Posted by: Xhyra Graf | 19 January 2007

Model 15

The Social Computation Model

One of the more interesting social models of creativity, especially in a time when knowledge management, organizational learning, and cognitive competitiveness are ascendant, is this social computation model (Salomon, 1999; Greene, Journal, Sept. 1998; John-Steiner, 2000; Thompson et al, 1999; Greene, Journal, Sept. 2000). Social computations are patterns of interaction among people, seen as computations–input, processor, output, with the processor having layers (hardware, firmware, software) of code operations, each of which has input, processor, and output–making the idea “computation” endlessly recursive, in principle. As a boat navigates a channel, officers compare happenings to plotted course and a series of formal and informal consultations among various parties on board occur till a course correction results that saves the situation. A new boss takes over an office and spends his first year fighting unexpected crises as workers under him sabotage his every initiative, they seeing him as lacking the social skills and care for workers of their previous boss. These are common social phenomena that can easily be modeled as social computations–particular patterns of information disclosure and application among agroup of people.

Creativity, seen as such a social computation, is not something individuals do (or “compute”). It is a particular type of social computation.

What are its properties, that distinguish it from the boat being navigated and the boss being sabotaged? Creativity as a social computation involves the computation of what is unexpected, undeserved, un-founded in the existing group and its tendencies. It is departure of the group from its own norms and habits. It is novelty breaking into the world, in spite of human fear, cowardice, selfishness, conservatism, and narcissism. Creativity is the social computation of courage, the courage to violate norms and traditions, first. It is the social computation of directing that courage at unusual approaches to defining problems and solving them, second. As a social computation, creativity involves certain interactions reaching critical mass–the bursting forth of things from crowd phenomena–that would never occur under normaloperation.

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