approach is more flexible and members of the group have more freedom. It suits the "adult group".

image maturite_groupe.png

The cooperative approach can be seen as a method of initiation and preparation to true collaboration.

Interactions between people

Interactions between members of the group play a major role.
  • by cooperating, the complementarity of tasks creates a feeling of mutual dependence, interactions are therefore very strong but "hierarchized"
  • by collaborating, pooling of ideas prevails, interactions are rather associative, they are then richer and more intense.

The way to consider the purpose

Why are we working together?

image coop (5.6kB)

By cooperating, each member is responsible for an action or an under-task. The purpose is a collective production, the group reaches a purpose as an entity.
image coll.png (5.6kB)

In collaborative approaches, each one uses all the resources within the group.

In conclusion

These two notions are not "stabilized" yet even though we agree that collaboration involves a more democratic process: relations are more egalitarian.

Cultural filters are strong and in both cases they may have a "negative" connotation :
  • "collaborate" sends back to the dark days of World War II,
  • "cooperating" associates with abusive policies of rich African countries

In reality the difference between these two ways of doing is not as clear-cut: we swap easily from one approach to the other


Card's author : Frédéric Renier - SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with : Online service which allows to find your favourite websites whatever internet-connected computer you are using.
Official website : http://www.diigo.com
Tool's boxes : Web Watch tools
Introduction : Diigo allows to save anything which has an internet address (webpage, post, video, podcast, RSS, online picture...) in a database. It is a possible alternative to the use of web browser's bookmarks (also called favourites). Saving them is fine, but finding them again is even better. That is why each recorded bookmark will be defined by tags and a short description.
Requirements :
  • Creation of your own Diigo Account.
  • Understanding the interest of tagging an internet data.
Some practical uses :
  • Record, characterize and classify your own bookmarks: to create an online database. Bookmarks can be public or private (in this case they can only be seen when you are logged into your Diigo account). It is possible to record a copy of the page (upload cache).
  • Use Diigo as a web browser: for the index done by the community. We explore together all the bookmarks recorded by the Diigo community. The research functions are well developed.
  • Post all the tags in a cloud: on a CMS (content management system) as a Wiki, a blog, …
  • Create a RSS: for all the bookmarks from your Diigo account, for a tag in particular or for a body of tags (gathered in a list).
  • Cooperate with others within a group: (public or private) to propose and comment resources. There are RSS for each group and it is possible to define a list of preferences for the group.
Going further :
  • Using lists to generate easy copy paste html reports, proposing one's favourites (upright : play as web slides).
  • Linking a Twitter account to Diigo, which allows to tweet some chosen bookmarks or to include one's favourite tweets in the Diigo account.
Advantages :
  • The question of tags (deleting, modifying, adding) can be done easily on a whole group of bookmarks.
  • Html export is very useful for the making of web watch deliverable.
Drawbacks : Like all bookmarks managers, the creating of a list of tags requires rigour, see advices here page 26
Licence : Proprietary software, Freemium
Using : It could be easier but also more complicated
Setting up : No setting up


Card's author : Outils-réseaux et SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with :
  • Dropbox is a backup service to synchronise and share data, it is very simple. You download a programme that only takes up a small space on the task bar. Then you allocate a file on your computer that will be backed up and synchronised on the Internet. You log on and you're set: now, all forms of files, copied or backed up in your Dropbox documents will instantly be sent via the Internet is a safe way.
  • This allows synchronising your data automatically on all computers (desktop, laptop, work) and easily sharing documents with other users. Files are available on the hard disk, meaning you can work with them even without an Internet connection.
  • The free version comes with 2 G of space but the paying version allows you to extend this capacity.
Official website : http://www.dropbox.com
Tool's boxes : Briefcase
Introduction :
Requirements :
  • Being authorized to install software on a computer
  • It works for all platforms: Linux, Mac Os and Windows
Some practical uses :
  • Synchronising your files automatically on all your computers without issues with versions (Which is the good version? The one on my laptop? The one on my pen drive?)
  • Sharing a file and documents (of all types, office, images…) with one or several people
  • Working on your documents even if you have no access to the Internet
  • Creating a photo gallery visible to all easily
  • Having a public space on the net to upload large files and send files that are too heavy to send via email
  • Having an automatic backup of your files
  • Having access to files from any computer with an internet connection.
Using the tools :
Going further :
Advantages :
  • All files always at hand, from any computer
  • Sharing all supported document formats in real time, automatically and with different people
  • Working on files even if you have no internet connection
  • Backing-up files automatically
  • Dropbox saves the last versions of files, so older versions can be recovered in the event of an error.
Drawbacks :
  • Sharing files doesn't work very well when it's a document that several people are working on at the same time or during the same time period together (i.e. filling in a file to be submitted in two days time, planning for network members) since when two people work on a document at the same time, both versions are saved and then changes to merge the documents must be done manually.
For this kind of use it is preferable to use a tool that allows synchronized changes such as Etherpad or Google Document
  • Having two Drobpox accounts on the same computer is complicated and often causes errors
  • Documents in shared files use space on the 2G allocated.
Licence : Proprietary software, Freemium
Using : Easy
Setting up : Easy

Editorial usability or the art of building an information architecture

Card's author : Outils-réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : Many are the people who neglect editorial usability and focus all their attention on writing techniques, believing these are sufficient to share and publish quality content on the Internet. However, the specificity of reading on a screen leads to reinterpreting the way information is valued and the way it can be structured to make it accessible to Internet surfers. And this is precisely where editorial usability kicks in: reflecting on the best technique that can be borrowed to adapt to the technical “constraints” of the Internet and to facilitate the browsing experience to users as much as possible focusing the work especially on how contents are organised. In summary, it is about creating a text scenario that pushes users to read in greater depth.

The challenges of editorial usability

Eve Demange, the author of the blog Plume Interactive is a specialist in this field in France, and explains the specificities and the challenges of editorial usability: "Architecture improves the usability of websites by reviewing some elements such as the structure of information, links to other pages, the design. Editorial usability ensures that the words used to guide browsing are clear enough, short enough, that they allow visitors to find their way easily. It is not about drafting or re-writing a text adapting it to web reading (even if this does improve editorial usability too); it is all about weighting the words. It is a different job, specific to web media. A good web writer can do this job, but also an experienced web designer or a specialist in usability that is sensitive to the editorial part."

The specificities of reading on a screen

Illustration source: Site du zéro

This field finds its basis on the fact that people surfing the net read and take in information differently on-line. Eyetracking carried out a study, lead by Jakob Nielsen, to try and capture the eye movements on a screen and analyse what the user is really looking at when reading a website. These movements are illustrated with coloured areas. So, the read areas are those that were looked at the most by internet users, the yellow areas deserved less attention, the blue areas even less. As for the grey areas, they simply went unseen. If one can trust this study, people surfing the net would tend to scan the page, reading diagonally and stopping at the top of the page, the first paragraph and the beginning of the next paragraphs.

Other studies have shown that long before stopping at illustrations, Internet users would stop at the titles and text. What can be deduced from different studies is that it is words that guide internet users' actions.

Some good practices

Without going into the details of the several studies made on this topic, there are some base principles to optimize Internet surfers' browsing, to make reading easier and encourage users to visit a site again. In a nutshell, these studies point out two main aspects: visual comfort and content accessibility (i.e. the way to facilitate content comprehension).

Regarding visual comfort, there are four practical recommendations:
  • Taking care not to increase the information load of an article using too many colours and fonts or placing background images or animations that result overwhelming.
  • Optimising the colours used privileging a positive contrast (clear background/dark letters) rather than a negative contrast (dark background/clear letters). A positive contrast is less straining on eyesight.
  • Writing in lower case letters rather than in capital letters, for the same reasons mentioned above.
  • Creating visual gaps to catch the user's attention by using lists of bullet points, head tags (h1, h2, strong...) that give significance to the text, block quotes, etc.

To improve content accessibility it is advisable to:
  • Organise contents in a way that the user can tell the start from the end of the different topics easily.
  • Break up the text by displaying information hierarchically: short and descriptive titles (they should provide information to the user on what to find), etc.
  • Use relevant and explicit external links to offer more information on the topic and thus enrich the content.
  • Place important titles and information at the start of the line.
  • Privilege several relatively short articles to one long one with two much information or offer a printable format (PDF, for example) for long texts.
  • Illustrate an article since an image accompanying a text can considerably improve memorizing information. It stimulates learning the information.
  • Use a variety of sentence constructions to highlight the words conveying the message.


Education uses a faulty Creative licence, by Richard Stallman

Card's author : Hélène Laxenaire - SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Ideas developped by the author in the field of cooperation within the book or conference : In this article, Richard Stallman denounces the use of CC-BY-NC and CC-BY-NC-SA licences for pedagogical documents and works of reference and makes a call to use CC-BY and CC-BY-SA instead

Free Creative Commons licences and other non-free ones

Among the licences provided by Creative Commons, two of them are really free (cf. the definition of the GNU project software) :
  • the CC-BY-SA licence, which authorises users to disseminate and modify, even in a commercial framework, but with the condition that the delivered work is under the same licence
  • the CC-BY licence is identical to the one above, except that there is no obligation for a licence for delivered works
Other licences, which do not allow any modifications and/or using them in a commercial framework, in fact are not free.

Works under CC-BY-NC and CC-BY -NC-SA licenses are at risk of not being disseminated in a commercial framework

Licenses that allow modifications but don't allow using them in a commercial framework (CC-BY-NC and CC-BY-NC-SA) can be a problem that worsens with time. In fact, the letters NC (non-commercial) of the Creative Commons licence do not strictly speaking prohibit its commercial use; it only requires that the people wanting to give a commercial use to the works under this licence ask for the author's authorisation. However, allowing modifications to the work multiplies the number of authors, a number that over time may become very large and it may be utterly impossible to contact them to require authorisation. Richard Stallman suggests modifying these licences so that they allow defining a person who may be contacted for authorisation.

Works to be used for practical purposes must be under a free licence

According to Stallman, a work that is to be given a practical use must be free, as is the case of software or courses. For them to be free, users must have full control over the work they are using to fulfil their task.
He therefore distinguishes works used for practical purposes, i.e. pedagogical documents such as artistic works, entertainment from those reflecting a point of view. These are legitimized to be protected by a non-free Creative Commons licence.

Note from the author of this factsheet: the article by Richard Stallman is published under a non-free licence, which is in line with his discourse, since it is an article expressing an opinion.

Photo credits: Preliminares 2013 (CC BY-SA)
Short introduction of the book's author : Richard Stallman is a renowned free software programmer. He is behind the GNU project and the general public licence GNU is also known by its acronym GPL; he is one of the fathers of free software.
Quotations : When a work is used for a practical purpose, users must have control over this task, and therefore must be able to control the work in itself. This applies both for teaching materials and software. Richard Stallman
Literature references : L’éducation utilise une licence Creative Commons défectueuse, par R. Stallman. Framablog [online]. 31 January 2013. [Accessed 4 February 2014]. Available from : http://www.framablog.org/index.php/post/2013/01/31/stallman-creative-commons-non-commercial.


Card's author : Frédéric Renier, Supagro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with : An Etherpad is an online-service which allows several persons to take notes simultaneously. A chat is linked to each page? Etherpad is also a freeware which can be settled on a server.
Official website : http://etherpad.org/
Tool's boxes : Synchronous Communication
Introduction :
Requirements :
  • a good internet connection
Some practical uses :
  • Collaborative note-taking in a meeting. The consequences on dominating relationships are important, this custom contributes to move the lines.
  • Note-taking between remote partners by coupling the pad with a videoconferencing tool. However it is not always easy to share one's attention and screen between two apps.
  • Live control of the meeting's progress, with a possibility to ask questions in the Chat.
Going further : By opening an account on Framapad.org, you create a working space where you can invite users (with a password protected access), create peculiar pads for the group thus created, and have access to management features from your pads : listing, archiving, downloading, deleting. A pad created from an account is therefore only restricted, by default, to the members of the account (private), but it can also be opened to all as all public pads, or else protected by a specific password. Tutorial on the interest and the use of private pads
Advantages :
  • The classic of first irreversible cooperation experiences.
  • So very easy to use, every contribution is directly noticeable by others, many export possibilities, allows a synchronised co-writing, "wysiwyg" (page layout can be done in any word processor).
  • Notes taken are more complete.
Drawbacks :
  • Creating a pad directly from the web browser address toolbar can be a major methodological obstacle.
  • Limited to 16 simultaneous
  • Depending on the internet connection quality, the experience can be totally counterproductive.
Licence : Open sources, Free
Using : Easy
Setting up : Reserved for IT Jedis


Card's author : Emilie Hullo, Outils Réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with : Virtual notepad, Evernote is a free tool that allows you to manage your everyday information more easily by centralising all data in one single place.

Registration is free. There is also a premium version (for a fee) with advanced functions (1G of downloads per month, access to technical support and improved security).
Official website : https://www.evernote.com/
Tool's boxes : Online Office Automation
Introduction :
Requirements : Internet access.
Some practical uses : Evernote offers multiple functions:

  • Webpage captures with text, links and images.
  • Saving and filing information as notes on a personal site.
  • Organising and structuring notes organising them in notepads and key words.
  • Keeping them for an unlimited time.
Using the tools :
Going further :
Advantages : Simple to use, this software allows centralising all your data using an intuitive interface which can be synchronized on different devices. It can also be used on mobile devices: iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Android, etc.) and provides extensions that can be added to the browser toolbar to capture contents directly while browsing the net. It also offers the possibility of searching your notes by keywords, by title or by site. Evernote also allows sharing files with other users.
Drawbacks : There is an online software version on their website and also a customer version that must be installed on each computer and mobile device (Mac, Windows, Android). It does not yet support videos (except webcam feeds) and has a text editor which is slightly limited. Finally, the free version only offers the possibility of reading notepads from other users, but does not allow editing them, which limits a collaborative use of Evernote.
Licence : Proprietary software, Freemium
Using : It could be easier but also more complicated
Setting up : Easy


Card's author : Outils-Réseaux et SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with : Small and simple tool to agree on a date with a group or to create a small survey.
Official website : http://framadate.org
Tool's boxes : Calendar
Requirements : internet access is needed
Some practical uses :
  • Establish a date for a meeting
  • Choose a logo
  • Choose a name for the group
Using the tools :
Going further :
  • Only suggest dates when the people who are required to attend are available
  • Avoid suggesting too many dates, as this dilutes answers. A possible consequence of this: the date with most votes only represents a small minority within the group.
  • Set a deadline for each survey
  • Pay attention when several Framedates are open: take note of replies
Advantages :
  • It perfectly meets the needs of groups when searching for a common date.
  • The fact that other participants can see the replies of others encourages them to reach a consensus.
  • This tool is extremely easy, using it with beginner groups can be a first stage, a "small and irreversible experience".
  • Free software
  • Hosted by a "Loi 1901" association: data are not kept or resold.
  • It avoids flooding an email account with useless emails when trying to agree on a date among several people.
Drawbacks :
  • This tool does not solve the issue of unavailability.
  • Those replying first have more advantages.
  • Not convenient for confidential meetings or secret choices, since with these surveys participants are visible to everyone.
  • This service is maintained by volunteers: service availability is not guaranteed
Licence : Open sources, Free
Using : Easy
Setting up : No setting up


Free information

Card's author : Daniel Mathieu et SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : In numerous countries (among which France and the USA) copyright applies automatically and as soon as a work of cultural genius is produced, protecting the work and its author.
And anyone wishing to broadcast, publish, modify the work must request permission from the author, whom will grant it (or not) freely or at high expense .
Free licenses are "ready-to- use" legal texts, enabling the author to give wider rights to some people on his work, without necessarily having specific legal knowledge.
Far from ignoring copyrights, free licenses acknowledge and protect them !

While the usual practice of the law of literary and artistic property leads to restrict public from accessing the works, "free licenses" are intended to promote it. Indeed, all creators of work are not hostile to see their works disseminated. On the contrary, a number of them would like a wide diffusion (music, photograph) and even modifications, improvements or personalization (training course, article, software). Yet by default (in French law and some other countries), works of the mind are protected in a strictest way to propose the biggest protection possible for authors.
Free licenses therefore allow authors who wish it and with no specific legal knowledge, to "liberate" their works to facilitate their dissemination, while protecting them as these licenses are enforceable in the national law of the author.

How to "release" a work ?

By combining a user agreement to the work in order to (according to the license):
  • Authorize users to reproduce and disseminate the work freely and with no authorization
  • Allow the modification of the initial work
  • Authorize or not the commercial use of the work
  • Oblige every person modifying its work to broadcast the new work according to the same licence.

Free information, what for ?

  • To facilitate the diffusion of knowledges
  • To create commons
  • To authorize collaboration in order to develop a work, a software

Open Source Software

  • From the Linux experience (30 million lines of collaborative programs)
  • Widened to numerous software on the net: LAMP system (Linux, Apache, MySql , Php), Open Office...
  • Several possible licenses: BSD, GNU/GPL, CeCILL (Cea, Cnrs, Inria)
  • The sources of the software must be free of access: specific server (CVS)
  • GPL imposes to transfer to the diverted software the same rights as those of the initial software ; GPLL doesn't.

Other Open Source Software

  • Licence art libre: licence applying copyleft to art. This licence allows diffusion, modifications under the condition that the modified work is under the same licence.
  • In France : Public License information freely reusable allows the diffusion, the reuse of public data, commercially or not. All public data are not yet under this license.

The Creative Commons licenses

System of free and multilingual licenses offering a panel of solutions suitable for all works. They have been adapted to French laws by the CERSA (dependant of the CNRS).
Possible choices:
  • Do you authorize commercial uses of your work ?
  • Do you authorize modifications on your work ?
  • If so, under the condition that the derived works are shared according to the same conditions as the initial work.
Affixing the logo corresponding to the chosen licence will be enough to protect the work.
To choose the licence and get the right logo.correspondant: http://creativecommons.org/

Where to find Free works ?

Using free works (respecting their conditions of license) means respecting the author's work and taking part to the approach.
In practice :


Creatives Commons

Free public data


  • AIGRAIN, Philippe. Cause commune: l’information entre bien commun et propriété. Paris : Fayard, 2005. Transversales (Paris. 2005), ISSN 1772-5216. ISBN -213-62305-

Credits: Official logo for the Definition of Free Cultural Works by Marc Falzon - Public domain


Card's author : Frédéric Renier, Supagro Florac, Outils-Réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with :
  • Freeplane is a free software application which can be settled locally on the PC (Mac, Windows and Linux). It allows the creation of mind maps and their html export in a webpage.
  • a heuristic map is a mind map.
Tool's boxes : Mind map
Introduction :
  • To start a mind map, the topic of reflection is placed in the centre. For each new idea linked to the topic, a branch is created and the idea is written in a node. Then the branch is developed by creating secondary branches.? - When all the ideas are on the map, it's time to format it, to add icons, drawings or images, to choose colours for each branch. The more formatted and illustrated, the more understandable and easy to remember it will be.?
  • To translate visually the hierarchy of ideas, we generally go from the general (written large and in the centre) to the specific (written smaller and smaller as we move away from the centre) .
  • With mind maps both cerebral hemispheres work in synergy. Association and imagination process peculiar to thinking can notably be used. Having to locate a concept somewhere on the map forces to think about the other concepts.
  • A mind map to discover mind maps
Requirements : None, this kind of idea's presentation is appreciated or not.
Some practical uses :
Using the tools :
Advantages :
  • It is a tool which enables to show a problem's complexity
  • There are numerous online resources about mind maps (how to use, examples, tricks...)
Drawbacks : Freeplane is a software with numerous functions, which can be difficult to handle.
Licence : Open sources, Free
Using : It could be easier but also more complicated
Setting up : Easy

Google calendar

Card's author : Hélène Laxenaire - SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with : Google Calendar is a tool by Google that allows keeping an on-line calendar (available on a computer or a smartphone) that can be shared or posted on a website. This tool allows sharing an organization's events or meetings calendar, knowing the planning of collaborators and also establishing a planning to book resources (a room, for example).
Official website : https://www.google.com/calendar/
Tool's boxes : Online Office Automation
Introduction : Google Calendar is an on-line calendar that can be viewed on-line and shared. It can also be posted on a website. Google calendar allows importing other planning (created with Google Calendar or with ICS format) enabling you to visualize several different calendars on a same page. Finally, it allows group members who use Google Calendar to see each other's availability and invite them to a meeting on a given date and at a given time.
Requirements :
  • Having a Google account
Some practical uses :
  • posting upcoming meetings of an association on a website
  • sharing a calendar to determine the arrival times of speakers at an event. Everyone gathering information on arrival times can write them on a same calendar which is then used to see who will be going to pick them up at the station.
  • manage the bookings of a meeting room
Using the tools :
Going further :
Advantages :
  • It allows seeing the availability of all members quickly
  • It allows several people to gather information on timetables
  • Calendars with ICS format can be imported and exported for other software such as Thunderbird, so the calendar can be shared with people who do not have or do not wish to have a Google account.
Drawbacks :
  • It is an on-line calendar, meaning that there are more constraints than using a paper calendar, except if on a smartphone
  • It still belongs to Google!
Licence : Proprietary software, Free
Using : Easy
Setting up : No setting up

Google Documents (Google Drive)

Card's author : Emilie Hullo, Outils Réseaux and Hélène Laxenaire, SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with : Google Docs is an online and free Office suite. It includes a word processor, a spreadsheet, a presentation software, a software which generates online forms and a drawing software. This suite enables to share office documents (writing protected or not) and to share the writing with others. Since the transition to google Drive, it is also possible to share other kind of documents.
Official website : https://docs.google.com
Tool's boxes : Online Office Automation
Introduction :
Requirements :
  • Having a google account (to create and share a document : other members do not need to have one)
  • Being able to use an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, slideshow)
Some practical uses :
  • synchronous and remote note during a phone meeting
  • Creation of an online survey , the results being compiled in a chart (for more information, see the sheet Tool Google Form
  • to prepare their programming, event planners compile in a chart names and coordinates of potential participants, data are then structured and can be treated later as for a mailing
  • for a training schedule, a chart is put online differentiating rights : students can consult the updated chart in real-time to acknowledge their timetable (but can't modify it) and trainers can modify it directly without having to go throuh with an intermediary
  • to part-draft a document which needs layout : report, etc...
  • to set up a slideshow which can be easily inserted in a website
Using the tools :
Going further :
Advantages :
  • Files are online and therefore can be opened from any internet connected computer.
  • Documents can be part-written synchronously (a coloured cursor points out who is writing) or asynchronously (a history enables to know who did what)
  • The « sharing for all users with the link» option allows the sharing of a document and its modification by all users even if they don't have a google account
  • the available document is always the latest updated (which is not the case when documents are sent by email)
  • Modifications are compiled in real-time, there is no problem of version
  • All documents are created and modified with google doc, thus there is no file format problem as when one uses Open Office and Word (doc, docx). Everyone has the same software of the same version.
  • Possibility to chat next to the document when working synchronously but remotely on the document
Drawbacks :
  • If you are not connected to internet you can't get the document.
  • It needs a little time of practice before understanding all the differences in rights to apply to documents. Beware not to transfer the link in the URL bar but the one given via the button Share, once the « sharing for all users with the link » option is ticked, otherwise people will not be able to open the file. You need to be particularly scrupulous to this when you start using google doc within a group because it can be very demotivating if the first sessions end up by « But I can't open your file !»
  • It's Google again, who will index the contents of documents to generate pop-up ads and create consumers profiles.
Licence : Proprietary software, Free
Using : Easy
Setting up : No setting up

Google Forms

Card's author : SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with : Free Google Document tool that allows creating on-line surveys with results displayed on a chart.
Official website : http://docs.google.com
Tool's boxes : Polls
Introduction :
Requirements : Having a Google account
Some practical uses :
  • Introduction files of the members of a network of the participants in a meeting
  • Balance of an operation
  • Registrations for a meeting
  • Gathering the skills or needs of group members
  • Creating a letter using an address list (advanced functions)

Using the tools :
Going further :
Advantages :
  • Quick and easy to configure
  • It allows recovering and centralizing information and notifications from a large number of people easily
  • Results can then be exported to a Calc or Excel format to process them in greater detail.
  • Forms can easily be integrated into a wiki or a blog
  • Google gadgets allow processing the results in a chart or graphs
Drawbacks :
  • Data is saved on Google's server (permanence, Google has access to your data)
  • Google Document offers limited functions for detailed data processing
Licence : Proprietary software, Free
Using : Easy
Setting up : No setting up

Growing or turning into an archipelago?

Card's author : Gatien Bataille
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :

Is growing ceaselessly such a good idea ?

Listening to the prevailing speech, the answer is yes but can a good idea resist growth ?


Historical background of the French-speaking approach of cooperation

Card's author : Jean-Michel Cornu
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : Up to 1990, a great majority of people thought it was impossible to work efficiently when more than twelve persons (unless a hierarchy of groups was implemented or unless it was chainwork which only requires a relation with the persons before and after you in the chain).

In 1991, Linus Torvalds, a Finnish student launched the development of the core of the Linux operating system 1. Following an announcement on August 26, 1991 on the Usenet forum, hundreds of enthusiasts and businesses of all sizes joined the project and worked together to develop the system.

In 1997, Eric Raymond edited online the first version of his text "The Cathedral and the Bazaar 2". which proposes tracks to understand how the phenomenom Linux was made possible in the world of free software. He proposed 19 rules for the collaborative development of free software.

In 2000, Jean-Michel Cornu edited en ligne online the first version of "La coopération nouvelles approches 3" which proposes the nine laws of cooperation based on one hand on « The Cathedral and the Bazaar » and on the other hand on personal experiences outside the world of software: the association Vidéon (participative TV and ressource center for other participative TV) and the Internet Fiesta (World festival of the Internet which was based in 1999 and 2000 on the principles of free software applied to the realization of events).

Around 2001, an informal group arised from environmental structures (Tela Botanica, Ecole et Nature, les écolos de l'Euzière). OCTR worked on the development of methodological and computational tools for networking, the name soon fell into oblivion but the group organised in 2003 an inter-network meeting in the south of France: "réseaux, mythes et réalités" (networks, myths and facts).

In 2001, collaboratively a series of guides led by Philippe Cazeneuve. This same year was created the collective I3C for a creative, cooperative and public-spirited internet 4 which sets up the meetings of Haillan (33) in november 2001, and then a regional meeting "in armorican Brittany " in november 2002 in Brest of the network I4Cwhere the fourth C is added for convivial 5.

In 2002, the « Ecole et Nature's » network, under the leadership of Marc Lemonnier published its guide "Operate as a network" 6, summary of practical analysis of territorial networks dedicated to environmental education: cooperative writing in 1995 of its first practical and professional guide, irreversible experience of collaboration, organization of participative local and national meetings.
The Tela-botanica's network of French-speaking botanists 7, created in 1999 by Daniel Mathieu, leaned on the book "Cooperation, new approaches" and on the reflections of the network Ecole et Nature for the way of participating of its contributors. In 2013, the network had 20000 members.

In 2004, the "Fondation Internet Nouvelle Génération" set up a group on Collective Intelligence8 which gathers 130 French-Speaking specialists and practitioners after a conference given by Pierre Levy. For 3 years, through online exchanges on a discussion list, members crossed their knowledge and lead to a first synthesis of collective intelligence in the form of 12 facets. This work allows to reach in 2007 a questionnaire "Understand by yourself what is taking place in a group9."

Also in 2004, on Michel Briand's initiative, a Forum on cooperative practices10 gathered in Brest over 250 actors involved in innovative uses and social appropriation. It took place then everytwo years. Other meetings were organized in France on the topic of cooperation like the « TIC summers »11 in Rennes since 2009 and named in "Tu imagines ? Construits !(Can you imagine ? Then build !)12" or else the « Moustic » meetings13 in Montpellier since 2005. They are an opportunity to compare experiences and to develop further the understanding of the mechanisms of cooperation (very large groups, free recipes to reproduce cooperative projects ...). In the mean time, the meetings of the French-speaking actors of the internet, oldest French manifestation of the internet created in 1997, hosting a series of workshops providing an update on progress in the field of cooperation. Crossing network is organized around the site Intercoop 14.

In 2010, the association Outils Réseaux, launched the Animacoop training15, "managing a collaborative project" leaning on the previous results. More than a hundred people have been trained since then with training sessions in Montpellier, Brest and Caen.

In 2011, Imagination for People was created, an international platform and a community whose goal is to identify and help groups of a 100 to 1000 persons to get organized and develop. The Imagine group produces on the 12th of May of 2011 a more achieved version of the methodology of collective production, initially started within a group of collective intelligence.

Also in 2011, the new group on monetary innovation of the Fondation Internet Nouvelle Génération applied the method with 160 participants and lead to radically innovative tracks published in a book the year after.

The group of managers from the group AnimFr, was created in 2011on the initiative of Outils Réseaux, Brest Métropole Océane and Imagination for People. It gathers 250 people among those whom were trained with Animacoop from Outils Réseaux and those who manage groups in which Imagination for People is a partner.

Between 2011 and 2013, the european project CoopTIC, driven by SupAgro Florac enabled to train trainers in cooperation with Belgium, Cataluna and France. It led to a first training in different countries and an e-book about the current state of knowledge on the subject.

In 2012, the method of collective production of documents in large groups started to be used by other people than its inventors. It happened particularly with the group « Question Numérique » from the Fondation Internet Nouvelle Génération (work coordinated by Amadou LO) and the document "Cooperation explained to my brother-in-law: a redneck: " published by the group AnimFr ( work coordinated by Gatien Bataille within the framework of theCoopTIC training)

Also in 2012, the different facets to understand cooperation, written by the group « Intelligence collective » of the Fing and the skills developed within the framework of the training « Animacoop » of Outils Réseaux are updated and gathered to lead to the presentation of "la coopération en 28 mots clés" which is exposed within the framework of Animacoop and of the first French-speaking MOOC ITYPA (online and free mass-training on the topic "Internet, there is everything to learn there ! ")

In 2013, the Adeo group gathering 13 trademarks of DIY stores from around the world, defined its products, purchases and / / supply chain / / for the next ten years, with working strategy, an international meeting, but also an online job that brought together 1,500 people in over 7 languages during two months.

The same year, a summary document described in detail the method to produce documents with hundreds of people in order to enable its use in different settings.

Also in 2013, the on-line Assembl software developed by Imagination for People in partnership with the Institut du Nouveau Monde au Québec is launched . It facilitates the realization of textual mappings proposed by the method.


How to produce a document when you are several hundred persons (Part 1)

Card's author : Jean-Michel Cornu
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :

How to turn armchair philosophy into collective intelligence ?

parable of blind men and an elephant 1

It was six men of Indostan to learning much inclined, who went to see the Elephant (Though all of them were blind), that each by observation might satisfy his mind. The First approached the Elephant, and happening to fall against his broad and sturdy side, at once began to bawl: "God bless me!—but the Elephant Is very like a wall! " The Second, feeling of the tusk, cried: "Ho!—what have we here so very round and smooth and sharp? To me 't is mighty clear this wonder of an Elephant is very like a spear! " The Third approached the animal, and happening to take the squirming trunk within his hands, thus boldly up and spake "I see, " quoth he, "the Elephant is very like a snake! " The Fourth reached out his eager hand, and felt about the knee. "What most this wondrous beast is like Is mighty plain, " quoth he; "'T is clear enough the Elephant is very like a tree! " The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, said: "E'en the blindest man can tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can, this marvel of an Elephant is very like a fan! " The Sixth no sooner had begun about the beast to grope, than, seizing on the swinging tail that fell within his scope, "I see, " quoth he, "the Elephant is very like a rope! " And so these men of Indostan disputed loud and long, each in his own opinion exceeding stiff and strong, though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!

From armchair philosophy 2 ...

We usually seize that if an idea is true then its contrary is false. It is called the law of non-contradiction upon which our logic, as defined by Aristotle, is based. Therefore Eubulide of Millet, who fighted this law, has demonstrated through to the liar's paradox 3 that it was not necessarily true : "A man was saying he was lying. Was this true or false ? ". This sentence cannot be either true... nor false! As well as in the parable of the elephant, some assertions may sound in contradiction but all of them or true 4 . We then talk of antinomy. It's especially the case when we try to have several different points of view on a subject.
Equipped with the law of non-contradiction, we don't spend time searching what is true and what is false but justifying what we have said formerly... and therefore demonstrating that people with different arguments are wrong. Each member spends most of the discussion's time repeating and justifying his own assertion to be sure it will be taken into account. Very often the background of the debate is not about searching the truth but about avoiding being caught out and possibly gaining recognition from other members for having said something seen as true.

...To collective intelligence

To get out of armchair philosophy, it's compulsory first not to look for what is true on a topic but the different points of view on a it. The more people with a point of view, the more complete the view. At this stage, the debate can cope with approximative, not to say apparently false views. The aim is to gather the biggest number of points of view and to create new ones to complete those already found.
But we also have to compromise with our own cognitive limits. Thus, we can only remember the three last elements of a discussion 5 . When we look at the discussion objectively, we can have an overview of the differents assertions or arguments, but there too we are limited and can only remember from 5 to 9 ideas 6 . In order to deal with a subject using collective intelligence, we will then have to apply a method to work with a great number of persons, to map the whole of the ideas but stopping ourselves, first to select some ideas and eliminate others.

The three principles of ideas-co-building

Managing a lifting of collective discussion's difficulties needs to take into account three principles of collective intelligence which are rather counterintuitive but which will be the bases for the construction of a method allowing the production of ideas and contents from several hundred persons.

Size of the group and parts of members 7

As soon as a group is over a dozen people, each member adopts a proactive, observer or idle position and can move from one to another according to a number of criteria. Rather counterintuitively, it is observed that the percentage of active persons stays remarkably constant (principle of 90-9-1) : proactive people are one and over percent and reactive people are between ten and a few dozens of percent.
Different types of groups differing from the number of members :
Small groups up to twelve people whom can be managed restrictively (expecting the action particular to each different member) ;
Intermediates groups between twelve and a hundred people whom need more efforts from the manager to get reactions ;
Large groups between a hundred and one or two thousand people which allows to produce collaboratively... provided a focus is done on reactive persons ;
Very large intermediate groups of several thousand people where the group composed by proactive people becomes easily illogical ;
Very large groups over several dozens of thousand where proactive people are numerous enough to make management less restrictive ;
Large groups between a hundred and one or two thousand people are particularly interesting : they are a prerequisite for groups doomed to become very large, and moreover they represent a good corresponding size to the number of persons which can be gathered on many rather sharp topics. However reactive people need to be taken into account (they can be reached through online systems by push-tools such as email, Facebook or Twitter rather than pull tools as the web or forums) and not only proactive people whom in this case are not enough.

The post factum choice 8

There are several strategies according to the environment around us :
Planning : in a predictable situation where resources are scarce, prediction is needed to optimize them and avoid their spoiling ;
Negotiation: when ressources are scarce but the situation not predictable, negotiation enables a choice in real time since it could not be done in advance ;
The post factum choice: when ressources are abundant (large group, abundant information) but when the situation is not predictable, it is better then to arouse an abundancy of choices and to choose only post factum, within all possibilities ;
Most of the time we do not choose our strategy but we use the one we know better whatever the context. We need to adapt ourselves to our environment in order to choose the best strategy. Sometimes a situation can be predictable for some things and unpredictable for others, some ressources can be abundant, some rare. In this case, we need to adapt ourselves and even to juggle with the strategies.
For instance in a large group of over a hundred persons, thanks to the number of reactive members acting it is possible to arouse the maximum points of view and to choose only afterward those to keep : "Whith enough observers, all appliable solutions to a problem are blindingly obvious ". But if the group is smaller than one or two thousand people, the number of proactive members and moreover the number of persons who join the coordination is weak. The coordination of groups under several thousands must call on planning and/or negotiation strategies.

Mapping for an overview 9

In a debate with several people, and even more in a confrontation, each one tends to defend his idea, to repeat it constantly so it is taken into account. In practice it's often seen that different points of view don 't rule each other out but on the contrary complement each other to give altogether an overview. To go past the facts, me must take into account the two ways of thinking that are each using a different working memory.

The first, based on speech consist in sayings ideas one after the other, just as we make a step after another to progress from a starting point until an arrival. This way of thinking especially allows a rational approach but it hardly takes into account conflict (a starting point, two directions), collective intelligence (several points of view on the same arrival) or else creativity (finding new ways between several starting points and several arrivals) which are all three using another complementary way.

The second way of thinking is based on mapping. It consists in arranging on the same mind map ideas according to their proximity, without trying to select them offhand, to get the more complete vision on ideas and possible progressions. Mind maps (mind mapping in english) which are co-built and projected to all during sessions are very efficient to give a global vision to the whole group and allow therefore to look for new ideas and new points of view rather than having each member focusing on one or two former ideas.

To go further, two possible approaches :
The Method of Loci : During synchronous meetings (online or face-to-face), a map of idea can be coupled with another map, often of territories that each one can keep in his long term memory. It can be a place known to all (for monks in the Middlle Ages, their cathedral) or if this can't be found, a co-built place (in the long term a place is easier to remember than ideas) ;
Textual maps : in asynchronous online exchanges, people who behave reactively (ten times more numerous than proactive people) and the observers (even more numerous) use tools which cannot stand graphics mode very well (email, Facebook, Twitter). Therefore proposing a drawn map needs to share a link to a web page where the map is. But then only half of participants will see the map. The possible use of text laying-out can then be used to allow the drawing of a textual map which won't need to be read in its whole as a text but can be read as a map : lists of bullet points, formulation of short ideas in one line maximum, bold, underlined and italics to enhance some keywords ;

Applying these principles to produce collective intelligence

From the principles presented in the previous parts, we can start to edit some rules to allow the production of ideas and contents with several hundred people. We will deal here especially with online asynchronous exchanges which can be punctually improved by face-to-face or online synchronous meetings.
1. The group must have at least a hundred members.
These won't contribute systematically as in a small group. As long as the group stays under several dozens of thousand people, it's important to focus on the members with a reactive attitude (it is the most common size of group. Even in very large groups of dozens thousand people, only a sub group will take an interest in a specific content). According to the 90-9-1 rule, reactive people will be at least a dozen which will be enough to start a dynamic and possibly encourage other participation.
2. The critical part of facilitator(s).
By definition facilitators do have to be proactive. But within a group of between a hundred and one or two thousand people, they are few. Mistakes or lack of proactivity from a facilitator can lead the whole group to inaction. In a young group (generally less than two years old), the facilitator or the small group of facilitators has a central part. It is even in the freeware Benevolent Dictator for Life. For maturer group, different people can, according to topics, have a leading part. In this case, eventhough animating the discussion is a restrictive part, it is not as much for the whole of the group which may have discussions leading to an achievement or not.
3. First, let people express ideas without choosing.
On the contrary, it is necessary "to open up the fields of possibilities " to point out all ideas that could be added, rather that suppressing those already spoken. Ideas seeming out of hand may happen to be very rich although "a priori " counterintuitive. Even if an idea turns out to be stupid, it can spark off other interesting ones.
4. A map shaped summary gives an overview of ideas exchanges.
In the case of online asynchronous ideas exchanges, it's better to use mind map which anyone can receive. It does not need to be wholy read as a text would, but can be glanced through like a map (with bullet lists, bold and underline laying out...) That point requires the more work. Tools and methods enable to reduce this time.
5.At least a few items of information need to be "pushed ".
To reach reactive people, some items of information need to pushed (information is sent directly to an account that he persons read regularly : email, Facebook ou Twitter). But according to the number of members, the energy of the discussion and the more or less great agreement from members to receive information directly, there is also a need to give a wide access to the whole of information with pull tools (the person fetches by herself the information by visiting a forum, browsing archives or other webpages). A fair balance is then to be found between what is sent to all and what is not sent but has to be looked for by those who want (from the mailing list where everything is received by everyone to the sending of summaries only, including the extra sending of a selection of some stimulating contributions encouraging readers to react).
6.Iterations of contributions/summaries contribute to collective intelligence 10 .
The mapping of different points of view allows to have an overview (as the parable of blind men and an elephant). But collective intelligence really starts when participants lean on what others have said (or to be sharper on the global map of the discussion) to propose new ideas that they would not have had otherwise. Thus each contribution increases the level of collective intelligence and enables proposals, some particularly innovating and smart.

Method to produce a collective text when you are up to several thousand participants

This method aims to produce content collaboratively, not only by including former contributions but also and most of all contributions resulting from exchanges of ideas. It is based on regular text map summaries (a text that can be read as a map rather than scoured, with bullet lists, bold an underline laying out to enhance some words, etc.).
This methods is concentrated on "large online groups ", large enough to obtain reactions without to much effort (a hundred or more members) but still not reaching the needed size to allow a concentration on proactive people only (over several thousand). It is a major part of online groups wishing to produce contents on a specific topic. In this case the stress is the most reactive persons whom are generally ten times more numerous than those with a proactive attitude.
The two parts below concentrate on tools and how to make the group up for those who are creating groups or those whose groups are still too small. The next part on web watch, common understanding and ideation is the heart of the method to build a structured overview of collective ideas. The two last parts on ideas selection and writing enables to have a text easy-to-read for people whom did not take part in the discussion or did not know the topic very well.

Implementation of tools

Tools for discussion
The first stage is to choose push (information is brought to participant : email, Facebook, Twitter...) and pull (the participant seeks for information : forum, webpages..;) tools. For a rather small group of up to several hundred people whom are all using emails, a simple mailing list is enough. The records of the list enable proactive people to seek for old items of information and eases the facilitator's job in charge of mapping.
More and more often, participants read regularly their messages with different tools : some are on Facebook and scarcely read their emails, some follow Twitter but have deserted Facebook. Some only use one of these three tools, sometimes two but rarely all of them. Other groups use a general social network (Linkedin, Viadeo) or a network particular to their community (based on softwares Elgg, Diaspora, Movim, Daisychain...). There is therefore a necessity for : either keeping up with all the different tools used by the group's members or... a reduction of the group to the members whom only use such or such tool.
More over, when a group gets bigger, the number of contributions grows too and can overtake the bearable level for a participant. In an online world where post people suffer from "infobesity " (too much information), even in a relatively small group, some can be annoyed by emails coming from the discussion. To prevent the cancellation of subscriptions or disaffections (emails automatically filed without reading, not to say tagged as spam...), only the most important information is to be sent to all or to those who want : regular mapping of the discussions, a selection of some contributions gathered in the same message to stimulate partipation, etc. In that case it is even more important that the whole of the contributions should be available (by pull way) to allow those who wish, and of course to facilitators who make maps, to find the detailed contributions. It is thus by allying push and pull tools that discussion will allow the sending of some messages to everyone (to reach the reactive people) but keeping the amount of messages at a reasonable level (to avoid over-information).
Find more about the subject : the Fing, link between email and social network under Elgg 11
Since 2010 and after the testing of quite a few online tools for its collaborative works (mailing lists, blogs, forums), the Fing has progressively implemented its social network, an Elgg platform which enables to standardize its contibutors collaborative network environments : some members being involved in several discussions, managing subscriptions to scattered platforms and mailing lists was indeed a problem.
At first, the choice was made to combine the web platform (to publish) and the email (to exchange). At the launching of Digital questions in mid 2012 , the Fing chose to interface the two modes. Each forum of its network allows web or email interaction : for example, a forum subject is posted on the web and notified by email to the 260 persons of the Digital Questions group, who can react either by return of email or by logging in on the platform. Users seem to choose email for quick answers and web when elaborated answers are needed.
This practical detail also allows to have, like on any forum, several parallel threads of discussion, provided a special care is given to titles. It eases access to new comers and open-cast work and lowers the entrance barriers. Activated on forums, this feature can also be easily activated on comments from other publications : blogs, document-sharing, events...

Get to know more : ADEO group, use of Google groups in push and in pull 12
The ADEO group is a firm of 70000 persons dispatched in 13 countries and 27 Business Units (BU). Very much decentralized, turned towards the sharing of Knowledge and Power, ADEO has launched for nearly 20 years into numerous steps of shared Vision with all the staff of some of its BU.
The Communauté Produit, Achat et Supply-Chain (PAS), grouping together the central buying services, the logistic departments of the BU and the PAS Group's Direction has initiated in mid-2011 a transverse step : VisionPAS 2023, the Vision on cooperation PAS of the ADEO Group by associating thus more than 2000 staff. Different collaborative techniques have been used to extract the true substance : work units, creativity seminar, Design Thinking mode prototypes, … but none of these involving more than 150 persons altogether.
In order to do the writing of our target in 10 years, we have decided to divide in 8 great main lines according to the following structure : Benchmark, TOFW (Threats, Opportunities, Forces, Weaknesses), 10 years vision. Nearly 50 work units of 15 persons which have allowed us to make up this very rich and complementary material (see : parable of blind men and an elephant) . We have then realized a first summary on each topic. The importance was then to find ways to make the whole community react on this VO to make the most of collective intelligence. But very soon in an international group with no reference language, the linguistic issue aroused. We didn't have either CRM tools, enriched repertories nor a firm social network. In consequence we have implemented a 6 weeks Digital Debate targetting 1500 persons helped by Google Groups.
The need :
  • Multilingual Forum to favour individual speech.
  • Possibility to send mass emails from the Forum towards mailboxes with an option to answer directly on the Forum without having to join (this criterion made us exclude the Nabble tool that does not allow mass-emails sending)
The solution :
  • 7 Forums = 7 Google Groups (1 per language: french, english, spanish, italian, polish, portuguese, russian) bringing in a group of translators
  • One week of intensive processing on a topic with different and coherent push tools according to
  • 1. Launching of the debate by the sending of a summary on the topic
  • 2. Sending of inspiration on the same topic : open-mindedness, proposal of external perspectives
  • 3. Publication of the latest contributions : the message we want to send is : "the debate is progressing, your colleagues are taking part in it, new ideas are rising, join in ! "
  • 4. Publication of a new summary enhanced by the debate : contributors recognize their hand in the wording of the final deliverable and notice the enhancement of the final summary thanks to the collective debate.
  • A simple system to contribute : answer by email which feeds instantaneously the thread of the forum OR direct contribution on the forum by posting a comment. On the forum, contributions on a topic can be seen indistinctly.
Strong points :
  • Strategic topics tackled in 7 languages : richness of contributions made easier by individual expression.
  • Volunteers within the company for the translation helped to make translations reactive and flexible, which was vital to stick to our rather short deadlines.
  • No hierarchical diagram : all ideas are kept and exploited similarly in the final wording of the final deliverable. Besides, contributions put forward in Flash emails onlyy quote the contributor's surname, not his/her name.
push by daily email : contributor's sollicitation through the media they use most today. Contributions are for stocked in one and same place : the Goggle Group (1 per language). Each person "must " receive information but she is free afterwards to follow or not the thread on an additional tool, here the Google Group. In order to avoid missing the "best " contributions, we "push " to all a selection of these latest.
Difficulties :
  • A forum per language but no transversality between the 7 forums : what is posted in the polish forum cannot be seen by Spanish. EXCEPT that the dissemination of "best comments " in the flash could come from the 7 forums and summaries were common in all languages.
  • Only the coordinator had subscribed to Google Group so that participants would receive summaries but not all contributions. With no CRM, sendings were done from a Gmail account wit a return adredd that was the Gmail account's o ne.Even the Gmail account was opened so that participants could join in if they wanted.
  • Need to have a Gmail account to have access to Google Groups.
  • Need of fitting tools (enlarge repertories, CRM, …) for that sending volume.
  • The not-always-easy-to-implement need for accomplices enabling the bustling of debates.
Results and figures :
  • A 6 weeks live debate on 8 strategic topics.
  • A participation rate of around 13% with more than 400 multilingual commentaries multi-lingues which have enriched the Vision notebooks.
  • Contributions done in 7 languages : "only " 55% of commentaries are in French.
  • 8 input "Vision V1" notebooks of our International Meeting which gathered in february 2013 for 3 days 700 PAS community managers of the Groupe ADEO to do a collective reading 13 .
To conclude, this first ADEO's large scale Digital Debate was rich in learnings. It allowed us to follow the major stages referred to in the paragraph "Applying these principles to produce collective intelligence ". It allowed us to validate this participative method and will surely call out for more.

