The Cooperation Group is an interdisciplinary community of scholars studying networked cooperation. Our current activities include a variety of empirical research projects on online collaboration, as well as a weekly meeting in which we present and discuss research on cooperation from a variety of academic disciplines.
Since September, the public has been experimenting with an app that relies on the goodness of humankind. Called *impossible*, it leverages the idea of a gift economy through social media to grant wishes. Users interact by posting wishes—such as a desire to learn Spanish or to find a jogging buddy—and other *impossible* users who can grant those wishes based on skills and proximity connect to grant the wish.
On March 5, the Berkman Center celebrated the US launch of *impossible*.
Lily Cole, founder of *impossible* and fashion model, actress, and social entrepreneur, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Founder and CEO of the World Wide Web Foundation, Rosemary Leith, Berkman Center Fellow, Judith Donath, Berkman Center Fellow, Jonathan Zittrain, Director at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Professor at Harvard Law School, and moderator Urs Gasser, Executive Director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, engage in an interactive discussion about the feasibility of a social media platform that relies on themes related to human cooperation, reciprocity, and kindness.
In the last few years, the war among drug cartels and the Mexican authorities has intensified, claiming the lives of many innocent people. Citizens, using Social Media have organized a communication network reporting daily on the dangerous zones of their cities. How did it start and how effective are they? In this presentation Andrés Monroy-Hernández — post-doctoral researcher at Microsoft Research and a Fellow at the Berkman Center — and Panagiotis "Takis" Metaxas — Professor of Computer Science and Founder of the Media Arts and Sciences Program at Wellesley College — analyze the information sharing practices of people living in cities central to the Mexican Drug War, and examine how a handful of citizens aggregate and disseminate information from social media, many of whom are anonymous.
The Drupal community is one of the largest and most active Open Source projects on the web, powering 1 out of 50 websites in the world. The concept of major projects growing out of a volunteer, community-based model is not new to the world. When new ground needs to be broken, it's often volunteer communities that do it. But a full-time, paid infrastructure can be necessary for the preservation and protection of what communities begin.
Dries Buytaert — the original creator and project lead for the Drupal open source web publishing and collaboration platform, and president of the Drupal Association — shares his experiences on how he grew the Drupal community from just one person to over 800,000 members over the past 10 years, and, generally, how large communities evolve and how to sustain them over time.
CC-licensed photo via Flickr user http://www.flickr.com/photos/bhagesh/
Knowledge grows, but it also contracts as outmoded facts and theories are replaced with new ones. Dennis Tenen — a literary scholar, recovering software engineer, and fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society — discusses our intuitions about knowledge domains and the methods by which such intuitions could be modeled empirically.
The advent of the internet provides social scientists with a fantastic tool for conducting behavioral experiments online at a very large-scale and at an affordable cost. It is surprising, however, how little research has leveraged the affordances of the internet to set up such social experiments so far.
Jerome Hergueux — a PhD candidate in Economics at Sciences Po Paris and the University of Strasbourg, and a Berkman Fellow — presents the preliminary results of a randomized experiment that compares behavioral measures of social preferences obtained both in a traditional University laboratory and online, with a focus on engaging the audience in a reflection about the specificities, limitations and promises of online experimental economics as a tool for social science research.
The Scratch Online Community allows young people to share and remix their own video games and animations, as well as those of their peers. In four years, the community has grown to close to a million registered members and more than two million user-contributed projects. Andrés Monroy-Hernández — the developer of Scratch, a post-doctoral researcher at Microsoft Research, and Berkman Fellow — presents a framework for the design and study of an online community of amateur creators, focusing on remixing as a lens to understand the social, cultural, and technical structures of a social computing system that supports creative expression.
In the context of multiple crises – ecological, political, financial and geopolitical restructuring – there are emerging forms of social cooperation.
In the Spanish case, we have seen some of the largest demonstrations since the country made its transition to democracy in the 70s with massive occupations of public squares, attempts to prevent parliaments’ functioning and citizen assemblies of thousands of people taking place in spring and autumn 2011.
Mayo Fuster Morell — a PhD candidate from the European University Institute in Florence — analyzes commonalities and differences between emerging forms of social cooperation that suggest a shift to a more active role of civic society in the network society.
Harvard Professor Yochai Benkler (The Wealth of Networks) is one of the world’s top thinkers on cooperative structures. In his new book, The Penguin and the Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs over Self-Interest, he uses evidence from neuroscience, economics, sociology, biology, and real-world examples to break down the myth of self-interest and replace it with a model of cooperation in our businesses, our government, and our lives.
Photo Courtesy Flickr user Nokton