Our world is already inherently cocreated— we just don't do it very well. Discuss

This phrase is quickly becoming my mantra and the premise behind my practice of cocreation.

It was inspired by a comment by Harrison Owen, that we are all already in open space (cf Open Space Technology), but that we don’t do it very well.

It was reinforced earlier today thinking about ecology and closed-loop systems. No matter how much we try to ignore the bigger picture and focus on input-output processes, these are part of bigger picture, closed-loop systems whether we like it or not. Closed-loop systems aren’t an ‘option’. If we ignore the broader system, we tend to stuff things up.

The choice is not whether we create input-output vs closed-loop systems. The choice is not whether we cocreate vs work in segregated, stifling and closed ways. The choice is whether we acknowledge reality and act accordingly, or whether we remain willfully ignorant and act in ways that have unintended impacts.

Can this proposition underpin a philosophy of cocreation?

When what we can give trumps what we will get…

Our world has been co-created to date with “what we will get” as a core value in the system. What I love about co-creative impact work is that it shifts the focus to what everyone can give. If done well, this can make resource scarcity far less of a barrier to our thinking abuot complex challenges.

I love to wonder what would happen if we all lived for what we can give in this life, instead of what we will get during this life. I was privileged to be able to make that decision for myself many years back and have been so grateful for the quality of life it’s brought to me, but people just don’t get it when I tell them that money only comes into my life by surprise these days. I’m convinced that the universe will conspire to take care of us if we give the best of ourselves to it, but the false-scarcity riddled money-systems that our generations of recent memory have come to recognize as “reality” make it difficult - even disadvantageous - for people to do what they can the world.

One of my favorite quotes of late was from somebody’s 7 year old. When she heard her parents saying that people couldn’t find any jobs, she asked “Is all the work really done?”


As humans we belive we are co-creative beings

This is the other side of John Baxter´s point of view: the world is co-created and we think us as natural co-creative beings.

At least that is the quick answer I received each time I ask colleagues in my region (Latin America) how do they feel about co-creation and if they are using co-creative approaches in their works- “Of course, we are constantly co-creating… our model is obviously co-creative”. But if conversation happens to go deeper, we find that most every approach has a more hierarchical leadership and procceses are answering to the global old systems that haven´t succeeded.

We all need to sense that we are abundant in many ways, as Christina Jordan pointed in her post. Each of us is a unique individual that can give much and receive much from others. This is the thriving world we are envisioning and working for.

Ten years ago I read The Soul of Money, by Lynne Twist a book that ignited in me the awareness of an abundant world that needs to be looked, treated and worked from abundancy and not from scarcity. In the abundance sense of each other we naturally will go for each other, see into each others eyes and co-creatively give our best to achieve a higher common good.

Utopia? I don´t think so. I happen to be surrended by people who are well aware to their abundancy and are exploring co-creative ways to let it flow. Our challenge is to make processes visible, the “hows” reachable and to spread the word…

I am now reading Thrivability  by Jean M. Russell and working close to the ci2i Global team and lots of co creative practitionersai we met in the Learn/ Share Lab at Chiang Mai, Thailand last February . I feel  abundant and hope we can bring our efforts, ideas, movements to inspire others and refuel our daily works.


Enter the Devil’s Advocate:

With consciousness comes responsibility. Thats a first premise.

John I’m noting that you mention that this opinion above has emerged from conversation considering closed loop systems and ecology. Closed ecological systems are systems that involve no matter exchagne with the surrounding environment. “These are generally manmade systems”.

I agree that perceptually closed loop systems are a fact in the human world. Sure! But I dont agree on your choice of choices, or whether your ‘better choice’ is actually the best choice that could be made. Closed loop systems remind me of the concept of ‘closed energetic systems’ from the complexity and thermodynamic perspective, the same applies here, these systems have no energetic exchange beyond their closed-containment. This is all good in theory, but there is no such thing in practice.

I would offer that the same is the case here. What we refer to as closed loop systems are not in fact ‘closed loop’, neither energetically, nor in terms of ecological or social effect. The practice of cocreativity , from one perspective, is to create the transformative strategies, to build the organizational midi-desks into which bottom up and top down processes can plug in such that we build fully connective topolgies reflecting the mutuality of cause and effect as one global species in the hope of survival and the balance this requires. Its all well and good to attend events in the limelight and rub shoulders with state and capital, but to feign ignorance as to any terrestrial processes being closed loop, to disacknowledge the mutuality of casue and effect, is to believe that walls high enough wil shield one from the shared psycho-social environment of the times. Its never enough to blame without asking the question of how the situation is modulated by one’s own perceptions actions and the stories we tell ourselves and others. I say this as much to remind myself as I do to remind anyone else.

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Our old friend terminology

Sorry Eimhin, I think my mis-use of terminology has shifted the meaning of my post away from my intent.

By ‘closed loop’ systems I meant systems that close loops… e.g. energy, carbon, nutrients, matter etc returns into a cycle.  I didn’t mean to refer to bounded systems.  My mis-use of ‘closed loop system’ probably doesn’t even make technical sense, because as you say natural systems tend not to be bounded/segregated.