Tools for capture and text maps
To create a text-map summary which enables the group to have an overview, interesting contributions need first to be captured within the different messages (there can several in the same message), eventually given a shorter (less than a line) and more explicit name and then organized into a hierarchy. This last action may need to create new entries in the hierarchy to gather several ideas which can be found there.

Find more about it : reorganize levels while discussing
Let's imagine a discussion on the implementation of this method where the current vision is described by the following text-map :
  • Tools of discussion
  • Mail (push tool : information sent directly to participants)
  • Take into account those who like Facebook rather than email
  • Forum (Pull tool : the participant fetches himself the item of information he wants)
Contributors propose to add the idea of also using Twitter as well as other social networks. The map could then be reorganized under the following shape :
Tools of discussion
  • Pushtools (information sent directly to participants)
  • Mail
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Other social networks
  • Allowing several push tools to leave a choice to participants ?
  • Pull tools (the participant fetches himself the item of information he wants)
  • Forum
  • Something else ?
In this case, not only the idea of "email " moves to the level of "push tool " which includes Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, but the person who does the mapping had the idea to add the possibility of mixing tools and also organized identically the pull tools to leave room for other choices. In doing that, we do not have exactly a summary of the discussion but rather a map of the current vision understanding of the problem. Reorganizing a map often gives additional ideas and even the map-maker can add ideas, which can be completed or corrected by participants during the next iteration of contributions.

The mapping of exchanges can be done by hand with eventually post-it notes on a wall in order to reorganize ideas easily. But when the discussion is important, one iteration of the map can take about 5 hours and this happens once or twice a week during the phase of ideation... organizing such a discussion is greedy in time for facilitators and particularly for those who make or complete maps.
Too reduce the mapping time and therefore allow the animation of groups even by persons for whom it's not the "official job 14 ", time must be reduced to one or maximum two hours a week. The aim of the app Assembl developed by Imagination for People in partnership with the Institut du Nouveau Monde in Québec, is to ease the capture of smart contributions, to help renaming them and to reorganize them easily despite the small size of a computer screen.

Find more about it : Assembl a tool to map contributions 15
Assembl is an online discussion system aimed for groups of people which have to produce collectively a deliverable (opinion, consensus, document, patterns, alternatives, etc.) on any subject. Although it is relatively easy nowadays to mobilize people on a stake through social networks, for a multitude of purposes the quality of a deliverable does not increase the number of participants. This is the main problem tackled by Assembl.
First of all by combining a chronological discussion (necessary to ease implication, feeling of membership and group dynamics) and a more structured and synthesized presentation of the discussion (necessary to enable each participant to have an overview on exchanges and proposals whatever the time and the level of attention he can devote to it).
Assembl enables humans to play a facilitator part in a team. With the help of tools making these tasks productive, they point out key-ideas, disseminate them synthetically and guide participants towards constructive discussions.
Assembl tries not to repeat what we see as weaknesses of preceding systems, thus, Assembl:
  • Doesn't force participants to write their contributions in a special format (the structure must help the discussion, not take its place)
  • Acknowledges that some participants will like better a push mode (for example: mailing lists) and some a pull mode (for example : : web forums web, Facebook groups), and enables them to chat together by breaking those "havens " of discusion 16 .
  • Doesn't brake existing communities by forcing migrations. It can be introduced progressively in the current mailing list of an already active community.
  • Doesn't disconnect maps of discussions that gave birth to it. Reactions to discussion are available from the global version and vice-versa.
  • Doesn't make obligatory a structure of discussion (numerous systems are focused on for/against debates) and imposes less constraints to methods of animation.

Continuation of this text available here

  • 1 parable of Jaïnism, made famous by the american poet John Godfrey Saxe in the middle of the XIXth centuray. Source :
Sanskrit Heritage Dictionary. [online]. [Accessed 4 February 2014]. Available from : http://sanskrit.inria.fr/DICO/index.html, Quoted par Wikipédia : The Sanskrit Heritage Dictionary. Wikipédia [online]. [Accessed 4 February 2014]. Available from : http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sanskrit_Heritage_Dictionary
  • 2 The equivalent expression in english could be "bar-room politics " or even better "armchair philosophy " refering to cultured but idle people , whom talk a lot but act little (rather than to people who would have had too much too drink and would talk nonsense) : café du commerce.  WordReference [online]. [Accessed 4 February 2014]. Available from : http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=70335&highlight=comptoir
  • 3 A paradox which might have been invented by Eubulide of Millet (IVth century) from the Cretan of Epimenide. Paradoxe du menteur. Wikipédia [online]. [Accessed 4 February 2014]. Available from : http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradoxe_du_menteur
  • 4 Alfred Korzybski, author of General Semantics, understood during the first World War that the mechanisms of thinking which caused the war rested on the postulates of Aristotle's logic (principle of identity, of non contradiction and of excluded middle). He expressed then a new non-aristototelitian logic based on new postulates corresponding to scientific advancements in the XXth century : Sémantique générale. Wikipédia [online]. [Accessed 4 February 2014]. Available from : http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%A9mantique_g%C3%A9n%C3%A9rale
  • 5 It 's about a limitation of one of our working memories called phonologiacl loop, which only allows us to keep in mind three items in a chain of ideas. For the model of the different working memories, see : BADDELEY, Alan D. and HITCH, G. J. Working memory. In : BOWER, G. H. (ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation : Advances in research and theory Volume 8. New York : Academic Press, 1974. p. 47–90. ISBN 9780080863597 0080863590 0125433085 9780125433082.
  • 6 This second working memory concerns the whole of the project or ideas we can remember in our short term memory. It's named after a visuo-spatial notebook. It enables us for example to count post factum the windows in a house when we don't see it anymore... considering their number is limited. It's also this same working memory which allows to create new ideas by linking two former ones. MILLER, George A. The magical number seven, plus or minus two : some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychological review. 1956. Vol. 63, no. 2, p. 81.
  • 7 To know more about the topic, see the complete text: "Size of groups and roles of members"
  • 8 To know more about the topic, see the complete text:  "//Post factum// choice"
  • 9 To know more about the topic, see the complete text: "Mapping to give an overview". These ideas were presented formerly in : CORNU, Jean-Michel. Modes de pensée et conflit d’intérêt. In : Nouvelles technologies, nouvelles pensées ? [online]. Limoges, France : FYP éditions, 2008. Innovation, ISSN 1961-8328. ISBN 978-2-916571-03-4. Available from : http://www.cornu.eu.org/files//ProspecTIC_pensee2.pdf
  • 10 See also the Delphi method which enables aware people to improve their forecasting on a topic by an iterative approach enhancing the fields of convergence and incertainty : LINSTONE, Harold A. and TUROFF, Murray (eds.). The delphi method [online]. Addison-Wesley Reading, MA, 2002. [Accessed 4 February 2014]. ISBN 0 - 201 - 04294 - 0. Available from : http://is.njit.edu/pubs/delphibook/#toc
  • 11 This part was written by Jacques-François Marchandise de la Fing
  • 12 This part was written by Victoria Masson and Jean Duclos from the ADEO group
  • 13 See the paragraph "Text Wording : collectivre re-reading "
  • 14 The animation of a debate may be done by volunteers or professionals whom will find interesting to be in the heart of the discussion in order to catch ideas and subtelties fully. This job of animation should not officially be part of the working time.
  • 15 This part was written by Benoît Grégoire from Imagination for People. Imagination for People | Repérer et soutenir des projets sociaux créatifs. [online]. [Accessed 4 February 2014]. Available from : http://imaginationforpeople.org/fr/
  • 16 See the paragraph "Size of groups and roles of members" about the difference between proactive and reactive participants


How to produce a document when you are several hundred persons (Part 2)

Card's author : Jean-Michel Cornu
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : The first part of this document is available here

Constitution of the group

Invitation to join in
First you need to invite people to form a group. This can be done collectively or individually. Both are complementary. An invitation is not a subscription, the person must give her authorization to be part of the group. But, if she is interested, her subscription must be as easy as possible : a simple click on a link in a email with as little information to give as possible (generally first name and name, sometimes the firm. The email address can be detected directly). Otherwise, a simple return answer by email can be suggested in order to lower even more the threshold of acting out 17 . The answer may be manually treated or automatically with a return heading to a robot which allows to register the person directly (by detecting in the email address the person's email or his/her account in the social network as well as his/her name).

For the collective invitation, niches for the information display must be chosen first : emailing lists (discussion or diffusion), social networks, newsletter... Be careful not to spam groups where such an invitation would not be in the subject. A natural niche where the invitation could be sent would be the list of members, the newsletters and the social networks of the organization(s) which is or are managing the new group. With a CRM (Customer Relationship Management, profiles and sending management system in an organization), it is even possible to personalize the message of the invitation especially by mentioning the name and/or first name of the person.
For those you particularly want in the group
The first individual job to do is to draw up the list of people you wish to have in the group. This can be done for example with a spreadsheet where for each person to invite a field for "First name Name " <adresse_mail> (format which allows an easy sending with not only the email adress address but also the name). Other columns can bear the organization, a field for commentaries on the interest of having this person in the group or else a field with the sending date, the answer, the possible date for first and second reminder, etc. This board (or a more efficent efficient app) allows to keep an eye on individual invitations 18 . If after a week the person has not answered, a first and then a second reminder can be sent. No need to insist, consider that someone who has not answered after two or three reminders, doesn't want to join the group. Invitations and messages need to be personal with first name and name, at least at the beginning, even in a standard message. It can be useful too to have to kinds of messages : familiar and formal (the type of sent message must be quoted in the board) 19 . The message has to be as short as possible but still very clear and complete (it must not take up more than an average computer screen) and it must end with the signature of one or two persons with possibly their status rather than being anonymous and signed by a group or an organization. This way of handling individual invitation, when well carried out and with a minimum knowledge of the guests (messages could be ideally signed by a person who knows the guest) allows a good return rate (up to 80 or 90%).

It can be wise to mention in the invitation that contribution to be part of the group is not compulsory (between 60 to 90% of members are observers or even completely idle 20 ), that the number of messages will be reasonable (for example only summaries and a selection of contributions will be sent with a maximum of five emails per week, details being available on the web) and that unsubscribing is possible any time 21 .

To know more about the subject : example of customized individual messages
Example of customizedindividual message (aimed for a man and using a familiar tone)
Subject : starting up of a work on monetary innovation

Dear <first name>,

I am launching within the Foundation Internet Nouvelle Génération (Fing) an "expedition " (a collective work of several months) on "Monetary innovation " : Today more than 5000 "complementary currencies " are circulating in the world. The crisis, the research in new means of development, the internet and finally the mobile phone have speed up its development. What if the same factors could also help to reinvent the very uses of these currencies and what they make possible?

All the results of the expedition will be made public and freely reusable. The objective is to open up new opportunities and to provoke action. With regards to your knowledge on currencies, I suggest that you join us to take part in this reflexion. If it's ok for you, simply click on the following link <link to register> or, if you prefer, you can email me back and I will take care personally of you registration.

Looking forward to exchanging on the topic with you.

Best wishes.

Jean-Michel Cornu

Example of reminder (aimed for man and using a familiar tone)

Dear <first name>,

The first discussions of the Monetary Innovation group will soon occur. If you want to follow the debate on the new definitions for currency uses and what they enable (and maybe participate if you have time), click on the following link : <link to register> or, if you prefer, you can email me back and I will take care personally of you registration.

Best wishes.

Jean-Michel Cornu

[copy of the previous invitation email]

First gathering of exchanges
Once the number of participant reaches one hundred, the first thing to do is to invite each participant to present himself briefly in one or two sentences adding what he expects from the group and how he might contribute. This first pool may seem useless particularly in social networks where each member has a user profile, but its aim is to have the maximum people speaking a first time with a simple question that can be answered immediately. Those who have already posted a message have more luck to contribute later, allowing a larger number of contributors (not counting those who systematically contributes...). It shows to other members of the group that they are numerous and that many of them contribute, a fact which also catalyse participation. For the launching of this first gathering of opinions, partners which will introduce themselves very fast might be required to encourage others to introduce themselves as well. That kind of gathering of opinions may enable a participation of up to 40% in large groups.

This first email inviting people to introduce themselves is also the opportunity to present short and simple rules for the functioning of the group. They have to be easily agreed by all members and will allow remarks to contributors whom will not respect them.

To know more about the subject : example of three short functioning rules
Short reminder of rules for our exchanges
  • Be short : one email one screen (except for summaries...)
  • Be constructive : no one has all the solutions, each contribution improves the debate
  • Dare to contribute and welcome new contributors : no idea is useless

If the group is long to set up (over fifteen days), it may be necessary to send, before the first gathering of opinions, a message to inform that the group is underway, that discussions will soon start. On the other hand, it's not compulsory to wait for all registrations to start the first gathering of opinions (there might be just few individual reminders to send after fifteen days).

Once the group is over a hundred and that the first gathering of opinions has enabled a maximum people to talk, the group is ready to undertake a work of collective intelligence. The introducing cycle often continues while the first question on the topic is asked. It's normal, once participants see that more and more people are contributing, that some undergo a certain stress which leads them to introduce themselves in their turn. Others won't. It's important then that messages from the manager put a stress on the fact that there is no guilt to have for people whom did not contribute (in a large group the non-contribution is normal), but those who want to share an idea even a simple one, are welcome anytime no matter whether they have contributed before or not.

Besides a group of partners has to be identified : people that you know well and that you may contact individually to ask for their contribution in order to initiate the discussion, hence creating a "catalysis " effect for the reactive people within the group.

Web watch, common understanding and ideation : an iterative mapping

This stage is made of an alternation of phases of contributions followed by textual maps summaries giving an instantaneous overall view on the problem's understanding. It can be separated in 3 main functions : web watch, building of a common understanding and pointing out of new ideas. It may be interesting to present them one by one, but they often occur simultaneously. Therefore, a more precise understanding of certain subdivisions of the initial question will lead some participant to quote web watch resources and new ideas will often make compulsory the reorganization of previous knowledge with an improved classification.
The initial question
This stage starts with the wording of the question or even better, when a prep work has been done, with a first map. The debate is even more motivating for contributors that it is well advanced while leaving numerous domains to explore. From this question or this textual map, the question is now to ask the group members what are, in their opinion, the missing knowledge and to start quoting relevant resources in those domains (watch).

As in each "stage-email ", rules can be reminded briefly (see previously "example of three short functioning rules ").
Contributions : from "partners " to "reactive people "
To spark off first contributions which are going to spark the following ones, partners can be called for : ask directly some persons of the group whom you know very well and outside of collective messages, to react to your messages the faster they can to initiate the discussion. Of course you will do that just before sending the initial email or the intermediate maps. Even if not all partners will react, contacting them directly increases relevantly the percentage of those who will contribute. By contacting from 6 to 10 people you are sure to have between 3 to 5 first contributions which will encourage other participants to react.

Leave a little time too (generally a week or little less if many contributions) in order to enable the reaction of those who wish to. In groups where everyone sees all contributions (list of discussion for instance), answers from others have a boosting effect. In groups where only some messages are sent to the whole group, sending a message quickly written with a selection of the contributions received just after the initial email (one or two days after the sending of the initial answer or the intermediate map) may be useful. These contributions will contain those from your partners but also some more spontaneous ones

Boosting exchanges can also be done by pointing out domains where contributions are fewer. You can also suggest to identify web watch items (with references or URL), to improve the differentiation between two very close concepts (and bearing sometimes the same name) to achieve a better common understanding or else to suggest the developing of new and not yet identified ideas. Participants often focus on some approaches keeping the discussions in the same fields. As presented by Plato in his dialogues of Socrates, maieutics is 22 "the art of delivering a soul " by asking questions. By suggesting the group to focus especially on such or such part or approach, you will improve the final result quality.

To know more about the subject : the method of the six thinking hats
The Edward de Bono's method of the six thinking hats 23 allows to point out the angles of the different contributions. Relaunching the group towards insufficiently developed approaches becomes possible then:
  • white hat : which ideas can be suggested from a rational point of view ?
  • red hat : what can be added from an emotional and intuitive point of view ?
  • black hat : what are the problems from a pessimistic point of view ?
  • yellow hat : which new opportunities from an optimistic point of view ?
  • green hat : let's start anew from a creative point of view
  • blue hat : which management to develop the control over the process ?

In a debate, more comprehensive methods enable to point out the domains that are insufficiently covered in order to get an optimal quality 24 .
This part of iteration can also be done during online or face-to-face sessions, as a supplement to online asynchronous exchanges. Within the framework of the Lift meetings an underway map about monetary innovation 25 was submitted in two different workshops in Marseille and Paris, by asking the participants what in their opinion was lacking. Even though the assembly was composed of participants from the group and of people unaware of the topic, the presentation of each part of the map has enabled each time a discussion with the emergence of new trails and new concepts. Each time these meetings allowed the updating of a map that was then submitted back and online to the group. A third meeting has been organized in the high place of Design in Paris inviting three speakers from different disciplines (anthropology, economy and philosophy) to react to the map resulting from these collective works. In another group, a stage of contribution has been tested during an online session about stigmergy 26 (a mechanism of indirect coordination between agents which allows a system of allocated self-organization) by adding items from the SECI method for animating a session proposed by Nonaka and Takeushi 27 . Iterations can be mixed during asynchronous online exchanges (from half a week to a week long)and online or face-to-face sessions (lasting from an hour and half and three hours), in order to get the maximum diversity within the contributors. Some are more comfortable with written or oral contributions, even among those whom attend both exchanges and sessions.
Textual mapping
Once a week, twice if contributions are numerous, improve the map which summarize the items coming from the participants watch, understanding and new ideas.
The first stage consists in catching contributions items in the different messages from the group. There can be two or more contributions in a message. To ease their use, they can be characterized by a reformulated sentence of one line maximum. Keep the name of the contributor to ease the esteem mechanisms within the group 28 .
The following step consists in completing the textual map of the debate (or creating it if it's the first time) by inserting new contributions wisely. This process often needs to reorganize the map by adding levels to distinguish concepts which were before mixed up.
The map is aiming to give an overall view of exchanges. It appears under the shape of a bullet list with different levels. In order to keep the map as short as possible and to avoid scrolling to read it, there is one contribution per line. The first name of the contributor can be added at the end of each line. The objective is to circulate on the textual map as you read a graphics board : instead of needing a complete reading, we must be able to point out quickly the key items and then to look closer at the parts we are interested in. For that purpose, the use of bold, underlined, italic lay out allows to enhance some important words or group of words. Colours can also be used, red for example to point out special items.

To know more about the topic : example of map about to show cooperation
Which cooperation sell ?
  • 1) Safeguarding general interest forgetting short term personal interest (altruism) (Mathieu)
    • Foundations exist but they are complicated (theory of green beards...)
  • 2) Joining on the long term collective and personal interest (Michel)
    • it is the foundation of cooperation (Jean-Michel)
    • there are economic models : radical collaboration, coopetition (Gatien)
    • What simple examples to understand easily ?
How to join personal interest with collective interest
  • Giving a long term vision (Mathieu)
    • "the shadow of future " in the jargon of economists (Gatien)
  • Developingabundance rather than rarity(Jean-Michel)
  • Favouringesteem mechanisms
  • Taking part in a collective work and sharing it (Michel)
  • Transforming the mechanisms of support for projects (Michel)
Cooperation can help us to gain time... or to loose some...
  • by the contacts it brings in (networking)
  • belonging to a community creates confidence and legitimacy (Richard)
  • the production of the group can help us to gain time (mutualization) (Philippe Olivier)
  • but cooperation needs to be less time-consuming
    • for participants : method of online exchanges (Jean-Michel)
    • for managers : by being a "lazy smart " as Linus Torvarld (Michel)
Cooperation can help us to earn money... or to loose some (This side needs developing)
  • Living better collectively : redirecting rivers to irrigate soils (Mathieu)
  • Innovating economical models (see free, web 2, music...) (Jean-Michel)

The map is not only a summary of the discussion. In fact, by reorganizing it, the manager often sees what is obvious in terms of new ideas. He must not do without adding them on the map because the next iteration of comments might invalidate or complete his choice.
End of the stage
After several iterations, contributions tend to dry up and participants stop adding new ideas. This may occur after the first iteration (but in this case the contributors ideas have not been exchanged) but we have example of exchanges including up to 7 iterations 29 . Besides, if the manager thinks that enough angles were treated (see for instance the six thinking hats method above), then a final map can be displayed within the group. The question is now to make choices and more than that to show results under a form that anyone who is ignorant on the subject will understand.

Choice : an approximate consensus

Not all discussions need to be finalized by choices. Sometimes it's useful to keep everything in order to show the maximum approaches, for example when one wants to publish a guide on how to implement a project 30 . On the contrary in other cases, a collective choice has to be made within the diversity of submitted ideas on actions to be implemented by the group or on proposals to carry out. The method used for the previous stage enables to lessen the problem generated by the people's tendency to fight first for his point of view against other's.The most interesting ideas are often those coming after several iterations. Even if they come from one participant, they blossom from the numerous exchanges and cannot be attributed to only one person (even if the first name of the person is quoted in the textual map). People choose more easily from collective ideas than from individual ideas.
An efficient approach is the rough consensus one. It is neither a consensus (hard even impossible to achieve) nor a vote which leaves aside part of the participants choices. In the rough consensus, the question is "has anyone got a major objection to the actual choice ? ". Like in all large groups where participation is an exception and non-contribution a majority, the rough consensus only asks people who would have a real problem with the choice to react. It is therefore possible to reach a point where all the choices made, even though they are not those each person would have made individually, are acceptable enough for all.
The rough consensus is one of the base of the IETF, Internet Engineering Task Force, the community which specifies the standards of the Internet since 1986. Despite the important stake for many industrials to choose a standard rather than an other, the IETF methods have enabled the development of standards agreed by all 31 .

Text writing : collective proofreading

Once the group has pointed out all items of reference, concepts and ideas – and eventually has made choices among them – the whole work still needs to be turned into a document that anyone outside the group can understand. This stage is undertaken more traditionally by one or two "scribes " for the writing and the whole group for the proofreading and the comments.

The proofreading by the group is useful because even with the best will in the world, no one understands all the subtleties written in the final map, not even the manager who drew it ! So, by writing the whole in a literary style, words considered as synonyms are often used to lighten the style. But one contributor may notice that if the word used in the map is right, it is not any more in the proposed text. There still are therefore many implicit items in the final map. If the map is accepted by all members of the group, a slightly different wording which would be harmless to the majority of the group, may be unacceptable to some.

The map done by the group can either give birth to a text of one or two pages or to an important text. So, in the example of the group on monetary innovation, the six weeks of online debate and the three working sessions have issued on 7 versions of the map and a 160 pages book 32 . The Book sprint 33 methodology used by Floss Manuals 34 to carry out collective books in a week time can be useful. A group of people gathered for five days to write each a part of the book. In our case, it is not so much experts in one domain whom will bring their knowledge but people whom have taken part in the exchanges and whom will try to transcribe as faithfully as possible the final map in a way understandable to all. The contents is parted between the different participants (numerous enough to write their part in just a few days) and each written part is submitted online to the group for comments. Tools which enable to comment online such as Co_ment 35 or Google Drive 36 are useful during this stage.

Once the writing is up and stamped by the group, an edition work to hunt mistakes, improve style and homogenize the whole. At this stage, avoiding adding mistakes is very important. It is also interesting to have the final text displayed with the modifications, done on the text proposed by writers, visible (added text in bold and removed text crossed out), in order to enable the group to have an easier final proofreading only focused on changes.

Once the work is completely over, a wide online and/or printed diffusion still needs to be done. The use of a CC-BY-SA 3.0 Creative commons licence 37 allows to ease its diffusion and its taking over by a large community.

How videoconferences saved my network

Card's author : Gatien Bataille
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : As a member of an environmental education network structure, over time I've seen the number of meetings and participation drop constantly.

It was mainly travel time that caused the number of meetings to drop drastically. More often than not, you spent more time travelling than actually in the meeting…
Eventually this discouraged even those of us who were most motivated...
Meetings became fewer and farther apart in time, and decisions were becoming less and less representative...
The frequency of meetings dropped so much we virtually held none.

I suggested to the other members that we could re-launch our meeting but with two "virtual" meetings between each "face-to-face" meeting (every three months).

For this I trained my colleagues face-to-face or with a brief video tutorial on how to use Google hangouts.

For more than a year and a half we have been using this communication channel for our meetings. Results came by themselves!
The level of participation rose again to almost 100% and the frequency of the meetings became monthly again.
The network dynamics is up and running once more.
Our meetings last 2 hours and dates are agreed collectively for the whole year.
The biggest change is in the duration of the meeting. Where before, for this two-hour meeting, each of us would have to travel for 3-4 hours, now the meeting lasts exactly two hours and everyone can go back to their activities in just 5 minutes.

Some remarks on this experience:
  • it is important to reassure participants explaining to them how the tool works.
  • video tutorials are very helpful. Recording them myself is also very helpful. True enough, contrary to "official" tutorials that always refer to "typical" situations, my ones, with my own voice comments, show a concrete situation that participants will experience. It is a real example, explained step-by-step.
  • it is important not to underestimate any initial small technical issues. We needed 4-5 meetings at the start for everyone to be ready. I was very available and supportive at the start.
  • it is important for the facilitator to master the tool well so he can solve all the small issues that arise (most often relating to configuring the participants' computers)
  • it is not wasting time to plan around 15 minutes at the start of the meeting to test everyone's sound and image settings (normally 3 minutes will be enough for this)
  • when a participant's internet connection is too weak funny sounds happen (like the sound of a waterfall).
  • on some occasion we had "hidden participants" who had invited themselves to our meetings. Even if this is not a "disaster" (since they were all colleagues of the participants) these "undeclared" participants (who didn't show themselves on screen or talk) created some unrest during the meeting. We asked these "invisible ones" to speak up or leave the meeting.
  • body language is not easy to grasp in this type of meetings even if the video image of each participant is visible. This requires the facilitator to be extra vigilant during the meeting. I quickly got a system of hand signs going to allow each participant to express their feelings on what was being said; these signs also allowed me to give the floor more easily.
  • having an on-line meeting does not mean a facilitator is not needed…they may be even more necessary than in face-to-face meetings!
  • you must be careful with the tone you use in virtual meetings. We saw that "distance" sometimes made us use a tone of voice that we would not have used in a face-to-face meeting!
  • with the Google hangouts it is very easy to have a co-writing area (Google-docs). This brings an added value to the tool since besides enabling distance meetings it is an introduction to co-drafting meeting minutes!

Two limitations:
  • this tool has a limitation that can be slightly annoying. Only 10 people can participate in a meeting, at least on video. It is possible to have 5 additional people at the meeting but only with audio features.
  • participants are required to have a Google account (Gmail address)

Generally speaking, in use, all participants found this tool great and I only had to start the meeting and everyone would engage!
Internet link : http://www.crie.be

I've become a fan of the project accelerator

Card's author : Laurent Tézenas - Montpellier SupAgro
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : I am a teacher at SupAgro Montpellier, in the department of Engineering, and I also teach on one-year diploma courses and professional masters. In the field of written and oral communication, work is done individually or in a group.
Whatever the type of work to be done, students must show their ability to mobilise their network to think of solutions, solve problems and overcome obstacles. Working alone does not exclude trusting others, giving them the opportunity of showing their availability and interest in our work. It is in this context that a project accelerator becomes operational.
A project accelerator isn't a software programme or IT tool; it is a method to limit exchanges between five people. This exercise lasts 60 minutes. One person explains a problem for the group to solve. The group will take 30 minutes to think about it and the person that explained the problem will not intervene.
I used this exercise with second-year engineers. Returning from a work traineeship, a debriefing in October gave the engineers the opportunity to talk about the roles, missions and activities they had to carry out during this traineeship, and then they had to remember the skills they had used. Then they had to form groups of 5 to share their experiences and also the difficulties they encountered. Each group then decided to choose a problem or difficulty they encountered and to apply the "project accelerator" method to it.
The students really appreciated this moment, since it was a structured time for exchange. The method allows everyone participate, even those who are shy, and it stops the person who asked the question from constantly re-focusing the problem since he or she does not participate in this collective thinking process. At the end of the exercise, students must pick a learning linked to the session, a small grain of sand. Some comments in this sense were: "it's really good that the person says no more after explaining the problem"; "developing the ability to listen really contributes to the thinking process".

A small irreversible cooperation experience!

I am now hooked on on-line spreadsheets!

Card's author : Claire Herrgott
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : I am the pedagogical coordinator of a vocational training course. Saying coordination means OR-GA-NI-SA-TION!
It is not easy to centralise information, avoid overlapping and keeping students, teachers and partners updated!
After the COOPTIC training I know understand the benefits of cooperation and I try to be a "cooperative coordinator"!
A small example: we can multiply spreadsheets for the students of each course year (a spreadsheet with their information, topic of their research paper and internship tutor, etc.)
I created a single on-line spreadsheet that is filled in at the start of each year, when the research projects begin. Students then fill it in during their project; the academic assistant and the coordinator (me) complete the information on the spreadsheet to indicate if the agreement has been drafted, signed and sent; the team of teachers then fill in the column on "name of tutor". Once the students have started their internship, they then enter the information on their internship tutors, etc. and I use this to organise the support.
No more different spreadsheets to save on the server, to email, not knowing what version to use…now I use one single spreadsheet that is accessible to all and from anywhere!

A small anecdote: during a quality audit the Internet crashed and my spreadsheet was no longer accessible! Since then I always import in ods. format so that the same situation doesn't happen again!

ICTs at the service of territorial projects

Card's author : Outils-réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :
Carte ProjetTerritoire 2
The impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on the territories poses some questions, summarised by the contributors to this work ICTs and territories. What are the consequences of information and communication technologies on urban life, territories and mobility? (2005):
  • does the existence of a virtual world mean the end of distances and territories?
  • to what extent can ICTs contribute to the development of territories and, eventually, to the reduction of spatial inequalities?
  • can new tools usefully accompany the process of conciliation and public debate and the construction of a network democracy?
  • how can we conciliate three ICT appropriation logics: individual, to reorganize the ways of working and a last one which is half-individual, half-public, where the challenge is using the potential of ICTs for the benefit of collective objectives?

In a nutshell: obstacles and success factors

1. Obstacles

  • Territorial projects generally have a strong political dimension to them, whether they are lead by a group or not: when tackling the notion of “territory”, the concept of “power” is never far…, a dimension that must be taken into account.
  • Be careful with poisonous people: in a local territory, creating on-line tools for public expression could become a tool for people with bad intentions, who will try to express their ideas outside the rules of democratic debate.

2. Success factors

Some key actors

  • The inhabitants of a territory! They must play an active role and this requires time!
  • Decision-makers (and potential funders of actions): without them, without their support, it is difficult to get durable projects that mobilize on a large scale.
  • Indispensable facilitators: DPS (Digital Public Spaces), to accompany the public towards new tools and uses.
  • A dense social tissue that is willing to cooperate.

A project aligned with the territory

  • A diagnosis of the territory: the features (and problems) will guide any possible projects and their objectives. For example, projects will be different between territories: large / very small, rural / urban, targeting an ageing population / a mixed uprooted population…
Beware of territorial diagnosis made by people from outside the territory when there has been no consultation with the population. It is important to have a participatory analysis (permanent observatory).
  • It shouldn't only be virtual: the project must fit into the reality of the territory: and make visible and link events that happen in the territory, initiatives…

Answers for the territory?: feedback on experiences

To get an idea of what can be done, let's explore some dimensions offered by ICTs when they are used in territorial projects to:

1. Create links between its inhabitants

In many other types of projects, strengthening the links between the inhabitants of a territory is the crosscutting goal: links between generations, social means, to fight isolation, de-compartmentalize actors and create innovation…

Tools to support organizing local events
  • neighbourhood meals
  • the day of the neighbour
  • ads

Social networks
  • La Ruche (in Rennes, and Brest): a local social network
  • Peuplade: a site linking neighbours

Local themed networks
  • Directories of actors, skills…
  • Environmental education: Coopere 34 (Hérault), APLRE

2. Inventories of resources and creating a common good

Participatory inventories

  • Territorial wikis: "A territorial wiki is a wiki that hosts a base of knowledge linked to a geographical space: a territory, municipality or region. Started up by a territorial group, an association or by volunteers, they aim to develop collaborative writing on a territory." (Wikipedia)
  • Wiki-brest
  • wiki-manche
  • Picardia
  • wiki-Toulouse
  • WikiPompignan (Languedoc-Roussillon)

  • Carto party : collectively making a map of a territory using Openstreetmap (an application that allows making a copyright-free map) and Chimere (to add a layer with the information for that territory: heritage sites, resources, points of interest… without overloading Openstreetmap):
  • Plouarzel Carto party: the first French commune to be fully charted using Open Street Map. (http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Plouarzel_prepa_mapping_party)

Making public information free

Public information financed with public funds should be reusable for everyone. However, in most cases this information is protected by copyright. Making this information free would be a powerful driver of innovation to create new services, new values. There are several territories that became involved in this path, starting in England and the US:

3. Recovering the territory

Its resources, heritage, initiatives…

Territorial websites
The first devices created.

Aggregating RSS feeds
RSS feeds allow grouping, “aggregating” all news information on a territory. They give visibility to the dynamism of a territory for a very low price.

Territorial calendars
Bringing together and disseminating on several sites the news and activities in a territory using standard formats

Territorial resources databases
Balades scientifiques (by Connaissances): an inventory on the scientific heritage in the Languedoc-Roussillon region: http://baladescientifiques.fr/

Augmented reality
Potential projects?
Territoires sonores: a site aiming at bringing value to the territory of Cap de la Chèvre using sound media: http://www.territoires-sonores.net

4. Allowing participation and citizen expression

City or neighbourhood forums on the websites of local institutions or associations: there are many of these on the Internet and were one of the first tools established within the territorial projects framework.
Neighbourhood blog

Participatory TV

Participatory debates
  • Facilitating the debate on the future of the scrubland (Les Ecologistes de l'Euzière, Languedoc-Roussillon) with Freemind
  • Wiki created by the city of Clermont Ferrand for a consultation with its citizens on town development (http://www.clermont-ferrand.fr/mazet/index.php/Accueil )

Participatory multimedia creation
  • etoileur (by Kawenga in Montpellier): "e-toileur" is an accompaniment project allowing an artist or performer to find a place in a Multimedia Access Space and develop a cultural action together. (http://www.kawenga.org/centrededoc/html/e_toileur.pdf)
  • Audiomaton is a device created by the artist Cécile Guigny using an old photo-booth that has been transformed into a simple system to record sounds. At an event (Internet Festival…) the testimonials of users can be posted on-line and feed an audio library. (http://lam34.org/wakka.php?wiki=AudioMaton )

5. Making services more accessible

Taxes, job centres, administrative procedures…: increasingly, a larger number of administrations are providing (or imposing) on-line services. The basis of this baseline movement is to make these public services more accessible, even in the most remote areas. This dematerialization does eliminate some physical distances, but one must be careful not to forget the technological barrier that leaves many “digital illiterates” aside.

Relocating professional activities and creating shared working spaces in less central areas:  ZeVillage (http://www.zevillage.net/)

E-learning and ODL
Dematerialised pedagogical resources.

6. At the service of the sustainable development of territories

This is one of the big challenges our territories are facing today: how to develop without mortgaging future development?

With this idea in mind, the following has been suggested:
  • the possibility of dematerialising services and activities as a way of minimising the carbon footprint
  • the possibility of citizen participation and consultation

7. To inter-link territories (inter-cultural dimension)

ICTs and the Internet in a certain way bridge gaps and increase the possibilities of inter-linking distant territories.

Infobesity: I am Gatien, I am infobese but I look after myself

Card's author : Gatien Bataille
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : Last night, in the building behind the cultural centre

  • Me: Good morning to all, I am Gatien and I am infobese
  • Everyone: Good morning Gatien!
  • Facilitator: Gatien, could you tell us about yourself?
  • Me, after taking a deep breath: I am unconsciously passionate... I am terribly frustrated because I can't follow the flow of information that circulates in the world every day, every hour, every second. I was engaged in many networks and naturally curious, I read magazines, all the latest books, I listened to the radio…and until recently I could manage all this…then the Internet arrived. Twitter, podcasts, webzines, newsletters, Google alerts, RSS threads…the range of possibilities became wider and wider and with an even greater number of fascinating topics. At the beginning I was overjoyed, but then frustration gradually moved in…too much interesting information I could not keep track of, I read through it all but never with enough time to go in-depth. The joy of constantly swimming in a pool of information rapidly became a feeling of drowning.
  • Facilitator: Gatien, how did you feel at that time?
  • With a trembling voice: I was so frustrated...also enraged with myself because I couldn't follow the rhythm.
  • Facilitator: Did you really think you could follow it all?
  • Recovering: No, I quickly understood that even if I used all my neurons, it would be utterly impossible to face this gigantic wave which grew larger and larger by the day. It's an unpleasant feeling…I had secretly hoped to cope with it.
  • Facilitator: So then what did you do?
  • Me: Initially I tried to be more organised. I was convinced that I could overcome this small hiccup by being better organised. I sorted emails automatically in my inbox. I cancelled my subscription to several newsletters, I organised my RSS threads and would only open articles that seemed truly relevant, I cut down on Twitter…
  • Facilitator: and…?
  • Me: Well…there were some positive effects with this organisation. We could say it became manageable again.
  • Facilitator: but you really don't look that satisfied?
  • Me: I ended asking myself if infobesity wasn't actually a part of one's character...
  • Facilitator: oh! Can you explain that?
  • Me: The more I thought about it, the more I realised I was already infobese, even before the times of Internet. You know how books pile up next to your bed quicker than you can read through them…and this was before Internet. I think this innate curiosity, the desire to learn, makes one infobese. Then you try reducing this infobesity so that the level of frustration is reasonable. And then Internet doesn't exactly make things easy. Of course there is an abundance of information, but there is also an abundance of information in libraries…what made it different, for me, was serendipity…
  • Facilitator: serendipity…I don't quite understand...
  • Me: when I am surfing the net looking for information on a specific topic it is too easy, much too easy, to come across a new topic by chance that you know little or nothing about and that, oh God! You find interesting…and then the trap closes again; another interesting topic, so now I have two…a new person to follow on Twitter, then two…an RSS thread to follow, now it's two…it's no good choosing as you go, choices must be made at the start…and this is extremely complicated. Especially when curiosity comes by nature.
  • Facilitator: What next?
  • Me, again with a quivering voice: well, I am still infobese… I think I was able to limit the stress, but my frustration remains just as high. I have learnt to keep things in perspective, to "close the store" from time to time, to convince myself that if some information is really important, it will come back to me, to go with the flow rather than trying to chase it…I think it's a good start. There's still a long way to go but you will help me, won't you?
  • All: Bravo Gatien, of course we will help you!

Some tips to manage infobesity

  • Choosing what newsletters you subscribe to…Those you don't really read = into the trash bin
  • Organising your inbox, set up an automatic sorting so that you only have important or urgent emails visible
  • Limit your subscriptions to RSS threads to topics that you are really interested in
  • Do not try to keep up with all RSS threads at whatever cost; threads older than 5 days are no longer "important" (in any case, it is up to you to choose which topics are important)
  • Plan a moment during the day to manage your infobesity…during the rest of the day, organise your time so that you are not "bothered" by the flow of information
  • Don't cause infobesity in others. Only re-scoop, re-tweet and re-send things that are really relevant
  • Share your infobesity and find support in your friends and colleagues to reduce your own personal infobesity. If everyone searches a specific topic and chooses the relevant information and the work is shared, all group members will see their infobesity drop.

Intellectual property

Card's author : Outils-réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : Beware: this article is about IP in the French legal system. Even if some concepts are transposable in other countries's legal system, they only apply within the french legal system.
Intellectual property is a set of exclusive rights given to intellectual creations. It is composed of two branches:
  • Industrial property which gathers utilitarian creations (patents) and distinctive signs (trade mark, label of origin)
  • Literary and artistic property which applies to works of the mind and include copyright and neighbouring rights (Performers' rights of the singer and musicians).

Industrial property

Three modes of protection:
  • patents
  • trademarks
  • design and models
To be protected, patents trademarks, design ans models :
  • must not have been disclosed previously,
  • be the topic of a procedure of deposit with the INPI (French Patent Office)
  • protection lasts for 20 years, subject to the payment of preservation rights
Patented technologies or trademarks can be used subject to the payment of a licence to the legal claimants.

Literary and artistic property

  • copyrights: protection of any kind of work of mind (text, music, théâtre, graphic work, map...). The work's title is also protected, subject to its originality
  • neighbouring rights: related to performers and producers (musicians or singer performing a work that he has not created, record producer).
  • date bases: lists or collections of organized data. The base of the structure is protected.
In other words, a work is protected by the law in France (and the US) only because of its existence. The copyright applies to the work without the need for its author to do anything.

Nature of the work

  • The work is considered created independently of any public disclosure, only because of its realization, even unachieved, of the author's conception. (Extract of the French Code of Intellectual Property)

  • the author must be able to prove the authenticity of his creation ton ensure its protection (# usurpation). That's why the deposit of the work with the recognized authority allows to strengthen the protection of the work (beyond the basic legal protection) by enabling the creation's authenticity.
  • a work must be a print of the author's character. So the copyright does not apply to the inventory of objective data: naturalistic descriptions, data, bibliography,...
  • a work must demonstrate originality (# plagiarism)
  • ideas, principles, concepts are not protected by copyright (for example E=mc²)

Examples: books, theatrical work, conferences, musical compositions, films, paintings, drawings, photographies, illustrations, geographical maps, plans, sketches, software (under some conditions), etc.


Copyrights are a set of exclusive prerogatives that an author has on his original work.

To go further on the subject, a detailed slideshow describing all facets of the copyright:
Michèle Battisti: Droit d'auteur et enseignement supérieur

Collective works

The article L 113.2 from the French Code of Intellectual Property recognizes three types of collective works:
  • Is said collaborative the work resulting from the contribution of several physical persons. Each contribution can be identified. For example: compilation work.
  • Is said composite the new work to which is incorporated a pre-existing work without the contribution of the former author. Example: translation
  • Is said collective the work created from the initiative of a physical or legal entity which edits and discloses it under his name and direction and in which the personal contribution of the various participants merges altogether purposely, without the possibility to award to each contributor a special right on the work done. Example: work published by an association.

Copyright's holders (Articles L 113.3, 4 and 5 of the French Code of Intellectual Property)
  • The work of collaboration is the shared property between co-authors
  • The composite work is the property of the author who created it, subject to the copyrights of the pre-existing work
  • The collective work is, unless proved otherwise, the property of the legal or physical person under whose name it is disclosed

External resources


Internet has created an inter-generational abyss

Card's author : Gatien Bataille
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Ideas developped by the author in the field of cooperation within the book or conference :

What a lot of changes in just one century!

Around 1900 Around 2000
In France, most humans are farmers In France, less than1 % of humans are farmers
There are 2 billion people on Earth There are 7 billion people on Earth
The average life expectancy is 30 years The average life expectancy is 80 years
People live in their communities, with a similar culture People live in a group with a mix of religions, cultures, languages, nationalities
+/- 5,000 new words enter into the dictionary every 20 years +/- 35,000 new words enter into the dictionary every 20 years
The cultural horizon is limited to a couple of thousand years (1,000 BC) The cultural horizon goes back until the Planck barrier (just some milliseconds after the Big Bang

Moreover, in western Europe, people under the age of 60:
  • have never experienced hunger (real hunger)
  • have never experienced a war
  • have never experienced real pain thanks to medicine

An abyss between today's generation and the preceding one!

We are little aware of the huge gap that has grown between today's generation and the preceding one. There has been a change in paradigm and this is largely so thanks to the arrival of the Internet!

Today's generation is extremely different to the preceding one:
  • they live with an abundance of information available everywhere and at all times
  • they are hyper-connected with the whole world
They no longer have the same brain:
  • they no longer retain information in the same way (they have outsourced this in a large proportion)
  • they no longer read in the same way
  • they are multi-tasking
They no longer have the same space
  • they live in a virtual world where distances no longer exist
  • they have access to all places and all people thanks to ICTs
They no longer live in the same world
  • they live in groups that combine several different religions, languages, nationalities, morals…
  • they are not concerned by morals that they do not need (was was the case in the times of war, suffering and shortages…)

With the invention of the Internet and ICTs (Information and communication technologies) today's generations have externalised their memory, their imagination and their reasoning (from now on, accessible on the Internet with an effectiveness never seen before in our brains). This has freed “space in the brain” for inventiveness (the only real intellectual activity today, according to the author). Indeed, it is by getting some distance from knowledge and know-how that one can really think and invent!

This upheaval in the world forces new generations to reinvent everything, or almost everything, since the old “framework” we had placed our society in can no longer cope with the surge of the Internet.
This is more valuable than ever in teaching.

For a re-definition of teaching!

Before, teaching was an offer that was to be grasped as it was! Knowledge was passed by the voice of the teacher who would read written texts. In the auditorium, the teacher was the centre and reigned over the “learners”. To spread knowledge he asked for silence.

