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TEDxHEC Montreal

At TEDxHEC Montreal, I address the question of how can we best put our networks to use. The resulting talk, entitled “Democratic Collaboration”, examined the challenges of collaboration and demonstrated the ways that technology can be used to solve these problems. Democratic collaboration called on the audience to approach the leveraging of networks as if they were building a democratic system: everyone is treated equally but certain rules are in place to prevent chaos.

To demonstrate the merits of democratic collaboration, a few friends and I built a real-time collaborative project in which the audience could participate through SMS. Audience members were asked to write a story by submitting sentences. At first, no constraints were imposed and sentences were posted in the order they were received. It was a mess. The experiment was run a second time but with constraints; one sentence would be chosen every 15 seconds and the audience could see where the story was going before submitting another sentence. The resulting story, while imperfect, was more coherent. Take a look at the video to see it live in action!

The talk received positive reactions on social media channels and was featured in Les Affaires 968986_10152852838865313_1368543054_n . An account of the Twitter responses to Democratic Collaboration has been published to this Storify page.

The real-time collaborative system built for TEDxHEC was tested to manage thousands of messages, apply constraints, and filter out profanities. A detailed report of the technology behind the project can be found on GitHub.