In recent years, the development of digital technologies provided new tools for the increasing of a new form of internet. The so called Web 2.0 is, clearly today, a radical evolution of the Internet as we knew it in the last 15 years: a democratic land in which users become an active part of the system, producing contents on one side and selecting and aggregating informations and culture items on the other side. The definition of “prosumer” is today witnessing a new sort of hybrid social and creative subject: a user hungry for pieces of open informations, anxious to produce and share cultural and social tools through peer-to-peer collaborative activities with/for communities, close to bottom-up taxonomies of reality (i.e. the folksonomies, systems of classification derived from the practice and method of collaboratively creating and managing tags to annotate and categorize contents), but also careful to develope its social capital through the effective use of the new social networks and platforms.

What I’m personally interested in, the wider sense of this article, is to focus my attention on the importance of creative bottom-up production (both professional and no-professional) within the radical transformations in the relationships among art, science, design and society we are witnessing in recent years. The progressive de-institutionalization of the forms of production, management and consumption of material and immaterial goods brought by new technologies (Do It Yourself practices, open hardware and open softwares, desktop manufacturing, p2p sharing data platforms, to make some examples) is actually reshaping the way we conceive creativity and culture. In other words, a number of fast, radical transformations from the bottom, have began to dispute material and immaterial production structures revivifying and systematizing practices that were already familiar to hacker, hacktivist and libertarian cultures. (Bertram Niessen, 2010).

Of course, all these new paradigma, have a strong impact on what are the main changings we’re facing in contemporary economy. In many sections of creative markets and industries, the logic that supports an internally oriented, centralized approach to research and development (R&D) has become obsolete. Embracing external ideas and knowledge, a growing number of creative and cultural industries are embracing and integrating digital innovators (artists, designers, cultural operators, journalists, net comunicators, etc), their ideas, expertise and skills based upon the use of open softwares, codes, net strategies and hardwares. While the developments of online platforms are creating the basis for shared and peered cultural, artistic and business projects connecting professionals sharing their knowledges and contacts, what is today defined as “Open Innovation” is the keyword to critically understand what is happening today on the border between creativity and production.

As director of Digicult, an online/offline cultural and editorial platform which focuses on the impact of new technologies and sciences on art, design, culture and contemporary society, I’m now directing a team of critics and theorists (Bertram Niessen, Claudia D’Alonzo, Elena Biserna, Sabina Barcucci, Alessandro Delfanti – Digicult could be considered as a good example of open culture, peer-to-peer knowledge and Web 2.0 open economy) working on a monographic issue commissioned by MCD magazine. This articulated publication will explore the panorama described above, according to the five curators specialized in five different fields (internet and society, video and audiovisual, music and sound, design and architecture, art and science), that we consider important to explain how digital technologies and peer to peer strategies are changing the ways of producing cultural and artistic objects today.

According to Bertram Niessen, what is happening in contemporary society is that the recent social transformations connected to changes in economy and technology are questioning seriously our traditional ways to conceive culture, social relationships, communication, creativity and innovation. On one side, individual creativity seems to become the main engine of the world around us (“be creative” seems to be an imperative that no one can avoid). On the other side, the rise of collective intelligence in social networks and the uncountable artistic, political and social bottom-up experimentations fostered by new technologies are challenging the romantic myth of individual creativity. The multiplicity of information ecologies (and the consequent fragmentation of values and symbolic systems) suggests that we are entering a phase that calls for the ability of letting emerge meanings and practices from the complexity itself, questioning the ideology of individual creativity and evaluating in a new way the social innovation nurtured by peer-to-peer networks. An example of Bertram Niessen’s research is given by Philippe Aigrain, Founder and CEO of Sopinspace, Society for Public Information Spaces, a company that provides free software-based solutions for the public debate by citizens of policy issues and for collaborative work over the internet. He acts at international level as an advocate for the information and knowledge commons, and tries to address challenges in making commons-based cooperation sustainable. –