Today, knowledge is available everywhere and at all times. Students no longer remain “silent” because the teacher's words sound redundant if all he or she does is “read out” knowledge that is readily available elsewhere.
Students want to play an active role in their learning process (as when they “guide” their computers). Taking them out of this and trying to turn them into a “passive” mass no longer works!

The future of education will entail a full revision of the teacher's role and of school structures. Courses that are not “turbulent” will be those where the teacher created the necessary conditions for co-building knowledge and where he or she will find support in knowledge that is readily available to invent with the learners. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are an example of this.
Short introduction of the book's author : Michel Serres is a professor at Stanford University and a member of the Académie française. He is the author of many philosophical and history of science essays, the most recent of which, “The Times of Crisis” and “Music” have been greatly acclaimed in the press. He is one of the few contemporary philosophers who portrays a vision of the world that links sciences to culture
Quotations : With the explosion of new technologies, a new human being is born: Michel Serres calls it “Thumbelina” in a nod to the skill with which messages fly from their thumbs.
Literature references : SERRES, Michel. Petite poucette. Paris, France : Le Pommier, 2013. Manifestes (Paris. 1999), ISSN 1294-6605. ISBN 978-2-7465-0605-3.

Introduction to commons

Card's author : Gatien Bataille
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :

Common Goods ?

Traditionally called « common resources » (things which belong to the community), commons have been a little left out.
They have been supplanted by:
  • private goods organized by the market
  • State provided public goods provided
Therefore commons have become « the goods of the person... » of which no one takes care.
Yet commons are not ownerless goods.
Each of us can legally claim rights over them.
They feed us, allow us to communicate and travel, they inspire us... even enable us to reject our wastes (in the air or the water).

Commons are characterized by the fact that:

  • a ressource, for example water or knowledge, is durably used in common, rather than consummate individually or excluding other people.
  • a specific group is in charge and takes care of the ressource rather than letting it to the mercy of profiteers.
  • this group agrees on appropriate and clear rules of property rather than accepting the absence of regulation.
  • the access to resources is highly self-organized rather than determined from the outside.
  • all users have citizenship and voice rather than being systematically representated by others.
  • advantages are shared rather than concentrated.
This conception strongly questions the notion of private property over goods which could be qualified of commons... Yet, it is not currently discussed.

What would be the consequences of a redefining of lands as commons ?
Commons have to be strengthened, beyond and in complement with market and State. Each one is called to take his responsabilities as a co-owner of things which are « commons », in order to get more freedom and community from them.. Commons need men and women, not only markets, government's subsidies or state regulation. Wealth which expands through commons must be shared in a new and fair way in all spheres of our lives.
Because commons are the well-kept secret of our prosperity.
Each one meets them daily, in all places. Each one uses them in his economical activities, in his family, in politics or during his spare time. They belong to the obvious presuppositions of economic and social life but still remain widely invisible.
Things used as commons make up the inside skeleton of a prosperous society.
Within nature, men and women are all depending on water, forests, soil, fisheries, biodiversity, lansccape, air, atmosphere as well as on vital processes linked to them. Each individual has a right to share natural resources, regardless of private ownership of these resources.
In the social field and among all the conditions requested to enable the blossoming of social relationships are squares, gardens and parks, parties, sundays and bank holidays, together with public transportation, digital networks, moments of sport and leisure. These commons can be directly taken care of and cultivated in various ways, by the concerned communities and on the initiative of citizens. They can also be a matter of the public domain where public services play an important part.
This goes without saying, about culture, that language, memory, practices and knowledge are essential to any material or immaterial production. In the same way, todays gains must contribute to serve freely future generations.
In the digital sphere, productions and exchanges work even better when access to objects and data is easier. It is essential that software's source codes, as well as all the richness of texts, sounds, images and films online should not be closed off by restrictive rights on intellectual property.

Useful to know

Commons do not mean public
A fundamental difference with classical typology of public goods is that commons are inherited: or they represent gifts from nature and are taken care as such, or they are produced by people or groups (not always clearly identified), and then transmitted. This transmission can be long lasting process (cultural landscapes, langauges) or short ones ((Wikipédia, free software). Commons can also appear when they have been produced by a person and aimed by this person to have a common use (for example html language).
No politician or state has ever thought like that.
Naturally, commons or human rights linked to othem often depend on the protection of a State. Thus, preservation and claiming of global commons could be difficult to achieve without the different state's agreement.
Commons are fairly and durably managed when things whose availabilty is limited for all are shared, and when everybody has an access to abundant things.

Commons do not mean common property
Common property is a kind of collective property. It can occur with co-ops, heir's community or else anonymous stock corporation. As private property, common property involves the exlusion of some people (the non-owners) from access and use of the good. In this, it is different from commons.

Everything is not commons, but many things can become so.

Commons Architecture

Commons are made of three essential bricks: resources, people, and then rules and standards which allow to link all these components.
Fisrt brick is material. It refers to actual resources: water, earth, genetic code, software codes, knowledges, algorithms and cutural technics ; it refers also to the time we display, and naturally to the atmosphere. All this constitutes « common pool resources ». Each of us has an equal right to use them.
The second brick is social. It refers to human beings using those resources. The concept of commons is unthinkable unless reported to real individuals acting in a defined social space. Knowledges, i.e. all those using resources collectively , turning them into commons.
The third brick is regulatory. It encompass rules and standards which govern the relation with commons. Clearly, it is not the same to regulate bytes and information and to regulate natural resources such as water or forests. The relation with those things have different forms. But what these relations share is that they have to be defined by wide communties of users. And this can only occur when a human group develops a common understanding of his relationship with resources.

Resources + Communities + Rules and standards = Commons

Commons define the quality of life

Commons are a source of value, out or in complement of the market. For everyone, the ability to resort in commons, besides services provided by the market and the state, has various advantages.
The fact is obvious everywhere shared natural resources such as pastures, water, seas, forests, fields and seeds are the base for survival. Community rights insure free access to those vital resources, payed in cooperative and solidarity money. As soon as the services insured by those resources – human and animal feeding, building materials, medicine, heating and raw materials – have to be bought with money, men are reduced to a state of poverty because they are deprived of purchasing power.
The real tragedy of commons is that people are unaware of their value (not monetary) until the moment they are about to disappear.
Thus, urban population density is a kind of wealth that becomes visible only when lost. Short distances:
  • enable to save up the time required to go shopping on foot,
or for the children to go to school without taking public transportation,
encourage socialization's networks and shared work, and therefore the opening of autonomous day-nurseries.
Common resources + Communities + Cooperation = Creation of not monetary values

Commons ; tools of creativity and cooperation

The truth is accepted for a long time that cooperation is a powerful factor of productivity. The digital world has allowed the developping of completely innovative ways of cooperating.
In the world of sciences, collaborative ways of working which are globally shared and auto-organized, have become an obvious fact.
At the digital age, creativity takes on a new meaning, beyond individual.
It often turns out that amateurs' enthusiasm and competency joined together have nothing to envy to the professionals, on the contrary. Thanks to Web 2 .0 apps always more numerous, like Twitter, wikis or blogs, new ways of working in common and of sharing of knowledges are experienced. The Internet has the potential for developping platforms of collaborative intelligence and of decentralized ingenuity, and to make them available to all.
Thanks to a large participation, « Online communities » can propose high quality products and services that can have a monetary value.
Nearly all human societies are based on a mix of competition, planning and solidarity. However, their relationships grow different as the time goes on. The exchange of goods on the market – as obvious as it can be for us today - is only a way among others to procure goods.
Ways to get goods are:
  • a market ruled production (principle of competition)
  • a state ruled market (principle of planning)
  • a community ruled production and retailing (principle dof reciprocity).
The feeling of community and free sharing seems to be acquiring a new meaning and a new importance by combining with the will of independance. The strenghtening of commons meets this need.

The solution to todays problems is not in a withdrawal of the State in order to make place to markets, but rather in the State making efforts to secure communities' rights on their commons.

Les atouts des biens communs

What appears today as a one of the commons' weakness might be a force very soon: money plays there a supporting role. What makes commons different is that cooperation is seen as a way of shared property rather than competition aiming to a personal enrichment. Generally, monetary incentives play there a very marginal part.
The purposes that matters really are rather:
  • the common use,
  • the development of skills,
  • sociability or reputation.
In this meaning, the sphere of commons is a demerchandized space. It's an economy of sharing and participation, and not of accumulation and exclusion.
Without a such economy of sharing, an economy freed of the growth's pressure is inconceivable. Indeed, all that is done for general interest, by passion for the topic or by solidarity enable to satisfy needs with a lesser monetary investment. So, doing Wikipedia would have been too costly if each contributor had had to be reributed
In other words, what took place in the sphere of commons – often referrred to as share capital – could be qualified even more relevantly of « monetarily efficient ». A lesser investment is required for an equal level of performance.
This is precisely the central challenge of an economic system which would have to do without economic growth, but still would have to keep on going. Because monetary efficiency understood that way can be the pilar of a post-growth economy, the rediscovery of commons is the condition for the emergence of an economic order with a future for the XXIst century.
A new model to create: peer production based on commons
Unlike market production, production by peers based on commons is not aimed for sale, but for direct use. Peers projects have a common goal – creating software, doing music, gardening – and all contributors are acting for the purpose. Most do it because they share the goal or wish for its achievement, or simply because they like what they do. They don't do it for money. A production such as this one produces new commons, or else maintains and improves those already existing. Hierarchical structures are widely unknown. That doesn'tsomeone else what has to be done. Relationships built around these commons are not deprived of rules. Rules are the result of the peers' consensus. In the egalitarian economy of commons, there are no constraints nor orders. This results in a free cooperation between contributors of equal rights.
A peer production based on commons always takes place within communities, where people sharing common interests or being just neighbors gather. Virtual worlds also enables the emergence of new forms of community, with no territorial attachment.
It's true that peer production developped mostly in knowledge and software production, but its principles can be transposed to material goods' production. This means that:
  • Knowledge and natural resources are commons which fundamentaly belong to everybody. Rules are there to garanty equity. For their use, there are rules that ensure equity.
  • Physical goods' production is based on free patterns (for construction), that everyone can develop and adopt to his own needs.
  • The management of physical production is decentralized. For the main part, it takes place locally.
  • Production is directed towards the use and the user: La production est orientée vers l'utilisation et l'utilisateur: we produce for life !
  • The involvment of each contributor ensue of his « free choice »: each one chooses by himself where and how he wishes to contribute. It requires an important effort of harmonization, but it also brings more satisfaction.
  • Peer production is based on integration and not on exclusion. There are rules, for sure, that communities equip themselves with and that every member respects, but the barriers to enter are low. Contribution is facilitated.
While commons in market economy are almost invisible - eventhough of vital importance – relations should be reversed in a share economy: markets, as organized in today's market economy, will play in future a minimal rôle, when commons and communities will be teh centre of life.

Tracks to act

We may devote straight away our energy, our institutions and talents to commons and to what their essence is: diversity of life.
We may systematically ask ourselves about every project, any idea or any economic activity if it brings more to communities, corporations and to environment than it takes back.
We may reverse the actual trend: by setting limits and by using durably natural resources, but also by being lavish in the circulation of ideas. So we will have the best of both.
We may find clever ways of promoting progress for all, instead of concentrating exclusively on individual promotion.
We may recognize and support first and foremost materially activities which generate, maintain or multiply goods available for all.
We may ensure that the collective and equitable participation in donations of our land and in collective achievements of the past and present is institutionalized and becomes the norm.
We may resort to decision-making process, communication means and transparent, participative and free technologies, as well as improve them.



Card's author : Jean Michel Cornu
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :

Motivations to ease involvement

Book "la coopération, nouvelles approches" version 1.0

Paradox: the HS system

A project does not develop simply because the participants are doing what they are told to do, but also because they get involved.

When the ORTF (Office de Radio et Télévision Française) started up, teams worked in a large emulation. Many premieres have been possible thanks to groups of passionate people who invented television (how to shoot a drama, the overlay mechanism that adds a background behind a anchorman ...). There were wonderful innovations and also and of course many mistakes.

To finance television which was becoming increasingly expensive, advertising was introduced. Gradually, a pernicious effect appeared: during ads it was necessary that a maximum of people should watch television. It became impossible to fail. TV programs were clearly defined and selected BEFORE by managers. Innovation and creativity became risk factors. People who realized emissions became performers of fully defined and calibrated projects. They lost consequently the pleasure of discovery and recognition when they invented something extraordinary. Another form of recognition was granted not to innovators but to those who had a visible place with the growing broadcasting of media. It became interesting to fight against each other to get the best seats, the best titles and even fame.

Those who wanted to keep on innovating and making beautiful things were less and less recognized, they lost heart and fell into the system that François Closet called the HS system ("Holy Shit ...")1.

Let the best contributors get their hands on pieces of the project

When television programs became critical events, the right to make mistakes had to be deleted. But innovation and creativity are not robotic process. It takes many failures to achieve a great idea. Providing a precise planning of what needs to happen kills innovation. Thus, Norbert Alter 2 explains that innovators are not recognized when starting up and are often rejected.

On the contrary, one of the characteristics of collaborative projects is that the coordinator-owner only has the right in the end to change his project as he wishes. Everyone can come and go on his " territory." The more the passers-by will want to stop and settle the richer the project. To retain the best and most active contributors, it is good to give them a small piece of property in the form of a sub-project that they can coordinate, even if what they do is not originally planned.

The key is to adopt an "active let-do'' as long as the proposals match the project. For example, it is better as much as possible that everyone choose his role, seeking to get involved in roles that are not or ill-taken in order to "find his place", rather than assigning roles beforehand. The queueing theory present that kind of rebalancing 3.

The counterpart of gift

As seen previously, cooperating in a project, and even getting involved and giving without expecting immediate counterpart is not necessarily an altruistic act but a way to reconcile personal with public interest by postponing and globalizing the given counterpart.

Consumable goods (or their counterpart in money) are poorly adapted to provide an effective counterpart, because we have there a simple exchange based on a unitarian assesment of the value ??of each gift. This shows the difficulty to live only on the gift because we also need, among other, consumer goods for our basic needs. However, we will see that by rebound effect, the most intangible goods gained in a gift system can in a second time greatly facilitate the obtaining of these tangible assets.

Gains that can be expected as a result of these gifts are of three kinds:
  • Skills
  • Pleasure
  • Recognition
In trading, we get back for our labor the developing of skills and some money that indirectly helps to fullfil the basic needs and to buy what can please (even if it is possible and recommanded to take pleasure directly from work).
In gift economy, we get in counterpart of our work the development of skills and pleasure, as well as recognition that enables to get indirectly a valuation of the social status to fullfil better ones vital needs.
The feeling of a job well done is also a bonus for those who are sensitive. It's a personal feeling free from collective reactions, and for that we won't give more details here.

First counterpart: Skills

Any participation to a project must enable the acquisition of skills in the operational areas where we get involved, but also the meaning of the participation and the project management. From this point of view, we can compare the acquisition of skills to what a company tries to get with its training budget and its research and development budget in an economy of exchanges.

Second counterpart: Pleasure

This might seem a low score which could be obtained in many other ways. However, in the exchange economy too, once our basic needs fullfiled, money helps mainly to satisfy our need for pleasure and even our need to look good and our need to show others our social success through more luxurous godds such as travel, entertainment, etc.. In cooperative projects pleasure is no longer brought ??indirectly through gains in money, but directly by the project itself. It is even an essential criterion in project management: it must allow participants to find pleasure and as a counterpart, pleasure will act as an engine to generate involvement which is the key of success for every project.

Third counterpart: Recognition

It is a fundamental gain in a free collaborative project. As well as the exchange economy does not directly provide the fullfilment of basic needs but brings money which allows to do so, recognition has by rebound effect several advantages:
  • A very effective way to attract the cooperation of others in projects that we could offer
  • The fullfilment of the need for recognition that we all have
  • Increased resources (hiring, promotion) that results indirectly from esteem that we generate or the titles that we have acquired.

The last two counterparts are often disowned by the diehard of volunteer projects. The need for recognition is too much alike about its perverted version: egocentrism. As for the increase in means, it is possible to ignore it only if we have fullfiled all our basic needs and obtained safety. This advantage is often denied because it involves a significant risk of deviations as we shall see later. To give a comparison, recognition enables to get what a company looks for from its research, communication or marketing budget in an economy of exchanges. provides that a company in the exchange economy research through its marketing and communication budget.

Now again, something which can seem negative in our environment where personal interest is paradoxical with general interest, becomes a foundation of the cooperative project when personal and general interest are reconciled.

Deviations of recognition

In the gift economy recognition plays the role of money with the differences already identified: global evaluation afterwards on all the gifts. The counterpart is not asked but received from the whole community.

It takes more time "to get'' your first pay, which explains that a gift economy works all the better since the actors have already fullfiled their vital needs and can concentrate on other less urgent needs (need for recognition, pleasure, acquisition of skills, facilitating cooperation of others in future projects...).

We have seen, however, that two of these gains at least (fullfilment of the need for recognition and the increase in means) have possible deviations.
Particularly, the fullfilment of the need for recognition can grow in egocentrism. In this case, the recognition is not received from others, but is considered as a due. However, thanks to a mechanism of natural regulation, the person who falls into this trap and has no coercive power over others sees her peers turning away from her.

The different kinds of recognition

Regarding the increase in means through an increased social status, we must distinguish several forms of recognition. If each one brings a form of power, it is also necessary there if there is or not a kind of coercive power over others linked to it.

  • The honorary title is normally obtained after the end of a participation in a project. In order that this kind of recognition works operates, it is necessary that involvement in the project stops afterwards. The title then provides a measure of the recognition gained without bringing power. The only possible deviations are to keep on being involved and a poor assessment of the reward. This may happen particularly if a single person or a small group decides to award the title. It is possible then to influence the person responsible for awarding to get a not deserved title or on the contrary to deny it to someone.
  • Esteem is obtained during the clife of the project and allows those who receive it to keep on acting by attracting even more easily the cooperation of others. Its biggest drawback is that it is not measurable (there is no "unit of recognition"), although it can be ... estimated. But this form of recognition brings many benefits. Assessment is continuous and may increase or decrease by a permanent self-correcting phenomenon. The evaluation is distributed as it is done by all. It is done according to what we have done and not on what is announced. It provides a non-binding power: it will be easier to attract the cooperation of others but esteem can't force them to cooperate. Finally the last advantage, the number of people who can receive esteem is not limited, we are in an economy of abundance that facilitates redistribution of esteem for others.
  • The operational title is obtained before filling the role associated with it. This time, it is a readily identifiable measurement. But the evaluation is done by a particular person or a small group on the basis of the esteem already obtained in other roles. The title can also be obtained from the announcement of what will be done (eg in tendering for a contract ). Then we are completely in the field of the Peters' principle 4 " In a hierarchy, every person tends to rise up to achieve his level of incompetence." This is a consequence of this evaluation system "beforehand". One significant point is that the operational capacity gives most of the time a coercive power on the " subordinate " that we would like to see cooperating. Finally, the number of posts available is limited, and to give an operational title it is often necessary to release one .

First rule: facilitating the mechanisms of counterpart

One of the fundamental roles for the coordinator of a project is to get sure that everyone finds his interest in cooperation with others. For this, it is important to be continuously careful to facilitate the learning of new things and of funny times especially if they are collective.

The coordinator should also be aware that each one harvest the esteem he deserves. Organizing the circulation of information on the each member's achievements, keeping a history of achievements are effective means of facilitating self-regulation esteem.

Second rule: Allow everyone to see each other by building by stage

Even before achieving great things, members of the community will unconsciously test the ability of the community to recognize its results.

We have seen that the larger the group the more it generated opportunities. This seems opposite to the ability to receive recognition, the actions being drowned in the number. However, it is possible to be visible even in large groups because whay counts is the number of contributors and not the total number of people.

But the number of regular contributors is limited. To allow more people to get involved, there must bea gradual segmenting of the project into sub-projects. The art of the coordinator is to advance the project at the right pace from a unified idea until the branching to subprojects, to allow at each step a minimum number of contributors and that this number is not an obstacle for contributors to see each other an to be recognized.

Third rule: Don't give titles but non-exclusive roles to members

The subtlety between the title and the role is important. The title brings the realization of recognition. It is often exclusive, which makes impossible having other people who assume the role openly if the level of incompetence is reached. In addition, the title is often accompanied by a coercive power that goes against regulation mechanisms proposed by the participants of cooperative projects.

The non-exclusive role allows to guide and encourage a member to contribute (especially at the beginning when the number of contributors is low or zero). But the role should be won every time to receive esteem in return. If it doesn't go along with a coercive power, the person with a role a role will have to motivate other contributors if she wants to multiply her according to a process close to the implementation a complete project process. The distribution of a non-exclusive role in a person's motivation to get involved and can eventually lead to the coordination of a successful sub-project.


In order to involve even more the best contributors and to keep them motivated, the natural counterpart mechanisms must be facilitated:
  • The development of skills
  • Pleasure
  • Recognition

For this, the coordinator must follow these rules:
  • Facilitate exchange mechanisms (knowledge, pleasure, recognition)
  • Allow everyone to see by constructing the project step by step
  • No titles but non-exclusive roles for participants so that they make their own pieces of the project.

Reducing the risks to get involved in a group

Paradox: only those who do nothing have time

No doubt, if you've tried to bring together people, you have stumbled upon this curious paradox: Those who could make the most of a community are either already involved in other groups, or they are putting together their own project. They do not have the time to invest in your project.

Others do not have sufficient material safety to get involved.

There is a third class of persons involved in numerous projects. They will join with your joy. But if they can bring the wealth of links to other groups, they will have neither the time nor the interest to contribute significantly to your project.

The paradox can be stated as follows: "Unless exception, the best contributors do not have the time to invest in your project."

Reducing risks when during the involvement

Those who are often asked to participate in projects have become accustomed to say no first and then possibly think about it. For having very poorly followed this rule, I have often found myself overwhelmed by too many commitments. This can only be done at the expense of our involvement in the projects we participate in or that we take up.

Once again, it is necessary to let the regulatory mechanisms play their part. Someone who arrives in a project can never be sure that it is really interesting for him or even if he will stay. It is therefore necessary to minimize the risk of getting involved in a new project.

For this there are two criteria:
  • One depends on the person itself: You can get involved once vital needs are fullfiled.
  • The other depends on the group: Entering a group should not be a commitment to contribute or even stay.

First Rule: Everyone must have a material safety

It is necessary that everyone has solved its problems of material safety:

  • Either by participating in the project within the framework of his work if the organization to which he belongs sees an interest in it,
  • Either by having a sufficient flexibility to participate voluntarily.

The direct funding of people for a project raises a problem of acceptance by other unpaid people and of expectation of results that require other methods. A person may, however, be employed by a participating organization in the project. She is then paid for her role of link to the project rather than directly for the work done within the framework of the project.

Open or closed communities

An important area in the development of cooperative projects is about the open or closed aspect of groups.

If a coordinator gathers a community of users who can not easily make the choice to leave the community, then the community is said to be closed. If instead the community allows any user to get out easily, if contributions can come from anyone, then the community is open. It seems that some rules stand out to form an open group:
  • Each member of the community can come out of the community any time and on his own initiative. If a member disrupts the functioning of the community, the coordinator has the right to exclude. He however does not have the power to maintain in the community someone who wants out.
  • It is possible and even very positive to be part of many communities. Everyone can freely choose the groups he wants to join.

The establishment of an open community of users-contributors is preferable to a closed community.
Sects are closed groups.The membership to other groups just as the exit from a sect are highly discouraged. The guru has more than one power to compel its members.

The criteria that we have given are not about the entry into the community. There are cases where communities stop entry using cooptation or other mechanisms. There are several types of these mechanisms such as the coordinating nucleus of a project when it involves many people or the community of project coordinators.

Coordinating nucleus and steering group

We have seen that the great difference between contributors and resident coordinators lays in the execution of critical or non-critical side tasks. Thus the coordinating nucleus of a project can sometimes consist of several people. In this case it is best to choose the coordination team in which each member will support critical tasks very carefully. Cooptation is then the best system. It's the the main coordinator's job to choose its partners and ensure the coherence of the team.

Users do not choose each member of the coordinating nucleus but penalize the efficiency of the coordination team by contributing or else by going out of the community. The information they have is a key criterion to avoid deviations. Paradoxically, the operation is similar to a stock exchange or financial market : A "bet" is built on an idea, a strategy, a team and the penalty is an increased demand of the title.

In all cases it is preferable that the coordinating nucleus (and also the number of critical tasks) remains as small as possible to avoid increasing complexity imposed by the law of Brooks. Ideally the coordinator must be alone.

One solution is to form a steering group. It gathers members of the community who were given roles (non-exclusive and non-critical) to undertake tasks of which none is vital to the project. Such a non-critical steering group allows then to have very active contributors who can even take over the coordination of a subproject without the risk of jeopardizing the whole project if one of them fails.

Community of peers

The community of project coordinators is a community of co-opted members: people enter the community when they are recognized by their peers. Here, the community is only aiming to exchange. Without anything to produce in common, there are no critical tasks. It is mainly used to host exchanges and recognition among its members. This closed community is dangerous, however, if recognition is based only on its members and not on an open community of user-contributors.

Thus, in free software, there are two types of communities. Hackers (also called ethical hackers to distinguish them from others): They are often people who implement cooperative development of free software projects. They get their recognition (and therefore their status as hackers ), not only from the hacker community, but also from user-contributors of their open communities.

Communities of interest such as hackers protect their coherence from the outside by mechanisms of selection:
  • The vocabulary or social context allows recognition between members
  • The need for an initiation time enables to acquire the qualities needed to be recognized as a member of the group (technical skills, patience, sense of compromise ...). Secrets must be gradually discovered.
On the contrary, the "crackers" are hackers who secretly develop viruses or pirate websites. The community of crackers is formed of people who recognize them as crackers. If they have the equivalent of users (who are so in spite of themselves!), they don't have an open community of contributors. Regulation by the involvement of users-contributors can't occur.

A community whose door is closed is not necessarily a bad thing if it allows the building of a coherent coordinating nucleus by cooptation or allows exchanges between people with a common culture. However it must enable exit and multi-membership to stay open and it has to be based on other open communities to allow mechanisms of regulation of recognition and hence avoid deviations.

Second rule: Entering a project must not be a commitment to contribute or to stay

This "opening" may seem as a disadvantage, and it seems more interesting in the short term to make its users "captive". But the real assessment of the project needs the esteem of the users who choose to contribute or on the contrary to leave. The questioning made imperative by this continuous assesment leads the project to a virtuous circle of quality. Of course the coordinator keeps the power to expel a member who would disrupt the overall operation.


In order to avoid that good contributors perceive participation in your project as a commitment to risky involvement, it's necessary that they have a good material safety and that the group is open.
An open group allows everyone to leave at any time and encourages multi-membership on the member's initiative.
To minimize the risk of getting involved in a project:

  • Each member must have a material safety
  • Joining a project must not be a commitment to contribute or to stay

Involvement : lowering the threshold of acting out

Paradox: the train is gone

If you arrive just in time to catch your train, you can hop in and go as expected. If you arrive 20 minutes before, you have a safety margin and the total duration of your trip (including waiting time) will be extended by 20 minutes. But if you get a few seconds after the train, all of your travel is messed because you missed your train!

We often have a linear vision of things. However, many phenomena occur non-linearly according to a threshold. One area where we often encounter this kind of threshold and fall is psychology.

Lowering ''the threshold of acting out''

The acting out with humans corresponds to a brutal swing. The mathematical theory of chaos describes quiet well the threshold which lead from passivity to cooperation 5 . This threshold depends on the person but also on environment.

Example: encouraging action by sending an email

Consider an Internet message asking users to view a specific page of your website. If the address of the page is in the message and the user only has to click, you will have much more people who will visit your page than if you consider that they have the address of your site and they can do very well to find it. The enemy in this case is the phrase you hear too much in projects " it's their problem ".
If the coordinator sends a message to its users to contribute actively, he must send all items so that those who receive his message won't have to seek additional information to contribute. Otherwise he can only cry over the lack of dynamism of his users. He will however be the first responsible for it. Think for a moment oft the different times in your life when you got involved and those when you didn't. Your attitude depended on your direct interest to what was proposed, the dynamism of the group, but also on small insignificant details that have facilitated or not your first action.

Authorizing the use and the modification beforehand through a license rather than imposing an authorization request before any action is another example of elements that facilitate the acting out.

First Rule: KISS (Keep It Simple and Stupid )

A project will find his contributors if they are able to understand what the initiator wanted to do. At each step, the choice should be simple and understandable. Very often simple solutions are the best.

There i one golden rule to ease contributors to act out. It stands in 4 letters:
K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple and Stupid).

Don't consider that all the participants in your project understand the project as well as you – in the heart of it – do. There are several reasons for this:

The information you provide to your participants are likely to be more easily understood with your mindset than with theirs.
Your participants do not have access to all the information, especially those which seemed obvious enough to you and that you didn't send.
Finally, although some contributors can be very involved, they will always be less than you and therefore select and assimilate better the subset of information that is related to the project.

Second rule: Be reactive above all

On the contrary, a project presented long ago and whichh does not start leaves the potential participant in an attitude of non-participation that he will quit with difficulty. Be careful with promises of actions that are delayed. These delays in the starting up are usual in traditional projects based on constraints (eg financial). They kill motivation and opportunity to switch potential participants to cooperation.

Being reactive... This rule may seem simple but it is often what makes the success or failure of people's involvement. It should be understood that the mechanism of action evolves over time. The more time goes by the more difficult it becomes to act. At every moment the threshold goes up.

In time management, it is always recommanded to start right away what we have to do. Otherwise you will need more willpower to do it later. This "disease" that leads to postpone is called "procrastination."

If you want to coordinate a project, do not try to just be reactive: try to surprise your members being hyper-reactive! Thus you will not only get your contributors themselves to be reactive, but they will feel more recognized if you answer quickly to their suggestions and you will also save a huge amount of time simply by reacting quickly and often.


In addition to the increasing of motivation and the minimization of risks, the secret of involvement is in lowering the threshold of acting out.

Two rules are needed to lower the threshold:

  • KISS (Keep It Simple and Stupid)

1 CLOSETS, François de. Le système E.P.M. Paris, France : B. Grasset, 1980. ISBN 2-246-00969-3.
2 ALTER, Norbert. Sociologie de l’entreprise et de l’innovation. Paris, France : Presses universitaires de France, impr. 1996, 1996. Collection Premier cycle (Paris), ISSN 1158-6028. ISBN 2-13-047491-8.
3 Queeing theory, see for example MORSE, Philip M and KIMBALL, George E. Methods of operations research. [Cambridge : Published jointly by the Technology Press of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Wiley, New York, 1951. ISBN 026213005X 9780262130059.
Recherche opérationnelle. [online]. [Accessed 29 January 2014]. Available from: http://web.archive.org/web/20011115005936/http://chronomath.irem.univ-mrs.fr/LudoMath/ro.html
4 PETER, Laurence J and HULL, Raymond. The Peter principle: why things always go wrong. New York : Collins Business, 2009. ISBN 9780061699061 0061699063. "in a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence."
See also the interview of Peters : The Peters Principles - Reason.com. [online]. [Accessed 29 January 2014]. Available from: http://reason.com/archives/1997/10/01/the-peters-principles
5 See an example : Chaos and flight home page - Daniel Vandewalle. [online]. [Accessed 29 January 2014]. Available from: http://web.archive.org/web/20020328105527/http://www.ping.be/chaoflight/pageen/bookchaos.htm.
PRIGOGINE, Ilya. Les lois du chaos. Paris, France : Flammarion, 1997. Champs, ISSN 0151-8089, 369. ISBN 2-08-081369-2.

Source: Cornu, Jean-Michel. La coopération nouvelles approches. Available online <http://www.cornu.eu.org/texts/cooperation>

Photo crédits: Via catalana by SBA73 sur Flickr - CC-BY-SA

Made in Europe: CoopTic in Catalonia

Card's author : Jordi Picart i Barrot - Aposta sccl
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies :

Once upon a time

The CoopTic project arrived at our door in a rather informal way, as is often the case with these types of ideas, and provided an indication of an approach that places less emphasis on formal structures than on people networks: someone who knew someone had spoken about us and had proposed us getting involved. It was an opportunity, they told us, to explore new ways to design training and training tools.
Our school has always been characterised by its desire to ensure all training fits in with the principles of the cooperative movement that defines our own raison d'être, and this has traditionally obliged it to be very innovative in terms of its methodologies. Consequently, any opportunity to incorporate new perspectives is welcome and so at the time we hesitated very little over our participation in the project.
The initial working meetings, which alternated between telephone conferences between various parties, videoconferences, and a face to face meeting, immediately led us to understand that we were dealing with a much more ambitious idea than a simple exchange of methodologies; even so, this continued to be the interest of our organisation in the project.

The real meaning of the project

Regarding the direction the project took once up and running, there is little we need to add to all the information contained in the book you have in your hands; a quick glance at the index, however, can confirm various important concepts for you:

A proposal for a personal development journey

The project is based on a solid amount of intellectual material. In proposing that people obtain a ticket for CoopTic, we are suggesting to them a journey of personal development directed towards concepts linked with the common good, with sharing, with collective production. This goes beyond the simple strategy of exploring new tools to improve the projects that each is working on: it consists of exploring new attitudes and alternative states of mind. Not in an explicit way but undoubtedly involving epistemological change.

A truly meaningful learning process

The value of a meaningful learning process applies to everyone: offering the student an environment that allows him to experience what he has learnt and immediately incorporate it based on this experience. It's common to offer this type of environment; CoopTic however, doesn't build simulations but fills with meaning the use of the tools with a concrete goal, which reinforces the acquired concepts and adds more meaning to the methodologies, so they feed into each other in a really powerful, efficient way.

A network that creates networks

It is set out in the objectives of the project, and is therefore no secret to anyone: CoopTic is pursuing the creation of a European network of network facilitators; a suite of levels that contains within it a knowledge transfer process designed to act like an oil stain: from the promoting organisations to the members, and from these to their target public…and from here to the wider geographic environment.
And this, in a much closer working environment with closer relationships than would be the case with organisations that are not formal and associated, but is not the case with a project like the European Leonardo da Vinci project that is laid out to the millimetre. The CoopTic network manages to achieve involvement, co-participation, collective construction, inter-cooperation…

The fundamental challenge

All the training process that took place in 2012 was undertaken in French, even though it was geographically spread out, with the inspiration of the promoting organisations. Transmitting such complex (intangible) elements to a different reality, in a different language, became the major challenge.
It wasn't about translating materials and content; on the other hand, it wasn't possible to count on the direct expertise of the principal creators of the course. It would have been surreal to provide an important number of training hours with simultaneous translation, and a simple conference of one of two hours didn't justify the movement of the experts from neighbouring France.
On the other hand, our school has a well-defined target group and it was necessary to make an effort to adapt and include the whole group: the explicit and implicit objectives, the content and its orientation, and the methodologies. Even scheduling the calendar was unviable: if three three-day meetings had taken place in isolated locations to foster creativity and the cohesion of a strong group dynamic, with the possible Catalan users it was illusory to replicate such a scheme.

The options for adaptation involved:

Revisiting the contents in light of the social economy

The Catalan participants in the training programme came from organisations providing support to people, from cooperatives, from civic collectives…. Their needs are in keeping with a reality noticeably different from the original. This factor was the simplest to resolve, although though most arduous: a thorough analysis of the content of the training programme, a rethinking of the weight that each and every person had in the programme as a whole and the inclusion of specific modules to connect the original content with that of social economy.

Looking within the participants

The formulation of the title can seem pretentious, however the work on the core topics, linked with the personal attitudes in relation to the collaborative work and the common good, was the main victim of the fact that the people who inspired the core of the training proposal were not able to travel.
Yes, their texts were available; and someone translated them. However, what was effective was providing many opportunities for group reflection and exchanges; in other words, proposing to the participants that, based on the available texts and following a structured work schedule, they produce this knowledge autonomously.

Putting forward methodologies to strengthen the group and facilitate the creation of networks

It was necessary to compensate for the loss of opportunities to do things together (the course in Catalonia consisted of three days separated by a month in between each, with distance learning modules in between) with an extra focus on the collaborative activities, on opportunities for informal interaction, on getting to know each other.
Wherever possible, the analysis component of the work projects was undertaken taking into account the realities and basic difficulties of each of the participants.
Everyone was encouraged to contribute imaginative solutions to the difficulties of others.
Everyone was encouraged to be receptive, to listen to what others proposed regarding his or her problem.
Essentially, the aim was for the bonds of familiarity to strengthen at a rapid rate so that relationships would remain after the end of the course.

The participants evaluate the training

Once the course is finished, and at the time when a second course is being planned, various reviews are done in light of their personal evaluations:
  • The majority explicitly mention the adaptation components that we have just listed; consequently, these components have been present and noticeable in the course. And, it's important to say, the evaluation that is made of them is also very favourable.
  • Participation in a course with these characteristics represents an effort and dedication, however they state overwhelmingly that they would like even more sessions or, as a minimum, the realisation of some short one-off event that complements and widens the concepts.
  • The opportunities to maintain the links of collaboration between the participants have already occurred and, therefore, the participant from one entity has invited that of another to deliver a training session for his colleagues.
Last but not least, there is an intangible benefit that also gives an idea of the extent of the impact: Aposta is receiving requests, isolated but sufficient in number, to believe that there exists an interest in becoming familiar with the proposed training scheme and testing out ways to implement it with the cooperatives and entities within the Catalan social economy and tertiary sector.
And this cannot be considered a success; it is, simply, the clearest proof that we have a good idea on our hands, structured in a coherent way and oriented towards offering new and little used ways to those organisations that, seeking social change, need appropriate models.


Mapping to get an overview

Card's author : Jean-Michel Cornu
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : 1

Long live antagonisms !

Whether during a collective discussion with different points of view, or moreover during an argument, everyone defends his idea and keeps repeating it to be sure it will be taken into account - or more - impose itself to others. This quirk usually prevents everybody from having an overview on the proposed ideas : each one looks for what justifies his position and possibly what discredits the other's. The discussion goes round and round.

If we look closer, they are two things in these exchanges : members try to reach altogether a truth or a solution, but often replacing the rational approach by a late justification of the chosen positions 2 ; and besides there is an often unconscious game going on where every member tries not to be caught out but rather to be held in high esteem by the others. Very often, there is a presupposition that only one solution is true or at least is the best. This situation frequently prevents members from looking for other proposals than those given by them at the beginning . Techniques of creativity enables to break this vicious circle but keeping all that is said and proposing new issues to members.

An antagonism is a "situation where two phenomenons or their consequences have opposite effects 3". In the tale of the blind men and an elephant 4 , each blind persons touches a different part of the animal and draws a different conclusion which seems opposite to the others. But an opposite is not a contrary, which is completely incompatible with the proposal of the beginning. So, we often oppose success and failure. But these two opposites are not as incompatible as they seem at first sight. Those who have carried out projects are well aware that during a lifetime one comes across both success and failures... unless one doesn't do anything which enables neither to succeed nor fail5

It is then important in a discussion not to exclude proposals from the start, but on the contrary to look for new ideas in order to sketch the "map" of possibilities before trying to choose. 6

Limits of the speech

Let's illustrate a speech. It has a point of departure – often a question – a progression and an arrival, the conclusion. It looks like a walk in a forest for instance , with its point of departure, its progression and its arrival. But if we try to walk altogether without accepting to follow one and only one person, then things get bad. The conflict may be shown as a common departure point and two opposite progressions. How can we depict this conflict as only one speech ? We can depict each progression, but we can't depict only one departure point, only one progression and only one arrival as when we argue... Similarly collective intelligence can be represented as several departure points (several points of view) for the same arrival (the topic to keep in mind) . As in the story with the blind men and an elephant, it's not possible to have only one speech. Creation consists in linking two ideas to create a new one. Here too a unique speech cannot enable to leave from several potential towards numerous arrivals. The speech is therefore limited in its ability to show some domains 7. Sometimes we even turn round and round ! Jacques Monod 8 showed that it is our symbolic language and our capacity to build up speeches which makes up our intelligence. So, we humans have an intelligence allowing us sometimes to make rational speeches. It has enabled to develop civilizations and even to send men on the Moon. But this kind of intelligence is of no help neither for solving conflicts nor dealing with collective intelligence or to apply creativity ! That is surely why we are the only animals smart enough to master nuclear power but stupid enough to use it to shatter the Planet in thousands pieces...

A map to avoid turning round and round

Fortunately, classical language and speeches are not the only things we have to develop our intelligence. Cognitive sciences have shown that we have several working memories 9 enabling us to keep these concepts in mind. Yet, thinking means linking ideas. We do this with ideas we have in mind, in our working memories. "The phonological loop" is a working memory interested in linked ideas as in our speech or, to get back to our analogy, as the different steps of our walk. We also have at disposal a visio-spatial sketchpad, another working memory interested in different unconnected concepts. If we go back to our walk-in-the-forest analogy, this memory allows the sketching of a map with different items to find directions. In that case, it is possible to keep in mind several opposite or just different ideas. As well as the disposal of a map four our collective walk allows to locate us and the others, it is possible to make a map of ideas to locate ourselves in the debate. We have named this way of thinking, particularly adapted to conflict-solving, to collective intelligence or to creativity, "thinking-2" taking up Edward de Bono's words 10. The map enables to see all the paths simultaneously and to find some new and unexplored ones. We can co-build it with the ideas and progressions of every one during an exchange of views. Such tools as mind maps (mind mapping en anglais) exactly allows to map debates very efficiently.

But contrary to our long term memories, our working memories are very limited. The phonological loop which allows the chain of ideas only allows to keep in mind three concepts 11. This limit appears when we try to remember the thread of a recent conversation. We easily find the three last ideas but it's difficult to go any further. With this limit, we shouldn't be able to build up a speech of more than three ideas. It's in case the fact in animal language. But we humans have managed to go beyond that barrier thanks to a... cultural increase. Invention of symbolic language has allowed us to stock in our long-term memory 12 several thousands of concepts under the shape of symbolic words. We dig in this memory to feed our small short-term memory chaining words one after another to constitute speeches. So, thanks to this continuous feeding of concepts wrapped in words, we can constitute endless speeches. We are so proud of this major progress that we don't stop talking... Even our unconscious talks as Jacques Lacan says !

Our second working memory, the visio-spatial sketchpad allowing us to draw mind maps that we can try to link later on, is also limited. Its "memory span", the size of what we can keep in mind at a given time, is between five and nine 13. We can have an idea of this limit when looking at a picture with several persons on it and once the picture is away, we are asked how many people there were. If the number is rather low, up to seven, we can find from the mental image that we have kept of the picture. But if the number is higher, we can't count them afterward. Once more, we have a common limit most animals. But without cognitive tools enabling us to overtake it, we can't remember more than five to nine ideas in an exchange and we loose the richness of the debate. The human being of the XXIst century is even disadvantaged because of the continuous requests and the need to keep in mind several things. Very often in a debate, we only react to one or two ideas which have marked us forgetting all the others...

Increasing our ability to map debates

As well as we have been able to increase our capacity to build up speeches by stocking symbolic words in our long term memory, we can increase our ability to make mind maps. "the Method of Loci" means to stock symbolic places – here called loci - in one's long term memory and then to associate them with ideas appearing in exchanges ( in the long run it's easier to memorize territories than ideas). We can keep then in our long term memory enough concepts to overtake the limits of our short term memory

Method of Loci14

In the case of thinking-2, we saw we were limited by the size of our short term working memory. To overtake this fact, we could use a map already kept in our long term memory (for example, a city map) to stock different concepts which will be linked to a place on our map.

That's exactly how the Method of Loci works 15 which goes back to the Greeks according to Cicero 16. He says that during a banquet, the poet Simonide de Ceos was invited to praise the master of the house, a custom peculiar to those times. But he included some praises to Castor and Pollux. Scopas, the master, then said to Simonide that he would only pay half what he owed him and that he could ask the twin gods for the balance. A little later during the meal, someone called Simonide to tell him two youngsters were waiting for him outside. As soon as he was out of the house, the roof collapsed on the whole of the guests. Bodies were so squashed that they could not be recognized by their family. But the poet was able to remember the whole of the victims by the places they occupied during the deadly banquet.

Progressively, from a simple mnemonic system, the Method of Loci turned into a system willing to categorize the whole of human thinking on a spatial map. Well over a simple mnemonic process, this system was drawing an art of creating thinking 17. But the use itself of the expression "art of memory" has undoubtedly forced to forget these techniques when printing, then computers substituted themselves to our memory capacities. Nevertheless this kind of method, used since the Middle Ages by monks, allows to think with a great number of concept simply by associating them with parts of a known places, itself being kept in the long term .

Traces of these methods combining concepts and symbolic places – not always real spots but also learnt and memorized maps -are often found in numerous domains : in the use of psalms 18, spoken tales 19, African griots, Yi King, Chinese calligraphy...

Which map for which collective intelligence ?

To enable the development of collective intelligence in the writing of a collective document or in the solving of conflicts for instance, maps can be used to show the different progressions of members and discover some new ones. The use of mind maps (mind mapping) is particularly powerful. During face-to-face meetings, maps can be cast on a wall so that everyone has an overview. Thus it changes completely the way people propose new ideas rather than repeating those they remember... generally theirs.

But there are limits to this approach : mind map soon becomes complex. Someone who arrives along the way will find it difficult to understand. Those who were there from the start can use it rather effectively... until the projector is switched off. The amount of ideas on the map often exceed our working memory's limits and soon after the work session we stop thinking and remember only a few conclusions that poorly illustrate the richness of the discussion. We have successfully tested the superimposition of a mind map on a territory according to the «method of Loci» method. The metaverse francophone library has created a virtual island 20 hosting the different concepts of our book Prospectic 21 on emerging sciences and technologies (Nanotechnologies, Biotechnologies, Complex systems theory, IT, Neurosciences, Cognition...). Besides, in the framework of a 6-sessions public debate on synthesic biology set up by Vivagora, we have mapped real time ideas and opinions about an imaginary city 22.

This method using mind maps proved to be particularly powerful during face-to-face sessions or else during online meetings (synchronous meetings). It's different with asynchronous online meetings, when each member reacts in the debate when he chooses to. Indeed, in this case, the level of member's attention fluctuates from pro-activity to episodic observation 23. Co-mapping step-by-step with everyone's attention becomes difficult. Besides, it's hard to find spots known by all and which can we can use as bases to locate one or two hundreds concepts. Our houses and our environment are well memorized and they can be a media for the method of Loci. But they are different for each member and can only be used individually. The world map could possibly be used as a base because we have all already memorized a part of it, but it's tricky to locate ideas-most of the time subjective- on inhabited countries or territories. For example where would be located the notion of deviance? The best applicant seems to be the human body where even a uneducated person can locate dozens of different spots. Vivian Labrie has experimented this approach with human sculptures composed of several members during debates about poverty in Quebec 24. Besides, during an online debate, reactive participants which are ten times more numerous than proactive ones, get information and summaries through a tool rather geared to text (mail, Facebook, Twitter) 25 which they read regularly and don't really make the effort to look at a graphical mind map on a specific web page. Asking to click on a link in a sent text will reduce by half the number of potentially reactive persons.