So please ignore that and forgive the confusion.

My initial intent isn’t one about values of different systems (closed, open, whatever), and it’s certainly not about theoretically ideal systems.

It’s about recognising that human ‘systems’ are in fact integrated parts of broader ecosystems, even if this interface is really poorly designed.  e.g. we design sewage systems as if we can flush shit out to sea and it disappears.  It doesn’t disappear, it just moves on to a different part of the ecosystem, feeding sea life, birds and all the rest.  Its embodied energy, carbon, nutrients etc is reintegrated into external ecological cycles.  (Though it probably does accelerate erosion of the land-based nutrients we rely upon for agriculture, redistributing resources in ways that are potentially harmful… nevermind the technicalities)

So what this means is that even if we create systems that look like they are input-output from our anthropocentric perspective, from an ecological perspective they still “close the loop”.  Our junk is still a resource somewhere else in the system, even if we call it junk and it has no direct anthro-use.

My beef is with the way that ‘close the loop’ advocacy implies that our waste doesn’t in fact live on somewhere else in the system, which it does.  It just probably lives on somewhere that isn’t very helpful.  I think this is a damaging perspective because it reinforces the “out of sight out of mind” philosophy for systems design.  It would be much better to start with a view of the system that included the “out of sight” parts, to bring them into sight (so we can see how rooted they are as a result of the negligence that comes with not taking the into consideration).

Does that make any more sense?

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“There is no away”

This ipad just ate a really extensive post about new bits of science and what that implies for our real world systems who still act according to traditional methods, it took a look at sub absolute temperatire and negative temperature effects at that systemic level and indicated that bringing these effects to human scale would trounce the laissez-destroy policies of the modern state by exposing the incomplete foundation of their ideological basis as a kind of willful ignorance and stubborn holding on to incomplete pictures of reality.

I’m sorry that I have deficient technology that eats my treeasure all to frequently, hopefully I can come across a new computer soon. This ipad 1 is way past its best before.

So, there is no ‘away’ , we have to internalize ‘externalities’, and to do this, building a fully connected topological network structure is imperative. The problem is often the perception of closed systems where none in fact exist, save for those we build to protect us from the consciousness of the consequences of our actions.

I’m a little annoyed I lost that last post. Oh well. Next time, feel free to poke me and see if any of it comes back.

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As always…

As always Eimhin I barely understand what you’re saying

But I sense treasure is inherent there,

even just among that which survived the hungry machine.

So I’ll hope I absorbed some of it by osmosis.

I sense we’re both of a similar mind regards the futility/ignorance of ‘closed systems’ but suspect the meeting of our words in some sort of mutually understood agreeance is being sabotaged by the universe.

God speed

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…thats some smile you just put on my face…

It would have made sense if you had read what came before… Oh well… the universe is often up to its tricks of sabotage, those pesky planets and macro movements, we are but ants anon…


Linear/mechanistic vs Eco-systemic approach to co-creation

@John: What I understand when you say “Our world is already inherently cocreated— we just don’t do it very well” is that we are already co-constructing our world / working in cooperation but in a linear/mechanistic way although we live in a world that is inherently systemic. Is that what you mean ?

Reflecting about my own practice of cooperation and co-creation it has become increasingly clear to me that I have an eco-systemic approach to co-creation and cooperation, unlike most practitionners who seem to have a very linear/mechanistic approach (see Wikipedia definition of “co-creation”).

From what I understand, Christina, Carolina, Jean and the Ci2i group also have a eco-systemic approach to co-creation/cooperation. Am I correct ?

I took me a bit of time to get access and be able to reply, but the day after reading this post, I came across this very interesting article (serendipidity?):

Transforming Power: Impact, Partnership and the Tao of Wholesome Power : http://co-intelligence.org/KosmosJournal-FW2013-Atlee.pdf

I believe this is of interest regarding this discussion.


Very much so / almost - but not sure about the distinction

Hello Lilian!  Welcome : )

I think you have interpeted what I mean but perhaps the language a few degrees of how I would put it.

@John: What I understand when you say “Our world is already inherently cocreated— we just don’t do it very well” is that we are already co-constructing our world / working in cooperation but in a linear/mechanistic way although we live in a world that is inherently systemic. Is that what you mean ?

I would say exactly that we are co-constructing our world - but that we are NOT working in cooperation, for the most part.

To my mind, the reason we are not working in cooperation is that we have a linear and mechanistic way of working, which leads us to believe more often than not that we need not cooperate.  I think we are led to believe that we can take our own actions for change— which might involve influencing or controlling others if we have large ambitions, but that fundamentally don’t involve the vulnerability and holistic thinking of cooperation (let alone the intimacy of collaboration).

The devil as I see it is the devaluation of integration vs segregation.  (~holism vs individualism)

But I like your thinking and will reflect on how the mechanistic/linear vs systemic perspective fits in.  Thanks for helping me understand what my thoughts mean in communication.

Welcome Lilian!

