Peter Gloor, Research Scientist, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence 03-19-09 Interview
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Peter Gloor, Research Scientist, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence 03-19-09 Interview

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Practices and Tools for Creativity, Communication, and Collaboration ...

Practices and Tools for Creativity, Communication, and Collaboration

Peter Gloor, Research Scientist, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence shares the story of COINS - Collaborative Innovation Networks, Condor, Swarm Creativity, and Cool Farming.

Peter discusses Condor, a network mapping software to visualize dynamic social networks, the collaborative behavior of virtual teams, and Cool Hunting, the identification of trendsetters.

Devoted to helping people and their new ideas flourish, Peter talks about the value of individual creativity, the meaning of COINS-collaborative innovation networks and how swarm creativity and Cool Farming accelerates transformative enterprise.

In this interview you will learn how to be not a Star, but a Galaxy!

Watch the streaming video at COINs Conference Livestream channel http://www.livestream.com/coinsconference/video?clipId=flv_7478fd91-6656-40dd-a8e9-594ec17e2216

Learn about swarm creativity a thttp://www.swarmcreativity.net/

Learn about COINs across these media platforms:

COINs 2010 http://www.coins2010.com
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Savannah-GA/Collaborative-Innovation-Networks-COINS2010-Conference/102489653133049
Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/coinsconference/
Livestream http://www.livestream.com/coinsconference
Scribd http://www.scribd.com/SwarmCreativity
Slideshare http://www.slideshare.net/SwarmCreativity
Twitter http://twitter.com/coins_2010
Twitter Hashtag #COINS2010
Vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/user4147060
You Tube http://www.youtube.com/coinsconference

Note: Peter Gloor contributed this interview to the Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) in 2009 to further education of new practices and tools to build enterprise in Open Source Economic Development. Copyright 2010 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Fl Cleveland, Ohio 44103 USA

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Peter Gloor, Research Scientist, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence 03-19-09 Interview Peter Gloor, Research Scientist, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence 03-19-09 Interview Document Transcript

