Shifting trends on how we work

By Pablos Holman, hacker, futurist and inventor, Intellectual Ventures Lab.

Can we learn something about how the open source communities work? Could their collaborative way be somehow extrapolated into how we work in a company? A hacker and inventor at Intellectual Ventures Lab — a prototyping and research laboratory aimed to invention and discovery —, Pablos Holman reflects about what some companies are doing wrong in order to motivate their employees, and what are the different approaches when facing a project. You can check his thoughts in the short video below. His contribution was possible thanks to the kind collaboration of the 4 Years From Now event.

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The recipe for additive innovation

By Dale Dougherty, founder of Make: magazine and creator of Maker Faire.

The maker culture might not be something totally new, but recently, and thanks to the advancements made in the technological sector, more and more people are applying a kind of do-it-yourself strategies in areas like electronics, robotics and 3D printing. The resulting products are usually open to improvements and modifications by users, since all the information is commonly available on the Net. Coiner of the term “Web 2.0” and founder of Make: magazine, Dale Dougherty kindly agreed to share with us his views on the maker revolution. You can check his reflections in the short video below. We would like to thank the 4 Years From Now event for this contribution.

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How Bitcoin can decentralize society

By Luis Iván Cuende, hacker, co-founder of Stampery

Once upon a time there was a problem. A mathematical problem. A problem that nobody ever solved before: The Byzantine Generals’ Problem. It is about the capacity of systems to continue correctly working if some of the components of the system fail or don’t act as they should when reaching consensus.

So, if a computer system can keep a common consensus without having central points of failure, it means it solved the problem. And that means you could create decentralized databases, decentralized apps and decentralized social networks that are on the same page, for example.

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Shining a new light on democracy

By Andy Williamson, consultant, researcher and speaker on digital and social media, society and policy.

It was Jacques Ellul, in his book The Technological Society, who noted in the 1960s that technology, in its broadest sense, cannot be isolated from the social and human factors that surround it. Technology forms a core part of the ecology in which it is situated and, within which, we live. When the lightbulb blows, we notice it. It affects us in various ways and, as the light fades, it becomes obvious that it must be changed.

In a literal sense, one individual might physically change the bulb. But it takes an entire supply chain to ensure that the bulb is there when we need it. Package designers ensure it is packed safely, logistics experts get it from factory to warehouse to the supermarket, and electricians have installed the fittings. To ensure that it all works, regulators and policy makers must draft laws, create standards and ensure these are enforced. And without electricity the lightbulb remains dark. Even the humble light bulb is part of a complex ecosystem.

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Knowledge should be free

By Katherine Maher, Chief Communications Officer, Wikimedia Foundation.

Knowledge should be free, open, and collaborative. This is the idea at the heart of Wikipedia. It is what has made Wikipedia the largest collaborative free knowledge resource in human history, and one of the most popular websites in the world.

The Wikipedia vision is a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. For us to realize this world, collaboration is critical. At the Wikimedia Foundation we believe that we won’t reach the sum of all knowledge without the contributions of all people, so we are committed to expanding opportunities for people from around the globe to contribute to, and learn from, the Wikimedia projects.

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Do Something, Even if it’s Wrong

By Joe Brockmeier, principal cloud & storage analyst, Red Hat.

Ask about open source, and no doubt you’ll be immediately told about the benefits of distributed collaboration. People from all over the world will be able to work together on projects and join efforts to produce work that would not have been possible a few decades ago. At least, until a decision needs to be made.

One of the dirty secrets of open source is that participating in open source is often counter-intuitive for folks who’ve been working in a top-down decision-making culture. Most educational institutions and companies teach us to expect someone with authority to tell us what to do. We’re taught to wait for permission, that those with “ownership” need to be consulted, etc.

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How many networked light bulbs does it take to change a light bulb?

By Laura Forlano, assistant professor, Illinois Institute of Technology.

In a world where connected devices are becoming increasingly commonplace — from fitness trackers to home appliances to adaptive traffic signals and smart grids — the question might be more appropriately rephrased as: How many networked light bulbs does it take to change a light bulb?

Currently, there is great enthusiasm about the Internet of Things (IoT) as these connected devices are more broadly known with companies vying to educate and capture various parts of the market by offering a wide range of trainings, grants and developer’s tools.

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About the Question
How many peers does it take to change a light bulb?

Systems like Linux and websites like Wikipedia are paradigmatic of a particular way of open collaboration known as peer production. Peer producers choose their tasks freely and coordinate their work using open digital platforms. They share the fruits of their labour as part of a global commons, and everyone works according to their abilities and benefits according to their needs.

Is this an emerging form of communism? Or the future of liberal capitalism? Or is it simply a new mode of production? In this blog we want to explore both the benefits and the downsides of such way of working.

UOC/IN3 degrees