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Date: Sat, 14 Jun 2008 11:11:05 -0400
Reply-To: Steve Lambert
Sender: "Curating digital art - www.crumbweb.org"

From: Steve Lambert

Subject: Re: June Theme: Open Source, Residencies and the Lab Model

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My name is Steve Lambert and I am one of the Senior Fellows at the

Sorry for the delay in answering these questions. I'm just going to
answer this one because I think it kind of answers the others at the
same time.

> * Can collaboration exist without openness?

Yes. Bad collaborations can certainly exist without openness.

In my mind, there are a few kinds of collaborations. I have never
written this down before so hopefully it makes sense.

Master and Apprentice - this isn't really collaboration, but some
people call it collaboration to makes themselves feel better. The
Master calls it collaboration so that they don't have to feel guilty
about taking advantage of the apprentice. The Apprentice calls it a
collaboration so they don't have face that they're being taking
advantage of. The pitfall here is pretending it's something it's
not. If the rolls are properly defined (actually calling it master
and apprentice, mentor and mentee, or artist and assistant, etc.) and
treated appropriately, it can actually be healthy and good.

Collaboration with leadership roles - With this kind there's someone
who takes the lead at various stages. The roles may shift and
another person may lead at another stage. This changes can happen
frequently or infrequently. But someone steps to the front and
others step back - often because the person in the leader position at
that stage has some special skill or expertise. I'm thinking of jazz
when a soloist will step forward for a few bars, then they step back
and someone else steps forward.

Totally balanced collaboration - The last is a totally even
collaboration where all parties have an equal hand in everything at
every stage. This may not exist in the real world as much as it
exists as a goal to strive for.

So getting back to the openness - there has to be openness among the
collaborators for the collaboration to work. (and a bad collaboration
could exist where the collaborators don't communicate, which sounds
awful doesn't it?) In all of the above models, they collaborators
need to communicate with each other. They need to formally or
informally convey to eachother what their doing, why, documenting the
process so the other can understand, etc.

The thing is, I don't think there has to be openness to the outside
world. Collaboration openness. There's probably people working
collaboratively on some weapon at Lockheed Martin or Lawrence
Livermore right now that is classified and worked on in secret. The
spouses of the engineers have no idea what they do at work. But
there are probably great collaborations happening behind closed doors
protected by armed checkpoints.

Another thing I want to mention, which I have said around here
before, is what we're calling "openness" is not new. It's ancient.
The term is new and the concept has had a resurgence in the past
couple decades, but sharing intellectual property is as old as
civilization. Most of the knowledge our culture has was passed on by
others for free. If I wanted to make a basket weaved like yours I
just asked you to show me. You would have no financial, or any other
reason, not to show me. Civilization progresses because of the
proliferation of shared knowledge.

And this is how all knowledge has been passed on since the
beginning. From language to skills and ideas. Until IP became
commodified. I see what we're doing as going back to the ways that
are closer to human nature, before knowledge was perverted by the

In this way, open source is an innate part of being human. Treating
it as foreign or new just helps reinforce the way IP currently
functions within the market as being normal.


Steve Lambert
Eyebeam Senior Fellow

On Jun 2, 2008, at 2:57 PM, Sarah Cook wrote:

> * Can collaboration exist without openness?
> * Is collaboration 'hardcoded' into the lab model, and what are the
> implications when the lab's philosophy embodies open source-ness or
> releasing work into the public domain? (as is the case with the
> Eyebeam R&D OpenLab)
> * Is it necessary or helpful to have a creative commons mentality
> when engaged in collaborative projects?
> * What can be learned from the model of artist-curator residencies
> within labs, where participants are expected to collaborate?


  open source


  Sarah Cook