aku-aku: v.. To move a tall, flat bottomed object (such as a bookshelf) by swiveling it alternatively on its corners in a "walking" fashion. [After the book by Thor Heyerdahl theorising the statues of Easter Island were moved in this fashion.] source: LangMaker.com. Aku Aku also has another meaning to the islanders: a spiritual guide.
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literacy of cooperation
Posted by dav at 2005 September 16 09:07 PM
File under: Geek

Wednesday was a good geek day.

It started with a the new Distinguished Lecture Series at Berkeley's School of Information Management (or SIMS, home of such luminaries as danah boyd and Sean "cheesebikini" Savage). Howard Rheingold gave an hour long presentation on his cooperation project. He believes that new capabilities in cooperation abetted by modern communications technologies will foster great advances in human civilization. The beginning of the talk brought to mind Robert Wright's book on the direction of cultural evoloution, Nonzero. It spoke of the role cooperation and trust play in increasing competitive capabilities. Cooperation historically has been driven by competition; Wright's thesis is that greater complexity in terms of nonzero sum games involving greater numbers of people is an inevitable occurrence in any society. Rheingold tied together studies in a number of disciplines, and his grand finale was a vision for an interactive map in the shape of a dart board which could be used as a tool to further interdisciplinary cooperation in cooperation studies. The radials represent various disciplines: biology, economics, cultural evolution, history, psychology sociology, mathematics and political science. The concentric circles representing levels of cooperation, ranging from little/no cooperation to large scale organized societies. He'd like to be able to allow people to plot various artifacts of research or data (websites, publications, media) onto this map in order to allow researchers to better study the phenomenon of cooperation. For instance Elinor Ostrom's Governing the Commons which challenged the tragedy of the commons assertion that humans always overuse commons to the point of destruction might go on the intersection of sociology and and the second ring. The lecture ended with a plea for hackers to implement a web version of this map. I'm considering trying to make a nice AJAX version of it. Rheingold taught a course titled HUM 202: Toward a literacy of cooperation at Berkeley last semester, the videos of it are now online.

It just occurred to me that the Cooperation Map would be a perfect theme for Black Rock City!

Some other choice thoughts from the talk:

  • "altruistic punishment may be the glue that holds society together"
  • in the brain, the same area is active when a person receives an award and when the person is punishing a cheater
  • new forms of wealth will spring from cooperation

After the lecture, I shot back across the bridge to RxGallery for Dorkbot #21, which will be the subject of my next post.


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