Therefore during online debates, it is more interesting to have a mind map exclusively built with (even if with Twitter there is still the need to click on link to propose more than 144 characters). When formatted, the text enables that kind of possibilities with item-structured lists (which make an arborescence as mind maps) and different artifacts allowing to browse a text just like a map, reading an exhaustive reading needless (bold, underlined...). By keeping short the "textual mind map", the size of an average computer screen, we enable participants to have an overview of exchanges and to use Thinking-2 to produce collective intelligence.

  • 1 Thes ideas are originally presented in : CORNU, Jean-Michel. Modes de pensée et conflit d’intérêt. In : Nouvelles technologies, nouvelles pensées ? [online]. Limoges, France : FYP éditions, 2008. Innovation, ISSN 1961-8328. ISBN 978-2-916571-03-4. Available from : http://www.cornu.eu.org/files//ProspecTIC_pensee2.pdf
Available from article : Nous avons non pas un mais deux modes de pensée. Le blog de Jean-Michel Cornu [online]. [Accessed 4 February 2014]. Available from: http://www.cornu.eu.org/news/nous-avons-non-pas-un-mais-deux-modes-de-pensee
  • 2 The rational reasoning process is to put forward an hypothesis and then to try to refute it. Since Aristotle we actually know that it is not possible to demonstrate that a global theory - Aristotle talks of " universal proposal" -is true (a sentence like all rabbits have a tail cannot be completely checked because how can we be sure we have seen all the rabbits...). The rational reasoning process is then to demonstrate that the theory is wrong. If it can't be done, the theory is considered sufficiently good to be provisionally true... until a refutation invalidates it. The scientific reasoning process is based on the rational reasoning process but it attempt tempting to draw checkable forecasts from the theory which allow a refutation... or not.
  • 3 Antagonisme. Wikipédia [online]. [Accessed 4 February 2014]. Available from : http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antagonisme
  • 4 See How to produce a text when you are several hundred persons - La parabole des aveugles et de l'éléphant
  • 5 get to know more, see the square of opposition : Le carré Sémiotique. Le blog de Jean-Michel Cornu [online]. [Accessed 4 February 2014]. Available from : http://www.cornu.eu.org/news/le-carre-semiotique
  • 6 Voir The post factum choice
  • 7 It is because of the use of spoken or written language which unrolls sequentially. Other forms of language could allow to translate simultaneously two or more notions. Like in dance for instance. Bees use that form of language (yet without having an elaborated symbolic language as ours). As well as the language of signs for deaf and hearing-impaired enables things which are not possible with spoken language, for example telling one thing with the left hand and something else even contrary with the right one !
  • 8 MONOD, Jacques. Le hasard et la nécessité: essai sur la philosophie naturelle de la biologie moderne. Paris, France : Éd. du Seuil, 1970. Points. Série Essais, ISSN 1264-5524, 43. ISBN 978-2-02-000618-7.
  • 9 BADDELEY, Alan D. and HITCH, G. J. Working memory. In : BOWER, G. H. (ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation : Advances in research and theory Volume 8. New York : Academic Press, 1974. p. 47–90. ISBN 9780080863597 0080863590 0125433085 9780125433082.
  • 10 DE BONO, Edward. Conflits: comment les résoudre. Paris, France : Eyrolles, 2007. ISBN 978-2-212-53952-3.
  • 11 BADDELEY, Alan D. and HITCH, G. J.ibid.
  • 12 Called "semantic memory"
  • 13 MILLER, George A. The magical number seven, plus or minus two: some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychological review [online]. 1956. Vol. 63, no. 2, p. 81. [Accessed 4 February 2014]. Available from : http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/rev63/2/81/
  • 14 CORNU, Jean-Michel. Nouvelles technologies, nouvelles pensées ? Limoges, France : FYP éditions, 2008. Innovation (Limoges), ISSN 1961-8328. ISBN 978-2-916571-03-4.
  • 15 YATES, Frances Amelia. L’art de la mémoire. Paris, France : Gallimard, 1987. Bibliothèque des histoires, ISSN 0768-0724. ISBN 2-07-070982-5, 978-2-07-070982-3.
  • 16 CICÉRON. De l’orateur. Paris, France : Les Belles Lettres, 1966. Collection des universités de France, ISSN 0184-7155.
  • 17 CARRUTHERS, Mary J. Machina memorialis : méditation, rhétorique et fabrication des images au Moyen Age. Paris, France : Gallimard, 2002. Bibliothèque des histoires, ISSN 0768-0724. ISBN 2-07-075746-3.
  • 18 CARRUTHERS, Mary J.ibid.
  • 19 Des cartes pour décrire des contes : rencontre avec Vivian Labrie. Le blog de Jean-Michel Cornu [online]. [Accessed 4 February 2014]. Available from : http://www.cornu.eu.org/news/des-cartes-pour-decrire-des-contes
  • 20 ile Prospectic. ProspecTIC [online]. [Accessed 4 February 2014]. Available from : http://prospectic.fing.org/texts/ile-prospectic
  • 21 CORNU, Jean-Michel. Nouvelles technologies, nouvelles pensées ? Limoges, France : FYP éditions, 2008. Innovation (Limoges), ISSN 1961-8328. ISBN 978-2-916571-03-4.
  • 22 Biosynth-ville : la ville de la biologie synthétique. Vivagora [online]. [Accessed 4 February 2014]. Available from : http://web.archive.org/web/20130619184123/http://www.vivagora.fr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=436:biosynth-ville-la-ville-d-ela-biologie-synthetique&catid=21:nos-actions&Itemid=111
  • 23 Voir Size of groups and parts of members
  • 24 Collectif pour un Québec sans pauvreté. [online]. [Accessed 4 February 2014]. Available from : http://www.pauvrete.qc.ca/
  • 25 Voir Size of groups and parts of members

To sum up

In a debate with several people, and even more in a confrontation, each one tends to defend his idea and to repeat it constantly so it is taken into account. In practice it's often seen that different points of view don 't rule each other out but on the contrary complement each other to give altogether an overview. To go past the facts, me must take into account the two ways of thinking that are each using a different working memory.

The first, based on speech consist in sayings ideas one after the other, just as we make a step after another to progress from a starting point until an arrival. This way of thinking especially allows a rational approach but it hardly takes into account conflict (a starting point, two directions), collective intelligence (several points of view on the same arrival) or else creativity (finding new ways between several starting points and several arrivals) which are all three using another complementary way.

The second way of thinking is based on mapping. It consists in arranging on the same mind map ideas according to their proximity, without trying to select them offhand, to get the more complete vision on ideas and possible progressions. Mind maps (mind mapping in English) which are co-built and projected to all during sessions are very efficient to give a global vision to the whole group and allow therefore to look for new ideas and new points of view rather than having each member focusing on one or two former ideas.
To go further, two possible approaches :
  • the Method of Loci : During synchronous meetings (online or face-to-face), a map of idea can be coupled with another map, often of territories that each one can keep in his long term memory. It can be a place known to all (their cathedral for monks in the Middle Ages)or failing that a co-built place (in the long term a place is easier to remember than ideas) ;
  • Textual maps : in asynchronous online exchanges, people who behave reactively (ten times more numerous than proactive) and the observers (even more numerous) use tools which cannot stand graphics mode very well (mail, Facebook, Twitter). Therefore proposing a drawn map needs to share a link to a web page where the map is hosted. But then only a half of participants will see the map. The possible use of text laying out can then be used to allow the drawing of a textual map which won't need to be read in its whole as a text but can be read as a map : lists of bullet points, formulation of short ideas in one line maximum, bold, underlined and italics to enhance some keywords.

Mot clé : #cartographier

Copyrights : By วาดโดยบุญศิริ เทพภูธร สพอ. นครหลวง จ.พระนครศรีอยุธยา [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Mind maps in public discussions

Card's author : Laurent Marseault
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : When facilitating a public discussion, have you ever had:
  • someone repeating the same idea at least 5 times?
  • two people arguing over something when they are actually saying the same without understanding each other?
  • antagonists who argue during the discussion saying "Have you seen what they did…"?
  • participants who find a lot has been done but that not much progress has been achieved?
  • ...

Well it has happened to me very often before using mind maps to help facilitation.


  • a video projector
  • a computer with freemind, X-Mind or freeplane installed on it (I prefer the last one)
  • being well trained in listening and taking synthetic notes.

In the circle at the centre I write the topic of the discussion, and I then briefly write down the elements that link back to the discussion. Mind maps are filled in gradually. Ideas are organised and then re-organised. We stay on one part of the map to focus on a new aspect of the discussion...

Situations that arise when using mind maps:

  • two people disagree on where a word should be placed in the mind map. For them, the same word conveys different ideas, and going through this map they are able to see this.
  • some ideas are easy to place on the map, yet others…In this case, I ask the group to help me find a place for this new idea; very often the difficulty comes from an idea that modifies the way previous ideas are positioned on the map; time to think about it will make the group mature.
  • making all the branches visible at the end of the discussion makes the group aware of the path followed and they very often makes them feel proud of themselves.
  • in a discussion that will be tense, we started by listing the elements of the discussion. Then we grouped them together into three groups: those that do not need discussion because we all agree right from the start; those that we would like to leave for a later stage because they are more than likely to cause difficulties, and the third one, which we started with, is those elements that we can discuss without getting overheated.

Further steps:

  • next the map can be imported to the X-Mind software to play around with the structures (organisational chart, logical diagram, chart…). When the discussion seemed to have ended, the group started to discuss new elements and to work on ideas in a whole, getting the impression that they are moving to a higher level of discussion.
  • Very often, at the end of the discussion some people will ask for the name of the software used. Choosing software that is easy to use, free and that works on all platforms allows participants to lengthen their experience of thinking.

Important notes:

  • nowadays it is possible to build mind maps collaboratively using on-line mind map tools or using freemind, which also offers this function (it takes work to get it set-up)


http://petillant.com section on implementation and comprehension

Moving discussion

Card's author : Frédéric Renier, Supagro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with : The moving discussion is a facilitation tool that makes it easier to take the floor in public in a group.
Tool's boxes : Animation
Introduction : The moving discussion (still called the Positioning game) is a dynamic form of discussion that promotes participation.
  • A facilitator tells a story that is purposefully controversial. At some key moments in the story, he invites several participants to move to a certain spot within the room, "those who don't agree with what has just been said go to one side, those who agree, go to the opposite side".
  • Nobody can stay in the middle (without a reason), moving in the room really pushes participants to take a side and to provide reasons.
  • Once everyone has chosen "their side", the facilitator then asks who would like to take the floor to explain their position.
  • To start the discussion, he may start by asking who has a strong view regarding what was just said.
  • When one side has given their reasons, it's the turn of the other side to express its reasons. It is like a game of ping-pong. If one of the participants decides that a reason given by the other side is valid, he or she may change sides.
  • When the facilitator decides, the discussion ends and the story continues until the next controversial statement or situation arises, when the discussion starts again.
Requirements :
  • A minimum number of participants (around ten).
  • A controversial story where participants can feel represented.
  • A spacious room.
  • Posters to mark-off the different areas (agree, disagree).
  • Explaining the rules of the game (nobody is forced to speak, but they must all choose a side).
  • Activity duration: 1:30h seems a reasonable duration.
Some practical uses :
  • Breaking the ice quickly between participants, having to take a side quickly becomes a game and contributes to participation.
  • Promoting the participation of the largest number of people, if the facilitator encourages those who have not yet spoken to take the floor.
  • Clarifying everyone's position; showing the diversity of opinions in one another.
Using the tools :
An example of a moving discussion organised by SCOP Le Pavé
Going further :
  • It is possible to write down the reasons as they arise in the discussion and map them.
  • It is possible to give each side 5 minutes or more to fine-tune their reasons collectively.
Advantages :
  • The activity does not require any materials.
  • It is set-up quickly.
  • Can be done outdoors to give participants fresh air.
  • With this format, discussions become a moment of pleasure.
Drawbacks :
  • It is not certain that the discussion will actually "flow".
  • Some participants who do not feel comfortable in a group or with the logic of reasons may feel excluded; this form of discussion should be complemented with other forms depending on available time, number of participants and goals.
Licence : Free
Using : Easy
Setting up : No setting up


Mr Cloud to the service of my networks

Card's author : Gatien Bataille
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : The Cloud or storing data on-line is gradually becoming more democratic. Every month new tools are invented. This is extremely useful to access data wherever in the world with an Internet connection. "Cloud" services also offer new perspectives for network facilitation.
In a network's life, it rapidly becomes essential to:
  • make all information available (files, images, audio files…)
  • allow its members to gather information (files, photos, audio files...)
  • encourage collective work (especially through document sharing)
"Cloud"" tools make this possible quite easily.

Some examples:
  • The CRIE network (Centres for initiation to the environment in Belgium) shares several working documents using the service Google Drive. With this shared space the agendas are co-drafted, meeting minutes are drafted by several people during the meetings and several "resource" documents are compiled. Using this service has made collaborative work considerably easier in the network and has strongly contributed to the co-writing of contents. Some basic training was needed but no major issues arose regarding how to use it. The only technical glitch that occurred was that some files "temporarily disappeared" (they were moved by a group member to his own personal Google Drive file). Questions on this service are basically methodological. All members with access to this shared file could modify the file's contents...delete files, make changes to the minutes. Making all contents available to everyone completely de-centralised "power" and considerably changed the way in which certain structures had traditionally operated.
  • The CRIE network manages its press review using box.com. This on-line storage system allows each user to feed a file that is shared using a simple e-mail account. This file can then be integrated into a website quite easily. Each CRIE regularly puts content into the press review by sending an e-mail with the press article in an attachment. This press review is made available to the public using the websites of the different structures.
  • The community of users of the Parc des dominicaines in Tournai (Belgium) came up with a shared space to easily collect and display the photos taken on their website. To do this they used the service yogile. This on-line storing service allows creating and managing a photo-album collectively. Everyone can add to this album using a button to upload images automatically into the album or send them to a specific e-mail address. Adding to the album is open to everyone on purpose (you don't have to be a "member"). This was done to minimise barriers to using this service. There is only a control process (by several members) to verify the photos before they are published to avoid any unwanted content. As for the use given to the photos uploaded by members there are certain unsolved questions. Currently, photos remain the property of the user but the choice of the CC BY SA licence needs further clarification.
Other similar examples use other on-line storing services such as Dropbox or Copy.

Photo credits : King Cloud by Akakumo on Flickr - CC-BY-SA
Internet link : http://www.criemouscron.be


Card's author : Outils Réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with : Netvibes is an online service which enables to create a web portal that gathers RSS (It has other features but this one is the most interesting) : personally (web watch, control) or for a group, a project, a territory .
Official website : http://www.netvibes.com
Tool's boxes : Web Watch tools
Introduction :
Requirements : Surfing the net
Using the tools :
Going further :
Advantages :
  • Allows the creation of a very open and updated portal for a group, a territory. Enables to create your own personal online office where web watch can be centralized.
Drawbacks :
  • It's an online service (is there a continuity of data ?), it is necessary to open an account.
Licence : Proprietary software, Freemium
Using : Easy
Setting up : No setting up


Networks under license CC BY SA that last

Card's author : Gatien Bataille
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :

Introduction: A world adrift A little fiction to start with...

Instructions: Imagine today's world with these data
  • A few milleniums ago to use an "e" one will have to pay me royalties... What if you tried your first speech ? (Have your wallet ready !!) Milleniums ago, mankind had to round a major cape: the invention of writing and alphabets. A little ahead on my time, I quickly glimpse the interest of protecting the letter "e" with a restrictive licence. From now on, every time you wish to use this letter, pay ! Or reduce your ambitions ;-)
  • We are in a workshop in Mesopotamia, 3500 years before Jesus Christ. By a stroke of genius (mainly inspired by nature ! But Hushhhhhh...) I have just invented the wheel ! A little ahead on my time, I quickly glimpse the interest to protect this invention by a restrictive license. From now on, every time you wish to use a wheel, you will have to pay royalties... Imagine what your current life is like now !
  • 350,000 years ago, on the edge of a cave I have been trying for days and days to reproduce the fire we cherish and maintain when it falls from the sky. And then finally I come across the "reproducible method". A little ahead on my time, I quickly glimpse the interest to protect this invention by a restrictive license. From now on, every time you wish to light a fire you will have to pay royalties... Imagine what your current life is like now !
Now let's turn into reality
  • An Australian company succeeded in placing a license on a human gene bound to a precise type of cancer. Result: In order to study this gene to find a drug, you pay ...
  • "A" is a Polish company that sells books online. Apple took this company to court for misuse of his "brand" ... and yes, the website of "A" was a.pl.
  • A primary school teacher had launched a blog on which she exchanged with her pupils some French exercises. She was taken to court by the daily paper "Le Figaro" for misuse of its brand mark...And yes, the blog of the teacher was called " Madame Figaro's blog " (but Figaro was really the lady's name).
  • Monsanto reattempts once more to place its soybean seeds under the control of a license, preventing any forward person who has not paid royalties to re-sow the soybean seeds produced in his own field.
  • Several newspaper companies (Canadian and German) try to pass or have passed laws to prohibit the right to make links to their content without paying royalties first.
  • Thus, an Irish company asked 200 euros by hypertext link to its content.
  • A Canadian company demands 150 euros for the use of a simple extract of its contents (which is just like eliminating a previous law: the right to quote).
  • The I will Shoe Company has registered "I will" as a trademark. On this legal base, the company takes to court those using these words... Until now, it has only taken to court direct competitors (like Nike for example). But who will be next ?
  • The content ID which permanently scans videos posted on Youtube led to the withdrawal of several videos on the pretext of violation of copyright. The video of an amateur of nature is to be withdrawn because of birdsongs in the background (recorded straight in the wild) because recognized by the ID as violating copyrights (by mistake of course).
    • The amateur video of russian meteorites was considered as violating the copyright because one could hear far off a song on the radio...
    • Quite a lot of authors alerted by the robot on possible violations of their copyright prefer not to step in to share the advertising income generated by Google.
  • Discussions are taking place currently to place DRM on HTML5 language. This would prevent the "free" use of this yet universal language which is the basis of the Internet.
  • Audi has registered an IP licence on the letter "Q" to protect its car the Audi Q... we come here to limits which raise questions... protecting simple letters jeopardize the simple act of writing !

The DRM (digital rights management)
The DR aim to control the use made of digital works. These devices can be applied to all types of physical digital media (records, DVD, Blu-ray, software, etc.) or of diffusion (TV broadcast, Internet devices, etc.) thanks to a system of conditionnal access.
Limiting copies is only a superficial reason for the addition of DRM to a technology. DRM completely fail when it's about preventing copies, but they are highly effective to avoid any innovation. Indeed DRM are covered by the anti-circumvention laws such as the famous 1998's DMCA (US Digital Millennium Copyright Act) and the 2002's EUCD (EU Copyright Directive) ; each one turns circumvention into a crime, even if the law is not broken.

Why are we here?

The advent of open licenses or of licenses easing broadcast, L'arrivée des licences ouvertes ou facilitant la diffusion, the always easier and larger virtualization of data and knowledge and 3D printers which allow do nearly everything have highly stiffen governments' position (under the lobbying of companies) concerning copyrights and intellectual property.

A fundamental shift is underway to restrain freedom...
  • Rights managers which see those rights constrained by the arrival of the web and digitalization exercise an important lobbying with states.
  • States as for them are unable to organize a real public debate on the question and are influenced by lobbies
Finally semi-finished technics (web server, sharing platform...) are pressurized to implement tools for the protection of copyrights of the works on the server. Willing to protect themselves, they are a part of the general hardening of copyright.
There are worrying situations of rights limitation which will have dreadful consequences across the world !
Reaction is getting organized but it must be supported beacuse opponents are fierce and well equipped.

Wikipedia: Fraudulent copyright's claim, for example claiming rights on public works.
We are seeing more and more layings of copyrights on works or objects that should not be subject to rights (e.g. the ban to take photos of Mona Lisa in the Louvre). These rights are illegal but uncontested because now nobody defends the public domain (little clarified in the law).

And nevertheless

mickey mic1.png
A concrete case :: Let's protect Mickey !

Isn't Walt Disney's success resting to a large extent on the fact he drew freely from the heritage of the tales and the legends, which became meanwhile literary models of the public domain? Disney, among others has given life to iconic characters such as Snow White, the Little Mermaid, or Beauty and the Beast. He changed them, "remixed them", reincarnated them. The result made him rich This commercial success lays its toot on the use of a common cultural inheritance.
The result is a "duty of restitution" to the community.
Or should it be possible to claim exclusive rights to operate for 120 years - i.e. beyond the creator's death - something originating in our common culture?
Disney should rather leave Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck to free exposure to public, investments having already been covered several time.

A society must be able to rely on its unlimited creative capacity to produce new works. Creators must be able to draw freely from the wealth of cultural patrimony. Our culture is an inexhaustible reservoir of stories, images, musics and many other things - provided that access to the property is not hindered or rarefied. Culture depends on the contribution of each one and does not try to avail itself unfairly - "for eternity less a day" - of private rights on cultural goods.

Open licenses: brief reminder

Free licenses are just tools for mankind to organize the framework of cooperation. Hence they impact on our practices as much as we impact on them and therefore there is a risk of preventing – or favoring – the appearance of new uses.
These free licenses base the legal support of a movement which we call " the free ".
There are several licenses, some more open than others, some more specific to certain, some more specific to types of works than others...
There are nearly a hundred ! Some standards are nevertheless imposed by organizations such as the Creative Commons Foundation and Open Source Initiative.

Two important licenses

The GNU GPL (General Public Licence)
It's the first free license. It appeared with the first free and open source software. Historically meant for software, it is getting more and more documented and its scope is expanding !

This licence allows 5 things :
1: the free right to use a program whatever the goal.
2: the free right to seek how the program works and how to adapt it to one's needs.
3: the free right to transfer the program to others and to make copies for others.
4: the free right to improve the program and to give free access to these improvements for the general benefit.
Freedom 2 and 4 implies an accessible source code.
This is of paramount importance but is not always the case with "application" via other licenses (like Creatives Commons licenses for example - see below)
Thus, it is compulsory to provide the "source code" of the work in a readable-by-all format and without constraint. Sharing "source code" in PDF format is not suitable here because it is not readable and cannot be copied without the possession of a particular program (not free itself)
And freedom 3 and 4 ignore author's rights as far as the author's explicit consent has not been asked for. With the licence, there was no need to ask for the author's authorization: it was already granted.
However, these four freedoms are not sufficient as each person who alters a program or develops it becomes ipso facto co-author. So users should ask for agreement in order to work on the upgraded version and send it to others. In case the new author refuses permission, the users' freedom would be jeopardized again.
5: The copyleft obligation or the obligation to share one's work in the five freedoms mentioned above.

The copyleft knocks down the original intention of copyright. While normally the copyright implies no obligation for the author and allows almost nothing the user, the copyleft proceeds on the contrary: it allows many things to users, it guarantees the four freedoms and obliges future authors to grant to users of their own improved versions the same rights as those of whom they took advantage themselves.
The free character of the work published under GNU GPL licence is then secure for an indefinite future and for any new development.
Creatives Commons licenses
What works with software (via GNU GPL licenses) can also make sense for other kinds of work such as texts, images or music. It is the underlying idea in the Creative Commons Project ( DC), that proposes for these works a whole pallet of licenses, among which every author can choose the best one for their needs.
The author can then decide if the copyleft principle here named "Share Alike" is important or not, and if he wants to allow or prohibit its commercial use. There is also an option to prohibit completely any change in the work. So that all Creative Commons licenses do not necessarily give the five freedoms in their entirety.
If we want to keep in mind the actual openness advocated by the GNU GPL license via the Creatives Commons licenses, we will therefore ensure :
  • that our works are under CC BY SA license
  • that they are accessible and alterable through free programs (open office or else)

An example to illustrate

Sésamath the current Math teaching network: http://www.sesamath.net/
Created in 2001, Sésamath is a recognized public interest and non-profit association.
Its goal is to favor :
  • the use of computers in the teaching of Math ;
  • cooperative work an co-training of teachers ;
  • the services of support in the students' learnings.
Registered in a process of public service, Sésamath is committed to the values ??of free software. In 2007 and among 68 projects from 51 countries, Sésamath got the 3rd price from the UNESCO for its use of NTIC.
Sésamath distributes free and collaborative textbooks and notebooks for all levels of high school.
On their website dedicated to these works, everyone can download them for free and adapt if they wish.

From the start, Sésamath chose to use free licenses
  • the GNU FdL (to give a real access to its works' source codes and allow their alteration/modifying)
  • the CC-BY-SA (to insure virality: pour assurer la viralité: the preservation of works withion commons)

Thanks to this voluntarily very open choice, Sésamath was able to capitalize on the individual contributions of the network's members, to produce more elaborate contents (we shall speak about grade 2 of wealth to - see below) which could then be financially valued. This valuation has allowed the association to perpetuate its activity without losing the first sense of its action: proposing one space of cooperation and skills' mutualization between Math teachers.
On the contrary, a French teachers' network tried the Sésamath experience but failed because from the start, the chosen (or the unchosen) licenses did not allow them to develop their collective productions.

Why do restrictive licenses prevent financial valuation of networks' productions ?

Before going any further, the notion of grades of wealth in a network must be explained.
grades of wealth in a network.
In a network's life, several grades of wealth can be observed:
  • Grade 1: it's the juxtaposition of the individual wealth brought by each member
  • Grade 2: it's the gathering of the network's derived and coproduced productions (done with the individual wealth of each member)
  • Grade 3: it's the gathering of derived and coproduced productions done by the network and the networks with which there is a mutualization of Grade 2 wealth.
From grade 2, the produced wealth are generally of sufficient quality that to consider a financial valuation.

Organization chart of a network's life

Grade 1: the networks gets organized and compiles the contributions of its members.

Situation 1

OR members discuss the status of contributions of each and consciously choose to place their contributions in an open license (really open so unrestricted to commercial use - CN of Creatives Commons licenses -)
This implies that anyone who does not agree withdraws its contributions

Situation 2

OR this topic is not clearly discussed and individual contributions are placed under open licence but without the author-members being fully aware of it.

Situation 3

OR members prefer to protect their contributions by a more restrictive license (like Creative Commons license BY NC SA) and therefore no commercial use without permission of the author.

Grade 2: the network grows and produces collective works relying on wealth of grade 1 (the personal contributions of members). These productions are "rich" enough to initiate a financial valuation.

Situation 1

Thanks to open license, collective productions can easily be exploited even if certain members of the network are not present any more! Each having beforehand authorized the valuation of its contributions for the mention of its name and the preservation under open licence. This being also valid if a member of the network seizes grade 2 wealth and sells them... It is true that it will cause tensions within the network and that this membership might not last in the group ... ;-)

Situation 2

One (or some) members seizes grade 2 productions and sell them.
Author-members feel cheated and try to prevent the sale... which is impossible because grade 1 productions are under open licence.
The networks blows up !

Situation 3

The licence not being fully open, the network has to ask each member's (author) agreement for any commercial use of the production.
Most of the time, this step is so complicated that valuation crumbles down and the networks melts with the disappointment of not having experienced the interesting stage of a network (i.e. the collective production and the external valuation of it).

The strength of Share Alike licenses

Networks having chosen Share Alike open licenses have an important spiral effect.

Their productions being often important and of quality (because they reached more easily the grade 2 of wealth, see Sésamath), they are regularly requested to exchange contents with other close or similar networks.

If these networks have chosen a more restrictive licence (Uncommercial for example) exchange is very difficult because productions of the "open" network (network 1) need to be used or adapted by "the less open" network (network 2) to be shared alike... which means under open licence ! Which forces the "less open network" (2) to make a choice:
  • or I benefit from the wealth of the open network (1) but then I have to change my less open for the more open licence of network 1 ;
  • or I don't want to change my licence and I look with envy and despair all the wealth I could have shared and the grade 3 wealth (those highly valuable) we could have created together ;-)

Questions which often occur

I am going to be robbed if I don't put a NC clause
Yet it seems that this non-commercial clause is vague and difficult to interpret.
So, almost every case leads to a particular solution.
In addition, most of our networks do not have the means to engage in a costly legal battle...
Besides the question of the meaning of this action... If I do not want my work to be used for commercial purposes, perhaps it is better not to put it under a Creative Commons license.
Finally, protecting its contents and commercially exploit it can be counter productive.
Indeed, by demonstrating to the private sector that your productions are profitable, you prompt them to use them. Your productions being under a Creative Commons license, these companies can take in and alter your productions to adapt them (with big means that you don't have... even by investing at loss for a few years). Once altered, these productions can be exploited with the help of lawyers and marketing agents and absorb all your market (and then leave you pennyless, which is the contrary of your first aim to make a living with your production;-)
Thus it is better to play on the ground of open licenses, the ground which puts companies ill-at-ease and on which
your association and its suppleness (the move ahead) is more effective.
Besides your freely accessible and alterable work, if good, will interest people, whom happy to use it, will take care of it and maybe help back if necessary (even marketing agents who do not long for your death).
Example: Outils réseaux

Open licenses are not suitable for all
And it's true !
Before considering a particular license, think clearly about your goal !
If it is to live as long as possible on one production, open licenses are not a good choice.
If your goal is not the opening and diffusion of your productions, open licenses are not a good choice.
If your goal is to join the world's overhang, to take part in the diffusion of ideas, of knowledge, to help the development of services around this knowledge... then open licenses are to be explored (because they are a good tool).

Then why pay for the expertise of the plumber?
Very true ! Why do we pay for the plumber's expertise when he gets it from a traditional knowledge ?
First, when you pay the plumber, you mainly pay for his time !
But it's true that we also pay for his skill.
Knowing that the plumber's knowledge is available for free and for everyone because coming from traditional knowledge doesn't make it necessarily "approachable".
  • Let's imagine that the plumber writes you down an explaining note to replace the siphon of your sink... it's well written and very complete.
  • Let's imagine that he delivers this note for free (because coming from a traditional knowledge) and that he doesn't charge you for the equipment.
  • There you are tinkering, following the instructions left by the plumber, but something unforeseen happens. The tap snaps and the flood is threatening...

Guess how much you are ready to pay to have that very plumber back in emergency ;-)
What we are dealing with here is the level of skill that only your plumber has (in any case in the field of plumbing).

There are several levels of skills

  • level 1: I know it exists
  • level 2: I am able to do it too
  • level 3: I can also explain what I am doing
  • level 4: I am have skills in what I do, I adapt
  • level 5: I am critical about what I do and I invent from what I know
Your plumber's note take you up to level 2
But your plumber is at level 4 or 5
Which enables him to face unforeseen events and that is the level of skills you pay for, not the traditional knowledge of level 1.

Credits : Creatives Commons and David John Goodger - CC-BY-NC-SA


Open and/or closed cooperation?

Card's author : Corinne Lamarche - SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Ideas developped by the author in the field of cooperation within the book or conference :

We are "programmed" to cooperate

Human cooperative behaviour is partly due to human genetic evolution. It is linked to the degree of relation and to identity features.
According to the theory of evolution, over centuries we have developed altruist behaviours with our family and the group we belong to.

Closed cooperation

Altruism develops in a group when this group competes against other groups. Several experiences have shown a pattern of closed cooperation in family groups or groups that people belong to. Children will be more likely to share with members of their closest group and will distrust other groups. The cognitive and emotional aspects play an important role (imitation, language, beliefs, imagination). Ethnology shows us groups that strengthen their solidarity with others to safeguard their material, and even immaterial goods. In many languages, the words used for “Us” and “Them” really express a linguistic distinction, but also a behavioural one between one's “own” group and the group of “others”. Throughout history, and even today, we find confirmation of ourselves in the opposition to “others”; our identity is built opposing others, and the same can be said for groups. Closed cooperation strengthens the bonds within a group one belongs to, and allows for a strong identity anchoring, valuing reputations, and can develop thanks to competition.

Open cooperation

Nevertheless, the specificity of the Homo Sapiens, contrary to the Neanderthal, was to elaborate forms of cooperation that were more and more open, to integrate into large networks, Mankind, depending on the situation, tends towards open cooperation. We cooperate more easily with people who cooperate themselves and by observing them we know if they are good co-operators. We could say of certain cooperative behaviours that they stem from a “competitive altruism”, such as the action of giving to charity. This could be interpreted as a search for self-valuation, to grow one's reputation to then be chosen by the group. But what about a situation where the individual saves a life in risk, even at the risk of losing his own? This is not a situation of competitive altruism.
So which are the factors that push us to cooperate in a family or with other larger groups?
Open cooperation allows bringing new people into the group and, therefore, making new acquaintances, learning new things, increasing one's exposure to doubt (a necessary condition for innovation).

The variables in promoting open cooperation

First of all, what are the benefits of open cooperation? Throughout history, and through experience, it has been seen that there is a cultural accumulation and a contribution of innovation due to geographical, ecological, demographical, and linguistic factors. Openness to others can be done in a multitude of ways of doing and thinking, and the size of the group also affects our ability to adapt and brings a certain political stability.
There are three other variables that are important to understand “the evolutionary bases of human cooperation and the way in which they are culturally modulated":
  • sanctions. They would have a positive effect when there are also strong pro-social rules at the same time, a legitimacy of the actors and trust in institutions.
  • the notion of collective identity in the sense of creating a bond, being part of “Us”; cooperation is linked to social motivations and emotions, not instrumental motivations or a utilitarian goal.
  • political power, even if it entails risks, is a question of moral choice and of accepting moving from an exclusive “us” to an inclusive “us”, tending towards an aggregative process which becomes more and more socially complex and diverse.

Closed cooperation and open cooperation are expressed simultaneously, and each has advantages and disadvantages. To answer the question of identity in each of them, first of all it would be necessary to determine the need for cooperative behaviours. "At the beginning "Identify yourselves, then cooperate", we would be facing a totally different principle "Cooperate, then you will feel identified".
Short introduction of the book's author : Joël Candau : Professor at the Department of Sociology and Ethnology at the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis.
He is an elected member of the French National Council of Universities, a member of the section on “Social anthropology, ethnology and regional languages " at the Historical and Scientific Studies Society CTHS (since 2006), a member of the French Ethnological Society, a member of the Drafting Committee of the journal Le monde alpin et rhodanien, an expert working in the AERES and the director of the “Mémoire, Identité et Cognition sociale” Anthropology and Sociology Laboratory (LASMIC, EA 3179).
Literature references : DUSSAUX, Maryvonne. «Pourquoi coopérer», Terrain, n° 58, 2012. Lectures [online]. 2012. [Accessed 4 February 2014]. Available from : http://lectures.revues.org/9185

Organising a cooperative meeting on citizen sciences

Card's author : Violette Roche - Tela Botanica
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies :

Organised on 22nd and 23rd October 2009 in Montpellier

The meeting on Citizen sciences & Biodiversity tool place on the 22nd and 23rd of October 2009 at the University of Montpellier 2. Associations, territorial groups, public and scientific institutions and people…totalling around 200 participants who met to exchange and pool their knowledge and practices on land during this first national meeting.
This event was given a participatory approach by using the potential of ICT tools and the Internet:

At the start

  • A wikini site was created from the start of the meeting project and was added to along the way.
  • A discussion list was opened and people could subscribe to it using the Wiki homepage. At the preparatory stage of the meeting around one hundred people had registered. The organising committee used this to prepare the workshops (opinions on the suggested topics, searching for speakers, technical matters to broadcast the event on video…).
  • A call for this event was launched through a form (Google Docs): anyone contributing a project on citizen sciences could present their initiative freely. It was therefore referenced automatically on a map of citizen science projects. Later on this collection was edited and published in a book of nearly fifty pages, a directory of citizen sciences.
  • Since the topics were identified and posted on-line on the wiki, under each of them there was space for comments that allowed internet users to give their opinions (for example, on the page of the workshop on ""Discussing the quality of volunteer data "").
  • Two spaces were also made available to participants so they could share their resources: a library to indicate bibliographic references and a video gallery.
  • A survey was distributed among volunteers working on these projects references on the map and the booklet; this allowed these key actors in citizen sciences to speak.

During the meeting

  • Live broadcasting was set up for the meeting using the free on-line system Justin TV, with a space for comments below (which also was helpful to solve any technical issues).
  • The list of participants was also made available on-line.
  • On the homepage there was a posting board that allowed placing one's name on a map (participants were given two badges for this) and to post posters and small adverts (I'm looking for, I suggest).
  • Breaks were also planned in advance: common meals at the University Canteen of the University of Montpellier 2 (tickets bore a QR code reading ""Miam-miam: an affectionate nod to augmented reality!), a coffee break with the association Artisans du Monde, a cocktail and a guided tour of the aquarium Marée Nostrum.

After the meeting

Overall impression made by Violette Roche, the chief organiser of the event from Tela Botanica

  • Not all tools were used due to a lack of facilitation (the posting board, comments on the site, the list after the meeting).

  • The booklet that was published and distributed after the event was very important: you need something concrete, something physical.
  • The meeting allowed citizen sciences to become known to people: a second meeting may be organised in Paris, the booklet may be re-edited by an association and resource platform projects are starting to emerge!

Organising a participatory event

Card's author : Outils-réseaux Vincent Tardieu
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :

Facilitation to boost face-to-face participation and cooperation


Putting democratic dialogue and participatory democracy (PD) into practice is something we learn!
Nothing is innate or given in advance to make it easy living in a group. Even in groups that are sensitive to these issues.
In general terms, to get along together, participatory democracy requires a real investment of early-stage group meetings, taking into account the stages before the meetings as a moment that is just as important as the meeting itself, and the moments after the meeting.
The aim of this initiative is also not to limit PD to the phases before and after the meeting itself, when organisers will not take the time to foster participation and get the largest number of people engaged. This obviously leads to frustration…
Accepting to take some time and energy during all stages and steps in a collective discussion does not mean “losing time” but gaining time for a collective reflection.
Finally, too often we use these participatory procedures to deal with “hot topics” when we really haven't learnt anything. Participation and cooperation require a specific training that should be separated from their operational use even at risk of hearing "I had already warned you that participation doesn't work"...

1. Before a meeting...

It is always wise to start this "training" in PD with a simple action, in a way that isn't too “engaging” -disturbing. Just a quick try, to see how it works… A good way of getting a feeling of the virtues and demands of PD, and of not going too far and then having to go back to practices without much democracy. We will work on generating “small irreversible experiences”

Ex.1 Many small steps yield big results

Let's imagine a situation with a one-day seminar on “preserving biodiversity in agricultural practices”, for which each potential participant can refer to a website presenting the global aims of the meeting, its dates and venue, etc. to the organisers.
This introduction to PD could start by asking each person that has registered for the event a few additional questions to their information. For example:
  • the three key words you associate with the word agriculture (free or from a list)
  • the same for the word biodiversity
  • two bibliographical references that you would recommend on these two topics
  • etc...
This brief personal questionnaire will be given to every new person that registers some weeks before the seminar, and the answers given by each participant will be posted on-line with the possibility of replying or commenting on each one.
If there is no website for the seminar, this PD process could be started by a round at the start of the seminar asking these same questions. This would be an introduction that would be more original than saying “I am Mr. XX and I do this or that in life…”. Right from the start, this round of presentations, allows diving into the topic with everyone participating.
It also allows, through these collective references that are in the process of being made, or through this bibliography, creating a common good that is useful to all and free.

Ex.2 You have been tagged

  • In order to better engage participants in a meeting it is especially interesting that each of them can be geo-referenced and discover common grounds, friends or shared acquaintances, etc. Especially in a seminar with dozens of people who do not know each other very well.


Doing this is easy: the same procedure will be used for the Internet option and for the brief personal questionnaire, asking each participant to indicate on a French administrative map or a different one (templates are available on-line) their place of residence and/or work, depending on the nature of the meeting.
When there isn't a seminar website, we can get an IGN or Michelin map and post it by the entrance of the seminar room together with coloured push-pins so that everyone can give their location, and also with paper strips where everyone can write their name (and an telephone number or email address). In cases where a photograph is required for registration, this could even be used in a small version placing it next to the location...
  • Depending on the meeting, it would also be possible to do the same using a map of the structures and organizations at the seminar; this would allow everyone to know who is there and who isn't, the structures of the organization's boards that are there, etc… We could also add a blank sheet next to the map to explain the acronyms of each organization to the others…
  • And finally, it would also be possible to add a geo-theme to the geo-reference. For example, for the topics of the seminar mentioned above, there could be a chart with questions and key words for reflection that would be suggested for a collective discussion. By clicking on one or other of these, participants could indicate which of them are of a special interest. It is also good to leave one or more empty boxes so that anyone can add other themes and questions that were left out by the organisers. This mapping can be done either on the Internet, before the seminar takes place, or by the entrance to the seminar room on a physical board on the wall.
This mapping is an excellent way of generating collective reactions, discussions and reflections even before the seminar starts!
It is even possible to take this exercise one step further by allowing participants to add a brief note or information to complement their position, on the internet or on the physical board.
  • The same idea can be used with a "search notice": a chart on the Internet that could then be printed and posted by the entrance to the seminar room, where everyone could write “I am looking for information on the performance of RCW techniques (Ramial Chipped Wood) to preserve the biodiversity of earth organisms” or “I wonder if agri-environmental measures discussed in the framework of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) integrate the establishment of apiculture set-aside areas?” etc. Each participant would add a telephone number or email address to their question so that, before or after the seminar, others can (continue to) answer the question.


A small and intelligent internet sheet (that can easily be printed and posted on a wall) would allow people to post replies below the question or request so that everyone could see them (together with contact information). This is part of the collective reflection process and also allows anyone who has posted a question on the “search notice” to go back home after the seminar with the contact information for the people with whom he or she may continue discussing the matter.
It would be appropriate to ask each author of a “search notice” to give the group a summarised feedback on the answers received, at the end of the seminar or via Internet some days later.

Ex. 3 On the use of cooperative tools

Within the framework of an internet network that organises meetings or information exchanges, we could add a series of very simple yet extremely useful tools, such as a shared calendar so that everyone can visualise the group activities and meetings and also make suggestions for activities in an available slot, thus avoiding overlapping emails and leaving people out of participating.
Whatever the content of these maps and charts, the organisers of a seminar should make sure they mark on the physical map or chart that is posted by the entrance to the seminar room all the location points, mappings, search notices, etc. sent by participants via the Internet.
These on-line tools (surveys, calendars, etc.) can be managed by modules and access to their parameters allows giving them a format and modifying them. A preliminary discussion on these points is therefore required in a group.
It's clear, then: To start, some time and space is required for this dialogue between participants to take place, and planning for this dialogue to continue after the meeting.

2. During the meeting...

After the preliminary stages, let's move into the real PD!
The facilitator of the meeting will have a strong interest in gathering the “materials” with comments and questions obtained during the preparatory stages to feed and start the group work and discussions, avoid starting a discussion with a big blank board, don't hesitate to write down even a few key words, even controversial ones…This is excellent to get people talking!
Also, in a general way, here are two procedures that encourage participants to wake up to participation during the whole seminar, other than using buckets of cold water, swearwords and kicking their rear ends, of course!

  • 1. Tell participants that all presentations (refer to point 3), power point and others, will be available on-line some days or weeks after the seminar. This is to avoid people using their time to compulsively take notes during the presentations and stop listening to the content!
Keeping the minutes of the seminar (including the discussions) can also be done on-line to make the seminar last longer with an audio or audiovisual recording of the seminar –or a part of it– depending on the available means, that can then be posted on the website.

  • 2. The facilitator will make recaps as often as possible during the seminar, almost in real-time depending on the nature and complexity of discussions and the IT means available (i.e. screen projector with Freemind software), all to get people to engage further, to listen, reflect and discuss rather than writing down the words of others.
The facilitator will really be doing the facilitation then… These regular recaps can also feed into the discussions in workshops after an initial plenary session. It could also be useful to use a tool such as Etherpad so that participants can draft the minutes of the seminar between several people, a small irreversible cooperation experience.
Recaps can also be done by others, especially in workshops, taking notes (or using Freemind) so that the feedback can really be discussed before going back to the plenary room. This recap work can be made easier by handing out forms specially designed for this (by the organisers and facilitator) to the people in charge of the recaps.

This recap work entails a prior discussion on the focus that organisers expect from the sessions and workshops.
And instead of preparing the recaps and conclusions beforehand, even before the seminar takes place - a big classic in international meetings! - it will be important for organisers and facilitators to discuss the focuses of the sessions and workshops during the preparatory stage of the meeting. These focuses can also be suggested in advance to registered participants of a seminar, meaning they are posted on-line before the seminar takes place. Like this they can be changed by participants before and during the seminar.

This procedure:
  • will largely facilitate global recaps of the seminar,
  • will favour a more democratic preparation than usual,
  • and will ensure a reasonable rhythm to communicate the recaps after the seminar.
The exercise of placing a series of simple questions by the entrance to the seminar room to be answered during a round of presentations (when presenting each of the concepts or items, for example) and then asking the same questions again at the end of the seminar, is a very good way of getting a collective assessment of the path followed and the usefulness of the seminar.
This exercise can be particularly useful for the organisers of a seminar or the host organisation, who can then keep track of the work accomplished. These preliminary and posterior stages can also be done through the seminar's website. It can be modulated in thousands of ways and allows keeping a record of some collective progresses.
In this same sense, it is also possible to share the answers to the questions asked on-line so that they can then be added to and re-formulated live, collectively. This ensures a continuity between the phases of the seminar and justifies the efforts made by those who took the time to participate on this on-line game.
In order to encourage opinions and questions, even if people don't like talking much and are not used to speaking in public, we can suggest using “question or comment cards” (just a few lines).
They will be distributed at the entrance to the seminar room, several copies. Once they have been completed, they can then be put into a box during the seminar (organisers shall have to empty this box for questions and comments regularly) or given to the facilitator during a session.


