Collaboration, not Calcification

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For liveblogged transcripts of this talk, see the MIT Center for Civic Media blog.


John Bracken

John works at the Knight Foundation in Miami supporting innovation.

Mike Normal

Mike works at Wefunder, a Kicktstarter-esque platform that lets people invest in startups.

Alexa Clay

Alexa is author of The Misfit Economy. She looks at the DIY economy and citizen-driven economics.

Mark Surman

Mark is the Executive Director at the Mozilla Foundation. He thinks about collaboration and helping people move from being consumers to being creators.


Removing barriers

  • If you had to choose one thing to banish from the world to drive progress and collaboration, what would you pick?
  • Does anyone agree with someone else's answer?

Generally, everyone picks things that they see as psychological or cultural barriers to collaboration. The group agrees that more needs to be done to encourage people to get involved and allow them to be useful.


  • What do you do to encourage engagement?
  • Going back to the idea of not having jobs or job titles, how is this portable to the world of Hoover Dams and buildings and other large-scale projects?

One of the more unusual ways to collaborate is to allow people to work by themselves and just contribute to an emergent ecosystem. Sometimes people spend so much time conferencing and connecting and collaborating that they cripple their ability to actually get things done. At the same time, decentralized technology and permission free distribution systems come with their own problems. We need better organizational APIs, so that people can see the connections between projects and get involved.

There needs to be good curation of involvement. In addition to good top-down curation, we need to create safe spaces that allow for dialogue and even conflict.


  • Has collaboration become more of a "come here and help me with this project" process and less of a coalition of people from different viewpoints working together?

That's the idea behind organizational APIs - we don't have to have everything in common to work together, we just need to share a goal.

  • What about crowdfunding?

There is legislation about this being worked on and the SEC is working on defining specifics.

  • How do you show the value of opening institutions?

It's happening organically - the internet is clearly a disruptive force, and people with that mindset are already in organizations.