  • 1 Interview and transcription March 18, 2009 Peter Gloor, Research Scientist, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, COINS – Collaborative Innovation Networks Q: What are you most passionate about? [00:01:22] A: COINS! Collaborative Innovation Networks! Hello, I’m Peter Gloor and I’m a Research scientist at the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence and my big passion is COINS - Collaborative Innovation Networks – and that is something I have been fascinated with for a very long time. I was in industry for ten years as a Manager for two big consulting firms and what I found was that much more than technology what really matters is people and new ideas. And what I found is that if I was working with like-minded people in those COINS – Collaborative Innovation Networks - that was the time I was energized the most and it really was the best thing to really create new ideas; you work to solve any big problems of the world. So, that is the really big thing, those COINS that I have been studying for the last six years or so. Q: What would you like people to know, think, feel and do? [00:01:19] A: Work Together! So what would I like people to know, and think, and feel? I think it’s about working together, about getting an understanding, about being Copyright 2010 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Fl Cleveland, Ohio 44103 USA
  • 2 all members of a swarm and these COINS – these Collaborative Innovation Networks – for me, they are the main building blocks of those self-organizing groups of people that I call the swarms. I have stumbled on this idea of the swarm by chance when I was in Paris with my children and we were looking for restaurants and on the first day we ended up on top of Monte Martre, which is the place where all the tourists go so what we did at that time was we did not follow the swarm we followed the crowd. The food was okay and there were tons of tourists. Next day we went to the concierge in the hotel and we asked his advice and we got good food at a very high price, so that was asking the ‘expert.’ The last day we followed the swarm , which means we followed the ‘locals’ and we got by far the very best food at a very decent price. So, this concept of the swarm and swarm creativity that is something that I think everybody should be aware of and being part of the swarm that makes us feeling good and it’s just this unbelievably energizing group or part or feeling or thing where we believe we can change the world. There are so many applications of this swarm creativity and that starts by just instead of running a project as a conventional project, if you run it as a self-organizing swarm, you will get much better results. I have a very simple rule in that regard and it means do not pay people in the beginning, just advertise what you want to do and then hopefully you will find some people, they might join you and some might leave you but overall you get better results, you get the people who care, you have much more fun doing it, and you get unbelievable results. I have seen that, for example in building our own software, it was a slow process, I went through many graduate students, but what we got in the end was, it’s a great product and it actually analyzes swarms. Swarm Creativity is...Working together & being part of one world. [00:04:06] I will go on a little bit about the aspect of what creative swarms can do and what we are, how we are putting it to productive use and one thing that the swarms do is they express themselves in blogs and on landforms and so on, and if we look at what they say we assume they Copyright 2010 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Fl Cleveland, Ohio 44103 USA
  • 3 “put their money where their mouth is” or to phrase it differently, “they will do tomorrow what they say today “ or to phrase it even more differently, we can predict what’s going to happen tomorrow by reading the collective mind of today and that’s a project we are doing right now and we call that ‘collective prediction’ and one thing we did and its of course easy to say that today is predicting the success of Barack Obama. The point is we compared what people were saying on blogs, like Huffington Post and so on, more than 18 months ago, and sadly Hillary Clinton had always very low buzz and Barack, he was able to raise incredible excitement there and that predicted very well what happened. But you can also apply the same thing for much more straightforward things like what movie will be successful at the box office because people walk with their feet so they say “I’m going to see that movie” and if we look at online forums like for example, the Internet movie database, there we have the people that are passionate movie goers talking about what they would like to see that will predict where they will go tomorrow. So, it’s a very fancy way of reading the mind of the swarm and predicting what people are doing tomorrow. The same thing we can also do if we look at e-mail communication inside companies, the same thing we do if we look at interaction networks through social badges which are those things that people wear around their necks and we can then put that to use for example by finding the most creative individuals, we can help groups of people or individuals be more creative based on their interaction patterns and the goal is to always empower the individual to form a self-organizing swarm by exposing those patterns of interaction, the positive patterns of interactions and this allows us to predict which are the most creative teams and how we can make teams more creative. We have done projects for example between Japanese and American researchers and we measured how they communicate with each other and what we found is that in the beginning we represented every researcher as a big circle and the size of the circle was how active somebody was and the color of the circle was how much other people paid attention to what the person was saying. And in the beginning we had three or four very white circles and some small green circles. Now you might wonder which Copyright 2010 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Fl Cleveland, Ohio 44103 USA