The facilitator can then group several of the questions and comments before the feedback and answer them live.
If there is not enough time for this, questions and comments can be posted on-line to extend the discussion even beyond the end of the seminar. This could lead to Creating discussion forums
Another possible solution is for the facilitator to group the questions and comments by topic and then go to a resource person to communicate them to this person: this resource person then takes the time to answer these questions and comments publicly on the Internet.
It is also possible to imagine this person giving the answers to the facilitator who will then read them out in a public session or post them on-line. This solution using the facilitator has the advantage of being synthetic -where a “specialist” would probably delay the answers - but it multiplies the number of intermediaries…and carries the risk of losing information and quality along the way.
Developing role-play. We are mentioning this here, but it deserves a much larger explanation further on. Role-play can be an excellent way of making ideas, reflections and behaviours surface; also to overcome conflicts, express things that go untold, etc. There is a large variety or role-play exercises and techniques for this. They are very useful as long as the facilitator really masters them and is able to coordinate it; the facilitator must then analyse the role-play and then give a public summary of them.

3. After the meeting the discussions go on!

One of the first discussions the facilitator will have with the seminar organisers -and they will have with the guest speakers- has to do with the status of the documents and presentations (PP or others) of guest speakers. More specifically, they will discuss the level of dissemination before and after the seminar. This point is extremely important and relates to the question on access to and dissemination of information and data contained in these presentations.
Today, a broad discussion has started in different media on free access to information in all its forms. And the definition of the different access status (licence) is suggested under the concept of Creative Commons to which we adhere. These different licences turn information into a common good, a private good, a private but collective good, a common good subject to certain conditions (being quoted, only for reading, for reading and modification, that may be used commercially but with no appropriation, etc.) For further information, visit the site http://fr.creativecommons.org/
To summarise: data, information and documents presented during this seminar may be disseminated outside the meeting, especially via the seminar's website, in several ways:
  • guest speakers may publish a summary or a presentation that is drafted specifically for public dissemination (a presentation that is reviewed and watered down in some of the elements deemed confidential);
  • they may accept on-line publication but only for the participants in the seminar (access in this case is granted by providing participants with a username and password);
  • they may accept on-line publication for all, both participants in the seminar and people visiting the website;
  • they may refuse to publish their presentation on-line. In this case there are two options: either the organisers who will have talked to the guest speaker to discuss a rule for dissemination beforehand withdraw the speaker from the list; or they go with the speaker's decision with a smile on their face…
Whatever the case may be, publishing documents and presentations on-line must, in all cases, be done after the seminar, in the days following. Otherwise, the dynamic created during the seminar is interrupted and participants who had accepted to drop their pens and listen to the presentations more actively will feel frustrated. Therefore, the task of publishing on-line must be planned by the organizers so that it really is done as part of the process.

Authors : Association Outils-Réseaux, Vincent Tardieu
Illustration credits under creativecommons: by Moustic 2011 - by Ultimcodex - by Moustic 2011 - by Outils-Réseaux - by Zerojay


Organising the communication of an event from a distance

Card's author : Corinne Lamarche - SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : I can explain an experience relating to distance working that surprised me for its efficiency. I was part of a small group in charge of communication at the 2013 Moustic Meetings that grouped 200 people.

How was it done?

At the start I only knew four of the eight people I met at the event. We had participated together in around fifteen distance meetings during five months, using Skype. I wasn't sure it would work at the start; Nevertheless, the result was excellent! I was really surprised at the ability we can have to work at distance from the moment we choose the right tools and people are ready to share and listen. Of course, the skills of one another all contributed, but this was not enough. Collaborative tools helped us a lot.

What we created

For this event, a wiki was created with sections for each of the commissions (Co-steering, programming, financing, communication). Exchanges flowed well thanks to posting a kind of spreadsheet on one page with several sections to it:
  • things to do (summarising the decisions taken at the end of the meetings), which I could refer to, to see what tasks I had to do and, those I didn't need to do and those that depended on available time. At the beginning, these tasks had been assigned to one or two people, but not exclusively; this allowed us to see the progression.
  • the days for the meetings agreed beforehand. At first, we discussed everyone's availability (working time) and holidays.
  • the link to take notes at the meetings; and an emergency pad if the host server crashed for any reason (this happened to us once).
  • the address of the discussion list so that people working in other commissions could communicate with this one.
  • reference documents (with a link to each Google doc or to a work tool). It is worthwhile listing the documents that are useful for the commission to make finding them easier than searching through emails. One and a half months before the meeting, many documents were created and an email was sent every time to provide the link to the documents. Sometimes the subject of the message was not clear and this posed some problems when it came to finding this information. So I decided to collect all the links and place them on this page describing the contents. It is also important not to create several spreadsheets but rather several tabs on the same spreadsheet
  • the minutes of the meetings. Five days before the meetings, I sent an email reminding the date and time of the meeting, a link to the pad containing all the information and meeting agenda asking if anyone wanted to add more points to the agenda; sometimes I also wrote down some questions and got answers back the same day. One week before the meeting, I would read the minutes of other sub-commissions and if there was anything that should be told the group I would write this down also. After the meeting, the facilitator or someone else would post the meeting minutes on the wiki page (with a format, hyperlinks, readable) and would send the link to the other members, (also so those who could not attend the meeting would be informed) and with a reminder for the next meeting
  • the list of participants with the names, surnames and roles of the participants in the sub-commission

What I think is important is to decide what tools will be used, for what purpose, and how beforehand; it is especially important not to change along the way, or being sure that everyone can master the tool.


Card's author : Frédéric Renier, Supagro florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with : Pearltrees allows organizing bookmarks in a tree-like form. It allows sharing favourites from the internet on a website. It allows benefiting from others' searches but also to organise collaborative searches.
Official website : http://www.pearltrees.com
Tool's boxes : Web Watch tools
Introduction :
Requirements : Skills
  • knowing how to browse the net
  • knowing how to install an extension on your browser
  • flash reader on your computer
Some practical uses :
  • Sharing bookmarks
  • Collaborative searches
  • Social bookmarking
  • Organising bookmarks
Using the tools :
Advantages :
  • original presentation
  • linked to Twitter and Facebook
  • Widgets generation
Drawbacks :
  • data cannot be imported or exported
  • No RSS feed
Licence : Proprietary software, Freemium
Using : Easy
Setting up : No setting up


Card's author : Outils-Réseaux et SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with : Prezi is an online presentation software. Its peculiarity, compared with classical presentation software such as Impress or Powerpoint, is that the presentation is not linear. The whole of the presentation is on only one space, you reach information by zooming in or zooming out.
Official website : http://www.prezi.com
Tool's boxes : Animation
Introduction : Example : a lesson about cooperation by Jean-Michel Cornu

Requirements :
  • Creating a Prezi account
  • Being connected to the internet
  • Having a Flashreader software on the computer (for Prezi editing)
Some practical uses :
  • Project presentation, face-to-face or remote
  • Creation of a course notebook or of an online educational software
  • Remote part-creation of a presentation
Using the tools :
Advantages :
  • More dynamic presentations !
  • Well-adapted to a presentation in a logic of attention (I adapt the presentation to the audience's attention). This notion is the opposite of the logic of intention : I bring my audience from A to B
  • Allows to organize yourself in a mindmap way or in a linear way.
  • Downloadable presentation, which means an internet free presentation
  • The downloaded presentation is self run-time, no presentation software is needed on the computer.
  • Access to presentation is possible from any internet connected computer
  • Enables synchronous and asynchronous co-edition
Drawbacks :
  • In its free version, creation can only be done online
  • Beware of motion sickness by abuse of rotating effects
  • English interface
  • In the free version (except for Education) all presentations can be seen online, there is no private space
Licence : Proprietary software, Freemium
Using : Easy
Setting up : No setting up

Project accelerators

Card's author : Laurent Tézenas - Montpellier SupAgro
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : To ensure this activity works, it is important to take the method onboard and follow the rules.
There must be three roles:
  • a presenter: the person presenting the situation or problem
  • a facilitator - the guardian of the method: who briefly introduces the methodology, gives a reminder of the rules, and ensures everything runs smoothly.
  • a secretary: the person taking notes (this is shared on Etherpad)

Phase 0: preparation (5 min.)
At the start of the meeting, the group must choose:
  • a person to introduce the situation-problem: they are advised to prepare the question right from the start based on their reflection on what they see as a difficulty in their professional practice.
  • a facilitator (guardian of the exercise)
  • a person to take notes (or a role shared on a pad)

Phase 1 : introducing the problem or the situation (5 min)
The person who has accepted to talk about their problem presents the situation as clearly as possible and explains the background. Then he or she explains how they define the problem. The other members of the team listen.

Phase 2: Clarifying the problem (5 min)
Group members ask any questions they may have to properly understand the situation; during this phase they must stick to questions relating to factual information (to better understand the context, for example). The person who explained the situation then makes the clarifying remarks.

Phase 3: contract - reformulation of the question (1 min)
The person who explained the situation clearly states what he or she expects from the other group members. (I would like the group to help me to....)

Phase 4: reactions, comments, suggestions (20- 30 min)
It is especially the other members of the group who intervene: they give their impressions, reactions, perceptions after assessing and interpreting the situation. They work especially to come up with a different way of looking at the situation, fitting a new framework around it. They can give practical suggestions or give advice.
The person who introduced the situation listens and refrains from intervening. This person is interested in noting down what they thought was important to retain.

Phase 5: Synthesis and action plan (5-10 min)
The person who explained his/her situation takes a few minutes to complete a small action plan with the remarks made by the group members (a personal summary of what he/she retained). During this time, the other participants take notes on the ideas and remarks that may be useful to them in their projects (crosscutting ideas, etc.)
After this time to take notes, the person who explained their situation presents their action plan, indicating how he or she will follow it up. Other members do not discuss the choices of the person or his/her action plan; they simply witness the path this person has decided to take; they can express their support and encouragement. “Crosscutting” ideas noted by other participants are presented after this in a large group.
Phase 6: Evaluation and integrating lessons learnt from the experience (5 -10 min)
To close the meeting correctly, it is convenient to have a recap on what happened. The person who asked for help can explain his or her experience; the group can evaluate how he or she proceeded and, if required, can make corrections for the next meeting. The group is advised to leave some minutes so that each group member can take notes on what he/she has retained from the meeting.

Adapted from : PAYETTE, Adrien and CHAMPAGNE, Claude. Le groupe de codéveloppement professionnel. Québec, Canada : Presses de l’université du Québec, 1997. ISBN 2-7605-0981-8.

You may download a simple version, adapted by Laurent Tézenas Download Accelerateur_de_projet.pdf (92.2kB) (in French)


RSS feed and syndication

Card's author : Outils-réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : What do this mysterious symbol and barbarian acronym mean?...

What is an RSS feed ?

Whether we call it "RSS feed" ("Rich Site Summary" or "Really Simple Syndication"), "RSS channel", "RSS thread", "information thread", the principle remains the same: it is a data format to disseminate updates of websites whose contents change very often (information websites, blogs...).
An RSS feed gives a summary of the latest information on a website: generally a title, a very brief description and a link to the original page with the information.
The RSS file is updated constantly: it contains all the latest published information.

What is it used for?

There are two ways in which an RSS feed can be used:
  • for one's own personal information: to subscribe to and check all the latest information of websites from one single place, without having to visit all the sites. Essential for searches and to follow the activity of open cooperative devices and also to ensure an “ex-post” moderation…

  • for a webmaster to syndicate content, which means publishing information coming from other websites automatically on a website. This is essential to grow the networks, and to avoid publishing the same information twice, to make one's site dynamic without becoming exhausted ;-)

RSS feed readers

To subscribe to an RSS feed individually one needs a specific tool called “RSS reader” or “RSS aggregator”

There are two types of these:
  • Workstation tools:
    • Thunderbird:
      • +: very easy to use, a simple interface, multi-platform (Mac, Windows, Linux), this software is more than a simple feed reader
      • -: this software is more than a simple feed reader
    • RSSowl :
      • +: advanced functions, tag browsing, multi-platform (Mac, Windows, Linux)
      • -: not always easy to use, slow (JAVA)
    • Feedreader (Windows), NetNewsWire Lite (Mac), or Liferea (Linux)
      • +: very easy to use, simple interface
      • -: mono-platform (Mac OR Windows OR Linux)
    • Akregator (Linux)
    • Firefox

  • On-line tools:
    • Netvibes
    • iGoogle


Generally speaking "content syndication" refers to the possibility of re-publishing on a website content from a different website, in theory automatically.


Be careful with copyright!

Credits : ejk* on Flick CC-BY-SA
Keywords :

Scoop it

Card's author : Emilie Hullo, Outils Réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with : Scoop it is an on-line platform to centralise search results creating topics (themed pages) on a specific subject, where links can be added to web pages and can be shared. The contents are organized into an attractive press review posted on the Internet. Users can subscribe to the accounts of other users, follow their searches and also "re-scoop" information (as they would re-tweet it on Twitter).
This service offers many functions giving the possibility of changing the order in which "articles" are shown (meaning quoted websites) as well as images, creating an editorial or even leave comments on pages.
Official website : http://www.scoop.it
Tool's boxes : Web Watch tools
Introduction :
Requirements : Internet browsing.
Using the tools :
Going further :
Advantages : Easy and ready to use, Scoop it is both a very good search tool and an efficient service to broaden one's network on specific topics. It focuses a great deal on social networks, and makes it very easy to share contents on Twitter and Facebook. It also offers the possibility for users to suggest contents to other users. Also, there is a function to class items by tags making it easy to find information posted as well as a statistics tool.
Drawbacks :
  • Scoop it lacks a system to categorize its resources and a summary.
  • The free version is limited: users can only create 5 topics with their account and one single topic cannot be fed by several curators. Therefore, this version has not been optimized for collaboration.
Licence : Proprietary software, Freemium
Using : Easy
Setting up : No setting up

Shared and collaborative web watch

Card's author : Hélène Laxenaire - SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :

1. What is web watch ?

It's a monitoring. In military terms , it's a sentry in night duty

1.1 Definitions

"Know, plan and do ", detection of weak signals
The different stages of web watch :
  • Collect information
  • Sort out, process information
  • Spread to a chosen audience
  • Decide according to the collected information
But according to the kind of watch, all stages are not compulsory (the spreading, in the case of an individual web watch for instance ) or formalized (most often the decision making).
There are different kinds of watch which vary according to the topic (legal, informative,...) and the objective (strategic watch where an eye is kept on competitors in order to position one's firm and products, creative watch on designers works in order to detect new trends, ...)
In all cases, watch is an iterative and continuous process
  • iterative : round trips between results and sources (and tools) so as to improve the watch's results with regard to its objectives. This round trip also allows to develop the watch compared with the development of or compared with the evolution peculiar to the topic of the watch (emergence of new themes in the watch's field for instance).
  • continuous : watch is not an inventory of fixtures at a given time or a situation of art but a continuous process following current events or the development of topics.

1.2 An informative … and collaborative web watch

Within the framework of this course,we'll be interested in "informative " web watch.
Examples of watched contents :
  • The theme news
  • Calendar of events, colloquium
  • Similar group initiatives but in another environment (that brings in some fresh air)
  • Research news
  • Watch on new publications (bibliography)
  • Collaborative initiatives
  • Regulatory web watch (light)
  • ....
The stages of collaborative web watch are the same as those of individual watch but they are done by all its participants.
Collect information (together)
  • Sort out, process information (together)
  • Spread to a chosen audience (to the group and beyond)
  • Decide according to the collected information (rarely formalized for informative watch).
These tasks are done by all the people and are not distributed).
The most important point is the spreading : we agree on the content, on the selection of criteria of what is going to be brought to the collaborative watch, with all the participants. It may be the watch which interests the group and/or the watch aiming a specific audience.
It's the difference between the shared watch and the collaborative watch :
  • shared watch : I do my watch according to my own criteria and I share it,
  • collaborative watch : the group agrees on the topic of the watch and only feeds the collaborative watch about this topic.

2. What does web watch change ?

Watch is the processing of flow

2.1 Before the Internet

Flows: radio, television, newspapers
Stages of watch :
  • Collect : Subscription to newspaper and newsletter
  • Sort out, process : press review, documentary file
  • Spread : press review, provision of files
  • Decide : summaries, reports

2.2 Now

New flows of information which add in to old ones :
  • RSS feeds
  • Social networks
  • Newsletters, mailing lists
  • Emails
  • Alarm system (on line services which alarm via an email or a RSS feeds when a new article comes out on chosen key-words)
  • Website watch (enables to follow news from sites without feeds).
And often one finds himself alone : no selection, no publishing

3. Set up a web watch

3.1 Define field and themes

3.2 Find sources

Finding the right sources is attempting the impossible in front of the profusion of information available on the Internet !
Canvassing is done through browsers, social bookmarking tools (Diigo, Pearltrees,...), newspapers, recommendations from colleagues, etc... But there is afterwards a constant revaluation of sources (addition, deletion) according to the watch's results : constant toing and froing.
In the model proposed by Jean-Michel Cornu : abundance/rarity/opportunity/constraint, web watch is located on the abundance's side, the abundance of information on the Internet.

Modèle rareté abondance

(Crédit : Marc Lanssens - SupAgro Florac - CC By-Sa )
The winning strategy is therefore the opportunity strategy and not the planning strategy : I can't know in advance what information I will find, because the watch is exactly the supervision of news and weak signals. One must "try " sources and according to results modify them.
The struggling is to know where to start, where to find the right end of the thread. Indeed, as the watch gets structured and becomes more and more relevant, the different sources refer to other relevant sources. It is as if a bonus to the winner was given : the more evolved and structured the watch is, the easier it gets to improve it ! And suggestion algorithms proposed by watch tools (Google reader, Twitter) strengthen this paradox : the more relevant the sources already composing our watch are, the more numerous the sources automatically proposed get. In order to limit this pernicious effect, it is more interesting to start spotting sources used by watch on close topics rather than starting from a search engine. That is all the interest of shared web watch. This sentry has put on-line a RSS feeds aggregator on a theme close to mine, what are the sources he used ? I think relevant the web watch used by this user of Twitter, who is he following ? Who is he followed by ? So, gradually, groping along, one makes his own selection benefitting from the selection work already done by other sentries and adapting it to his own needs.

3.3 Evaluate sources

3.3.1 Problematic of the evaluation The hardware world : a known world where authority prevails
Materiality of the hardware medium (paper, magnetic tape, DVD,...) implies the resource's "rarity " : a billion books can't be published each time ! Information goes through define and limited channels (by materiality and/or regulations : the CSA attributes radio and television frequencies because they are in limited numbers, an efficient broadcasting of a book needs to be done by an editor (who will take a financial risk) who will go through a distributor to carry the books in well defined point of sale. And the work will need a legal deposit to the BNF. In conclusion, the low number of channels added to an information scene which has not changed for 30 years allows to have marks to easily evaluate information : name of the editor, of author, of the radio station, the kind of periodical and even the model of the periodical are often enough.
Evaluation is done from the authority : whether it is the one granted by the author or more often the publisher, the periodical which broadcasts or the radio or television channel to which it belongs Web 2.0 or dilution of authority and classical marks
There is no publishing left for most contents. Hierarchization of information is often left to algorithms : hierarchy of results with search engines, linked videos on Youtube, etc.
More over, the data carrier, out of reality, is not restricted to only one identified source. Information coming automatically from several external sources (RSS feeds, nested pages) may be found on a single web page without it being obvious for the reader.
The data carrier enables collaborative writing, where the author is not know any more (Wikipedia) but also contents which are automatically generated through data bases : for a same research, an Amazon page will be different according to former researches, purchases already done, purchases done by other users, etc.
Opportunities given by the copy-paste function contributes to this dilution of authority. Some texts are made up of a collection (more or less successful) of other texts.
3.3.2 Evaluation criteria of sources on the web 2.0 Evaluation of primary sources
Primary sources : sites which contains articles. They are watched on through the site's feeds, web watch, subscription to newsletter publishing new publications.
Evaluation criteria :
  • Authority : the author, the site editor : I keep an eye on the blog of such author who is specialist in …, I follow the feeds of the Whatnot Institute.
  • External criteria (when neither the author or the editor of the site are known)
    • intrinsic quality of the text
    • consistence with what is already known
    • vocabulary, text construction
    • sources
When evaluating external criteria, we need to be careful to the " credibility look " consisting in giving a website all the appearances of credibility. (see Fogg, B. J. 2002. Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do. 1st ed. Morgan Kaufmann) Evaluation of secondary sources
Secondary sources : spotted and indicated articles through Twitter, Facebook, a shared web watch, a watch bulletin...
Evaluation criteria : the confidence given to the person who indicated the link.
(Little historical and informative digression:
we have been used to trusting information officer for the choice of selected and available documents : we rarely check the liability or the serious of a work from an information center, assuming that the document has been selected. When the Internet became mass appeal in the mid 90's, the pattern was applied to the web under the form of a directory listing and classifying web sites which were selected by humans (and nevertheless information officers). In front of the scale of the task and the improvement of selections done by search engine, non-specialized directories disappeared for the benefit of search engines. It's the beginning of the Google era when the confidence formerly given to human beings has been transferred to a research algorithm. Then Web 2 with social bookmarking or data curation tools but also web watch through social networks (particularly Twitter) reaffirmed the profit of selection.)
In this environment, shared space and/or collaborative web watch shows all its strength, because selection of information is done within the community of interest and then besides the relevance, it's the level of confidence that is high and which endows all its value to that kind of watch.

3.4 Classify and order one's watch

We are showered with information flows, sources are multiplying thanks to web 2, there is an overflowing, a flood, so to avoid drowning, we need to do a little plumbing...
Spotting relevant sources thanks to tools, filtering, gathering and bringing them to us.
3.4.1 In practice : aggregate sources in the same spot : Padawan learner
Tools to aggregate feeds and/or flows from social networks :
  • all the flows : iGoogle, Google reader
  • automatic publishing : Paper.li, Feedly
This allows to optimize the time dedicated to the watch and to extract it from email reading, because the time spent reading emails is not necessarily the time dedicated to web watch.
3.4.2 In practice : filter, reconstitute sources : Jedi apprentice
  • Gather in one several flows
  • Filterone or several flows to reconstitute another one (Yahoo Pipes)
  • Create an new flow from a shared web watch (Delicious, Diigo)
  • Connect several web 2 services (Itttf)
3.4.3 Recreate a human scale informative space in the web ocean
The risk of this sorting is to reach only what is know, comfortable without facing other opinions or visions. But here again, collaborative web watch helps us to avoid this pitfall :
  • sources are many (all the sources from all participants)
  • But information is selected
  • It's the opportunity with sources multiplicity (outer intelligence, aeration) without the weight of infobesity!
  • Same thing with social networks but with less relevance (and therefore more noise)
  • A serendipity that increases more on the internet than in the real world. And we must accept it !

3.5 Select to avoid drowning !

To avoid drowning and still find your way around, one must learn to evaluate information coming from secondary data : You must not read everything !
3.5.1 Selection criteria
  • Secondary data : title, comments, etc.
Hence the necessity to make them as clear as possible
  • Redundancy
It's no longer an enemy(noise) but an alert on the importance of the information
  • I read or not / I keep or not / I transfer or not

3.6 Spread without drowning others !

Beware of the "God will recognise his own people" syndrome. Don't send everything to everybody thinking : "they will select" or "there will surely be someone interested". The content and the audience of what is spread must be selected. The opposite is counterproductive. That is the great advantage of collaborative web watch, the audience is well known and identified. Only what is of interest for the group must be spread.
What is of interest for us should be spread on social networks and not what could potentially interest those who follow us because choice is subjective, this publishing is the capital gain of our web watch. Social networks are the place for an assumed subjectivity, its actual strength.
How to spread your web watch ?
  • Social Networks : retweet, sharing
  • Creation of RSS feeds (Diigo, Delicious)
  • PDF bulletin automatically generated from a flow : Zinepal
  • Avoid newsletter-shaped email
  • Collaborative web watch : use of a key-word specific to the group to redistribute the information which is especially dedicated to the group : Diigo, Scoop.it

4. Capitalize

4.1 Everything must not to be kept ! Change in position

Two logics :
  • Logic of collection : in a world of rarity, we try to gather everything in the same place (library). It's the world of paper backup.
  • Logic of flow : in a world of abundance, tools and methods are implemented to spot interesting information. It's the world of online backup.
Furthermore, the value of writings has changed. In the real world, we speak more than we write. Most of the time the written work is a trace, a protection. On the web, we write more than we speak but it is a written work which is equivalent to the words we used to say, it's particularly the case with emails, far less formal and far more fleeting than a written mail. You don't keep an email saying "Are you coming Saturday? Neither do you record the voice of the person who is asking directly. The value of writings on Twitter is more like the value of information on the radio : you don't record the news from France Inter because you did not ear it. If I don't go on Twitter for a week, I am not going to read all the tweets of the week, nor feel guilty because I missed them. And conversely, the value of audio information changes too. With podcast, I can listen to a radio programme months after.

4.2 How ?

We know perfectly how to manage information coming from "former " channels : written mails, telephone, etc. We don't know yet how to manage the disproportionate e-arrival of information. A knowledge managing method has then to be implemented. They are many of them, the GTD method for instance can help. Must choose one method, whichever one. Once chosen, tools enable to implement it.

5. But I don't have time !

  • Automate all that can be.
Machines are there to relieve humans from repetitive tasks and enable them to benefit from more time for really intelligent. For example, take time to settle filters on your electronic mail to get rid of spams or to tidy up in files emails from newsletters which you will read later. Chain your web 2 apps to post your web watch in only one spot so that it can be sent automatically to other media. Most services offer it but you can do it more widely with services like IFTTT. Example: I had a piece of news to my shared watch on Diigo, it is automatically published on Facebook, Twitter and on my watch's feeds.
  • Define a time in your schedule for watch and respect it ! (i.e turn down if possible any meetings during this slot: "no, I am not available") If you decide to do your watch just when you don't have anything left to do, you'll never do it.
  • Take advantage of others watch thanks to shared web watch !!

Focus on collaborative web watch

Gathering : indicate

  • While doing your watch, spot what could be of interest for the community
    • Key-words: Delicious, Diigo
    • Hashtag : Twitter
    • Sharing with a group : Facebook
  • Use redundancy : Yahoo Pipes


  • RSS Feeds : aggregator, web site
  • Scoop.it, Paper.li
  • Facebook page
  • Email (can be automatically generated by the feed)
  • PDF (can be automatically generated by the feed)


  • Scoop.it : key-word
  • Delicious : stack
  • Pearltrees
  • Zotero


Card's author : SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with : Skype is a free internet telephony service which enables to have a discussion between two or more persons (with a Skype account). The service proposes also a service of videoconferencing, a chat, screen and file sharing.
Official website : http://www.skype.com/
Tool's boxes : Synchronous Communication
Introduction :
Requirements :
  • Creating a Skype account
  • Setting up the program
  • Having a computer and, optionally a webcam
Some practical uses :
  • Telephone meeting - two persons or more - (which can be coupled together with an Etherpad for a shared note-taking)
  • Remote presentation and comment of a slideshow
Using the tools :
Going further :
Advantages :
  • Good audio and video quality
  • Complete tool : audio, video, chat, transfer of files
  • Free communications between Skype users whatever the distance
  • Up to 25 persons in the same phone meeting (!)
Drawbacks :
  • Proprietary software software (Skype's data processing is rather opaque)
  • The use of Skype is forbidden in a number of firms and administrations
  • The computer and webcam configuration is sometimes tricky : check it before starting a Skype meeting
  • Different interface according to platforms : Windows, Linux, Mac, which makes remote repairs difficult
  • Needs some setting up and a little appropriation of the tool that is not needed with a phone!
Licence : Proprietary software, Freemium
Using : Easy
Setting up : Easy


Card's author : Mathilde Guiné, Outils Réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with : "SPIP is part of the CMS sites. It is nothing less than one of the greatest software successes in the free francophone sphere (for example, with the distribution of Linux Mandriva; except that the latter belongs to the world of enterprise rather than collaborative organizations). It is also a cooperative success since the project is supported by a broad and active community that ensures reactivity, quality and durability" (taken from the Framasoft factsheet).
Official website : http://www.spip.net/
Tool's boxes : Content Management System (CMS)
Introduction :
Requirements : Having network access, a web server software and a database system (i.e. MySQL).
Some practical uses :
Using the tools :
Going further :
Advantages :
  • It offers many customization options, many functions, a large community of developers and is multi-lingual.
  • It uses a specific language (and in French) to modify the code, which is much simpler than usual programming languages. To summarise, it is possible to play around with the pages and architecture without knowing anything at all about PHP.
Drawbacks :
  • This community is smaller by far than other CMS meaning it has fewer available templates and plugins to customize Spip than other CMS.
Licence : Open sources, Free
Using : It could be easier but also more complicated
Setting up : Reserved for IT Jedis



Card's author : Heather Marsh, collaborative translation by members of the group AnimFr
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :

Stigmergy: a new model of collaborative governance

If the competitive model creates redundancies and spoils ressources on the protection of ideas, advertising and so, the cooperative model wastes loads of time and ressources in talks and talks on talks. Between these two models, stigmergy, a new method of governance Entre ces deux modèles, la stigmergie, une nouvelle méthode de governance inspired by the organization of eusocial insects, could offer an alternative model fitting better cooperation in large groups.

What is stigmergy ?

Definition of stigmergy by Wikipedia:
Stigmergy is a method of indirect communication in a self-organized and emerging environment where individuals communicate by changing their environment.
Stigmergy was first studied in nature: ants communicate by leaving pheromones behind them, so that other ants may follow their track up to the food or the colony according to needs, which constitutes a stigmergic system.
Similar phenomena can be seen with other species of eusocial insects such as termites which use pheromones to build complex and high earth structure with a simple decentralized rule.
Each termites picks up a little mud around him, incorporating pheromones in it, and lays it down on the ground. As termites are attracted by smell, they lay down their package where others have already done so, and it ends up by building pilars, arches, tunnels and rooms.
Termitière, un exemple de travail hautement organisé par un processus stigmergique. Photo par Carl D. Walsh/Aurora/ via Howstuffworks.com

Application to organizations of the stigmergic model
The theorist Heather Marsh has written a remarkable article on the application of principles stemming of stigmergy on collaboration in large groups and as a method of alternative governance halfway between organizations running under the competiton model and those running under a cooperation model.
I took part lately in a collaborative text translation with several other members of the AnimFR group.
Here is a copy of the translated article. To improve its legibility, I added some titles which were absent of the original text.


(Article formerly published by Heather Marsh)
Stigmergy is a mechanism of indirect coordination between agents or actions. The principle is that the trace left in the environment by an action stimulates the performance of a next action, by the same or a different agent. In that way, subsequent actions tend to reinforce and build on each other, leading to the spontaneous emergence of coherent, apparently systematic activity. Stigmergy is a form of self-organization. It produces complex, seemingly intelligent structures, without need for any planning, control, or even direct communication between the agents. – Wikipedia . - Wikipédia.

The problem with current organizations

A personality based system can never allow for mass collaboration on a global scale without representation such as that seen in organizations like the United Nations. If the world is to move away from representation and allow all voices to be heard, we need to find methods of collaboration which work with idea and action based systems. Concentric user groups with epistemic communities and knowledge bridges may work for idea based systems; for action, stigmergy may be the best option.
Currently, the typical response to a situation which requires an action is to create a noun, in the form of a committee, commission, organization, corporation, ngo, government body, etc. Far too often, the action never appears at all as the focus is always on the organization and the personalities involved instead.

The competitive model

Most systems are now run by competitive organizations. Competition creates redundancy, is slow and wastes resources on idea protection, advertisement, and more. Competition also requires secrecy which blocks progress and auditing and causes lost opportunities and ideas. Patents and copyrights further limit speed and the potential for mass input of ideas. Collaboration between the people with the greatest expertise does not happen unless they are hired by the same project.

The cooperative model

The alternative to competition has traditionally been cooperation. This is most effective only in groups of two to eight people. For groups larger than 25, cooperation is agonizingly slow, an exercise in personality management which quickly degenerates into endless discussion and soothing of ruffled feathers, is extremely vulnerable to agent provocateurs, and in large scale groups very seldom accomplishes anything of value. Cooperation traditionally operates on the democratic principle that all voices are equal, so it does not allow for leaders, or users with greater expertise, energy or understanding to have greater influence than those on the periphery. Cooperation wastes a great deal of time and resources in both discussing and discussing the discussions. In an action based system, this discussion is rarely required as the opinion of those not doing the work is probably of little value unless it is solicited advice from a trusted knowledgeable party.
Cooperation and consensus based systems are usually dominated by extroverted personalities who make decisions to control the work of others and are justly resented by those doing the actual work. Most workers do not enjoy a hierarchical system as shown in the chart below, as they lose autonomy, mastery and creative control over their own work; the feeling at the bottom is no different whether there is a horizontal or a hierarchical structure making the decisions. Cooperative systems frequently use consensus or votes to make decisions for the entire group; these methods may not produce the best results as many people may not understand the work if they are not actually doing it, and they may demand things they would never be willing to do themselves. Consensus based systems are also prone to the ‘hive mind' appropriation of credit for individual ideas and labour which causes further resentment.

Hierarchical System

(group controlled by one individual)
systeme hierarchique
système hiérarchique

Consensus hierarchy

(individuals controlled by the group)
hierarchie du consensus
hiérarchie du consensus


In the Stigmergy chart below, all workers have full autonomy to create as they wish; the power of the user group is in the ability to accept or reject the work. Since there is no officially designated person to perform a task the users are free to create alternatives if they do not like what they are offered. Workers are free to create regardless of acceptance or rejection; in the chart below some work may be accepted by the largest group, some alternatives for a different user group, some only by a small group, and sometimes the worker will be alone with their vision. In all cases the worker is still free to create as they wish. History has shown no drastically innovative ideas that received instant mainstream acceptance and history also shows that radically new ideas are most often the result of solitary vision; to leave control of work to group consensus only is to cripple innovation.
modele de gouvernance stigmergie

Competition et cooperation: 2 models of "a priori control"

In a competitive environment, a new idea is jealously guarded, legally protected and shrouded in secrecy. Great effort is expended in finding supporters for the idea while also ensuring that the idea remains covered by legal protections such as non-disclosure agreements. The idea remains inextricably bound to the creator until it is legally transferred to another owner and all contributors work for the owner, not the idea. Contributors must then be rewarded by the owner which further limits the potential for development and wastes more resources in legal agreements, lawsuits, etc. Contributors have no interest in whether the project succeeds or fails and no motivation to contribute more than they are rewarded for.
If the idea is instead developed cooperatively, it must first be pitched by the originator, who will attempt to persuade a group to adopt the idea. The group must be in agreement with the idea itself and with every stage of its development. The majority of energy and resources are spent on communication, persuasion, and personality management, and the working environment is fraught with arguments and power struggles. Because the project is driven by a group, albeit a cooperative one, the group is still competitive with other similar outside projects, and still wastes resources and energy on secrecy, competitive evangelizing, etc. Both competitive and cooperative projects will die if the group that runs the project leaves and both will attract or repel contributors based on the personalities of the existing group. Both are hierarchical systems where individuals need to seek permission to contribute. Both focus on the authority of personalities to approve a decision instead of focusing on the idea or action itself.

Stigmergy, a model of « a priori authorization »

Stigmergy is neither competitive nor traditionally collaborative.
With stigmergy, an initial idea is freely given, and the project is driven by the idea, not by a personality or group of personalities. No individual needs permission (competitive) or consensus (cooperative) to propose an idea or initiate a project. There is no need to discuss or vote on the idea, if an idea is exciting or necessary it will attract interest. The interest attracted will be from people actively involved in the system and willing to put effort into carrying the project further, not empty votes from people with little interest or involvement. Since the project is supported or rejected based on contributed effort, not empty votes, input from people with more commitment to the idea will have greater weight. Stigmergy also puts individuals in control over their own work, they do not need group permission to tell them what system to work on or what part to contribute.
The person with the initial idea may or may not carry the task further. Evangelizing the idea is voluntary, by a group that is excited by the idea; they may or may not be the ones to carry it out. It is unnecessary to seek start up funding and supporters; if an idea is good it will receive the support required. (In practice, that is not true yet, as few people have the free time to put into volunteer projects because most are tied to compulsory work under the existing financial system. Additionally, we still live in a personality driven system where only powerful personalities are heard.) Secrecy and competition is unnecessary because once an idea is given, it and all new development belongs to anyone who chooses to work on it. Anyone can submit work for approval, the idea cannot die or be put on hold by personalities; acceptance or rejection is for the work contributed, not the person contributing it. All ideas are accepted or rejected based on the needs of the system.
Responsibility and rights for the system rest with the entire user group, not just the creators. There is no need for people to leave the system based on personality conflicts as there is no need for communication outside of task completion and there are usually plenty of jobs with complete autonomy. As no one owns the system, there is no need for a competing group to be started to change ownership to a different group.
Stigmergy provides little scope for agent provocateurs as only the needs of the system are considered. Anyone working against the system's functionality is much easier to see and prevent than someone blocking progress with endless discussion and creation of personality conflicts. Because the system is owned by all, there is also no one leader to target.


As work progresses and core team and members grow, more interested and dedicated personalities emerge which begin to steer direction. Specialties are formed around the core team's interests as the core team produces the most work and the work most valued by the rest of the user group. Systems beyond a certain level of complexity begin to lack coherence as the group's energy and focus moves from broad to narrow, following the interests of the core team and the availability of resources; parts of the original system may be left undone.
As more members are added, more will experience frustration at limited usefulness or autonomy. Some of these members will have an interest in the work left undone and they will create a new node of like minded members and new people to take care of the undone work. Alternatively, casual users and observers of the system, who lack the desire or expertise to be a more active part of the original system, will see a different need created and start a new node. Rather than the traditional corporate model of endless acquisition and expansion, stigmergy encourages splintering into different nodes. Because each individual is responsible only for their own work, and no one can direct a group of workers, expansion means more work for the individual, a self limiting prospect. As a system grows, the additional work requires either additional resources or splintering; as communication is easier and there is more autonomy in smaller groups, splintering is the more likely outcome of growth.
Communication between nodes of a system is on an as needed basis. Transparency allows information to travel freely between the various nodes, but a formal relationship or communication method is neither necessary nor desirable. Information sharing is driven by the information, not personal relationships. If data is relevant to several nodes it will be immediately transmitted to all, no formal meetings between official personalities are necessary.
Any node can disappear without affecting the network, and the remaining necessary functionality of that node can be taken up by others. Nodes which find they are performing the same tasks will likely join, or one will be rendered obsolete by lack of use. New nodes are only created to fulfill a new need or provide greater functionality; it is inefficient to have the same task performed twice, and that only occurs if a second group discovers an alternative method that the first group is unwilling to adopt. In that case, the best system will win the most support from the user group, the other will die or remain as a valued alternative. Any user can contribute to the node which best matches their interests and abilities, or contribute to multiple nodes.


A new system of governance or collaboration that does not follow a competitive hierarchical model will need to employ stigmergy in most of its action based systems. It is neither reasonable nor desirable for individual thought and action to be subjugated to group consensus in matters which do not affect the group, and it is frankly impossible to accomplish complex tasks if every decision must be presented for approval; that is the biggest weakness of the hierarchical model. The incredible success of so many internet projects are the result of stigmergy, not cooperation, and it is stigmergy that will help us build quickly, efficiently and produce results far better than any of us can foresee at the outset.

Original article : HEATHER, Marsh. Stigmergy.  GeorgieBC’s Blog [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://georgiebc.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/


The 3 C's tragedy

Card's author : Jean-Michel Cornu
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : A complete and coherent regulation in a complex world ?

Our world is complex. That does not mean it is complicated but rather that it is made of interacting elements. Wether the latter are citizens, consumers, corporations, governments or any other organism, the whole constituting a complex network of people and groups which are exchanging.
Laws of complexity are peculiar because they can be applied to all domains. Wether the system is made of people, of machines or of molecules, some rules apply similarly. Sciences of complexity are young, but they can grow richer with works in other scientific fields: economics, sociology, biology or physics for example. One of the rules was discovered in 1931 by the mathematician and logician Kurt Gödel. He wanted to know if mathematics (a complex system where basic premises interact) were complete and coherent, apparently the best thing. Yet he came to the exact opposite !

We could vulgarize the two theorems of limited incompleteness and coherence by Gödel as follow: when a system exceeds a certain threshold of complexity, it can't be both complete and coherent. This result caused a schock wave. But to take its measure, we must admit that it applies to any kind of complex system, including human networks used in economics, sociology, politics...

It is not possible to have simultaneously complexity, coherence and completeness. The systems that we implement will lack of at least one of these three aims. If we are not aware, we will not be able to choose the system we are ready to give up. We will even be able to fail on two or all of them.

  • And we risk to turn a complex sytem into a « simplistic » one. A regulation would only need to link the central power to each concerned person without taking into account the links BETWEEN the persons. But in the meantime we loose one of the most important characterisitcs of complex systems: its ability for self-adaptation. The adaptation, and therefore survival of the system, only depend on the person or the organism placed in the center of this star shaped system. Such a system is no longer complex because all exchanges only occur between the central point and one of the participant. Such an organization can only operate correctly if all possibilities of exchange between members are eliminated. Suppressing complexity in our network society is however less easy than in any other former period.
  • We also risk to implement an incomplete regulation. How are applied rules decided by a decision-making committee to its own members ? Can representatives represent themselves ? Nevertheless they belong to « people » they represent. To be complete, if we wish that the proposed regulation applies to the one who implements it, we come to an incoherence: his individual interest can be in conflict with the general interest even though we delegated him the capacity to protect this general interest. To solve this difficulty, we presuppose that the decision-maker will choose the general interest. To be safer, we will implement a kind of supervision on the system's operation that we hope will be... complete.

Shutting eyes on the incoherence of interests, on the incompleteness of our supervision of the system or on the trend to eliminate exchanges between members to reduce complexity does not solve our problem. We must accept that the laws of complexity forbids the system that we implement to be simultaneously complex, complete and coherent.

In all our reflections on governance and on different modes of regulation, we must take into account that the world in which we are living is intrinsically complex. We can attempt to simplify it in order to make it understandable by a few number of its members. We can also choose to take advantage of this complexity and this ability of self-adaptation. In this case, it belongs to us to opt in good conscience for what notions, coherence or completeness, we are ready to make concessions.

Initial text : CORNU, Jean-Michel. Annexe 5 du rapport Vox Internet 2005 : Une régulation complète et cohérente : la théorie des 3 C. Vox Internet [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://www.csi.ensmp.fr/voxinternet/www.voxinternet.org/article72ac.html?id_article=11&lang=fr

Photo credits: jean-louis Zimmermann on Flickr - CC-BY


The choice after the event (post factum)

Card's author : Jean-Michel Cornu
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : The strategies we use depend on how we feel problems and possible approaches to solve them 1. The adoption of a strategy has an impact on the moment when we are going to make choices.

First strategy: planning

One of the most frequent problem is rarity. Many things are rare: money, raw materials, workforce, etc. One of the possible approach tries to optimize our actions so we don't spoil the rare ressources and we become more efficient by making choices before the event "before the event". We talk here of planning. But to implement this strategy we need to be able to foresee the result of our choices. Huge progress have been achieved since the last three centuries in the field of forecasting and how to achieve it. First in the physical sciences with Newton, then in the humanities with e.g. Taylor's work on planning the work. This first strategy, still widely used today, is well suited to a constrained but predictable environment

Second strategy: negotiation

But in some cases, it is not always possible to predict and trying to plan can lead to an inefficient strategy. Henry Ford used to say: "People can choose any color for the Ford T, as long as it's black". But nowadays people choose in more diverse ways and it becomes difficult to make choices after the event.A second strategy was developed to treat poorly predictable situations where resources are scarce. It's negotiation. The choice is then made in the present. It is the case for example of market economy which understanding was widely developed 150 years ago. The biding of a price occurs during the negotiation between supply and demand.

There is great debate as to whether it is better to choose the planning or the market economy, not only within states but also in the functioning of communities or businesses. Is it better to predict or choose every moment according to a negotiation? The best strategy depends on the conditions in a given situation and it may be interesting to have a thorough knowledge of the different possible strategies to choose the most efficient for a given situation.

Third strategy: the choice after the event or post factum choice

So there is a conflict between strategies based or not on forecast. We can assume that there is one too between scarcity and abundance. In fact, there is a third strategy aiming to deal more specifically with the unpredictability encountered when working with individuals or in the field of innovation. This time the solution lies in abundance, or more precisely by developing an abundance of opportunities to enable to make the best possible choice after the event.

This approach is not so easy for us since we have long been used to treat rarity rather than abundance. While all of these strategies are used since the dawn of time, we only have 300 years of experience in the development of a science of forecasting founding planning and 150 years in our understanding of the market economy which has developed a society of permanent trading.
Regarding the approaches based on the abundance and unpredictability, our finer understanding is only a few decades old 2. This strategy requires abundance for choice. We believe instead that everything is rare. This is not always true. Sometimes we are "forced" to burn overproduction of tomatoes not to jeopardize our market strategy based on rarity and unpredictability... But in the context of information, abundance is more natural, because of a quality that economists call "non-rivalrous" : information given to someone is always available for those who provided it. Actually, the information "does not give itself"' but rather duplicates, leading to a multiplication and in certain case in an abundance of it. Abundance is not just a strategy to manage a situation where the best solution is not easily predictable, it has its own difficulties as scarcity, we must learn to manage the abundance even overabundance.

This particular strategy has been described in the late 1990s by Eric Raymond 3, by applying it specifically to free software, under the name of "law of Linus" 4: "Considering the numerous observers, all the bugs are obvious ''. In a more general framework, we can define the law as "Considering the numerous observers, all tracks applicable to a given problem are obvious ". It is particularly true if, instead of asking the question individually to a large number of people, we show to each all the tracks mentioned above. This allows to focus on those that have not yet been mentioned and therefore find ways that were never quoted at first.

The three strategies

Schéma sur la rareté et l'abondance

So we have three possibilities (if we omit the case of a situation that is both abundant and predictable which appears to be less of a problem or which otherwise can be approached by all strategies: planning, negotiation, choice after the event). Each corresponds to a particular context. Then planning scientific research, unpredictable by definition, is problematic. Similarly, using an after the event strategy to send a man on the Moon would mean sending as many manned rockets as possible hoping one would land safely ! Human life is rare and precious. A solution seizing abundance is surely not recommanded in this case...
The problem is that we often master a strategy or two at most. Thus, rather than choosing the best, we apply the one what we know. Even if we master the various strategies, it is not always easy to choose one. Many situations are partly predictable and unpredictable. They include some rare and some more abundant aspects.

