‘abolish all prisons especially my body.’ –@nomunnynohunny


…DARPA’s Red Balloon Challenge in 2008, in which the United States government scattered 10 red weather balloons across the continental U.S., and instructed teams of researchers to locate them as fast as possible. The winning MIT team found all 10 balloons in just under nine hours using the virality of social media and an incentive structure that motivated people to recruit their friends. This result was a resounding success for crowdsourcing and the Internet at large, demonstrating that a collective of individuals, connected through technology, could together solve large-scale problems that no individual could solve alone.

This same team, however, struggled with other Internet-based forms for mass cooperation. During the 2011 DARPA Shredder Challenge, which involved recruiting and coordinating individuals on the Internet to collectively recombine shredded documents, people took advantage of the trust necessary for large-scale collaboration. Adversarial participants from the other teams, who felt the crowdsourcing essentially amounted to “cheating,” posed as volunteers and sabotaged the crowdsourcing effort, rendering cooperation impossible. Fast-forward five years, to the 2016 presidential election, and we see how this antagonism can be a serious problem for genuine collective action. Bad actors proliferated misinformation at such a rate that the New York Times declared, “The Internet trolls have won. Sorry, there’s not much you can do.”

So when do networks enable cooperation to thrive? And when do they hinder it? […] We decided to examine a different, extreme environment known for its ability to foster cooperation at a large scale: Burning Man.

{ Nautilus | Continue reading }

art { Diego Gravinese }