  • 4 was the Japanese and which ones were the Americans – I think you might guess how it was – but the point is we showed those circles to the researchers every evening, what we got in the end was a very well balanced group of somewhat introvert Japanese that were saying much more and extrovert Americans who were saying too much in the beginning, but in the end, all of them, and very quickly, became very engaged active collaborators, so this is a great system of increasing group creativity and making everybody a much better creative person. I think that is perhaps enough for now. Q: What category of the Innovation Framework do you invest your time and attention? [00:08:14] A: Okay, so the Innovation Framework that I think is the most interesting is not surprisingly the COIN Collaborative Innovation Networks Framework which we have been developing which consists of the COIN in the core which has a larger concentric circle around it of people which are in the learning network, collaborative learning network, and then an even bigger network around which is the Collaborative Interest Network. It works extremely well for example if we look at Open Source programmers where if you take the example of the creation of either Linux or the World Wide Web we have the initial group of people that could be Linus Torvald for Linux or Tim Berners-Lee for the World Wide Web. He gets this five to ten people to collaborate, he doesn’t pay them, they are very intrinsically motivated and they create a great system that in due course changes the world and they attract other people that learn about those ideas the Collaborative Learning Network and then even more people get attracted and that’s usually when the financial element comes in for the Collaborative Interest Network. So, this is in my view a never- ending engine of innovation. And if we look at Open Source that’s a great example and open innovation is not a framework that fits in very well so to address the question of, “How would I like to link it?” I think I would look at how to combine the COIN framework with open innovation with Open Source innovation as the bigger idea that’s certainly one thing that is for me very crucial. Now, on a more Copyright 2010 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Fl Cleveland, Ohio 44103 USA
  • 5 personal side, also what interests me very much is how can we take our ideas and also get some immediate economic impact or to phrase it differently, we have taken our ideas and we have created a start-up which we call galaxy advisors, which means we help people not to be stars but be galaxies, don’t be a star, be a galaxy, connecting other people which means take our software and find the networks that is very similar to what Valdis Krebs is doing with his Orgnet and InFlow system and we are trying to do the similar things by finding those galactic networks, galaxy people, of the web for example, or email and then trying to help them be more creative. One the one hand we do that as researchers and the other hand we have our software and this has now already been used by quite a few companies trying to do the same thing. Now I have to say its really the company’s that wouldn’t need it are the most open to those ideas because they might already be organized as little galaxies or they have some level of open source innovation, or open innovation but still what we found is that by giving people a virtual mirror that mirrors back how people communicate that’s a great way of creating more innovation and making people more open. Very similar to the example I was describing before of the microscopic level where you have the social batches and you have the people in the beginning who only talk nobody listens to them and the other ones who don’t dare to speak out and by exposing that, mirroring that back, we get in the end a much more innovative organization. Q: How does your work affect global sustainability? [00:12:12] A: I think those theories of COINS Collaborative Innovation Networks have great applicability to address those big questions that concern mankind right now. Like, global warming, climate change, getting a more sustainable environment, because what we need are those intrinsically motivated people who want to do things not to paid but to solve the problem. I have been involved as an advisor and active member of communities. We have an initiative right here at the Center for Collective Intelligence on climate change where we are trying to form those communities, we have been very fortunate to find Copyright 2010 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Fl Cleveland, Ohio 44103 USA
  • 6 some people some local support here in the Boston communities, some founders of some big companies have been supporting us and… now it has spread out …we are trying to connect communities with these around the world and obviously having a good brand like MIT behind helps somewhat so I mean having the best people, its still, you need that platform to carry out the message and this is a great place for doing it. Q: What areas of research interest you and why? [00:13:33] A: So my research areas are sort of have been evolved over the last thirty years, I was trained as a mathematician, then my PhD was in computer science, then I became a natural scientist and these days I am shifting more and more toward sociology and psychology so I am probably just this weird guy who is connecting many different fields or as we call that in social network analysis which is perhaps the best description today of my research field, ‘ bridging structural holes’ or being a gate keeper between many different fields so that is the sort of my main area and I am very happy that I already get through this interview today some better connection to