For more information: The case of groups between 100 and 1000

Handling questions with a large group can be approached with a strategy of abundance. When the group consists of a number of members between a hundred and one or two thousand, we must use methods that take into account people who have a reactive attitude, not just those who are proactive. In this case, it is possible to apply the "law of Linus" and enjoy the abundance of views to "open possibilities" and discover a lot of approaches to a particular issue. This is especially true in the case of a group and not just a gathering of people who communicate with each other. It then becomes possible through exchanges between members, to find ways which nobody would have thought at first without hearing other members' ideas. If in addition we give the group an overview of the proposals already made, this allows everyone, from his own point of view, to identify new tracks not yet proposed. Step by step, individual contributions are increasingly influenced by those of others, and it often happens that new tracks are found which can not be attributed to only one contributor. This approach is the basis of "collective intelligence".
If a choice has to be made afterwards (and only afterwards) among all the solutions quoted, it can be facilitated because solutions coming afterwards are often more interesting than those found earlier and which are related to persons. Thus, when it is just about choosing among original ideas of members, each member is endeavoured to defend his idea not to lose face and if possible gain the esteem of the group.
But if the most interesting tracks can not be attributed exclusively to one of the contributors, then the question of choice really focuses on the identification of the solution (or better of the solutions). It does not prevent divergent advices but it simply avoids to focus the debate on the defense of "one's own" idea. Moreover, in many cases, it is not necessary to choose among all the tracks mentioned, but simply to maintain to present the diversity of possible approaches. This is the case for example with the collective construction of a guide showing how to set up a project. It is then not necessary to select a single solution. Instead, it is often more interesting to present several approaches from which the reader can choose according to his particular context.

Moreover, still in the case of groups between one hundred and one or two thousand members, the number of people taking a proactive role, let alone those involved in the coordination of the group is reduced: usually one or a few people. We are no longer in this case in the context of abundance and strategy "a posteriori" is not adapted to the coordination groups as it is for the work done by the group. Coordinating a large group between 100 and 1000 (unlike very large groups where the number of proactive persons itself is abundant) is forced and managers have less room for error. They must address planning or adaptation strategies at every moment to take into account the rarity of available coordination resources.

In brief

There are several strategies depending on the environment:
Planning: In a predictable situation where resources are rare, it is necessary to plan to optimize and not waste them;
Negotiation: when the resources are rare but when the situation is not predictable, the negotiation allows to make a choice in the present for lack of being able to make it in advance;
The choice after the event: when you can have an abundance of resources (large group, abundant information) but the situation is not predictable, then you'd better create an abundance of choices and choose after the event among all the possibilities;
Often we do not choose our strategy but use the one that we master, whatever the context. It is important to adapt to our environment to choose the best strategy.

Sometimes the situation can be predictable for some things and unpredictable for others, some resources may be abundant and other rare. In this case, we need to adapt and even juggle strategies.
For example, in a large group beyond a hundred people, it is possible, thanks to the sufficient number of members adopting a reactive role to bring out the maximum number of points of view and to choose after the event those that you want to keep: "given the high number of observers, all tracks applicable to a given problem are obvious". But if the group is smaller than one or two thousand people, the number of members who are proactive and a fortiori the number of people involved in the coordination group is low. Coordination of groups less than a few thousand must therefore use planning strategies and / or negotiation.

  • 1 These ideas were presented originally in CORNU, Jean-Michel and FONDATION INTERNET NOUVELLE GÉNÉRATION (eds.). L’abondance comme moyen d’information. In : CORNU, Jean-Michel and FONDATION INTERNET NOUVELLE GÉNÉRATION (eds.), Internet. Tome 2, services et usages de demain [online]. Paris, France : FING, Fondation internet nouvelle génération, 2003. Les Cahiers de l’Internet (Imprimé), ISSN 1635-849X, 3. Available from: http://fing.org/IMG/pdf/internet2.pdf
  • 2 Forecasting has become a science since Newtonian mechanics and negotiation since the development of economics with Adam Smith. Issues related to abundance and unpredictability have mainly been developed when all the components of the theory of complex systems started to be gathered in a coherent whole with the Palo Alto approaches or else with Edgar Morin.
  • 3 RAYMOND, Eric S. and YOUNG, Robert Maxwell. The cathedral and the bazaar: musings on linux and open source by an accidental revolutionary [online]. Sebastopol, Calif., Etats-Unis : O’Reilly, 2001. ISBN 0-596-00131-2. Available from: http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/cathedral-bazaar/
  • 4 Loi de Linus. Wikipédia [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loi_de_Linus

Mot clé: #choix28


The Flow: when cooperation makes you happy

Card's author : Jean-Michel Cornu
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :

Developping intrinsic motivations

A way of encouraging gift is to develop motivation. Not the intrinsic motivation as seen before (reciprocal gift-giving practices, social recognition), but rather an intrinsic motivation that expects nothing from the outside (self-esteem, self-realization). It is therefore not a free gift but rather a sincere gift, in the sense that there is no profit-sharing ( a "profit in ...") but rather a profit for "1. However, in the theory of self-determination, this distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic is rather seen as a continuum 2.

Intrinsic motivations determined by pleasure and a feeling of autonomy 3" highly interest modern economy. Among them, self-esteem is a driving force for charity (with social recognition which is an extrinsic motivation). Many anonymous donors consider that they are lucky enough to have what they have and that sharing with less lucky people is a good thing, agreeing then with their own values.These later can be personal or cultural. It is then possible to influence on the group's values when you want to implement a system of gift. Building a system of values occurs step by step and may punctually come up to a divergence between teh values of the individual the group's. On the contrary, the system of value is also constituent of the group4, inciting those who recognize themselves there to join the group and rejecting sometimes those who have different values. Another kind of intrinsic motivation is "self-fulfilling. Surveys in psychology have shown that we reach a state of happiness, named "state of flow", when we are completely absorbed in what we are doing. Could we drown into donation to others and find a big happiness in it?

To know more: state of flow5

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, one of the figureheads of positive psychology6, got interested in the 70s in people who dedicated much time and energy to various activities just for the pleasure of it, with no expectations in term of bonuses such as money or social recognition (chess players, climbers, dansers for example). His observations led him to the conclusion that happiness occured when " we gave the best of ourselves". He depicted a principle of optimum experience, a state of flow where we were completely involved in what we were doing. This could be a valuing activity like writing a book, climbing a mountain or a simple everyday's life activity in which we had found an interest to get fully involved in. This could even concern activities considered as chores (washing up, ironing, ect.). Thanks to testimonies and experiences, Csikszentmihalyi has identified several peculiarities describing the state of flow7.
1 – High grade of concentration over a limited field of consciousness (hyperfocus), absence of diversion ;
2 – Loss of the sense of self-consciousness, disappearance of the distance between the subject and the object; ;
3 - Distorsion of the perception of time ;
4 – Direct and immediate feedback. Success and failures along the process are immediatly pointed out and the behavior is adapted according to the situation ;
5 – Feeling of control over oneself and over the environment.

Michael Norton, professor of Harvard Business School shows how happiness can be linked with the act of giving, including money8. He directed a survey on the campus of Vancouver in British Columbia in which he asked students how much they were happy and by giving them an envelope. There was money in it, 5$ or 20$ according to students and also a card indicating for half of the students: "until 5:00 pm today, spend this money on yourself" and for the other half " until 5:00 pm today, spend this money on someone else". At the end of the day, the researchers asked the students what they had spent their money on and how happy they felt now. They noticed that those whom had spent money on others were happier than those whom had spent it on themselves, and this independantly from the amount spent. Michael Norton led a similar study in Ouganda and noticed that the results were the same. To extand the research he ordered a poll to the Gallup Institute asking two questions: "Have you given money to a charity lately ?" and "How happy are you with your life in the whole ?". In a very great majority of countries both answers are positively correlated: giving makes happier.

But there is a difficulty to reach happiness and the state of flow. We tend to favor passive activities (like watching TV...) that gives us a partial but immediate satisfaction, rather than active activities that will make us happy but which need an effort initially. How can we go beyond this "barrier of effort"? The one who enjoys running suffered initially ; the musician had to train sometimes for years before being able to play a whole piece of music, even compose himself ; the simple fact of enjoying some good time with friends requires to go out... At least, it is important to live once the experience before realizing that generates pleasure.

Live a small irreversible experience

To go beyond this "barrier of effort" and find happiness in a state of flow, it can be necessary to live "a small irreversible experience9", the one that will deeply change our point of view by opening perspectives that seemed impossible. Nipun Mehta, founder of ServiceSpace.org, a project incubator at the crossing of volunteering, technology and gift economy, quotes a true story that took place on Xmas day in Mexico. It is a good example of the difference between the idea we have of a situation and the happiness it can provide us 10. "A father and his son are seating by a fir. A slum kid comes along. The father turns to his son and tells him to give him one of his toys. The son is reluctant of course but when he understands that his father is serious, he gets hold on one of his toy, the one he likes less, and gets ready in giving it. But his father says: "Son, give your favorite toy". Albeit initially reluctant, the kid ends up doing what he is told. When he is back, the father thinks he must congratulate his son and acknowledge the sacrifice done by his son. But surprisingly, the kid comes back jumping with joy, looks at his father and says: "Dad, it was incredible ! Can I do it again ?

The acts we do are often done acording to our perception of things, and this perceptio independant from reality depends on environment, on what we hear around us about the topic, etc. Experimental economy is interested in individual and collective behaviors. We have seen an exxample of it with the cumulative prospect theory 11 which shows how much we hate risk. Jacques Lecomte12, professor of psychology of Nanterre's University and of the Institut Catholique de Paris proposes other examples with a particular experience of self-fulfilling prediction, an assertion which modifies behavior only because it is broadcast and so becomes true. In an experience, an experimenter gives the same rules to all participants but tells half the group that they are going to play "the Wall Street game" and to the other half "the game of community". The subjects are twice more numerous to cooperate in the second case ! So, we are predisposed at the same time to cooperation and to competition. But there is a subtlety which Jacques Lecomte enhances: we are predisposed and not predestined for one or for the other. The environment switches us in one mode or the other. The highly developed by men mecanisms of mimicries help to spread self-fulfilling predictions, whether altruistic or selfish...

There are other mecanisms to live first gift experiences. In the example of "Pay-it forward" seen in the previous chapter, the involvment of the beneficiary of a gift to give in his turn to other people "forward" is not a warranty that he will do it. But this promise increases the chance that new gifts will be done. In his presentation to TEDx13, Nipun Mehta presents the "Karma restaurant" in Washington DC. It's a restaurant totally normal where you can eat, but it is kept by volunteers and most of all, at the end of the meal, you get a 0$ bill explaining: "in a spirit of generosity, somebody who came before you donated for this meal. We hope that you will continue the chain by giving too! To pay for a future guest you can leave an anonymous contribution in this enveloppe. Thank you !" Here we are in a Pay-it forward type of action14. Most people accept to give and even if some people are "stowaways ", the fact that giving to others is easier than giving to ourselves has allowed this restaurant to live for over three years. Today, other restaurants of this kind open. The initiative of a former volunteer of the Karma restaurant, Minah Jung has even allowed to evaluate how much we give for others compared to what we are ready to give to ourselves15. She joined professor Leif Nelson of the Haas Business School in Berkeley to make an experimentation in a museum where the entrance fee costs 1$. In a first experience, they left a box were visitors could leave what they wanted. The average amount was of 1,33 $, higher than the usual entrance fee. When they left someone to collect the fees the visitors were ready to pay, the average amount went up to 2$. But most of all, when visitors were told that the entrance was free for them but that they had to pay for the visitor after them, then the average amount of gifts was 3$, three times more than the usual entrance fee ! We are more generous for others than for ourselves...

The oxytocin track to favor our tendency in cooperation ?

Some time ago, an hormone created a great interest in those who wanted to develop cooperation and gift: oxytocin. This little chain of 9 amino acids seems to be adorned with all the vertues16. It interfers in the developing of relationships between mother and child, in faithfulness in couples, and in numerous social behaviors such as confidence, development of empathy, cooperation and altruism. The neuro-economist Paul Zak has even named it the "moral molecule 17". We produce oxytocin when we touch someone (as in handshakes) and even more when we kiss. This hormone, contrary to many others, has no regulating plan and its production can peak highly especially during an orgasm. But this molecule has side effects18. It can cause favoritism to people from you own group against people who don't belong to it19 and can even encourage to desire and be delighted at the misfortune of others20. Is oxytocin the hormone which eases gift or rejection? We will have to go a little further to understand it. In many ways this hormone is different from others. Contrary to others, it has more than two or three effects and takes part in many other situations. It enables the contraction of the cervix during birth, it causes the secretion of milk to allow breastfeeding, it causes erection in men (viagra affects the secretion of oxytocin) and causes a state of pleasure in numerous cases : orgasm but also in a more reduced way when we act in a cooperative way. All these effects may seem heterogeneous even contradictory. To find a coherence in them, it is necessary to notice as the chemist Marcel Hiberrt does21, that contrary to other hormones which enable the individual's survival, oxytocin enables the specie's survival22. It enables reproduction, the care of youngsters and babies, cooperation with members of our league, but also to distinguish those who are inside our group from those who are outside. Then the oxytocin's action depends on environment and one of the tracks to explain its running would be that it focuses our attention on social signals.23. Taking these reservations into account, we could imagine nevertheless the gift of oxytocin as suggested by some. But if a simple handshake helps the production of oxytocin, it's not always easy for contributors to share a long kiss in order to provoke a peak of the hormone ! A nasal spray can be used and studies have shown that it developed confidence 24 But as Marcel Hibert says, how do you spray the bottom of your banker's nose ! Much more important is the fact that if only one of the contributor inhales oxytocin, and not the other, can cause numerous drifts and raises ethical questions. To develop our propensity to give, we had better stick to the natural and reverse production of oxytocin: a simple meeting, a handshake, contact, even danse. It's also the case with "free hugs25" (a movement that has developed worldwide since 2004 where people offer hugs to people in a public place ). The "free hug" generates a peak of oxytocin and makes us happy and furthermore it is symmetric: you can't give a hug without sharing it...

This article is excerpted from the book Benefit from the gift, for yourself, for society, for the economy (Tirer bénéfice du don, pour soi, pour la société, pour l'économie)
The original edition of this book was published in French
Copyright © 2013 FYP Éditions
Original title: Tirer bénéfice du don, pour soi, pour la société, pour l'économie
A work from the collection "Stimulo".
(but this article is licensed under CC-BY-SA)

1 CORNU, Jean-Michel. Tirer bénéfice du don, pour soi, pour la société, pour l’économie [online]. Limoges, France : FYP, 2013. Stimulo, ISSN 2265-7754. ISBN 978-2-916571-87-4. Available from: http://www.cornu.eu.org/news/donner-une-capacite-naturelle-mais-limitee.
2 DECI, Edward L. and RYAN, Richard M. (eds.). Handbook of self-determination research. Rochester, Royaume-Uni : The University of Rochester Press, 2004. ISBN 1-58046-108-5.
3 Motivation. Wikipédia [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motivation
4 See in particular the works of Elinor Omstrom, "Nobel Price of Economy" in 2009 for her works on the governance of commons by communities : EYCHENNE, Fabien. Notions de base - Annexe 7 - E. Ostrom : la gouvernance des biens communs. Réseau social de la Fing [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://www.reseaufing.org/pg/blog/fabien/read/83725/notions-de-base-annexe-7-e-ostrom-la-gouvernance-des-biens-communs
5 CORNU, Jean-Michel. La monnaie, et après ? guides des nouveaux échanges pour le XXIe siècle. Limoges : FYP éd., 2012. ISBN 9782916571775 2916571779.
6 CSÍKSZENTMIHÁLYI, Mihály and SERVAN-SCHREIBER, David. Vivre: la psychologie du bonheur. Paris, France : Pocket, 2005. Pocket. Évolution, ISSN 1639-5727Presses pocket (Paris), ISSN 0244-6405, 12335. ISBN 978-2-266-16913-4.
7 Flow (psychologie). Wikipédia [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychologie)
8 Michael Norton : Comment acheter le bonheur | Video on TED.com. Ted : Ideas worth spreading [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/fr/michael_norton_how_to_buy_happiness.html
9 The word is from Laurent Marseault of Outils Réseaux
10 Pay it forward: Nipun Mehta @ TEDxGoldenGateED. Ted : Ideas worth spreading [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://blog.tedx.com/post/17375163362/pay-it-forward-nipun-mehta-tedxgoldengateed
11 CORNU, Jean-Michel. Le taux de satisfaction des besoins réels identifiés. In : Tirer bénéfice du don, pour soi, pour la société, pour l’économie [online]. Limoges, France : FYP, 2013. Stimulo, ISSN 2265-7754. ISBN 978-2-916571-87-4. Available from: http://www.cornu.eu.org/news/donner-une-capacite-naturelle-mais-limitee
12 LECOMTE, Jacques. La bonté humaine: altruisme, empathie, générosité. Paris, France : O. Jacob, 2012. ISBN 978-2-7381-2710-5.
13 NIPUN, Mehta. TEDxBerkeley - Designing For Generosity.  YouTube [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpyc84kamhw&feature=youtu.be
14 CORNU, Jean-Michel. Le don plus efficace que l’échange ? In : Tirer bénéfice du don, pour soi, pour la société, pour l’économie [online]. Limoges, France : FYP, 2013. Stimulo, ISSN 2265-7754. ISBN 978-2-916571-87-4. Available from: http://www.cornu.eu.org/news/donner-une-capacite-naturelle-mais-limitee
15 NIPUN, Mehta. TEDxBerkeley - Designing For Generosity.  YouTube [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpyc84kamhw&feature=youtu.be
16 DVORSKY, George. 10 Reasons Why Oxytocin Is The Most Amazing Molecule In The World. io9 [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://io9.com/5925206/10-reasons-why-oxytocin-is-the-most-amazing-molecule-in-the-world
17 ZAK, Paul J. The moral molecule: The source of love and prosperity. Random House, 2012.
18 YONG, Ed. Non, l’ocytocine n’est pas la molécule de l’amour et de la morale. GALLAIRE, Fabienne (tran.), slate [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://www.slate.fr/story/59785/ocytocine-hormone-calin
19 DE DREU, Carsten KW, GREER, Lindred L., VAN KLEEF, Gerben A., SHALVI, Shaul and HANDGRAAF, Michel JJ. Oxytocin promotes human ethnocentrism. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [online]. 2011. Vol. 108, no. 4, p. 1262–1266. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://www.pnas.org/content/108/4/1262.short
20 SHAMAY-TSOORY, Simone G., FISCHER, Meytal, DVASH, Jonathan, HARARI, Hagai, PERACH-BLOOM, Nufar and LEVKOVITZ, Yechiel. Intranasal administration of oxytocin increases envy and schadenfreude (gloating). Biological psychiatry [online]. 2009. Vol. 66, no. 9, p. 864–870. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006322309007628
21 See particularly : La chimie de l’amour - Marcel Hibert - Université de tous les savoirs - Vidéo - Canal-U [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://web.archive.org/web/20120707042548/http://www.canal-u.tv/video/universite_de_tous_les_savoirs/dl.1/podcast.1/la_chimie_de_l_amour_marcel_hibert.7042
22 Another hormone, vasopressin, also greatly contributed to the survival of the species, but with an opposite strategy than oxytocin. Vasopressin control system fight or flight while oxytocin calms and controls the type contact. The first reduces the level of consciousness, while the second could develop attention to social signals.
23 BARTZ, Jennifer A., ZAKI, Jamil, BOLGER, Niall and OCHSNER, Kevin N. Social effects of oxytocin in humans: context and person matter. Trends in cognitive sciences [online]. 2011. Vol. 15, no. 7, p. 301–309. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364661311000830
24 KOSFELD, Michael, HEINRICHS, Markus, ZAK, Paul J., FISCHBACHER, Urs and FEHR, Ernst. Oxytocin increases trust in humans. Nature [online]. 2005. Vol. 435, no. 7042, p. 673–676. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v435/n7042/abs/nature03701.html
25 Official Home of the Free Hugs Campaign. [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://freehugscampaign.org/

The moving discussion - practical case

Card's author : Gatien Bataille
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies :



The goal is to present a set of situations to participants and offer two working hypotheses relating to the situations presented. Participants will have to choose one of the hypotheses and argue their choice to convince others to join them.


  • 1. the facilitator presents a situation
  • 2. He/she suggests two hypotheses to the group relating to the situation he or she has presented
  • 3. He/she asks the group to choose one and move to their right if they choose one hypothesis and to move to their left if they chose the second hypothesis.
  • 4. each group must provide reasons for their choice to try an convince the other group to join them in their choice.
  • 5. When the groups have been "stabilised", the facilitator explains the next situation and the whole process starts again.

A facilitator of a moving discussion should

  • 1. write down 5 or 6 situations and two clear and opposing hypotheses for each of the situations for the group to choose from.
  • 2. introduce the situations as clearly and concisely as possible.
  • 3. ensure that the discussion doesn't turn into a squabble and allow that there is a balanced explanation of reasons.
  • 4. move on to the next situation once the groups have been "stabilised".

An example of a moving discussion during a training course

Situation 1
The councillor suggests creating a body of participation and consultation with the population in your town for environmental issues. The construction of a wind farm seems a good topic for him, plus it is a topic of today!
He comes up with a budget (not huge but sufficient) to create this participation body. You have several weeks to organise a first session (this leaves you time to organise it without too much of a hurry).

  • You agree to the idea without hesitation, a great idea! At last you will be able to create the participation body you had been dreaming of
  • You have some doubts as to whether it is a good idea and the right time to do it

Situation 2
After taking up the idea suggested by the local councillor, you announce the first participatory meeting wide and large. However, you are not that enthusiastic. Normally, around 10-15 people go to these meetings, 30 at the most…
You are nicely surprised when, on the evening of the meeting, you see more than 100 people arriving. You have to quickly go and find extra chairs, but there is room for everyone.
The meeting facilitator is a little overwhelmed.

  • You forget about going around the table, since there are far too many people there…We will decide how to collect the participant's information later on
  • You go around the table, "adapting" the round slightly because you don't want to eat up too much time from the agenda

Situation 3
Despite the number of people there and the exchanges, you manage to draft fairly complete minutes of the meeting. Then you distribute them to the people who left their contact information at the meeting.
Others who were not able to be at the meeting ask you for a copy of the minutes.

  • You send them a copy for their information
  • You send them a copy and invite them to make contributions and comments

Situation 4
After some sessions, the group becomes considerably smaller: at least a third of those who registered no longer reacts to the emails and does not go to the meetings. You try re-launching the meetings by email asking people to become involved but without much success.
  • After two more emails without reply, you decide to stop sending the minutes "for nothing" to those who have not replied to your last 5 emails
  • You say to yourself that there's no harm in sending it to all, and keep all of them on your mailing list

Situation 5
Facilitation takes time. Your local councillor is satisfied with your work but asks you to participate in a call to contributions to raise some money. This would be a nice contribution to the communal budget and would allow your post as the network facilitator to continue a little longer.
  • You find several funding possibilities here and there, some of which are in line with the network's dynamics. You start preparing all the required documentation…you need the money!
  • You fear changing the group's dynamic. You ask your local councillor for time to consider other funding options.

Situation 6
The network has gradually created a structure. With not much it has achieved quite a lot. These achievements make you proud and have contributed to making you visible in the region. But then all of a sudden you hear that some network members who are also members of other close networks are telling of your network's achievements.
  • You are not very pleased with this situation and decide to tackle the issue frankly at the next meeting
  • You are pleased with this and hope this exchange will also happen in the opposite sense

Situation 7
Your councillor is generous. He has decided to give you a grant for a communications tool that is ready to use and is ideal for managing the network. It has it all; it is the latest on the market! This will allow you to centralise your data and make the network more "professional".
  • Great, at last the tool is complete! This will considerably change the working habits and could bring those who are less technologically aware onboard. What a great step forwards for the organisation!
  • You thank the councillor for the grant. You promise to take a look at it all and to discuss it with the network to decide whether it is adopted (or not)


Theory of chaos and networks

Card's author : Gatien Bataille
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :

Even if the world has always been so, it's getting more and more fractal, chaotic.1

This results of:
  • an increase of interacting "agents" (people for example)
  • an increase of interacting means (phone, internet...)
  • an acceleration of the agent's or of the means of interaction (people are travelling more and more, actions are more and more instantaneous)

Our networks don't escape from this trend:
  • more members ;
  • more means of interaction (mail, forum, websites, GSM, social networks...) ;
  • acceleration of exchanges.

In an increasingly complex environment, the theory of chaos postulates that a small modification of the process' initial conditions makes the latter complectly unpredictable on the duration.2
This acknowledge fact should lead us to consider our networks as chaotic entities that we should manage in a non linear way, unless we want to be disappointed with the results.

Here are some ideas:
  • In a chaotic system, it is dangerous to lock oneself in precise forecasts because on the duration it is an unpredictable system. In our networks, it's better to work with wide goals, wide course of action than with expected quantified results.
  • In the theory of chaos, the more the disorder grows, the sooner chaos engenders order. Let's favor the arrival of new members and exchanges in all directions in our networks to see the quick emergence of a specific order to it.
  • A chaotic system is very sensitive to external conditions and can quickly loose its balance to turn into a state more compatible with its environment. In our networks, let's not seek to limit the influence of external agents (which is specious anyhow) but let's take advantage of these exchanges to enable our network to stay nimble in the way it works and towards its environment.
  • A chaotic system is a fractal system (in short: the whole is like one of its part and the details are similar whatever the scale). Our networks are growing fractal as their size increases. Small networks grow within this network. This trend cannot be avoided. Let's simply be cautious that these fractal parts keep on exchanging.

1 http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C3%A9orie_du_chaos
2 http://plusconscient.net/index.php/systemique-et-theorie-integrale/108-francais/438-monde-fractal-opportunite-de-changement

Photo credits: Zimmerman CC BY-SA


The 'Getting Things Done' Approach

Card's author : Hélène Laxenaire
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : The GTD (Getting Things Done) approach was presented by David Allen in his work : ALLEN, David. Getting things done: the art of stress-free productivity. New York : Penguin Books, 2001. ISBN 978-0-14-200028-1.

This method of organizing yourself aims to implement a strong and sound enough system to relieve your mind from things to do and from the guilt of not having done it them, in order to start working calmly. It's the same principle as the Pensieve used by the magician Dumbledore in Harry Potter : a container onto which he offloads his thoughts and memories, knowing he can find them back any moment. See below how I use it but I advise that you read David Allen's work if you wish to implement it.

Make a list of projects and divide them in operational task

When implementing the GTD approach, the first thing to write out an exhaustive list of all your plans, from the most simplistic (make an appointment at the dentist) to the most important (setting up a international collaborative colloquium) and to sort out first those that will be done soon or those which are under way and those which will be fulfilled later, maybe (learn to play the accordion). Once the list is done, you must think of the first smallest operational thing to do to get it started : "Ask Brenda the name of her dentist " or "read the card in the Cooptic e-book on how to organize participative events ". All the tasks in the list of things to do have to be operational and indivisible in smaller tasks. So instead of noting down "Plan the General Assembly ", it's better to note down "make a Doodle to set the date of the General Assembly " or even "Ask Brenda the list of members " (in order to send the Doodle link for setting the date of the General Assembly ". "Plan the General Assembly " is a project, not a task.

Define your priorities according to what you can do

One of the principles of this approach is to sort out and select things to do asking yourself : "Which action can I take here and now? ". Actually for David Allen what directs the choice of a task are its intrinsic conditions for carrying it out, before any idea of a prioripriority. Therefore each task goes along with criteria which allow to choose the one that is going to be done here and now :
1. environment : place (I can do this task only if I am at my office) or person (I can do this task only if I am with Steven) or a tool (I can do this task only if I have a computer connected to the Internet)
2. available time : I need such time to carry out this task
3. available stamina : to carry out this task I must be in tip-top form, or very careful or else I can carry it out even if I can't think properly.
4. priority : priority of the plan or of of the task.
But priority is only taken into account in the end, it does not work out the task but it works out the possible task corresponding to environment, available time and stamina that I will finally.
I decide to carry out a task only if I can really do it.

Implementation of the approach

This said, how does I t work in practical terms ?

The Entry Box

It is the first tool of the GTD approach, an entry box which receives all that arrives : mails to process, the brainwave we had while in the shower, documents, things noted down at the end of a meeting. For the brainwave while in the shower or the thing not to forget and that you remember before going to sleep (and to avoid repeating it constantly hoping you won't forget it by the morning, which is no good for a good night rest), you just have to not it down immediately and drop it as soon as possible in you entry box. This means that you have by your bed (or in the shower !) a small pen and notepad, a smartphone, a dictaphone, whatever the technical mean, but you must always have something by yourself to note down : the thing to do, to buy or the brainwave.
Everything must arrive in the entry box. For my part, I have two : one for paper (a plastic tray) one for e-data (my mailbox). Then one should treat his/her entry box(es) very regularly according to a definite procedure. For my part, I do it once a day.

Treatment of the entry box

In the entry box we pile things as they arrive : brainwave while in the shower, the latest General Assembly's report, restaurant's slip for which we need to be refunded, bills and even batteries which need recharging.
When treating it, each item is taken one by one and goes through successive filters :
Does the item need an operational treatment? ?

Yes : operational action

1. Can I treat in less than two minutes ?
  • if yes : do it (presto, batteries are in the charger).
  • si no :
2. Is it up to me to do it ?
  • if yes : what is the first operational action to carry out to treat it ?
    • I add it to the list of tasks (contextualizing it) : environment, length of time, stamina, priority)
    • if the task involves a special day and hour, I add it in my agenda (for the use of agenda see below)
  • si ifno : I delegate

No : no operational action

1. It's something for a project to come : I add it to my 'one day maybe " list
2. It's a document I will need later
  • It's a reference document I will need, I classify it straight away in my reference files (for example : catalogues, regulations, etc.)
  • It's a support document for an under-way project : I put it in the corresponding folder (for example : application form for a, article for a training session to come). It often comes with a task to carry out. So I note down in my list of tasks "Look for a copy of the association 's registration form for the subsidy request " and I classify the form in my "under-way : subsidy request " folder.
3. It's none of the former item : trash can. It goes for most of the mails and emails we receive ! Watch out not to yield to keeping everything "just in case ", it requires a real good thinking about whether ot or not the item will be needed one day. (When I started the GTD myself, I threw all the electricity bills of my former apartments, some dated from more than 15 years)
Beware : nothing must go back to the entry box, everything must be processed, in the same order as the documents. Otherwise we start again with the circle of guilt with the document that we don't want to treat and which stays in the bottom of the entry box.
When the entry box is empty or when there isn't an email left in the box : Gosh ! What a relief !

The agenda

In the GTD approach; the agenda is sacred and must be used only for what is actually and really happening at a date and a time : a meeting, a train departure. It must not be a secondary list of tasks. Indeed, the decision to start doing a task does not depend upon a chosen moment, planned upstream : "Wednesday, I start to work on the spoken's report " but of the environment. It's a safe bet that the chosen Wednesday, your colleague may be at home with her/his child to look after and that this will mean that you will have to answer the phone all day long. On Wednesday eve, the result will be that instead of enjoying the thrill of a good working day you'll be pesting because "You didn't work on the spoken's report ". That said, nothing prevents you from creating the right environment to carry out priority tasks and to book days when you just refuse all reunions in order to have time to concentrate on tasks which need it.


Both paper or digitalized files are of two kinds, those which refer to under-way projects (meeting reports, etc.) and those which enable to classify reference documents. David Allen proposes to create a folder for each project, as small as it is even if it only counts one sheet of paper rather than having a system of folders and subfolders. All the folders can be prefixed in order to be recognized easily (for my part, all the under-way projects folders start with UW – and all folders with reference documents start with Rdoc - ).


Regularly, the task's list must be checked to see which plans are over but also to see if they are new tasks to carry out. It's an opportunity to tidy up folders of under-way projects which are finished. Operational documents are deleted and some support documents can go into the general references. It's also the time to read again the list of "Maybe one day " projects just to see if the moment has not come !

Crédit Photos : carlescv sur Flickr - CC By-SA

The rules of an educator

Card's author : Outils-réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : Here we mention some principles that should be taken into account when building a training action.

How do we learn?

Learning a new skill is done through a progression of four stages:


A person can start the learning mechanisms by noticing something is lacking.

In a learning situation, this thread can correspond to the activities suggested:
  • an activity that destabilises or questions something (conscious lack of skills),
  • followed by a stabilising activity that contributes the necessary knowledge and know-how (conscious skill)
  • an activity that has an application (when faced with an unconscious skill)

10 rules for adult learning

  • Adults are not children. They do not obey a parent or teacher.
  • Adults are not here to have fun. They are responsible and request what is recognised in them, this sense of responsibility.
  • Adults possess a human, family, social and professional experience that teachers should use as a support.
  • Adults work in a team, even if sometimes they also need to work alone.
  • Adults always combine theory with practice when learning.
  • Adults have a very good understanding of the logics of symbolic exchange: give-receive-provide. They will make more of an effort when they feel that the teacher is not sparing any time or energy; they will not hesitate to share their specific knowledge with others.
  • Adults need spaces to share with others and time to assimilate.
  • Adults always study the interest of their time for training.
  • Adults possess knowledge and can continue to learn, even at an advanced age.
  • Adults respect knowledge, but they respect human relationships even more.
  • Adults are not a “filing cabinet”…and are not interested in purely academic knowledge.
  • Adults are open to a multi-disciplinary approach to problems. They will often consider a question as “a problem to be solved” specifically.

The day's tempo

There are many studies showing that the levels of productivity and attention change throughout the day. On a “normal” working day (9am to 6pm) the following events are seen:
  • mornings : are a better time for intellectual work than afternoons
Therefore it is best to do theory-based exercises in the morning and practice exercises in the afternoon
  • hypoglycaemia periods: 11:30-12:30am and 5.00-6h00pm approx: possible fatigue and irritability. Avoid activities with a conscious lack of skills and favour work in small groups or pairs
  • strong digestion period : 2:00-3:30pm approx: passivity, sleepiness and diversion. Favour discovery activities with an application
  • the ideal duration of a day of training: 7 hours. Concentration is difficult to maintain for any longer

How do we retain information?

Things to remember when preparing a course. We retain:
  • 10% of what we read
  • 20% of what we hear
  • 30% of what we see
  • 50% of what we see and hear at the same time
  • 80% of what we say
  • 90% of what we say when we are actively engaged

Lines, processes, methods…what are we referring to?

A brief teaching guide to learn the basic concepts.
Guide prepared by foad-spirit.net: http://www.foad-spirit.net/pedagogie/mini1.pdf (in French)

The scaling down Cooptic in Belgium

Card's author : Gatien Bataille
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies :


In the framework of a Leonardo da Vinci "skill transfer" project called Coop-Tic (2011-1-FR1-LEO05-24397), the CRIE in Mouscron carried out a scaling down training session in its territory (Wallonia, Belgium) during the months of February and March 2013.
This training session had 5 distance modules and 2 residence meetings and was followed by 14 people from the fields of environmental education and nature management.

Support materials for this course can be found on this wiki: http://criemouscron.be/cooptic1

Training methodology

For this training course on scaling up we chose:
  • active participation of students, face-to-face and distance,
  • frequent and diversified use of technological tools,
  • making available and encouraging the production of multimedia documents,
  • interaction between peers,
  • opening the tool to outside resources and actors.

Adapting the initial training focus

Based on the initial training experience

With the initial training experience we thought it would be interesting to adapt it based on the following:
  • We did not intend to organise our training around the life stages of a network as in the initial training. The duration of our training course did not allow us to reproduce the life stages of a network seriously (not even in an "accelerated" version).
  • We only planned one distance module before the first meeting in order to create the group dynamics as early as possible (because the dynamics only really started when participants were face-to-face)
  • We did not intend to suggest "itinerant cards" for our trainees since the rate of completion at the end of the initial training was very low, despite having a "web" audience that was more inclined to write on the net.
  • We did not intend to work with a wiki for each trainee and preferred using a common wiki for the group where all resources and production were compiled.
  • At the initial training, the time lapse between meetings was quite large, meaning there was a considerable loss of participation. We preferred grouping face-to-face modules close in time to minimise this effect.
  • During the initial training, we were exposed to many ICT tools. This was not accompanied with sufficient time to become familiar with these tools and lead to a lot of frustration among trainees (lack of skills, not enough time or knowledge to test the tool "at home"). Therefore we decided to choose fewer ICT tools and provide more time face-to-face to allow trainees to become familiar with them. Our goal was to get them to use the ICT tools we considered essential in a totally independent way.
  • We planned some time to think about solutions together that would allow each trainee to talk about this training using simple words in their environment to promote the dissemination of the lessons learnt.

Based on the "Belgian" context

The profile of "Belgian" trainees

The target audience of our training were actors in the fields of environmental education or nature protection.
They can be described as having:
  • a high level of involvement in environmental problems
  • a high level of freedom in their actions (non-commercial sector) or, in the opposite sense, working in a very restrictive environment (employees in local or regional administrations)
  • a certain level of reticence towards ICT tools and the Internet
  • not much knowledge on ICT tools and the Internet
  • facilitating a network of people who are not very connected to the Internet.

Mapping the trainees

Our group included:
  • 2 people who worked on a river contract
  • 4 people working in the field of environmental education
  • 2 people working in the field of popular education (specifically regarding organic food)
  • 1 person working in the field of sustainable development
  • 3 people working for a communal nature plan
  • 1 person working in a local action group
  • 1 person working in the field of cryptozoology

Adaptations made

  • Since our audience was "close to the ground" and had little time (or in any case were little inclined to spending much time in a first stage on training in ICT tools), we adapted our training and made it shorter. This entailed two modules face-to-face with five distance modules.
  • We chose for a more advanced form of accompanying (re-launching, connected to Skype or reachable on the phone, advanced explanatory screencasts) this was because our trainees were not at all familiar with the web 2.0.
  • In general terms, we adapted the content of the activities with themes relating to the protection of nature or environmental education. (moving discussion, facilitation exercises for participatory meetings…)
  • For trainees who worked in environments that were not very "connected" we provided network facilitation tools "outside the web". This also allowed us to keep up a certain interest in the trainees that were not that "ICT friendly" and to answer their concerns regarding "off-line" network facilitation.
  • We generally spent more time on "common goods" and free licences. We thought it was appropriate to do this since:
    • it is the core of the "political" project that is underlying to this training
    • it is an important challenge that has a strong repercussion in the environmental context
    • it is important to be able to protect one's productions as common goods
  • While remaining open to the opportunities and suggestions-requests of our trainees, we "modulated" the learning times for a certain number of tools that we considered were basic and for which we wanted the trainees to be fully independent at the end of the training (co-writing and audio and videoconferences).

Content of the "Belgian" training course

At the start of the training/ distance learning between the 8th and 14th February
  • Module: Getting to know each other.

During the first 3-day face-to-face meeting from the 27th of February to the 1st of March
  • Day 1: The challenges of cooperation
    • Module: The 12 sides to cooperation
    • Module: The power of cooperation
    • Module: The invisible abundance
  • Day 2: Tips and tricks for network facilitation
    • Module: The barriers and facilitating elements to participate in a network
    • Module: Encouraging participation face-to-face and from a distance
    • Module: A network lives, grows and is assessed
  • Day 3: Some tools to get started
    • Module: Tools are never neutral
    • Module: What tools and for what purposes?

Distance / week of 4th to 8th March
  • Module: Individual tracking
  • Module: Project accelerator

Distance / week of 11th to 15th March
  • Module: Individual tracking (continuation)
  • Module: Project accelerator (continuation)

At the last 1-day meeting on 22nd March
  • Module: A world without common goods?
  • Module: Competition or cooperation: some tips to act
  • Module: Free licences and intellectual property

Distance / beginning of April
  • Time for collective synchronous distance assessment
  • Personal assessment

Distance / beginning of May
  • Distance exchange with the trainers / What have you done with what you've learnt?
  • Feedback to the groups of trainees

Impressions on the training

by the trainees

A survey was circulated at the end of the training that was answered by all trainees. Here are the overall impressions.

To summarise, participants expressed the following satisfactions:
the training had been well thought through: a combination of theory and practice
that trainers were available and created learning dynamics that were clearly appreciated
that the training allows building confidence towards the methods and ICT tools to facilitate a network and to get going right from the start of the training (a leg up for our projects)

To summarise, participants expressed the following frustrations:
not enough time to discover more about the ICT tools and practice with them!
not enough time to go deeper into some more theory aspect that require a big change in posture (so it is not simple and requires some time)

To summarise, participants expressed the following areas for improvement:

Plan more time to learn to use the ICT tools…take it a little further than simply discovering them
Plan more time for face-to-face meetings (even if it is difficult to fit into one's agenda)

To summarise, participants made the following other remarks:

Thank you, it was great!
This must continue

By the trainers

These are the main results of the assessments made by the trainers.

Even if we planned extra time to learn about the web tools we introduced, it seems this time was not sufficient
It seems necessary to have an even tighter framework for distance modules to really accompany "hesitant" trainees
It could be useful to organise "remote control"; that is controlling a trainee's computer remotely when there is a technical problem
Even if we did our best to avoid any technical glitches, some occurred anyway!
We expected this, but the scope of it surprised us: trainees were very keen on the underlying political and philosophical aspects in the training

Below is a graph describing the progress of the training, made with the tool Hy-Sup (Hy-sup is a European research programme on the characterisation of Hybrid tools for Higher Education)


Success factors

We consider the following factors contributed to the success of the training:

  • A highly available team of trainers
  • A clearly identified main trainer who was highly available on-site and remotely
  • Permanent contact between the group thanks to the discussion list with the training team members
  • A strong technical control over the tools used
  • Creating favourable conditions for collaboration during face-to-face meetings (during breaks, meals and during the evenings)
  • Organising the training in a way that allowed trainees to "skipping" some distance modules (this is often a weakness in terms of participation for this type of trainings)
  • A constant combination of technical work and moments for philosophical reflection
  • An alternation between times when trainees where "logged-on" and times "outside the web"

Comments for the future

Even if this topic was interesting for many people, it is not that clear how to transform this interest into a real wish to participate in a training course.
  • because of the broadness of the topic requires several days of face-to-face training and this can be an impediment for many people (;3 days of face-to-face meetings! Impossible, my agenda is overloaded")
  • because the topic was perceived as one "they already knew and more or less mastered" by many of the participants (why invest money in a training course on this topic?)
  • because the topic of the training was seen by some as something for "geeks" ("my network does not really use the web… these tools won't really help me")

However, at the end of the training, the trainees
  • would have liked the training to continue...
  • consider the face-to-face meeting were a real plus, essential to the group dynamics
  • mentioned they had learnt and discovered a lot on network facilitation (facilitating a network is not only organising a meeting every so often!)
  • appreciated discovering the theory hiding behind network facilitation and the "off-line" facilitation methods.

The size of groups and the role of members

Card's author : Jean-Michel Cornu
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :

Small groups of up to twelve persons

A cognitive limitation of man concerns the size of the group in which he can, without the help of tools, understand what is occuring. The human being is first of all an animal which can enter into alliances, i.e. "an union between people resulting from an agreement or a pact 1". If many animals can live in herds or packs, very few can choose by themselves to enter into an alliance. Great apes and some cetaceans manage to enter into alliance with up to three individuals, but we humans are limited to twelve2.

For more information: the limit of twelve for human groups

The British anthropologist Robin Dunbar became interested in the relationship between the size of the neocortex of 38 species of monkeys and the size of the respective groups in which they
lived 3. Surprisingly, he has found a correlation between these two elements. He then extrapolated this approach in humans to conclude that the natural limit to the size of a human social network was 148, a number that usually rounded to 150, is called the "Dunbar number" . This number corresponds to the size of the breeders-farmers' villages of the Neolithic, and is still found today in the size of social networks.4. this number – considered by Dunbar as rather approximate – determines the number of persons whith whom we can easily socialize without tools (these tools can be for example the list of friends on Facebook, or simply our adress book, which eanbles us to get in touch with much more people than we can even remember...)5.

The confidence which allows to create alliances requires however to have not only an overview of the various members of the group but also the links between them. We talk of holoptic approach6 (from the Greek holos, whole and optikós, related to sight) in opposition to the panoptic approach7 ( from the Greek pan, all) which enable to see all the persons but not necessarily the links between them.

So, even if chimpanzee have a number of Dunbar around 55 which allows them to maintain packs of this size, they can only enter into alliance with three. Mankind, besides having a high number of Dunbar also has a capacity of holoptism which allows her to create alliances with a dozen people. The maximal size of this alliance corresponds to 144 links between people (by taking into account simultaneously the people themselves and the differences in the link between a first person and the second, and the mutual link of the second towards the first one). So, besides his capacity to constitute a social network of about 150 people (what corresponds to the size of the breeders-farmers' first villages of the Neolithic), mankind is also capable of entering into an alliance which allows her complexer collective actions up toapproximately a dozen people8.

We don't know thus how to cooperate normally in groups of more than a dozen people. To go beyond, we had to develop strategies: set up a hierarchy so that the leader manages at the most a dozen second-in-commands who themselves shall manage a dozen people 9 ; or else have representatives (of God or of the Peolpe) which allow us to focus on a few persons according to a centralized star-shaped structure ; or even trust a single mechanism of exchange in the group - money - rather than having to know every person and every interaction between them. But could we exceed the barrier of twelve to benefit directly from the collective intelligence of a largest number without having a hierarchy, representatives or monetary mechanisms as intermediaries?

The astonishing principle of 90-9-1 in groups over twelve

Beyond a dozen participants, we cannot follow any more the entire interactions in the group. It becomes easier thus for a member of the group not to participate unless it is noticed. If in a small group, participation is a standard and non-participation an exception, in a big group on the contrary, only those who decide to participate do it.

But those who participate are not always the same. We to get involved a lot into certain groups and not into others, according to the interest we have in the group. If the number of people who are active seems to us too low, we have a natural tendancy " to supersede". If on the contrary, more people than what seems necessary are already at work, we tend to remain inactive, even become it if we were active. This explains a very counter-intuitive rule: whatever the peolpe in a large group, the percentage of active people stays even, according to the 90-9-1 principle10:
The proactive persons who take initiatives are between one and some percent.
The reactive people who react when asked are between ten and dozens percent.
Others are not all totally inactive. Some are " observers11" who follow the works of the group, use them for them, even if they do not participate. So, there is a whole gradation in the more or less active roles that a participant can play, allowing him to get involved more and more or less and less.

The percentages observed in the existing groups confirm well the principle of 90-9-1. This rule has curious implications. Let's imagine a group of hundred people. We shall have thus naturally at some non-active people, decides to exclude them to concentrate on the small group of about ten active persons. His new group will keep not the same active persons but the same percentage of active persons which plumet to... approximately one. He will well end up alone ! On the contrary, let us take a group of about fifty people. To exceed five or six reactive persons, it is necessary to make quite a lot of efforts. Let's imagine that this time we add about fifty other people even less concerned and thus who may remain rather inactive. We observe that certain people who were inactive, including in the initial group, become more active to keep the same percentage of active persons in the group. Reactive people come up to a dozen...This surprising behavior is well verified on the spot: we have generally a rough understanding of the number of members of the group who allow some to choose to become active or inactive.

