Collaborative Futures Day3: Who is I?

It has been another intense day of recursive collaboration at the Collaborative Futures book sprint here in Berlin. Currently at around 23,000 words. Not bad for just 1, 2, 3 days…


The people in the room have quite strong feelings about concepts of attribution. What is pretty obvious by now is that both those who elevate the importance of proper crediting to the success of collaboration and those who dismiss it all together are both quite equally obsessed about it. The attribution license we chose for the book is CC-BY-SA oh and maybe GPL too… Not sure… Actually, I guess I am not the most attribution obsessed guy in the room.


We had a parallel sushi sprint going on. I should work on my rolling skills...

We had a parallel sushi sprint going on. I should work on my rolling skills...

Another somewhat illuminating anecdote is that we have some parallel scale issues. We were joined by Michelle Thorne (Creative Commons Germany, Open Everything, Atoms and Bits) and by Mirko Lindner (OpenMoko, more…) who were invited to help us with writing. These are super interesting and talented people who I would love to spend time with. But today there was just no way it was going to happen. Apparently two days were enough for us to construct such a tight process that we could not allow ourselves any distractions.

It seems that the tight time constraints serves as a reverse factor for participation scale. We are so invested in the process that we are reluctant to spend time in coordination and assimilation of new contributions into the overall process. This time constraint is pretty rare for these open collaborations and it definitely affects the actual openness to new participation.

Michelle and Mirko actually wrote about it in for the self-referential epilogue section: Outsiders: thoughts on external collaboration (scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page)


Yesterday I first ran into this issue of subjectivity. I was about to write “I actually more am interested in…”, but since we are writing collectively I asked the group how should I write this? Am I interested? Are WE interested?

Today this conflict got even more complex when I wanted to refer to a personal anecdote. Both Michael and Mike have already done it in their own writing but they were able to quote themselves as they were indeed quoting previous written sentences. In my case, this was a grim memory from my army days. Not something I have ever put on paper.

Do I say I? Who is I? We’re writing in plural, as “we”. Do I say “one of the authors”? That’s pretty lame and quite superficial, and come on… how many of “the authors” served in the Israeli army? Do I quote myself? It doesn’t really make sense, it is not like I am reappropriating a quote from a different context. Should I declare explicitly that I am switching to first person for the anecdote’s sake? It is a fucking anecdote, any writer will just write it as: “I remember…”. Is English just not equipped for this collective thing?

This was getting quite schizophrenic. As for now we left is as is – unstated. It is still bound to change as we have 2 days left. But all these conflicts more than frustrating they are simply fascinating.