Valdis Krebs a guy I always love interacting with, there are of course many others, we had a brief discussion about XX I admire I don’t know if there is ever a chance of meeting him or some other psychologists that for example study energy and how people exchange energy and what energizes us in becoming more creative. There is great creativity research, there is a fellow I have a hard time pronouncing his name, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, I don’t know if you have stumbled on it that has been sort of an inspiration to me so, what I try to do is to very much step on the shoulders of giants, and if there is a chance of talking to someone or living giants even better. To be an innovator or having, I try to be coming up with new ideas the best way is to talk to people who are smarter than myself, learn from them and mix together their ideas and try to steal the best for myself so interacting with other smart people and that can be physicist, because they have studied lots of networks, that can be psychologists, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Copyright 2010 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Fl Cleveland, Ohio 44103 USA
  • 7 that I just mentioned and combining their ideas, I think that is what drives me. Q: What networks are you building? How? Why? [00:16:04] A: 16:20 Network building is in fact one of my favorite activities and I am just coming back from the Sunbelt Conference which is the annual gathering of researchers on social network analysis and they have something, a great institution, which they call the ‘Hospitality Suite’ in the evening which basically means you can drink as much as you want and you just talk to each other, its great for building networks, but that is a very informal process, and diversity, and randomness, serendipity, those are all essential ingredients for network building, but one can still try to put it on a somewhat more systematic footing, and I call that process ‘Cool Farming’ – create or farm cool trends and we have our own COIN which we call COIN2 or COIN on COINS, Collaborative Innovation Network on other COINS and it is basically a group of researchers in Helsinki, in Germany, in Italy, and about five places in the U.S. and we have some people in Savannah, we have people at Wright (?) State, we have people in Berkeley, and we have people in the Boston area, we have people at Dartmouth, and we get together virtually, we meet at places like Hospitality Suite at Sunbelt, we go and have beer together, but we also work very hard to produce papers together, we even sometimes do an occasional start-up together to commercialize some of those ideas because my experience is that every successful start-up in the beginning is a COIN because you have an idea, you do care more about the idea than making money and then you get the next Google. That’s if you take your – that’s my heretical view your spelled out business plan where you have to follow my quarterly report after quarterly report it doesn’t work. But putting together smart brains and a great vision that’s a much better recipe and that’s what we do with network building. Q: What enterprise opportunities do you see? [00:18:33] Copyright 2010 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Fl Cleveland, Ohio 44103 USA
  • 8 A: So, what are the next networking, enterprise opportunities that I see in my context? I thin Web 2.0, social networking software, that’s I in my area of expertise a really hot area. I lived through e-Business Bubble 1.0. At that time I was the e-Business practice leader for Deloitte consulting in Europe and it was the one time where we had more work than we could ever deliver and I don’t think that time will ever return, the Golden Years. But for right now for social networking software and trying to help people connect, trying to help people come up with new ideas and trying to tell what happens tomorrow. Even in those very difficult times right now we are very active in doing it we have just started our start-up galaxy advisors and together with seven students out of which five are full time in the start-up, we are marketing out social networking software, we give it away for free to academic institutions just because we think we should share what we have got with others too and also this is a great way of getting wonderful people, highly talented people, intrinsically motivated people applying all the principles I was talking about and getting the ones that care about the ideas and not the ones that want to get the high salary from day one works extremely well for us. I have also been involved in a course teaching for the last four years at Helsinki, Germany, Savannah, southern Italy, and MIT and its about creating student COINS using our software, analyzing real organizations, communication network and online community communication networks and this has already turned out into incubating two or three companies that those virtual student teams which had Finns, and Italians and Germans and Americans all collaborating and they hadn’t met face to face. I have taken some of them now to San Diego to the Sunbelt Conference where they met for the first time face to face, great experience, and some of them have now started their own business ventures in that field and we have started ours, so again it’s trying to apply the same ideas of those COINS and growing them to bigger ecosystem and doing Cool Farming with cool ideas works extremely well. Q: Describe your work as a collaborative leader… [00:21:25] Copyright 2010 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Fl Cleveland, Ohio 44103 USA