The number of participants structures the groups

A group working normally will thus have approximately 1 % of proactive people and 10 % of reactive people. It will be necessary to make efforts to increase the percentage of reactives to 20 %, see up to 40 % in very exceptional cases. In order to have a big group producing as much as a small group of a dozen people without requiring too much efforts, the group will have need at least a hundred participants to have at least about ten or dozen reactives.
Between twelve and hundred participants, we are thus in the case of an intermediate group: too big to allow us to keep the pace up with all that's happening and hence to manage it in a constraint way , and too small to do as well as groupe of a dozen persons without requiring major efforts of animation. Beyond a hundred contributors, it is possible with a reasonable investment, scale up and then have a group with over twelve active people Au-delà de cent participants, nous pouvons avec un investissement raisonnable, "passer à l'échelle" et avoir un groupe dont le nombre d'actifs dépasse la barrière des douze, on conditions that we take into account the reactive behaviors (at least 10%) and not only pro-active ones (at least 1%). There is also a high limit: beyond a thousand people, organizers and other proactive persons which undertake some tasks of management, are themselves a group of over twelve, jeopardizing the coherence of the group12. A group of several thousands people seems then more complex to manage. The French-speaking network of botanists Tela Botanica implemented intermediary members to identify better the proactive persons and started to constitute a group so they could exchange between them. Beyond, in groups of several dozen thousand members, the number of proactive persons soars, exceeding a hundred and allowing other forms of regulation and a centralized and collaborative governance. Some very large groups exist where management is not done by constraint but by opportunity. It happens for example with wide online projects such as the various linguistic versions of Wikipédia encyclopedia or else the collaborative mindmap. The understanding of what eases the implementation and the development of such big groups is still unclear.

To know more about the subject: for proactive persons, Internet is divided in three

When you wish to work with a large group which stays limited to few hundreds, even one or two thousands, it is imperative to seek to work with the reactive people (ten to up to some dozen %) and not limit yourself to the proactive ones (one and some %). on the internet, the difference.On the Internet, the difference is reflected in the notion of push and pull tools.

A pull tool is a tool which obliges to "pull" information from where it is. This is the case for conventional websites but also forums and major web 2.0 tools for which we must be proactive to get their information. On the contrary a push tool is aiming bring in (to "push") information to us, or more precisely to the tool we consult everyday. In our everyday life, its the answering machine (with a pull tool, we would have to question each of our friends' or boss' voicemail to see if there is not a message left for us or for the group... It's also like that with our letterbox that we check regularly and where our letters are sent. We then just have to "react" to what we received.

In the case of Internet, the push type app is mail. To work with several other people, est le courrier électronique. Pour travailler à plusieurs par exemple, mailing lists enable to exchange directly in each others' mailbox, without forcing people to go proactivelyy on the group's website. But there are now several sites which we consult regularly, Facebook, Twitter or other social networks. One of the major difficulties of working together with a great number of people is that we can't check everything sytematically: letterbox on the way back home, answering machines and voicemails, private and pro mailboxes, Facebook and Twitter professional or private accounts. More and more people only check regularly their mails, Facebook or Twitter, sometimes two of them. In terms of push tools, and so in a reactive approach, the internet is then divided in three, even if it is still possible to seek proactively information through channels we use less regularly.

In companies, there is often a privileged channel. For example the use of mail is compulsory and it is then possible to push information directly to the different employees. In this case, and to prevent proactive people from being frustrated - being the more motivated even if ten times fewer than the reactive people – it can be interesting to allow push as well as pull methods. It is possoble to associate a forum and a mail to get the advantages of a mailing list and the pull tools: when a new subject is posted on the forum, most contributors get it by mail. Then they just have to email back to and their answer will be on the forum. Those who wish to adopt a proactive approach but avoiding bllocking their mailbox can go straight on the forum to read the topics, other people's contributions and then contribute. According to the number of participants, and to avoid drowning those who receive the information by mail in too many messages, it is possible to adopt a reactive approach on all posts for the majority of the group (for groups limited to several hundred people)13 ; or to send emails only on former questions, or to receive by mail only the initial questions, a selection of contributions prepared by the managers and summaries of discussions for larger groups. Those who wish to get the details of all contributions must then get the information proactively on the forum14. Ideally, the choice of receiving all contributions or only important mails by push in his mailbox (questions, summaries, invitations ...) should remain the choice of participants, regardless of the group's size.15.

In the case of large groups bringing together people from different backgrounds (individuals, various organizations ...), when selecting a tool push, e.g emails or on the contrary Facebook, part of potential contributors are excluded. To avoid this, one must be able to get information and contribute through the channel he regularly uses. This tool which will enable to receive all exchanges or only initial questions and summaries through a chosen channel (Facebook, Twitter) and to answer simply directly with this tool, is still to be developped. This tool must also enable those who wish it, to get proactively contributions on a forum type tool and even contribute from it.

The importance of large groups of 100 to 1,000, based on reactive people

Although very large groups now represent a new horizon showing that it is possible to work with thousands of people and maybe more, large groups of a hundred thousand people are of particular interest for two reasons.

Before beeing very large groups of several thousand or even tens or hundreds of thousands people, groups start with only several hundreds members. It is therefore important to understand the way large groups operate to allow the emergence of very large groups. Besides, many subjects have not for vocation to gather thousands of people. Even if it is necessary to increase - sometimes a little artificially – groups of several dozens persons to exceed a hundred, it's not always always possible to increase all groups beyond several hunders or thousands of people. The work groups of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) which develop each standrads for the internet are typically of some hundred people. Same for the different groups to which the project Imagination for People provides support as a partner and which are interested in identifying and supporting projects for a particular side of social innovation (Fab labs, third places, currencies, innovation in the South, energy, group management ...).
However, these large groups require to take into account the particular reactive and not just proactive persons who in this case are not enough.

In brief

Once a group exceeds a dozen members, each person takes a proactive reactive, observer or inactive posture, and can switch from one to another according to various criteria. We observe in a rather counterintuitive way that the percentage of active persons remains outstandingly even (90-9-1principle): proactive people are between one and some per cent and reactive people between ten and dozens per cent.

We can deduct from it that groups can be identified by the number of members:
  • Small groups up to twelve persons who can be managed in a constraint way (While waiting for an action of each of the various members) ;
  • Intermediate groups between a dozen and a hundred people who require more efforts in management to obtain reactions ;
  • Large groups between a hundred and one or several thousand people who enable to produce collaboratively... under conditions to focus on reactive persons ;
  • Intermediate very large groups of several thousand people among where the proactive members's group is hard to keep coherent ;
  • Very large groups over dozens of thousands people where proactiove persons are numerous enough to make management less constrained ;

Large groups between a hundred and one or several thousand people are of particular interest: they are a must for groups who are likely to become very large, and mostly they are a size that corresponds to the number of people which can be gathered around many specific topics. But they need to take a particular care to members who act proactively (they can be approached in online systems with push tools such a email, Facebook or Twitter rather than pull tools as the web or forums) and not only to proactive people who are not numerous enough.

Mot clé: #taille28

1 alliance. Wiktionnaire [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/alliance
2 CORNU, Jean-Michel. Donner : une capacité naturelle mais limitée. In : Tirer bénéfice du don: pour soi, pour la société, pour l’économie [online]. Limoges, France : FYP, 2013. Stimulo, ISSN 2265-7754. ISBN 978-2-916571-87-4. Available from: http://www.cornu.eu.org/news/donner-une-capacite-naturelle-mais-limitee
3 DUNBAR, Robin. Theory of mind and the evolution of language. Approaches to the Evolution of Language. 1998. P. 92–110.
4 GONCALVES, Bruno, PERRA, Nicola and VESPIGNANI, Alessandro. Validation of Dunbar’s number in Twitter conversations. arXiv preprint arXiv:1105.5170 [online]. 2011. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://arxiv.org/abs/1105.5170
5 CORNU, Jean-Michel. Donner : une capacité naturelle mais limitée. In : Tirer bénéfice du don: pour soi, pour la société, pour l’économie [online]. Limoges, France : FYP, 2013. Stimulo, ISSN 2265-7754. ISBN 978-2-916571-87-4. Available from: http://www.cornu.eu.org/news/donner-une-capacite-naturelle-mais-limitee
6 NOUBEL, Jean-François. Intelligence collective, la révolution invisible.  TheTransitioner [online]. 2007. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://thetransitioner.org/Intelligence_Collective_Revolution_Invisible_JFNoubel.pdf
7 BENTHAM, Jeremy. Panopticon; or, The inspection-house: containing the idea of a new principle of construction applicable to any sort of establishment, in which persons of any description are to be kept under inspection: and in particular to penitentiary-houses, prisons, houses of industry ... and schools: with a plan of management adapted to the principle: in a series of letters, written in the year 1787, from Crecheff in white Russia. To a friend in England. Gloucester, Royaume-Uni : Dodo Press, 2008. ISBN 978-1-4099-5202-2.
8This corresponds approximately to the maximum size of a human family, the size of human groups before the establishment of villages in the Neolithic or the maximum size of the small jazz bands that do not have a conductor to ensure direction, unlike "big bands"...
9In constrained environment such as fire brigades in action, a hierarchical level is added as soon as the level n-2 exceeds 12 people (and not the level n-1 immediately dbelow as in the other cases). During a forest fire for example, the trucks of 4 people have a leader each. When it is necessary to mobilize 4 trucks (16 people 4 leaders) a leader of higher grade is named.
10 Règle du 1 %. Wikipédia [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%A8gle_du_1_%25
11 Les observateurs dans les groupes. Fing : groupe intelligence collective [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://ic.fing.org/news/les-observateurs-dans-les-groupes
12This does not happen with reactive people that react to proposals from managers or other reactive people but interact less with each other and therefore do not constitute a sub-group but only a part of the main group.
13 In 2012 the Internet Nouvelle Génération Foundation has developed a tool enabling to contribute by email (push approach) on forums, to set on one's social network (pull approach) when the question is about about collective works such as Digital Question or Digiworks gathering between one and three participants : Réseau social de la Fing. Réseau FING [online]. [Accessed 30 January 2014]. Available from: http://www.reseaufing.org/
14The Adeo group (13 DIY trademarks across the world: Leroy Merlin, Weldom...) tested in 2013 the combination of email and forum in order to send only questions, selections of contributions and summaries to the 1,500 members of the group who were exchanging on the definition of the group's strategy. In that case, everyone would receive by mail the same (limited) information and only the proactive members would search, if they wanted, the details on the forum (pull tool).
15The group on digital prospective from Franche Comté uses a discussion list to exchange, but some members have chosen not to receive mails from the list (eventhough they belong to it in order to contribute). But they receive carbon copies - for the moment in a manual way – of important emails: summaries and invitations.


Tools for conviviality

Card's author : Laurent Marseault
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : But which tool to use ? Which is the ideal tool ? Do you have models of specifications for perfect collaborative tools ?
I am often asked these questions.
It appears that the notion of collaborative tools helps us a little bit more over the essential question of the tool.

This notion is proposed by Ivan Illich, philosopher of ecological politics. For him, tools (understood in a broad sense, including technical means, institutions) alienate individuals and deprive them of autonomy. Their generalized use maybe heading to counterproductivity.

3 conditions for tools for conviviality

Illich proposes clear and simple specifications for what he calls tools for conviviality:
  • it must generate efficiency without damaging personal autonomy
  • it must not arouse slaves nor masters
  • it must widen the personal range

These three conditions applied to corporations and to technical means restore the place of individuals, allowing them to be actors in systems on which they have set on. Humans need that, humanity needs that.

The stressful library

In a library of the South of France, employees have today a « thin client » as workstation. It's a computer terminal connected to a server centre. Every night, the computer is done up as new, only personal files are saved. Any software settled by users (when it is possible), any customizations are deleted during the night. This system said to be very efficient by the IT services is considered as unbearable by librarians, generating a tangible psychic sufferings. Attempts of evolution towards more conviviality have been systematically rejected causing the withdrawal of those who were improving their Institution for the users' good.

The map that gives ideas

Freeplane is a small software of mindmapping or heuristic mapping. Used with groups to help them summarizing the richness of their exchanges, it allows to make ideas and their complements visible. Rather systematically it gives desires and ideas to people who have used it. It's a freeware easy to handle, and to divert for new uses. It's the archetypal tool for conviviality.

Cooperation, networks and conviviality

A network, a group which cooperates, joins a process that will need to equip itself and to improve its tools according to the stages of its process. Keeping in mind the conditions needed by tools for conviviality when elaborating organizations and the tools for their management will enable the elaboration of a living, evoluting and learning system. The network, cooperative or collaborative group will become places of learning, of innovations and liberations.
N.B.: free tools are not necessarily for conviviality

To go further:

Credits : outils en chocolat JanneM on Flickr - CC-BY-SA

Trainer 2.0 : a new way of training

Card's author : Outils-réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :

New technologies, digital technologies : new issues for training

Undoubtedly, the advent of digital technology and the Internet has given the sector countless training opportunities.

The change in methods that follows goes beyond technological contributions, and the whole organization of information, space, distance and time is changed.

Factors of change linked to new technologies :

  • Unlimited access to resources (ITyPA! Or the Internet, Tout Y est Pour Apprendre)
  • Remote multidirectional interaction, the remote "presence " where the valuation of relationship is meaningful
  • horizontal communication network
  • the introduction of virtual reality and micro-worlds
  • the logic of participation driven by digital culture

All these items lead to foresee a new model of education:


Which implies:


Annex concept :

Opportunities and challenges of ICT for training

Trainers of the Network of Remote French-speaking education of Canada REFAD have pointed out very exhaustively opportunities and challenges linked to the Web 2.0's tools :

Opportunities :

  • Mobility and portability and hence an increased flexibility for users which have access anywhere and anytime.
  • An increased motivation of at least part of the trainees, particularly the youngest, leading maybe to more persevering.
  • The trainee as a producer of learning contents, and thus a more visible apprenticeship leading to an improvement of his taking over of the matter, of his autonomy and of his getting a sense of responsability.
  • Numerous possibilities of cooperation, of socialization and exchanges and thus of apprenticeship of collaboration and team work so much for the students than for the trainers and institutions.
  • Theexpression under various forms, including multimédia, allowing a personalization and a suppport to different styles of apprenticeship.
  • Theease and speed of the information's dissemination at very low cost, independent of distance, increasing its impact.
  • The multiplicity ou pervasiveness of tools being able to bear all the aspects of an educational experience.
  • Awide access to contents, to experts and trainings, constituting a factor of levelling out, in particular between regions.
  • New possibilities of organizing information and of creation of metadata.
  • An opportunity of apprenticeship of the use of media and ICT tools and of information literacy, transferable to other contexts.
  • Anopportunity of educational innovation, of widening to new approaches and organizational innovation, among other more personalized and contextualized learnings.

Challenges :

  • The need for teachers and institutions to share their power and supervision. An evaluation of authority towards transparency, from expert to facilitator, from presentation to participation.
  • The support to motivation and participation necessary to the evolution of the trainee's role from passive listener to active and creative participant.
  • A need for apprenticeship of numerous information literacies : use of technologies, informational skills, management of digital identity, etc.
  • Questions linked to intellectual property and to evolution in contents of producing practices and works (assemblies, cooperations, etc).
  • The management of immediacy of communications and fast evolution of social softwares.
  • Risks linked to safety of information on the Web and to cybercrime.
  • Choice of tools and of their integration to institutional systems or not.

in : WIKIS, BLOGS AND WEB 2.0 ,Opportunités et impacts pour la formation à distance , 2010 Full text

Specific educational practices

The reasons to adopt new technologies are at first educational, in connection with the trainees needs.
So they can have important impacts on the design of the device and on the modalities of supervision. Here are some tips :

Motivation and participation support

Designing trainings needs to plan important fluctuations in interest and participation and to implement measures to arouse and maintain it beyond initial enthusiasm. Tools only are not enough, the purpose or direction given by the pedagogical scenario for their use remains central.

Social media play a motivating role in most educational experiences. They offer an empowerment feeling to trainees and new possibilities of socialization. They advantageously request each trainees perseverance on longer trainings.

Two items related to the motivation of the trainees are often given:
  • evaluation of participation : it's more a forced choice to participate than a deliberate one. It is also a risk of a minimal participation aiming only at the infringement of the evaluation's criteria. Contrary to the preconceived ideas according to which the pupils will make only the works which will formally be estimated, the absence of stiff constraints (relative to the blog e.g.) incites the pupils to blog even more. The dosage between constraint and freedom is to be found.
  • wide broadcasting of the contributions : opening gives visibility, pride and allows the reuse. It is thus generally seen as a factor of motivation. This practice is systematically used in Animacoop's trainings. The trainees produce diffusable contents. It is a more binding but also more appreciated work. (e.g.: http://animacoop.net/wakka.php?wiki=ContenusProduits).

Individual, collaborative or cooperative paths

The multiplicity of communication tools and the different needs lead to a diverse range of pathways. Then the good teaching position would be to vary in order to give trainees, whom have different learning styles, the possibilities of a more adapted path.

Collaborative activities, facilitated by Web 2.0 tools, have however a particular interest : they are both "a good learning vector" and a mean "to promote the development of social ties between trainees", they allow to "fight against the risk of isolation and demotivation especially in distance learning". They achieve various goals simultaneously:

  • accomplishment,
  • reasoning of higher level,
  • gain of working time,
  • transfer of learning,
  • motivation for achievement,
  • intrinsic and continuous motivation,
  • social and cognitive development,
  • interpersonal attraction,
  • social support, friendships,
  • reduction of stereotypes and prejudices,
  • valuing differences,
  • psychological health, self-esteem,
  • social skills,
  • internalization of values,
  • quality of the learning environment ... and many others.

However the arrival of digital technologies only reveals some hang-up of collaborative learning: sharing critical information efficiently for a joint project is an additional step that many organizations do not take, on one hand by lack of shared culture, and on the other hand because of the basic needs of individuals. The collaborative work is based, primarily, on voluntary service and can not be an obligation.

A more personalized apprenticeship and environment

The culture and the multiplicity of choices given by the Web 2.0, combined to its opportunities of directing the "I", calls for a greater personalization of paths, as indicated above, but also for methods of expression and tools. It can be a very limited personalization : profile and personal pages, photos, etc, added inside an institutional apprenticeship environment, focused on the course or the term rather than on the trainee. But more often, as said in the former chapter, we talk of a more fundamental questioning in which the trainee builds his own apprenticeship environment, from his own choice of tools, independantly from successive institutions that he will spend time in and where he will constitute the portfolio testifying of his training and experience and of his digital identity.

Active educations and more contextualized apprenticeship

More over tools of the Web 2.0 promote an apprenticeship in action, more authentic or more located. The trainee can for example build up resources reusable by the community. E.g. : articles written by Animacoop trainees are reused by trainers for the production of new courses.

Multimedia contents

Another challenge for educators presented by these tools is the trend towards less textual learning resources. Videos in particular encounters a lightning popularity.
  • The use of blog : it allows to leave tracks of one's apprenticeships and is excellent in the practices of formative assesment.
  • Wiki shows the contributions of each member to a collaborative work.
  • Vidéo and video conference enable to assess the spoken expression or the content's appropriation. We can also build on existing content, e.g. evaluate or complete an article on a wiki.

The use of appropriate tools

Placed in front of an abundancey of tools, the trainer must be able to choose the most relevant for the desired apprenticeship. Often, if his institution hasn't done it for him, he also has to select the software to support them. The discussions between trainers on specialized newsgroups show very well their perplexity in front of the multiplicity of offered tools and the difficulty to choose those which will fit best their educational activity.
Farther we propose you a small selection of tools classified according to their uses.


To exceed the level of simple comment or formatting, to progress to a training of higher level, such as the development of argument, criticism and synthesis, a steady veducational support is essential.

The supervision of interactive progresses as those allowed by Web 2.0 asks thus not only more time, but also a steadier availability. To face this greater need for time and for availability, several solutions are proposed.
  • the need to establish, from the beginning, slots of availability,
  • the collaborative work. The supervision was assumed in team of four trainers : "This way of working favors students who receive instant answers as well as trainers who share the task of answering emails".

Tricks and tips to start a cooperative network

Card's author : Outils-Réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : Since 2003, Outils-Réseaux has been helping groups to take cooperative methods and tools onboard. Doing this we have been able to identify some facilitating elements or, on the contrary, some barriers to cooperation and participation.
Tools are not cooperative by nature; they become cooperative when they are used correctly and in a favourable context.
The “tricks and tips” listed here do not require extraordinary technical skills or a large budget. A facilitation technique, using a tool that can be created with 2 clicks or an adequate set of mind of a network facilitator can achieve much more than building oversized factories running on gas, which are expensive (literally and figuratively).
This list draws on this experience but must also be extended!

Co-operator humanum est

Cooperation is a unique feature to the human being, our main driver and survival tool. Three centuries of competition should not allow us to forget that we come from thousands of years of cooperation and collaboration.

Three fields

Our era will have to deal with three challenges in the field of cooperation:
  • Learning to cooperate between humans: Countries from the global South / Rich countries from the global North / poor people, people with different religions, men / women…
  • Making humans cooperate with the environment: less pollution, less harmful activities, ...
  • Allowing each person to cooperate better with him or herself: reconcile humanity with animals, the female side with the masculine side...


Separating learning from cooperation...

...and using it for hot topics!
It is best avoiding controversial issues to start cooperating. It is better to test cooperative methodologies and tools on small projects that are not too challenging rather than on projects that are vital to the network.
For example, pooling teaching materials for an education network on the environment, while what is vital for the network's members is to find funds. When the network members have gained some experience in cooperation and have developed a common experience, then they can start working on a project to pool financial means.

Generating small irreversible cooperation experiences

Every large voyage starts with small steps.
Even if it seems that cooperation is a major component in human existence, centuries of “healthy competition”, “we mustn't copy” and “to exist, it's best not owing anything to anyone” have handicapped the people engaging in it. It is therefore useful to gradually bring the cooperative dimension back into the equation.
All changes are a process of rupture that requires a change in a person's representations, ideas and methods.
For a network to start cooperating, these ruptures must be caused, these changes that are often irreversible: for this we suggest generating small irreversible cooperation experiences:
  • lifting a rock, 340 men gently pulling in opposite directions: an excellent experience, but one needs the occasion to do this.
  • several people taking notes at the same time and on the same page (using Etherpad, Google doc or Gobby: tools that enable co-writing a text on-line), is easier than lifting a rock and much more effective.
  • facilitating a discussion using mind maps (freeplane, freemind, Xmind…), projected live onto a screen, a technique that allows visualising all the group's ideas quickly, moving from a linear mindset to a way of sailing through ideas that can adapt to the audience (where it is easy to bring in new ideas).
  • drafting and valuing recaps of discussion lists (see the example of Tela Botanica); the network members sometimes discuss very specific topics. The person who started the discussion should make the recap. There is a list of recaps from the following discussion lists that is a copy-paste or a more organised drafting).
  • including content that is not perfect, to be corrected: hearing only the bravery to defend the purity of language, those who yesterday totally opposed participating in a computing tool overcome the technical barrier and correct mistakes! (this tip is even more effective when an error is linked to a person's name: to the worry for a perfect spelling, there is also the spur of ego…)
  • organising cooperative games: for example the Tao game.

Starting face-to-face

When talking of a “cooperative network”, we often imagine a group that is not always in the same space and at the same time: there is distance work involved, synchronous and asynchronous exchanges. In the opposite sense, there are very few virtual communities that only work at distance: meetings and gatherings are important moments for the network dynamics.
When starting up a network, it is always good to use this “face-to-face” time to test and experiment with tools and methods that could continue to be used at distance: establishing what is going to be used at distance when people are together.
This will allow everyone to become familiar with them and learn, and will ensure a continuity between the face-to-face and distance work.
For example, in a network's meeting, one of the members asks a question to the other members. Everyone can give one or more answers written on small pieces of paper giving their contact details. This way answers are summarised and are made visible to all. Then the person who asked the question can get the contact details of the people who answered to the question and can create a discussion list to continue exchanging from a distance.
For example, it is possible to establish tools to work from a distance that will all of a sudden generate questions on how to proceed face-to-face: rules on taking the floor, decision-making…very often these rules are implicit. In a group, drafting the minutes of a meeting is often done by one person. If we have a co-writing tool to take notes, this will automatically generate questions: can everyone write? Who will validate the minutes? It is clear that the tool isn't the problem, it simply generates questions.

Starting by oneself

Charity begins at home. or To change the world you must first change yourself.
Many structures have a project to make a group cooperate, a network. But first of all one has to start using cooperative methods and practices: it is about applying to oneself what one wishes to apply to others.
cf. The ITPTS, "Interactions Transformation Personnelle, Transformation Sociale" (Interactions Personal Transformation, Social Transformation): not opposing the wishes to change the world and work on oneself, both are related and must be articulated
A fact: a structure that does not cooperate internally and doesn't use tools for this will find it very difficult to find cooperation around it.
But how to proceed when you're in a highly static and restricted context that is not very open to these practices? One needs to start off from the smallest of places to cooperate, some trustworthy friends, a small and venturesome working group…One can always find two or three people who are willing to play the game!

Starting with simple things

Use tools that are easy to use for people
When working with IT tools, the first step is the most important. If the first contact is easy, contributors will feel reassured and will want to engage a little further and will accept that some time to learn or become familiar with the tools is necessary.
It could also be possible to hide some of the functions from users at a first stage and wait for the group to become more mature before gradually adding new bricks. Or wait for them to ask for this and make the technical tool advance based on the group's demands.

Keeping things practical

Using tools that are easy to install and configure and that don't require technical skills
Rather than waiting to have the necessary means to create a customised tool, it is best to start from the moment the network dynamics starts to see a need to have ready-to-use tools that are easy to install and use: crafting some tools that are not too burdensome but that allow starting to work on cooperative issues (Google doc, Netvibes).
Of course this is not perfect: it would be better to have one's own tool with free software. And some may even be against using free on-line services that stock your information with the risk of them being used for commercial purposes. This is true, but the network facilitator must remain practical. These tools are to be used knowing what they are for and what they are: free on-line services, not tools that allow you to be totally independent. Nevertheless, thanks to their simplicity they can be used to surface cooperative dynamics.
We will wait to see real uses fall into place before moving on the specific developments if they are required.

Guiding in use

Guiding with attention rather than with intention:
  • managing a project "with intention": from the start, the coordinator plans some goals, the execution of the project, the timeframe, the budget… <this is the traditional project methodology>
  • managing a project “with attention”: the facilitator creates cooperative situations (getting people to meet, getting them to introduce themselves, so they can exchange…) and then being pursuant and reactive (suggesting supports so that what arises from the cooperative situation can lead to projects, actions, cooperative work…) <cooperative project methodology>
The facilitator must force him or herself to be quiet, to leave his or her ideas aside and to adopt an attitude of listening and observation.
Furthermore, the facilitator must create favourable conditions for the collective needs to appear: for example, a questionnaire where the results are shared collectively. Google Drive is perfect for this purpose since it allows you to process the answers statistically and to create graphs. Giving everyone the results in real time allows the facilitator not to monopolise the global vision: the group is made visible to the group.

Beautiful, beautiful...

Contrary to what we could believe, aesthetics and graphics are very important: they have a power to motivate the group members and brings value to the collective productions.
We can even use flashy things, highly appreciated by some:
  • flash animations,
  • rollovers and drag and drop functions using jquery technologies or mootools,
  • Rolex...

Mirror mirror on the wall

Establishing processes for the group to have a collective image of itself
Making the group visible to the group is an essential stage to get cooperation moving between the members. It is the concept of “holopticism” described by Jean-François Noubel.
Different techniques and tools can be used:
  • mappings of the members: to represent the community so it can take shape, so it is less virtual and adopts a geographical dimension.
  • making an inventory of skills (identifying everyone's strong points and writing it on a mind map, for example) or of things we are ready to share (what resources does the group member have that they could share with the other members?)
  • sharing problems and obstructions to one another, and things that others can help you with.

Encouraging contributions

To get cooperative dynamics started (and to extend it in time) based on voluntary participation it is important to bring value even to the slightest of contributions. For example, mentioning all those who have contributed to a project, even those with a minimal contribution (apology of the positive reinforcement).
There is nothing wrong with pleasure!
It may also be very useful for a network facilitator to get to know people who contribute occasionally very well to find the link between their concerns and the project.

Clarifying the terms of use

When imagining a cooperative network it is extremely likely that exchanges will lead to common collective productions.
To avoid any problems or misunderstandings, it is best to sit down and discuss the terms of use and the rights that apply to common productions right from the beginning of the dynamics:
  • who owns the contents produced collectively?
  • can this content be sold?
  • can it be transformed? ...
Creative Commons licences (a flexible copyright contract to make works free) would help thinking about this issue and would provide a legal framework for the creation of common goods.

Being surrounded by good “followers”

"It is quite often said that a group's liveliness depends on the quality of the facilitation. Of course, this is partly true. But in this short home video you will see a talented explanation on how leadership is essential to get things started, but that without followers engaging in the action, things wouldn't work."

(article taken from the blog 362point0.org)

Getting people moving, producing and cooperating

Producing and getting common goods produced

It's up to you!


Card's author : Outils Réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with : Twitter is the chirps of birds, that's why the log is a little blue bird. Created in 2006; Twitter is a microblogging plateform: the equivalent of an SMS but on the internet. Tweets of 140 characters maximum can be sent and received.
Official website : http://twitter.com/
Tool's boxes : Blogs
Introduction :
Requirements : Opening a Twitter account
Some practical uses :
  • Communicating about a network's activities.
  • Web watching with Twitter

Using the tools :
Going further : Testing space : twitter.com

Documentation :
Advantages :
  • A very quick and exponential propagation effect. With the system "follower/following" : creation of a much more flexible social network than with Facebook.
Drawbacks :
  • Only 140 characters : no way to be profound.
  • Written form and specific codes that can put off beginners : Twitter is more confidential than Facebook
Licence : Proprietary software, Free
Using : Easy
Setting up : No setting up

Understand by yourself what is going on in your group

Card's author : Jean-Michel Cornu
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : There is not a unique way brought from outside that can make your group work. On the contrary, it's up to the participants of the group to ask themselves the right questions – without fogetting forgetting any- to find suitable answers. This questionnaire enables to srutinize scrutinise the group from all angles. It can be filled up by the manager(s) but much better than that, by all members even those who are little or not active at all.

Note : before usig using this questionnaire, read first Cooperation in 28 keywords

Keywords :

Using Google Maps for collective purchasing

Card's author : Françoise Viala
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : This tool was created after a reflection process in the association Pic'assiette, on how to give visibility to citizen initiatives on group purchasing.

How it works

It is not the association creating the groups, but the association does invite citizens or producers to join their closest group, or even to create a new group. Citizens who do not know each other give their contact information and then Pic'assiette puts them in contact using their geographical location.
The idea was therefore to:
  • show something that already existed to a new audience and also to groups that already existed. Indeed, between Nimes and Montpellier there are several groups that don't know about each other. Each group has its own way of doing things, its own set of questions, but there is no exchanging.
  • create a link, exchanging between groups!
This really does work thanks to events that are organised independently, without the association Pic'assiette intervening.
Beyond creating a link, the aim is to reflect collectively on how to help diversify the output of producers and make it last without falling back on the same group of people the whole time.
Everyone is free to participate without need to register for references. The referencing part has mostly been done already by the association Pic'assiette, which took the time to meet and exchange with the groups close to Montpellier; then the groups met and managed their own meeting times, their agendas, etc…totally independently.
The tool was used as a model to create a reference map for citizen collective purchases in the region of Languedoc-Roussillon. (http://site-coop.net/gaclr/)
The main advantage of this type of maps is that it makes an initiative visible very quickly.

Some points to bear in mind:

  • They must be updated
  • People need to be trained
  • There must be facilitation. The tool is not sufficient in itself, it must be made known to people at stands, open doors.

What next?

The second stage is to reference the tools allowing to place an order, all the tasks and actions required for the group to continue in time. The association has participated in Moustic Gathering to make this whole process even more collective and collaborative.


Using Google questionnaires at FNAMI LR

Card's author : FNAMI LR
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : The network of participating musicians is mainly facilitated by a small group around the chairwoman of the network.
Creating a questionnaire would allow testing the ideas generated in this small group with the rest of the network members to enrich them.
The first option (creating a questionnaire on paper, sending it, gathering the answers, processing them and making a summary of it all before distributing it to the group) was discarded: it took up too much time and required too many means.
To facilitate the work, a Google document was created.
The first step The association FNAMI-LR was created in 2003; does it meet our needs? Where are we heading? yielded almost 100 replies.

Training people to use Google questionnaires

A little more than one hour was needed for people new to this tool to learn to create a questionnaire; this training allowed the group to take charge of the tool fully and now it is used quite systematically. We noticed the results from having volunteers from the association using it in a professional framework.

Managing the questionnaire

The questionnaires were sent by e-mail and were also posted on the FNAMI site. This enabled the network members to answer the questions directly. Results were automatically added to a Google Document spreadsheet.

Analysing the outcomes

Google Document allows processing the answers automatically when possible (histograms, average values, pie charts…) by using the form function/add a summary of answers. There are several pages to process the data which made the analysis much easier.

Feedback with the results

The results were given back to the network members in a general assembly. They confirmed some analysis made by the steering committee, and at the same time allowed proving the needs collectively and in a shared way; they were especially useful to show several new issues considered as priorities by the group.
Some results were posted onto the website automatically using the option of creating widgets with the results in the form of charts, graphs or spreadsheets...
This procedure to automatically provide the results is positive in many ways: it reinforces participation (my answers are visible and used right away), it promotes participation (they can't see me so I must reply), it looks "flashy" and some people really like this ;-)
Internet link : http://fnami-lr.org


Using lists in Tela Botanica

Card's author : Outils-réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : The Tela Botanica network was developed around discussion lists.

The first "tela-botanicae" was established in March 1999, when the network was created. It finds its support in the services offered by Yahoo Groups. It remains active today, with 1,092 members and 34,000 messages exchanged since its creation, with an average of 225 messages per month (figures from 8 March 2010).

Diversity of its members

The list combines specialists and amateurs, neophytes and people passionate for botanic sciences. A beginner asks a question and then dozens of specialists answer, sometimes in great depth. Admittedly, if they had met up with each other, the exchanges would probably never have been so dynamic (for the fear of being judged by others, the high level of discussions…).

Division into themed groups

As exchanges went on, themed discussions emerged, sometimes creating an overwhelming number of messages on the list. The network facilitator, who was monitoring the situation, immediately suggested creating a separate and specific discussion list. This is how more than fifty themed groups were created, leading to some intense cooperative work for some and to collective production.

Summarised lists

The advantage of dividing the network into themed groups is that you can subscribe to discussions that you are interested in, without becoming flooded with emails every day. The disadvantage is that you don't have a global view of what is going on in the group. To solve this issue, one of the network members encouraged the creation of discussion summaries: the person asking a question had to write a summary with all the answers received.
Three levels of summaries were defined based on the level of information feedback.
  • Level 1 - gathering messages. Returning all exchanges on a topic (the only process involved is to compile all the messaged in an order and clean-up the form).
  • Level 2 - gathering messages and shaping them. Intermediate summarising giving messages a certain shape.
  • Level 3 - summary. Enriched summary (adding elements and controlling references).
All this under a Creative Commons licence, of course!

Tools to facilitate and frame exchanges

The network also created tools to facilitate access to these lists for new members: animated user manuals (video tutorial) and a code of good conduct (Netiquette).


Web 2

Card's author : Outils-réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :

Le Web 2.0

The web 2.0 is a word created in 2004 by Dale Dougherty of the O'Reilly Media corporation and popularized in 2005 by Tim O'Reilly. In an article entitled What is web 2.0 ?, the author redefines the Internet not only as a simple media but as a medium of collective intelligence. A true revolution seating the user in the heart of the Internet and marking for some the return to the fundamentals, for others a vast swindle.

For users, it means more participative tools than can be acquired. For developers, it means formats, standards, technologies eanbling to link systems. In a marketing vision, it covers the notion of services in wich users create contents as well as the economic pattern where free is the rule.


Presentation done by Carnet de bord de l'@telier, blog de l'Espace culture multimédia de la Médiathèque de Lorient.

In summary, five characteristic features of Web 2.0

Collaboration, interaction, exchange and technological evolutions appear among these key-words
1. Strengthened participation of Internet users ( blogs, wiki, tags,...)

  • the web becomes a social media, even citizen where everyone can be author (Wikipedia).
  • Production of web contents is democratized thanks to the development of technologies: blogs, wikis, podcasts, photos and digital videos, etc), to the wide diffusion of broadband and to the emergence of a new generation of internet users native of the digital technology.

2. Abolished borders

The web 2.0 abolishes borders: sites and services are no longer isolated islets of information. They communicate and enable multiple re-combinations:
  • between applications (inter-operability, applications combinations...): calendars, maps...
  • between medium (computers, telephony, audio reader, video, Internet), with the advent of teh web as main channel.

3.Improvement of interfaces

Interfaces become more ergonomicthanks to the simplification of actions: fewer clicks ("slide/put down"), more comfort (automatic recording of modifications).

4. The webisation of desktop applications

Traditional apps leave local desktops to join webtops. Expl: "Office live" from Microsoft

5. An unstable sector

Sites and services refering to web 2.0 do not stop increasing. Services are free or accessible at very low cost. The great majority of corporations proposing 2.0 services have less than 24 months...

Crossed viewpoints: web 2.0's examples of uses

In the field of education

"In the field of webwatching

Serge Courrier-Quels usages... par Inist-Cnrs

To go further

Web 2.0 dans Ressources TIC / Laurent Marseault (furax37)

Photo : Markus Angermeier - Wikipedia - CC-BY-SA

Web writing

Card's author : Outils-réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :

Writing for the web : a journalistic writing potentiated by digital technologies

Contrary to a yet too popular belief, one can't write for the web just like that. Apart from an ability shared by journalists to organize and write out information, this exercise needs a good knowledge of the Internet's issues and a methodology peculiar to this tool, actually taking into account that a Netsurfer reads differently the Internet than a newspaper. Care must be taken to get his attention, to guide him, to enable him to come and go easily in the different strata of the site through links and to provide him straight away what he came for : clear, organized and updated data.

Writing Rules transposed into the Web

Generally, web writing takes up the basic rules of written press. We find there the same main writing items as in the writing techniques of traditional media. Namely :

Lede and title elements

The article is written around core elements which are:

  • The title which is divided in two categories:
    • informative : without any stylistic effect and meant to be simple and clear
    • incentive : which sets out to tempt to see the information. For example : "This infinitely small that arouses great debate " (Article on nano-technologies).

  • The lede : which sets out to force the reader to read the article until the end ( "to strike the reader ").
    • its form tempts to be lively and eccentric (content and form) to hold attention, to sharpen curiosity and interest.
    • vocabuloray is made of keywords (for the web indexing) and meaningful verbs.

  • Subheads which help to organize content, to make the text clearer and to improve visibility by search engines.

The Five Ws, Five Ws and one H rule

The Five Ws, Five Ws and one H rule is a mnemonics approach to remember essential information which have to appear in the article. It consists in answering the following questions :
  • Who : the subject of the action;
  • What : the action, the facts strictly speaking;
  • When : the period during which the action, the facts have or will occur;
  • Where: the place where they may occur;
  • Why : their reasons for being ;
  • How : their way of being.

The principle of the inverted pyramid

Pyramide inversee.png

Recurring in written press, the principle of the inverted pyramid is based on the development of facts in decreasing order. It goes from general information to specific ones. Vital information are at the beginning following the postulate that the reader tunes out progressively. This technique leads naturally to rank and structure information. Widely used in the world of web writing, it is not inescapable, as often claimed. Web allows indeed to use hypertext links to go to the most specific and have several levels of reading.

  • Source : Own work

Or the "Champagne " approach

Today the technique of the inverted pyramid is questioned by some web writers for the benefit of the "Champagne " approach. Proposed by Mario Garcia, a famous graphic designer, this approach consists in organizing information to boost the reader's attention approximately every twenty one lines. The sought after goal is to keep the netsurfer interested and concentrated.

Designing readable and attractive texts : work on style

As with paper, it is compulsory to design readable and attractive texts to bind the netsurfer's reading and to develop loyalty by :
Writing pleasant texts. In order to do that it is recommanded to :
  • Humanize the subject, making it alive : always favor descriptions, atmospheres.
  • Stage information.
  • Vary approach angles.

Acquiring and developing a style. For this purpose, it is recommanded to :
  • Read a lot. Learn to read as a specialist : what is efficient, what is pleasant.
  • Create a universe by dipping, taking inspiration, writing.
  • Train with short exercises : short portraits, atmosphere, situation, rumors, bulletins...
  • Fight your self-esteem : have your text read (even outlines), accepting criticisms, advices...
  • Unleash your sensitivity. A good writer never betrays the demand of objectivity but lets show his feelings, his enthusiasm, his indignation... He makes his article alive.

To have at your disposal more elements on the basic rules of journalistic writing : "Improve your writings by incorporating method and principles of journalistic writing ".

An optimized writing by the developments of digital technologies

If the web writing takes up the methods of traditional journalism, it can't be limited to a simple transposition of contents from paper to the Internet. This in itself has little value. The development of digital technologies has released the writing of numerous limits (time, the restricted broadcasting space, the number of readers, etc.) and allowed a direct relationship with the reader...

Turn the reader into an actor !

What characterizes web writing from journalistic writing is undoubtedly the place given to the netsurfer. Formerly simple reader, he is now with the Web 2.0 a full actor which can now generate content through comments made on articles, discussions on newsgroup, chats, blog. He can also "describe " the information received by taking it over and annotating it. Interaction is the heart of web writing! This is what will enable the content to exist, to go further and to spread on the Web.

This interaction with the netsurfer can be impulsed and fed by the implementation of different actions :

Get sure that the message received is the message you want to spread

Interaction presupposes closeness. It can't exist if the developed subjects in the writer's writings are not in adequacy with what he really means and the announced editorial line. It may be necessary to check the cohesion of comments by using for instance a "tag cloud " which allows, through a visual representation, the highlighting of the most used words on a site or a web page. Generally they appear in fonts even larger that they are used or popular. These tools are also useful to take some distance from the writings and have an overview of the most used concepts and by rectifying if necessary to match words with initial ideas.
Tagcrowd and Wordle mark themselves out among tag generators.

Enable the netsurfer to deepen his reading

The use of hypertext links (directed outside) allows to link one's writings to other pages on the same subject. This gives an opportunity to deepen the subjects with an access to complementary resources and settles a new dialogue between authors and readers. Internet has dramatically changed our relationship with information : it is no longer isolated, it gets into a large field of knowledge ! Creating hypertext links also offers numerous opportunities :
  • contextualizate the subject giving it therefore more body,
  • develop the reader's loyalty whom will appreciate the richness of the content,
  • give your writing a supplementary visibility by inscribing it in a wider network (sites quoted with their link can quote you back with your own site's link),
  • capture the netsurfer's interest by inciting him to trail around the page.

Arouse participation

Digital communication sets out less to produce a content than to share it with netsurfers who are encouraged to give their opinion, to build a relationship between readers and to relay it. It especially requires :
  • the implementation of comments appearing more and more as an extension of the article. Netsurfers will add new data, give another point of view or refer to other relevent contents on the same subject,
  • the implementation of "share icons " underneath the article which will encourage the reader to relay,
  • the launching of a discussion in a newsgroup,
  • a call for Papers, etc.

These techniques allow moreover to improve the content according to readers feedbacks and to unite a community around these writings. Furthermore, a tool as Wiki gives the netsurfer an opportunity to add his own data to the existing ones and to modify the latter. Digital technologies marks the transition from individual writing to collaborative writing !

Go beyond the bondaries of time

Instant writing...

Internet allows to have not only a direct relationship with the reader but to have it instantaneously... It is possible today, thanks to social networks, to broadcast contents and to have answers, all that live ! Twitter, Facebook, Coverit Live... All these "live-blogging " tools encourage the implementation of new writing practices in which the content is designed as a support to a broader information rather than as an end in itself. The writing is now part of a more collaborative world where the author attends live the broadcasting of his production : it is relayed on blogs, tweeted, scooped, retweeted, commented... A true editorial chain is naturally set up to make this writing alive, so far as it is of quality. This can only modify deeply the relationship between the author and his writing, the former having to "let go " more about his production, accepting to be judged, sometimes harshly... This fact requires for who wants to publish online to have a former thinking on his relationship with writing but also with what he is ready to show of himself. The transition from written to oral can be difficult...

...analysis writing

In parallel with instant writing, digital technologies allow an analysis writing/reading. In fact, the appearance of digital tablets, smartphones and other mobile communication tools led to a different reading behavior, the netsurfer being able to select and keep the sources that interests him, and to go back to them later in a more comfortable environment. The issue for the web will be to adopt new editorial strategies which will push the reader to collect the content and to read it later, deepening his reading. Dedicated tools have emerged : for example Pocket (formerly Read It Later) or Evernote which allow to put besides selected contents from the web, to archive them and to classify them with filters or tags.

Enhancing online information

Digital technologies allow to enhance articles with various contents and to mix formats for a richer route for the reader ! Loïc Haÿ, specialist in services and uses of information technologies reviews some widgets (= applications) which enable to enhance online information : creation and personalization of photo albums, integration of 3D models and of videos, etc. These video clips (in French) come from the Explorcamp organized by the Mitic (Mission for Information Technologies for Corsica) on the 26 and 27 of June 2008 and having for topic the Web 2.0.

explorcamp - enrichir contenu by mitic20

explorcamp - enrichir contenu multimedia 2 by mitic20

Write for the Web : stop preconceived ideas !

Finally in web writing ideas are legion and persistent : one should write phrases of less than 15 words, simplify at most the message, avoid the use of negation and passive form, promote a subject-verb-complement structure, write in scan mode... Actually, as on paper support, writing must get as close as possible to the audience, to the subject, to the environment in which it takes place. A text for a Humanities revue or a site dedicated to Philosophy can't follow the same rules as a document conceived to promote a firm or commercial products.

The Eyetrack survey, carried out by the Poynter Institute in 2007, shows that netsurfers read thorougly online magazines, even more than they read written press. The legal blog of Maître Eolas, (http://www.maitre-eolas.fr/ ), one of the most visited in France, is a perfect example. It demonstrates that long notes can be written and still develop the loyalty of a large community of readers.


What if we were not so individualistic ?

Card's author : Jean Michel Cornu
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :

When humans choose themselves to form an alliance with

Many strategies take into account human's egoism: for example systems which force to work for a common cause or for the economy which enables to negotiate a price depending on supply and demand with individualistic and rational « agents ».