So happy to see you here [lilian]! I’m glad you persevered to join us. I look forward to reading the article you shared. Thank you! (and yes to the eco-system approach!)

The mechanism of intent…

I would see the mechanized and linear perspective as the result of a lesser conscious perspective that we are slowly growing out of. That it exists at all seems to be the result of intentional design. In the history of conscious development we see the initiation of ‘brain in a vat’ consciousness, as Latour calls it, with Descarte’s ‘Cogito Ergo Sum’ and his subsequent development of the cartesian points system, the z axis, locating a point in 3 dimensional space. Most cultures prior to that had a much more community collective sense of personhood and responsibility, in Brehon Law , the precolonial Irish legal system, there was familial responsibility according to the maxim: “not punishment, but compensation” , if you stole a chicken, your family would have to replace the chicken.

Post Descartes, with the help of the printing press, consciousness develops along the trajectory of an individuated ego, moving along a linear path like a point through vacuous space. The result is a fractalitically self regenrative process. The individuated centre of consciousness applies its own measure to the world around it, it individuates matter and the heavens, classifying and proving by the scientific method. It moves away from the full round of learning in ‘the naturalhilosophy’ and specialises all knowledge into the particular houses. It harnesses power according to this process and creates compartmentalised productive processes, and compartmentalised education systems to populate these processes…and so on.

In this re-Renaissance what has changed? How have we evolved?

It appears that the digital interconnection is a result of our materialising western process. It is a physico-digital signifier of a trait of the inner process of connectivity at the subtle consciousness level, that is to say, Jung coined the term ‘collective unconscious’ not so long ago, at the same time Teilhard de Chardin hypothesised the ‘noosphere’, basically the same ‘concept’. We are learning what we are and with each step so we become. The next step:

As we think, so the world becomes. All life in-formation.

From this perspective, (I know that this tone is unhelpfully esoteric, I’ll switch modes now), looking at life that creates itself on the lesser bandwidth of consciousness throught the fossils of the built and organizational environment, we can see, yes, a linear and mechanical process. Growth , it seems, is often painful. Existence at all implies suffering, and so a lot of folk are uncomfortable with the idea of trading in their comfort for authentic growth. So they build processes and partake in the thinking and living of stagnancy, an ultimately destructive process. They build and sustain the limits of their ‘own’ mind, and of course this seeps out manifesting in the real world as hierarchic structures inversely proportional to their consciousness-based corollaries. (Jungs enantiodromia, a consciousness based relation of opposites, so material power implies weaknes ‘of spirit’ in this case of destructive effect)

These people attempt to divide and control others rather than grow naturally with them, all the evidence points to this. How otherwise could they justify their elevated sense of self importance or entitlement to conditions of gross inequlity. They must think in this way, otherwise their world would dissolve. Much like death itself, its a frightening prospect for those unprepared.

(something unexpected has just come up, I have to pop off, apologies if I’m confusing anyone, I’ll clear it up in time)

Thank you…

Thanks for your thoughts Eimhin.  They’re enjoyable.

What is the re-renaissance? Do you think we’re going through it?

If it is what comes to mind for me… I’m always a little wary of the idea that we’re on the cusp of some significant paradigmatic improvement.  In any given context, people seem to espouse this as if it is clear - it probably is clear amongst the evidence they surround themselves with.  But relating that to some broader change is still very hard.

There is definitely broad awareness of the unsatisfactory nature of our compartmentalised existences.  But is there any trend in this?  Weren’t we aware of this in the 60s?  I’m not sure.

Definitely things are changing, always are - but it’s not clear what.

Open to your thoughts and to clarify what you mean in ‘re-renaissance’

Reporting back on our inherently cocreated world

Thanks for your contributions everyone!

I’ve had a few offline conversations as well, and the lesson is… while I am no more shaken in my belief in the inherently cocreated nature of the world (the validity of the proposition), it is definitely a symbol of my own very specific perspective.  Like the tip of an iceberg of thoughts and philosophy - that doesn’t really make much sense in the absence of the whole.

So I’m moving away from the idea as a way of communicating about cocreation.  (About to post some other thoughts on that to a new thread.)

An end that remains loose that I’m interested in taking up when opportunity presents, is the pattern of the proposition (the pattern shared with both “the world is inherently cocreated” and “all systems are inherently closed loop systems”).

I don’t know exactly what this is but it seems like there is a really useful tool in there somewhere…

Pattern: the way we compartmentalise the world (segregated, silos, non-integrated, non-holistic) leads us to believe that holistic/segments is an either/or… that there are trade-offs where we sacrifice the parts for the whole… that being holistic is an ‘option’, an added-extra we can take if we have the discretionary resources to do so…

But this is in willful ignorance of the fact that the world is already whole, and already integrated.  Our compartmentalisation does not actually separate, but merely allows us to ignore the bigger picture… a willful ignorance akin to negligence.

We need to start from a position not of “should we think more holistically in order to do better?” (e.g. consider environmental externalities; work to close the loop and create resource cycles in our production)

But that “considering the holistic nature of our impact/activity, can we afford to continue to operate in the dark?”