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Card's author : Jean Michel Cornu
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
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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
le 05.02.2014 à 10:17:41

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).
le 17.01.2014 à 12:19:23

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 !
le 05.02.2014 à 10:13:27

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.

le 05.02.2014 à 14:38:28

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
le 03.02.2014 à 15:28:32

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 ?

le 11.02.2014 à 11:30:25

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.

le 10.02.2014 à 11:26:30

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:

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

le 16.01.2014 à 17:44:47

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.
le 05.02.2014 à 11:24:11


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
le 17.01.2014 à 15:08:04

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
le 10.02.2014 à 11:32:40


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/
le 05.02.2014 à 15:57:14

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
le 05.02.2014 à 11:15:41

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
le 05.02.2014 à 13:38:50

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/
le 21.01.2014 à 13:52:31

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
le 05.02.2014 à 15:55:46

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.
le 05.02.2014 à 11:17:28

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
le 14.01.2014 à 13:54:18

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, .

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
le 16.01.2014 à 17:22:41

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.
le 11.02.2014 à 11:56:47

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.
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