Personally, I am interested in strategies of cooperation starting from the same presupposition: the humanbeing has both a selfish and an altruistic side. We must first seek to converge the interest and the collective interest. Worse: in case of a general conflict, someone altruistic would act for other people's interest to the detriment of his own. He would then be disadvantaged in a Darwinian sense...

Yet three pieces of information I recently aknowledged show that human being (as some animals) can do things to get something vital, that are seemingly against his interests : allying with others.

Even animals are sometimes altruistic

Turdoides are birds which feed other members of their group's broods, protecting themselves. Many species have members accepting to be sentries for others. They show then their utility in being part of a coalition.

The man who says all he does facing profiteers

Man too does things which could seem to be against his own interest. Jean-Louis Dessalles from Telecom Paris, in an interesting conference called "human language, a paradox of evolution", shows that language should normally disadvantage its user: the one who shares information while the one who listens has simultaneously his own information and others'.

Yet we are descended from a man who talks. This fundamental invention that occured 100 or 200,000 years ago is even the reason of our intelligence according to Jacques Monod in "le hasard et la nécessité". What kind of Darwinian advantage Nature could give to one who speaks and gives information to others ?

Two attempts to explain

We cannot call simply upon the collective benefit for the species because this argument is not relevant enough facing the inconvenience for the individual to give without expecting in return.

Another attempt to explain: John Miller Smith approached the evolution by the theory of game, showing that something could be done (for example giving an information) in order to get something else fair's fair approach). This needs to speak to those we believe are able to play the game but also to a have a system for detecting cheaters (approach developed by W.D. Halmilton).
But the « Green-Beard theory" images the difficulty of altruistic people to recognize each other:

"Let's assume that altruistic peolpe wear a green beard to identify each other. The few selfish persons from the same species who also wears a green beard will be tempted to cheat... And will succeed once again to the detriment of altruistic people !".

Yet, some researchers of the Ecology Lab of the Pierre et Marie Curie University (ENS-CNRS) and from the Royal Holloway College (London, UK) have shown recently that altruistic people could be one step ahead than cheaters by "modifying slightly and regularly the color of their beards". Simulations showed that in this special case, altruistic people could have a competitive advantage on selfish people but also on selfish cheating people.
Nevertheless: the fair's fair approach, if it enables to understand some altruistic behaviors, is not working with language because we often talk to a set of people.

The wise man points at the moon and the madman looks at the finger

Jean-Louis Dessalles proposes a third very attractive hypothesis. He noticed that the little human being, even before being able to talk, have a trend to point with their finger, i.e. sharing information. It's not the case with animals.
An experience illustrates this:
Some food is hidden under one bowl and nothing under another: showing the right bowl to a chimp does not incite him to get the food whereas going towards the right bowl incites the animal to go and get the food. On the contrary the child will understand the information just by being pointed the right bowl.
The difference is that the animal does not generally integrate in its communication the given information which does not expect a return. Communication helps to show physical strength, sexual attraction but not things useless to the communicator.
Man also communicates this way, but he will also add information without expecting other information back. Doing that, he's gonna show others the qualities which make him worth joining the groupe (self-abnegation, altruism, sincerity...).

The benefit in terms of survival

If mankind spends around 20% of is awake time communicating with others and giving information at loss, it is doubtless because he takes a crucial advantage of it. She must counterbalance the inconvenience of sometimes doing things in the group's interest but to his own detriment.
Human being has little chances to survive on his own. But L'être humain a peu de chances de survivre seul. But unlike other animals, he forms less alliances with others outside his own family. He might then have developed a capacity of elaborate language in order to give information and thus showing that he can be accepted by the group.
Chimps can only unite when two or three (not to be confused with a pack or a herd: in a coalition, individuals have chosen each other). Probably thanks to language, mankind is able to form alliances with several persons. In a small group, choosing individual strength brings more to the whole ; in a large group, strength is brought with the number of members and thus enables the ability to cooperate together.

Conflict of interests and assumption of altruism

This approach may explain a peculiarity of groups: in case of a conflict of interests, there is an unconscious belief that the person will fight for the group to her detriment. Of course, when we discuss of this in full consciousness, we realize that it is not necessarily the case.
This a an annoying consequence: when one is in a conflict of interests he cannot tell others: "Hey, I have a problem,I can't act in the group's interest". And yet, this could help in most cases to find a third way enabling to reconcile individual and collective interests ; but this would mean that we are not just altruistic, contrary to what we have proved unconsciously with our communication to join the group.
Thus, one of the problem making cohabitation harder for mankind is that when a conflict of interests occurs, it cannot be discussed. It stays unsaid and sometimes unconscious (for example utters of anger that we try to justify with objectives purposes when they are just resulting from other causes of which we are not fully conscious...). What is left unsaid makes it difficult to solve problems generated by the group. It seems to come exactly from what enables us to get together: our ability to share information freely to show our capacity to join a coalition !

Hume and mankind's bias

In an audio presentation about "artifice and society in the work of Hume" (recorded anthology of French Thought), Gilles Deleuze demonstrates that for David Hume, man is not selfish but biased. That means that he has a sphere of privileged sympathy.
For Hume, there are three types of sympathy: with close relations, with parents and with fellow human beings. They match the three principles of association which he identified in his works (particularly on association of ideas): similarity, continuity and common causation.
The moral problem then is not to manage selfishness (which is the starting point of the contract often said to be the base of society and institutions, in particular with his XVIIIth century contemporaries), but rather to go beyond the circle of natural sympathies to expand it to the whole society. For Hume, the legislation no longer prevents selfishness (which has not been statisfying till now) but overcomes our biases more constructively to expand the circle (not for the contract anymore but for what Hume called the "main rule").

The purpose(s) of living together

In other words, we could ask the question this way: can we find rules favoring the enlargement of the circle of people choosing themselves (coalitions are often the base of our ability to survive) to expand them to the rest of human kind and beyond the kingdom of life.
But like every question, this question must be completed by its counterpart to enable to go further (in a dialectic approach), and we could also add: how can we prevent the assumption of altruism, that enabled us to enter a coalition, from blinding us collectively to assume the defense of our own interests.

What tools and for what purpose? (depending on the network's evolution)

Card's author : Outils-réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : There are many tools for networking, collaborative tools many of which are available with free software. They offer very open fields of application, but sometimes it is difficult to find one's way in this jungle of tools and functions.

A Network's Life

The creation of networks: 5 basic steps

image Etapes réseau

These steps occur simultaneously. They guide the way for new arrivals.

Tools for each of a network's life stages

**Process** **Function** **"Small arrows"** **Preferred tools**
Creation Creation of the network's identity Grouping the arrows of the same colour General discussion list and dynamic mapping of the network members
Information Exchanging information between network members Grouping the arrows pointing in the same direction Themed discussion lists, forums, news
Transformation Establishing collective projects Surfacing of the projects' "big arrows" Workshops and tools to support projects
Outreach Interaction with the surroundings The action of project arrows on other surrounding arrows Disseminating data on a website (using CMS: dynamic content integration)
Consolidation Opening and following the dynamic Permeability (dashes) to new members and conservation of internal dynamics (spiral) Onboarding, classing information, presence of a history

Creation of a network

This first stage is about giving visibility to the sense of belonging to the network. It is important that each new actor is immediately made visible, for his or her sake (existing in the network and being recognized within) and for that of others.
The essential tools for this first stage go through a round of presentations in a face-to-face meeting.

Description: tools to conduct on-line surveys. Some process replies statistically (graphs, percentages).
Google Forms

Network information

Saying “I am part of a network” is not enough to be a stakeholder; it is also necessary to say what we are passionate about, what we expect to do in the network, and with whom we would like to do this. For this, the network's members must be able to exchange information effectively, talk to one another, create groups based on shared interests and give visibility to the topics of discussion that could then lead to future projects.

Discussion and distribution lists, forum

Social networks:

Network transformation

This stage -which is actually an ongoing process- is identified at the start, when projects are created and set up. It is really a transformation at the heart of the network, since it starts creating an organisation and starts to be operational through its projects.

The necessary tools for this stage are those that allow working together on projects, and are a whole array of collaborative tools to share documents and information, co-write, exchange, synchronise and think together.

Document sharing:
D Manager


On-line office suits:
Google documents

Google Calendar
Php I calendar

Mind maps:


Social bookmarking:

Network outreach

Now the network has visibility through the projects it hosts and facilitates and interacts with its environment.
This interaction can happen at different levels: interaction with the public within the projects' frameworks, interaction with institutional partners that support and encourage projects, interaction with other networks to exchange or transfer skills and experiences…

CMS : content management system

Rss :

Network consolidation

This stage aims at ensuring that, even if the network has survived the 4 first stages with some of its members, it is open to new members.
At this stage, tools are more methodological (the network history, charter, guides for new members, manuals on how to participate...).

However, there are some tools that help visualising the activity of a network with a lot of content more easily.

Tag clouds:

Illustration credits under Creative Commons licence: by - Outils-Réseaux

Which tools and for what purposes ? (depending on the type of group)

Card's author : Outils-réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :

Decision grid

What type of group?

SIZE: managing the speaking SMALL GROUP: immediate exchanges MEDIUM GROUP: facilitating exchanges LARGE GROUP: managing the number of exchanges
SCOPE: reinforcing bonds LOCAL GROUP: synchronising NATIONAL GROUP: moving back to the local WORLD GROUP: moving back to the national
PURPOSE: adapting the tools to the aims CONVIVIALITY: mastering the informal PRODUCTION: mastering the critical tasks to Co-build DISSEMINATION: publish and making oneself known
MATURITY: towards autonomy CHILD: starting the first step ADOLESCENT: managing conflicts ADULT: remaining open and young

SMALL GROUP: immediate exchanges

  • E-mail
  • Synchronous communication tools
This family of tools encompasses those that make it possible to talk live and at a distance:
  • chat or instant messaging tools: communicating through written messages in almost real-time
  • VOIP tools: to talk live (voice transmission)
  • Videoconference tools: to talk and see each other live (sound and image transmission)

MEDIUM GROUP: facilitating exchanges

  • Discussion and mailing lists, forum
A discussion or mailing list is a specific use of email that allows public postings of information to users who have subscribed to them.
  • Discussion list:
A list for exchanges via email on a topic or for a group. Anyone can write to the list and everyone receives what is published on the list. (n vs. n)
  • Mailing list: a reading-only list via email to distribute a newsletter, for example. The letter is distributed to everyone but none of the recipients of this letter can modify it or communicate with other recipients of the mailing list (1 to n)
  • Web Forum: on-line discussion group: you can check and write messages and answer them using a web browser. Messages are classed by discussion threads.

LARGE GROUP: managing the number of exchanges

  • Tag cloud
A tag cloud is a visual representation of the tags used more often on a website. Generally speaking, these tags use font sizes that are larger the more popular or frequent the tag is.
Summaries : refer to the example the use of lists by Tela Botanica

LOCAL GROUP: synchronising

  • Shared calendars
Calendars that can be viewed on the Internet and be modified by several people.

NATIONAL GROUP: moving back to the local

  • Directories
There are no key tools available to make directories, but it is a tool that is often found in other systems:
  • Social network tools, for example, allow creating member directories,
  • CMS generally offer an electronic registration and also offer member directories,
  • A list of members can be created on a wiki by opening a page for each of them.
  • Mapping
Systems to install interactive mappings on a website. They can be used to map a community, a network under construction: an absolute must to get cooperation started!

WORLD GROUP: moving back to the national

CONVIVIALITY: mastering the informal

  • Trombinoscope
  • Social network and micro-blogging
Social networks: a web-based service allowing people to create a public or semi-public profile in a limited system, to build a list of users they are connected to, to view and browse through their own relationships and those established by other users.
  • Micro-blogging: (sometimes referred to as mini-blogging)
It is a brief version of a blog that allows posting short articles, much shorter than in a typical blog, which may also contain an image or even a video attachment. Aggregation feeds are lighter than in traditional blogs and can contain the full message. Distribution may also be restricted by the publisher to a circle of people.

PRODUCTION: mastering the critical tasks to Co-building

  • Wiki
  • Document sharing
In a group, it often becomes essential to share documents and resources. To do this there are either on-line systems ready to use or free software that can be installed in a host. Ideally one wants to choose the options that allow synchronicity.
  • On-line office suites
More and more, it is possible to carry one's office around on the Internet: on-line office suites are used more and more often. The advantage of this is that they allow a collective use and in real time: ideal to promote cooperation!
  • Social bookmarking
Social bookmarking is a way for internet users to save, class, search and share their favourite links.
  • Mind maps
A mind map is a way of communicating and transmitting information between people in a graphic way. The idea is to place a central topic (a word or a drawing) in the centre of a sheet of paper and, from there, developing branches that contain different ideas that link back to the topic. This concept was invented by the mathematician Tony Buzan in the 1960s.

DISSEMINATION: publish and making oneself known

  • Newsletter and mailing list
  • CMS
Content Management System. Defines a group of software programmes that facilitate the creation, updating and publishing of contents on a website. Some of the most popular tools in this category are:: SPIP, Mambo (now Joomla), ez Publish, Typo 3 ...
  • RSS threads and syndication
"RSS" ("Rich Site Summary" or "Really Simple Syndication") is the name given to a data format used to disseminate updates on websites whose content changes very often; news sites, blogs…an RSS thread generally contains the title of the information, a brief summary and a link to another page with extended information. The RSS file, also called RSS feed, RSS channel, RSS thread or information thread is updated to provide the latest information posted in real time.
RSS can be used in two ways:
  • for a personal use. Users are required to have a specific tool called an “RSS reader” or “aggregator” to subscribe and check all the latest information from several websites on one single place, without having to visit the various sites.
  • content syndication: is the automatic publishing on a website of information coming from other sites.
  • Blog
From "Web - log": initially these were like personal on-line diaries which then developed into the support for an array of different public expressions: opinions, the voice of the citizens, activists, testimonials, recitals…
There are several types of blogs: ready-to-use services (blog platforms) or free software programmes that one can install on a server. What they all share is that they allow someone without the technical knowledge to publish articles that are grouped by dates.

CHILD: starting the first step

Simple tools


ADOLESCENT: managing conflicts

Operating rules

  • Surveys and forms
Tools to carry out on-line surveys. Some process the replies statistically (graphs and percentages).

ADULT: remaining open and young

Onboarding for new members, public getting to know the content

Why aren't things worse ?

Card's author : Jean Michel Cornu
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description : Some ideas from Patrick Viveret's conference of April the 5th

"Humanity has an appointment with herself "

Man is at a crossroads. Until now he could alter or destroy part of the planet (his ecological niche) or part of his own kind. He is now able to destroy his entire species or the whole of his own ecological niche.

Human adventure could end in different ways:

An economic war: we are not in a system of competition (running together) but in a logic of war where we fight against weaker than us and where the individual interest is most of the time in conflict with general interest.

A climatic disorder (term more adapted than global warming), which could end up in the destruction of the ecological niche of human kind (" the EGOlogical challenge is harder to deal with than the ecological challenge "). The climatic disorder was demonstrated as a consequence of the first point.

Economic warfare, originally intended to regulate trade between men, represents the greatest threat to its survival. What can be done to enable man, that Edgar Morin calls "homo sapiens demiens", to benefit from the positive side of his dual nature to continue and transcend his own adventure?

How everything derived ?

There was a deviation, which makes that no other society gave importance in economy. Usually, economy is subject to activities considered as more fundamental : religion, politics, culture, philosophy... it creates a balance between the different forms of regulation: economy, state, solidarity (gift economy)...

This was done in several steps:

In the Middle Ages, the notion of mortal sin builds up itself . Its archetypal example was the loan interest. The interest enabled man to create some money when only God could create. If we release a financial interest of an action, it is necessary to pay it off (with the exception of the part that represents a real service estimated at 5 %). The mortal sin sent directly to hell in a Christendom which proposed an extremely bipolar vision of the world (good /evil, paradise/hell) very probably under the influence of the Manicheanism (III and IVth centuries) which it nevertheless fought.

In the XIIth century, the purgatory was invented. The binary system becomes ternary. The accumulation of capital led to the purgatory which is not as definitive as hell (Jacques Le Goff , La Bourse et la vie: économie et religion au Moyen Âge, Hachette Littératures, Paris 1986).

With the Protestant Reformation in the XVIth century, wealth becomes lawful. It was even an indicator of salvation. It was the enjoyment of this wealth that was prohibited.

Modern times are characterized by what Max Weber considered as the passage from salvation economy to salvation by the economy.

Modern times have brought individuation, emancipation but also individualism (the economy is expected to manage scarcity and requires an individual and rational "agent"). Traditional societies, in contrast, were based on meaning and social bond. But the meaning was imposed and the social bond based primarily on control of individuals.

How to get out of modernity? This can be done:
  • by a regression (a return to a society of control and a loss of individuation),
  • or by searching to retain the best of traditional societies (meaning and social ties) and modernity (individuation and empowerment).

We're stuck in the middle phase

However and although it was created to solve a problem of rarity, economy was meant as a transitional phase to get to another society:

For Adam Smith, the role of the economy was to organize the abundance to satisfy the conditions and then build a "philosophical republic".

In a sense, Marx said the same indicating that in the end the output of the kingdom of necessity to enter the realm of freedom.

Keynes considered that the forward economy had to occupy a reduced place in social activity ; and that the economists had to accept a role not more important than that of the "dentists".

Nowadays, the economic program was realized, contrary to appearances: we are in overproduction since 1930 and the world in general is currently three times richer than it was in 1960 with yet a third less work.

Even more edifying, the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP) estimated at $ 100 billion the yearly amount to eradicate starvation, provide access to safe drinking water for all, for decent housing and combat major epidemics. This sum is to be compared with the 2,500 billion dollars which represent the market of narcotics (which thrives on ill-being), of weapons (which thrives on fright) and of advertising (which thrives thanks to ''available human brain time'' according to Patrick Le Lay).

If the economic program to come out of rarity has been carried out, why don't we move on ? To the following stage of man's achievement ? (Maslow, in its famous pyramid, explains that there is a hierarchy of needs, from survival and safety to personal achievement).

An incredible process of avoidance

We are thus in an economic war without economic cause but with a great diversity of wealth. For Patrick Viveret, we are in an incredible process of avoidance: the economy which had to organize abundance to pass afterwards in Adam Smith's " philosophic republic", remained blocked and mainly manages ill-being." The desire to be " has been replaced by " the desire to have " or even "the fear of not having ".

The notion of expense was studied by Georges Bataille not under the angle of the necessity, but under that of the luxury (La Notion de dépense puis La Part maudite, Minuit Critique , 1967). Even when we reach abundance, we submit ourselves to what Boetie called the "voluntary servitude" (speech about voluntary). We spend and we create additional security requirements (and recognition of others) to avoid taking the next step ("self-esteem" and self-achievement "in Maslow's pyramid).

John Maynard Keynes already explained in 1930 (Essais sur la monnaie et l'économie. Les cris de Cassandre, Paris, Payot, 1972) that human societies were organized to fight against shortage and were not prepared culturally to exit rarity. ''Yet I think with dread of the readjustment of the habits and instincts of the ordinary man, bred into him for countless generations, which he may be asked to discard within a few decades.
To use the language of to-day must we not expect a general "nervous breakdown" ?

The bugged man

Why are we in midstream, mired in ill-being, even though we manage to produce more than necessary to ensure the physical security of all men ? Why can't we go take the next step of the "philosophical republic" and why do we try to extend the intermediate phase which might destroy the planet and ourselves ?

Freud, in "Civilization and its Discontents'' talked of drive of death (Thanatos) (see in Wikipedia).

Without doubt we must return to what makes the human species. We are a vulnerable species. Our survival is probably due to our ability to make voluntary alliances with our fellow human beings, which could have brought us the ability to communicate in speech and hence intelligence (see my post on "and if we were not so individualistic? "). Yet the development of intelligence requires a longer time to the little man to achieve autonomy. Even while we are being born, we are a kind of premature which keeps on growing outside the womb (see the concept of neoteny). We exceeded our physical and mental vulnerability by becoming allied with others (not with all but with a limited number of what Hume called a sphere of privileged sympathy) and by being brooded longer in the family. But feeling vulnerable also leads us to either flee or to attack. Vulnerability leads to... preventive war.

It's undoubtedly in this feeling of strength and vulnerability that economic war and the need to turn around against the weakest must be seized...

We find most of the time two approaches in front of this difficulty:

The misanthrope tradition which considers the human being as the cause of all evils (in religion with the original sin but also in some ecological currents that consider mankind as a mere parasite on the planet or in certain economic visions where human is superfluous facing the forces of market's regulation).

The idealistic tradition which tries to put back the human being to the center. But it does not solve the problem: the drive of destruction of the human being which feels vulnerable.

How do we get out of this dilemma ? In both cases, we just try to "blow the lock" as if, once it is done, humanity was reconciled with the universe. But this "lock" is actually the starting point. Becoming human is a long way and we are in "hominescence", according to the words of Michel Serres.

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." (Albert Einstein)

Keynes wrote in the preface of "economic outlook for our grandchildren" (one of the texts in Essais sur la monnaie et l'économie. Les cris de Cassandre): "And it happens that there is a subtle reasondrawn from economic analysis why, in this casefaith may work. For if we consistently act onthe optimistic hypothesis, this hypothesis willtend to be realized; whilst by acting on the pessimistic hypothesis we can keep ourselvesforever in the pit of want.''

And what if rather than remaining hypnotized by our vulnerability and the risk of lacking security, we could focus our attention on self-rachievement or on meaning ? This is a real Copernican reversal : the art of living can then be understood not only as an individual matter but rather as a collective issue.

However, there is a triple change occuring which could represent an opportunity to change the way we see the world :

  • A change of air : the ecological challenge

  • A change of area : our relationship with the land

  • A change of era : the output of the industrial era and even of modern times

There is a lever that could help us develop this new vision: the emergence of persons called cultural creative and especially the realization that they represent a significant number of persons.

The emergence of the ''cultural creatives''

A survey done in the States over 100,000 personnes was aiming to understand how conservatives and modernists were divided in American culture. But the results enhanced that an important part (a quarter) of the answers were incoherent, even contradictory. The assumption was made then of the emergence of a new model of culture which was described as the "cultural creatives."

Cultural Creatives consider, contrary to the other sociocultural families, that there is a link between the personal transformation and the social transformation. They look differently than the rest of the population on:
  • Ecology, the planet and nature

  • The place of women in society

  • The relative importance to be, to have or to look at one's best

  • Personal fulfillment

  • Politics, economy and societal stakes

  • Cultural open-mindedness

The same survey was then done in EU and showed the same trend. The results of the French survey are described in the book "les créatifs culturels en France" (éditions Yves Michel, Paris, mars 2007) : Five large families h ave been retained (and not 2 or 3 as in the U.S.A.):

  • The " cultural creatives" represent 17% of the French population over 15 (that is 8 million people)

  • The family of ''individual creatives'' (close to cultural creatives but resistant to aspect of personal fullfilment) are 21%

  • The "Modern conservatives'' represent 20%

  • The "Cynical sceptics" and the "Worried protectionists" gather 42%

The last two families (the "Cynical skeptics" and "Worried protectionist") include a depressive vision of the world. They withdraw into themselves and therefore have less influence on society.

The first two families (the "cultural creatives" and "creative individualists") represent 38% of the population but have a lesser impact on society now because they have no conscience that they are more than a marginal category.

It is then the "modern conservatives" socio-cultural family who has now the most influence on the way the world goes on.

Another approach

We can lean on strengths already there although potential, to develop society and come out finally of the " phase of transition ". It requires an awareness of their importance from the edges of the society which could bring a new vision.

This new vision consists in applying to every domain the principle proposed by Einstein ("We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. "). So, the problem of the pensions can't be solved with the extension of life. Undoubtedly other tracks would appear if things were thought differently and if the word pension was changed in ''free activity'': a person able to choose freely her activity can decide to be idle, but can also have a social activity in which her level of involvement will be much higher (see the difference between ''to mobilize'' and to ''get involved'': Internet Tome 2 - services and practices of tomorrow - chapter 7: the appropriation of the practices – frame on cooperative projects - page 97).

Thus, stopping to see only the constraints, we can focus on opportunities and develop new solutions.

The conflict of interests

How does this approach by opportunities apply to conflict of interests, one of the aspects that makes man unable to show nothing but the destructive side of his double nature ?

In case of an ''unsaid'' conflict of interests, man has to choose:

  • altruism : he acts in the other's interest (or the community's) to his own detriment and destroys himself...

  • individualism : he favors his own interest to the detriment of the interest of the other or of the others

In both cases, it seems that our actions can only lead to destruction (of ourselves or of others).

Nevertheless, Patrick Viveret reminds us that ''disagreement is never dangerous unlike misunderstanding''. When things are clarified, it is possible :

  • Either to find a new approach that enables a new convergence of interests (see ''cooperation, new approaches'')

  • Or to take advantage in the disagreement to find a new approach (dialectical process). The anti-globalization movement has even launched '' a construction method of disagreements).

The political science built itself on the resolution of conflicts of interests by arbitration. But the mode of resolution produces conflicts of interests (possibly with the very one that is meant to be decisive to solve them). Instead of trying to solve the problem of conflicts or worse to hide it when you can not solve it, maybe it would be better on the contrary to make them explicit by seeking first to "agree on the object disagreement ". Twice out of three times, disagreement is then outdated. But even if it's not the case, the disagreement of exit is then much richer than the disagreement of entrance (see Patrick Viveret, "Cooperation or competition in economics ?", page 26)

Cooperative AND festive logics

The labor movement of the XIXth century has been able to move ahead because it experiment on itself new ideas without waiting to impose them society. It created mutual insurance companies, pensions, trade unions... Similarly, the movement of cultural creatives could self-experiment new economic and cooperative ideas.

For that purpose, it is important to bring out messages which are hammered to us and which get our attention until it hypnotizes us. Transactional analysis identifies five "binding posts". Three of them are warriors and two puritans : "be perfect", "hurry-up", "be strong", "make an effort", "please". To these messages, me must oppose a cooperativebut also festive and playful logic.

There are several initiatives experimenting these new postures:

  • The Quebec "Sweet Domestic Product"

  • The NANOUB project: "Let's do ourselves some good''

  • The collective new wealth ...

On the contrary, if we get closer to what Patrick Viveret calls '' the high pathology areas'' (the people sick from power and from the different binding messages pointed out by transactional analysis), we may be either contaminated or desperate. We must therefore protect ourselves with ''joie de vivre''.
The true radicalism is not in fighting against (which leads to the same mecanisms as those criticized) but rather in practices of user-friendliness.

Patrick Viveret concludes: "choosing to be happy is a political choice''. It's the best way to change our point of view so we can seize new opportunities where we only used to be stuck with endless management of binds.
See also the French website "Dialogues en humanité": http://dialoguesenhumanite.free.fr/

Note :The closeness of my works on cooperation and on the economy of abundance with the approach of Patrick Viveret was pointed out to me by Manu Bodinier in one of his comments on my book " The cooperation new approaches "

VIVERET, Patrick. Pourquoi ça ne va pas plus mal ? Paris, France : Fayard, 2005. Transversales (Paris. 2005), ISSN 1772-5216. ISBN 2-213-62207-8.


Working together without being together: the internal organisation in Outils-réseaux

Card's author : Outils-Réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : The team has the peculiarity that it is sometimes overwhelmed, since several of its 6 employees work there either occasionally or as their main job. Besides, they all work part-time. Therefore there is no unity in working times or spaces: so IT tools and ICTs partly solve the organisational and communication problems arising from this situation.

Document sharing and co-writing

  • An intranet, in the form of a YesWiki protected with a login and password constitutes the place where the necessary information for the team's life is centralised: minutes of the meetings, project descriptions, co-writing of documents, memos and procedure...they are all brought together here.
  • To co-write the minutes of meetings live, the Ietherpad system is used at a first stage, and it is then copied and pasted on the intranet. For contents with charts and diagrams we use Google Docs.
  • A Dropbox account for every team member provides them with a shared file so they have a work area with all the documents relating to the structure's management (administrative and accounting documents, project management…) Dropbox enables synchronising the update of these files (if one of the employees modifies a document saved on Dropbox on their computer, other employees whose computers are linked to Dropbox can also benefit from this update).

Communication: meeting, email and messaging

  • a team meeting is organised every Monday: some follow the meeting remotely (using Skype) and Etherpad. With these meetings they go over the projects, meetings…
  • an email account per person, using Thunderbird messaging service (with the POP system: messages are posted on everyone's space).
  • a mailing list for the Board and the team: each employee is registered as well as some Board members. This way, when one of them writes something, they all receive the message.
  • a distribution list for the team only.
  • a "home" account: it is checked by all employees (using Thunderbird with IMAP: this means all messages are on-line in the server): everyone has access to all messages received and sent and can send an email using this address.
  • using Phplist software to manage contacts and the distribution of emails: Phplist allows managing a database of email contacts and has an interface to configure mailing lists. The advantage of this is that people can de-register from these mailing lists themselves.
  • Skype is used by all to communicate from a distance (using a chat on a daily basis and, once a week, through a video-conference and sharing the desktop for the team meeting).


  • calendars allow everyone to follow the team's time uses: each has their own calendar (Phpicalendar or Google Calendar) on-line; there is one shared by all the team and everyone has a tool to update their own calendar (Sunbird or the Lightning extension of Thunderbird).

Shared tracking

  • Using the tag outils-reseaux.org on Delicious, tracking is done collectively and can be followed on an RSS feed

Internet link : http://outils-reseaux.org


Card's author : Outils Réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with : YesWiki is a free wiki engine, modular, under GPL licence, which allows to create and manage a website or an intranet. YesWiki is particularly intended for groups wishing to be equipped with an internet-cooperating tool.
Official website : http://yeswiki.net
Tool's boxes : Wikis
Introduction : Just like its dad Wikini, on which it leans, YesWiki allows with any web browser :
  • the creation, deleting, modifying, commenting of web pages, whatever the number of publishers and of pages.
  • the management of file system permissions to different pages (read, write, comment), by one or a group of users.
  • a visual and intuitive laying out of contents, without IT knowledge.
  • the instantanous publishing of any page creation or modification.
  • the analysis, the management of the site from simple features : site map, list of users, list of the last modified pages, etc.
  • YesWiki is also:
    • templates, adjustable to each site.
    • the generalizing of the wiki principle to the whole site : modification of the title, banner, menus, footer etc. with a simple double-click.
    • a flexible antispam.
    • the ability to join to each page an office or multimedia file with posting or reading of the content for images, sounds, videos, mind maps.
    • a manager of extensions allowing to add new features such as database, key-words, microblog, shared forecast etc.
YesWiki can be set up on a Web server bearing PHP 5 and more and a database MySQL. Once set up, the site is directly operational and everything is managed online with any web browser.?
Requirements :
  • Having a PHP / MySQL web hosting
Some practical uses :
  • it helps to approach existencial matters !
  • it helps to create a potentially collaborative website easily
  • it helps to keep the control on the website
  • it helps to think about the question of power
  • it helps to set up intranets
  • it helps to co-write books
  • it helps to co-build projects
  • and it helps to demonstrate that project that are co-built are feasible and efficient
  • it helps to demystify the internet
  • it helps to do databases even better than a Googleform
  • it helps to point out the people who really want to cooperate (others say that anyone can change their name)
  • it helps to spot the IT specialists who see in cooperation safety weaknesses
  • it helps to remove passwords in order to act
  • it helps to show that Wiki can also rhyme with pretty
  • it helps to increase one's skills for the sake of the whole team
Using the tools :
Going further : Documentation "get on's hand dirty" for the setting up, the configuration, the customization
Advantages :
  • very easy to start writing
  • flexible (extensions of databases, qrcodes, etc...)
  • the new features given by extensions offer multiple cooperative possibilities.
  • easy-to-edit menus
Drawbacks :
  • Need to know the specific wiki syntax
  • the"tools" extensions add complexity: be careful to add them when the group is mature enough.
  • small community of developers.
Licence : Open sources, Free
Using : Easy
Setting up : Reserved for IT Jedis


You may not know it, but you are helping to digitalise old books!

Card's author : Hélène Laxenaire - SupAgro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : Thanks to reCaptcha, a project created by the Carnegie-Mellon University, every time you screw up your eyes while trying to decipher a twisted text to validate an entry or post a comment, you are actually contributing to improve a programme to digitalise old books.

Going back to the start: what are captchas?

Captchas are deformed words that you are required to re-copy to validate and entry or for an action on the Internet. The principle behind captchas is finding an action that is easier for humans than for robots, so as to avoid the action you are doing to be done automatically (using robot-software). Especially to avoid millions of email accounts or Facebook accounts from being created automatically or to avoid a blog being flooded in comments to sell false Viagra. By re-copying the deformed text, you are proving that you are a human being (only from a biological point of view though!)

The issue of digitalising old books

Old books that are in the public domain could easily be made available to a larger audience on the Internet; however, to facilitate the search for these books, it becomes necessary to process a page scan (which is actually a photocopy) into digital text where searches can be made. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software is in charge of this, but very often this software has many problems with this type of books. To improve their recognition rate, optical character recognition software programmes need to "learn". This means that their results must be compared to the results obtained by humans to gradually increase the number of characters they are able to recognise. However, transcription by humans is a long and repetitive task.

What if we joined the tool to ... the tool?

Luis Van Ham is a professor at the Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh and he works on human computation, meaning programmes that combine the power of human thinking with the calculation speed of computers to solve problems that humans or computers alone cannot solve (OCR tools are a typical example). He developed the concept of objective games, whereby humans while playing, are actually carrying out useful operations. Even if it is not a game, the reCaptcha he developed follows this principle. Every time we decipher deformed words, taken from the digitalisation of old books, to prove to the internet site that you are a human being, you are actually contributing to the growth of the database used by OCR software and to improve their effectiveness in recognising digital characters in old books.

reCaptcha, how does it work?

Scans of old book pages are read by two different types of character recognition software. When a same word is read differently by these two software programmes, it is considered suspicious and is added to the reCaptcha database.
When you are asked to prove that you are human and not a machine using a reCaptcha, there are always two words, one is more deformed than the other. One of the two has already been identified as valid by OCR software (and this is the one used to verify that you are human) and the other one has not (this will be the word you help to identify). When a certain number of internet users identify a suspicious word in the same way it is then validated. It is then included into the database of validated reCaptcha words and into the database used by OCR software to recognise the characters in digitalised books. Today, the reCaptcha character recognition software has achieved a level of error similar to that of a human being.

Is this work positive?

Google purchased reCaptcha in 2009 and installed it on its pages asking for this type of validation. Given the power of Google, this has given a large visibility to the project and a larger number of participants. Google's main goal is to digitalise Google books and make it easier to refer to and search text in their pages. However, it would seem that Google has adapted reCaptcha to other projects; in this sense, some reCaptchas appeared containing street names from Google Street View.

What we learnt from Cooptic

Hybrid training combining distance and on-site “learning” is an excellent tool for life-long professional development.

However, many conditions are required for this type of training tool to be a real learning ecosystem.
The Cooptic experience has reinforced our convictions regarding certain conditions for training to be successful in the digital era.

Training is no longer a pyramidal transmission of knowledge, where the person that knows passes information down to the person that is learning. It is a co-building of knowledge by networking available information, chosen by the trainers; individual knowledge and experiences that are collectively enriched by reflective exchanges. The training process is rendered explicit by the trainer so that the training provided enables the process of learning to learn.

People are at the centre of the learning process. But these people are easily connected to the world and to others thanks to the new technologies available.
In the training, Cooptic and Animacoop, its French equivalent, we have experienced the construction of learning communities that operate in a similar way to epistemic communities (cf. supra). Trainees publish articles and create training itineraries while gradually becoming active “amateur-experts”. This new quality in people that are training is a real conjunction of intellectual, pedagogical, and even democratic ambitions that really sets the grounds for the pleasure of learning.

The work of trainers changes because it entails several roles in parallel:
  • “Expert” trainer: is the reference for the subjects dealt with and transfers knowledge.
  • accompanist: is the person that structures and accompanies the group’s progression in a learning environment based on communication and exchange.
  • tutor: is the person creating an individualised link with each of the learners helping them to overcome the isolation induced by distance learning.
  • "technician": is the person that makes sure that all technical devices work properly.

These new "roles" fulfilled by one or more trainers require deep changes:
  • reconsidering “distance” as a space and time with multiple possibilities for interaction and learning. It is possible to learn, create links, work together and produce a resource in multiple ways:
    • asynchronous distance contribution based on availability of a space for writing, sharing resources, exchanging via email or a forum,
    • synchronous distance during video-conferences or exchanging practices between groups,
    • on-site and distance at the same time…it is possible to organise a course on video-conference with two groups in parallel at two different sites.
  • making the relationship between trainers, learners and knowledge more horizontal. In the flow of information and exchanges, the trainer is just one element among many others.
  • adopting the "surf method "1 ....accepting uncertainties and being brave enough to experiment during the process. Trainers are the ones guaranteeing the methodology: they create the balance conditions and do not necessarily master the form of co-production outcomes.

Innovation elements and the effects they have on the training tool and the cooperative learning

How Cooptic innovates The effect on training The effect on cooperative learning
Choosing a wiki as a training platform Technical device that is easy to use with an intuitive configuration and carefully designed graphics. The trainer tries to minimize any possible technical difficulties. Reduces difficulties for participation. Generates trust in the tools. Creates a feeling of pleasure. Encourages trainees to publish on the NET.
A common space and individual spaces The wiki platform enables creating personal spaces that are easily linked to a collective support. Belonging to the learning group is natural (common spaces). Individualised learning is possible (personal space).
Open contents Courses are posted on-line and are accessible to all outside training times. Freedom to refer to the courses at all times. Greater availability for activities and exchanges.
Learning contents that extend beyond those in the courses Posting the course on-line “frees” time to accompany trainees along the process of acquiring skills. Knowledge acquisition: "learning to learn" and "learning to work with others".
Modular structure Contents are divided into units (granulated). The general itinerary is defined, but it can be modified during the training. Building a more personal itinerary is possible.
Systematic approach Contents are selected so they correspond to the activity as a whole, the collaborative network and to the different levels (individual, group, environment). Acquisition of global perspective. Relatively complete study of the collaborative processes.
A multiplicity of structured itineraries Modular course itineraries (the life of a network). Group activities itinerary (learning community). "professional project” itinerary (collaborative environment). Multiple opportunities to deal with issues on cooperation and collaboration; put them into practice, facilitate them. Analysis of the collaborative process.
Gradual change in the size of work groups Activities are programmed based on progression: individual exercise, work in pairs, in groups of 4 to 8 Practice on epistemic communities. Exercise on ephemeral groups (change in scale).
Networking and exchanging practices The activity is conceived as a knowledge aggregator. The trainer provides the methodology. Valuing experiences as a source of knowledge (reflective practitioner). A particular form of professionalisation (based on the experiences of others). Reinforcing self-esteem.
Co-production of contents An evolutionary platform: everyone can add pages and text. The trainer accompanies the process and ensures it is consistent. Active stance towards knowledge. The sense of creating a “common good”.
Notion of "presence" from a distance A fine-tuned articulation of distance and on-site times. The effort of accompanying is placed on interaction between participants. “Distance” accompanying is systematized (fixed points with the trainers). The effect of distance decreases or even transformed. Removing project and culture proximity methods.

For further information: epistemic communities

Epistemic communities can be defined as a (small) group of representatives who share a common cognitive aim to create knowledge and a common structure that enables a shared understanding. They are heterogeneous groups. Therefore, one of the first tasks for its members is to create a codebook, a form of "code of conduct", defining the aims of the community and the means to achieve these aims, as well as the rules of collective behaviour. Therefore, what distinguishes an epistemic community is, first and foremost, the procedural authority, that ensures progress towards the established aim while allowing participants a certain degree of autonomy.
The production of knowledge is done based on the synergy of individual specificities. This requires that the knowledge that flows within the community is made explicit. This is done by converting tacit individual knowledge into explicit and collective knowledge: the members of epistemic communities are united by their responsibilities to value a particular set of different knowledge. The aim of the assessment is therefore related to the individual contribution of effort towards a collective aim that is to be achieved, and the validation of the cognitive activity (production of knowledge) of each member is done by their peers based on the criteria established by the procedural authority. The same applies to the recruitment of new members in this type of groups: it is done by the peers, following the pre-established rules regarding the potential in new members to achieve the community’s aim.

Cohendet, P., Créplet, F. et Dupouët, O., (2003), Innovation organisationnelle, communautés de pratique et communautés épistémiques : le cas de Linux. Revue française de gestion, n° 146, 99-121.

  • 1 Rosnay, Joël. Surfer la vie : vers la société fluide. Paris : Les liens qui libèrent, 2012

What we learnt from Cooptic

Hybrid training combining distance and on-site “learning” is an excellent tool for life-long professional development.

However, many conditions are required for this type of training tool to be a real learning ecosystem.
The Cooptic experience has reinforced our convictions regarding certain conditions for training to be successful in the digital era.

Training is no longer a pyramidal transmission of knowledge, where the person that knows passes information down to the person that is learning. It is a co-building of knowledge by networking available information, chosen by the trainers; individual knowledge and experiences that are collectively enriched by reflective exchanges. The training process is rendered explicit by the trainer so that the training provided enables the process of learning to learn.

People are at the centre of the learning process. But these people are easily connected to the world and to others thanks to the new technologies available.
In the training, Cooptic and Animacoop, its French equivalent, we have experienced the construction of learning communities that operate in a similar way to epistemic communities (cf. supra). Trainees publish articles and create training itineraries while gradually becoming active “amateur-experts”. This new quality in people that are training is a real conjunction of intellectual, pedagogical, and even democratic ambitions that really sets the grounds for the pleasure of learning.

The work of trainers changes because it entails several roles in parallel:
  • “Expert” trainer: is the reference for the subjects dealt with and transfers knowledge.
  • accompanist: is the person that structures and accompanies the group’s progression in a learning environment based on communication and exchange.
  • tutor: is the person creating an individualised link with each of the learners helping them to overcome the isolation induced by distance learning.
  • "technician": is the person that makes sure that all technical devices work properly.

These new "roles" fulfilled by one or more trainers require deep changes:
  • reconsidering “distance” as a space and time with multiple possibilities for interaction and learning. It is possible to learn, create links, work together and produce a resource in multiple ways:
    • asynchronous distance contribution based on availability of a space for writing, sharing resources, exchanging via email or a forum,
    • synchronous distance during video-conferences or exchanging practices between groups,
    • on-site and distance at the same time…it is possible to organise a course on video-conference with two groups in parallel at two different sites.
  • making the relationship between trainers, learners and knowledge more horizontal. In the flow of information and exchanges, the trainer is just one element among many others.
  • adopting the "surf method "1 ....accepting uncertainties and being brave enough to experiment during the process. Trainers are the ones guaranteeing the methodology: they create the balance conditions and do not necessarily master the form of co-production outcomes.

Innovation elements and the effects they have on the training tool and the cooperative learning

How Cooptic innovates The effect on training The effect on cooperative learning
Choosing a wiki as a training platform Technical device that is easy to use with an intuitive configuration and carefully designed graphics. The trainer tries to minimize any possible technical difficulties. Reduces difficulties for participation. Generates trust in the tools. Creates a feeling of pleasure. Encourages trainees to publish on the NET.
A common space and individual spaces The wiki platform enables creating personal spaces that are easily linked to a collective support. Belonging to the learning group is natural (common spaces). Individualised learning is possible (personal space).
Open contents Courses are posted on-line and are accessible to all outside training times. Freedom to refer to the courses at all times. Greater availability for activities and exchanges.
Learning contents that extend beyond those in the courses Posting the course on-line “frees” time to accompany trainees along the process of acquiring skills. Knowledge acquisition: "learning to learn" and "learning to work with others".
Modular structure Contents are divided into units (granulated). The general itinerary is defined, but it can be modified during the training. Building a more personal itinerary is possible.
Systematic approach Contents are selected so they correspond to the activity as a whole, the collaborative network and to the different levels (individual, group, environment). Acquisition of global perspective. Relatively complete study of the collaborative processes.
A multiplicity of structured itineraries Modular course itineraries (the life of a network). Group activities itinerary (learning community). "professional project” itinerary (collaborative environment). Multiple opportunities to deal with issues on cooperation and collaboration; put them into practice, facilitate them. Analysis of the collaborative process.
Gradual change in the size of work groups Activities are programmed based on progression: individual exercise, work in pairs, in groups of 4 to 8 Practice on epistemic communities. Exercise on ephemeral groups (change in scale).
Networking and exchanging practices The activity is conceived as a knowledge aggregator. The trainer provides the methodology. Valuing experiences as a source of knowledge (reflective practitioner). A particular form of professionalisation (based on the experiences of others). Reinforcing self-esteem.
Co-production of contents An evolutionary platform: everyone can add pages and text. The trainer accompanies the process and ensures it is consistent. Active stance towards knowledge. The sense of creating a “common good”.
Notion of "presence" from a distance A fine-tuned articulation of distance and on-site times. The effort of accompanying is placed on interaction between participants. “Distance” accompanying is systematized (fixed points with the trainers). The effect of distance decreases or even transformed. Removing project and culture proximity methods.

For further information: epistemic communities

Epistemic communities can be defined as a (small) group of representatives who share a common cognitive aim to create knowledge and a common structure that enables a shared understanding. They are heterogeneous groups. Therefore, one of the first tasks for its members is to create a codebook, a form of "code of conduct", defining the aims of the community and the means to achieve these aims, as well as the rules of collective behaviour. Therefore, what distinguishes an epistemic community is, first and foremost, the procedural authority, that ensures progress towards the established aim while allowing participants a certain degree of autonomy.
The production of knowledge is done based on the synergy of individual specificities. This requires that the knowledge that flows within the community is made explicit. This is done by converting tacit individual knowledge into explicit and collective knowledge: the members of epistemic communities are united by their responsibilities to value a particular set of different knowledge. The aim of the assessment is therefore related to the individual contribution of effort towards a collective aim that is to be achieved, and the validation of the cognitive activity (production of knowledge) of each member is done by their peers based on the criteria established by the procedural authority. The same applies to the recruitment of new members in this type of groups: it is done by the peers, following the pre-established rules regarding the potential in new members to achieve the community’s aim.

Cohendet, P., Créplet, F. et Dupouët, O., (2003), Innovation organisationnelle, communautés de pratique et communautés épistémiques : le cas de Linux. Revue française de gestion, n° 146, 99-121.

  • 1 Rosnay, Joël. Surfer la vie : vers la société fluide. Paris : Les liens qui libèrent, 2012