In the same way, according to Claudia D’Alonzo and Marco Mancuso, what we are now calling “digital commons” (free and open source kinds of production and distribution phenomena), are expanding their influence on the cultural and artistic practices in a broad sense. Today, defining the scope of this revolution in the world of contemporary visual art productions, is a very complex path. We’re just beginning to discover the possibilities related to video delivery platforms, to historical audiovisual archives digitization, to networks of participatory production and peer to peer sharing of copyrighted works and contents. Moreover, spread of free licenses (copyleft) raises questions about the redefinition of the authorship concept, intellectual property and artistic heritage, not only to artists and curators but also to archives and research centers and institutions, to creation practice, dissemination and fruition of audio-visual artistic contents. Lev Manovich and the Software Studies Initiative he’s now leading, for example, focus their attention on something called “Cultural Analytics” is the use of computational methods for the analysis of massive cultural data sets and flows, as defined by Lev Manovich himself in 2007. At Software Studies Initiative he and his team, are focusing on a particular part of analytics paradigm, using digital image processing and visualization for the analysis of large image and video collections –

The deep transformations that, in recent years, are redefining cultural production and consumption, assume widespread significance and particular evidence in the fields of sound and music, as witnessed by Elena Biserna’s studies and researches. The questioning of the western idea of authorship, the DIY ethos, the practices of re-appropriation, recombination and sharing, the challenge to the predetermined boundaries between (active) production and (passive) listening have been the cornerstones of sound experimentation in the second half of the 20th century. Digital technologies, peer to peer systems, free software and open platforms standardize and extend these processes, setting the stage for broader and collective sharing and collaboration that redefine the ways as well as the formal and institutional frames for music and sound production, distribution and reception. Mattin is an artist working with noise and improvisation, a perfect example of Elena Biserna’s researches. His work addresses the social and economic structures of experimental music production through live performance, recordings and writing. He runs the labels “w.m.o/r”, which focuses on experimental works with a conceptual and minimalist approach, “Free Software Series”, a label dedicated to promote works that are realized using free software and the netlabel “Desetxea”. –

As also observed by an architect and designer as Sabina Barcucci, current production and informational systems are producing more and more emergencies phenomena: complex systems arising out of a multiplicity of simple interactions. Computational design is becoming a disruptive approach to define methodological, conceptual, and technical set of instruments to re-materialize such complexity in the physical world. Digital fabrication and the new forms of associative design and planning are significant outputs of the efforts made by architects and engineers in these fields. Emergences from complexity arise some key questions. As a consequence of the overwhelming growing “digital chain” in design process, will the paradigmatic shift in professional identity bring the human figures out of this automated process? The mankind will still keep a key role in future scenarios? And if yes, which ones? In a cultural and technical environment where forms and techniques change too fast and too often, do forms and languages have meaning anymore? The architect Daniel Dendra, according to Sabina Barcucci, answers to some of these questions: after founding anOtherArchitect, as collaborative platform between architects and engineers, he also co-founded the OpenSource design network OpenSimSim in 2009. OpenSimSim was selected by Kazuyo Sejima as part of the XII Architectural Biennale in Venice and ever since follow up collaborations such as the award, OpenJapan or the FutureCityLab were initiated by Daniel Dendra with different partners. –

Finally, also science is facing tremendous changes due to the emergence of peer-to-peer production models, according to Alessandro Delfanti. But beside being part of a global change in the way knowledge is produced, science has important peculiarities. In this field, the rise of open collaboration involves the blurring of the boundaries between scientific experts and lay citizens: a problem of power and a transformation of science expert epistemology. The walls of science’s ivory towers are not firm anymore, and citizens are more and more commenting, discussing, deliberating and producing scientific knowledge. In this changing scenario, the emergence of do-it-yourself communities that work on biology and genetics is one of the more visible novelties. Marc R. Dusseiller, as observed by Alessandro Delfanti, is working in an integral way to combine science, art and education. He performs DIY-workshops in lo-fi electronics, music and robotics, has made various short movies and is currently developing means to perform biological science (Hackteria | Open Source Biological Art) in a DIY fashion in your kitchen or your atelier. –