  • 9 A: Okay, so perhaps combining the question of sustainability and participative leadership, or collaborative leadership, I have been involved in trying to get the Internet and the computer to the developing world. We have a project, and a Foundation that collects used computers here and brings them to Africa. I was in Kenya, I was in Ghana, and I was trying to get computers to classrooms. Its different from the One Laptop Per Child, Nicholas Negroponte – it’s much more modest, we get just used computers that people don’t want anymore, we check that they work and then we get them to the classroom and this is an absolutely collaborative experience on our side. What we found is that it’s not so easy in the Third World it still seems that sometimes there needs to be a hierarchical leader otherwise things don’t work, but overall, I think on our side it only works if you get a group of people that all care about the idea, and obviously there is no money to pay anybody anyway because you want to put everything into a, invest all the resources you have into computers and getting them over there, and again, for me, it was another great learning experience of the COIN model and in fact, even in Ghana, getting the community engaged, getting the school children, I was really impressed, we had the teachers and they couldn’t really, they didn’t know what to do with the computers and then we had the twelve to sixteen year olds and they have probably been in an Internet café once or twice, and so they just came and they unpacked the computers after two hours we had everything connected and they were already sitting behind the computers and using them. It was very impressive, self-organization and this little COINS they are learning from each other: one guy figured out how to connect the cables and then the others took it up and it just worked. A great experience. Q: What has inspired your work today? [00:23:38] A: So, the main inspiration for this Swarm Creativity framework, principle and the way those COINS Collaborative Innovation Networks operate, are the Bees. I was exposed to Bees very early on because my Father was, and still is, a very active Bee keeper so I Copyright 2010 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Fl Cleveland, Ohio 44103 USA
  • 10 grew up with Bees and he admired them for his entire life and so he sort of instilled that into me also and the more I studied how those COINS and human beings interoperate, the more I found we really can be inspired by the Bees and you know a Bee queen never orders any Bee to do something, the Bee just knows it because they share the same DNA and for me the way how COINS work together is precisely the same. You have a share set of values, and you have initially some Bee queen or you might have a group of Queens and that’s probably different because as you know in the Bee hive the Queens kill each other they only let one Queen be the Queen at one time otherwise the hive splits or you have the fight. There are some parallels to that also in Open Source there are some very highly publicized fights where for example in this Apache open source group you got some leadership changes fairly quickly so again the pattern of the Bees applies, but overall, COINS and Bees are unbelievably well in adopting to external change, being very flexible and just do unbelievable things in creating new hives, honey combs, collecting honey and finding new locations. Actually, the ‘finding new locations’ process, for me that’s a great metaphor for how we get new ideas, because we have the Bee Queen taking off with half of the swarm towards a new direction and that’s the same if you have new ideas, and then what we have is we have the scouts, the Bee scouts, that look for greener pastures that go out and we have the same thing for the COINS, we have this first group of scouts and they are the initial COIN and then they come back to the swarm, they report on those new ideas, and then we have the Bee swarm, as you know, the Bee queen takes this swarm, they fly to an intermediate place where they form this cluster and then the scouts come back and they do the Bagel dance where they tell about the new location, and in the COIN you have the same. You have people doing the Bagel dance. That’s the only way how I try to recruit people, by doing the Bagel dance, so I tell, like right now, I just tell about new ideas and that builds up the heat in the swarm and at some point, in the cluster of the Bees, the scouts change from the Bagel dancing to just building up the heat. Which means in the Bee cluster that happens by piping at each other and so the sound goes up, the heat goes up in the cluster and the Copyright 2010 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Fl Cleveland, Ohio 44103 USA
  • 11 same for COINS. The heat goes up and suddenly the cluster explodes and that’s when the idea gets over the tipping point. The cluster explodes, the Bees go out and they change the world with the new idea and that’s the same for COINS. With our generous thanks to Peter Gloor. The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Floor Cleveland Ohio 44103 USA Creative Commons License Attribution-Noncommercial No Derivative Works 3.0 United States Biographical Information • http://cci.mit.edu/pgloor/ Research • http://www.ickn.org/ • http://www.ickn.org/html/ckn_publications.htm Company • Galaxy Advisors • http://www.galaxyadvisors.com Blog • Swarm Creativity Blog • http://www.swarmcreativity.net/ Books Swarm Creativity - Competitive Advantage through Collaborative Innovation Networks http://www.amazon.com/Swarm-Creativity-Competitive-Collaborative- Innovation/dp/0195304128 Copyright 2010 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Fl Cleveland, Ohio 44103 USA
  • 12 Coolhunting - Chasing Down The Next Big Thing http://www.amazon.com/Coolhunting-Chasing-Down-Next- Thing/dp/0814473865/ref=pd_sim_b_1 Coolfarming – Turn Your Great Idea Into the Next Big Thing http://www.amazon.com/Coolfarming-Turn-Your-Great- Thing/dp/0814413862/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=12812899 60&sr=1-1 Contact Information Peter A. Gloor MIT Center for Collective Intelligence Cambridge MA pgloor@mit.edu +1 617 253 7018(o) +1 617 512 6556 (m) Copyright 2010 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Fl Cleveland, Ohio 44103 USA