Six Emerging Forms of Digital Cooperation

At the Berkman Center here in Boston, Brian Keegan and I co-facilitate a working group on cooperation research (email list here) that meets to discuss recent papers, offer feedback on technology design, and share a broad conversation among reearchers, designers, activists, and mediamakers.

Today, I shared six cooperative technologies that I learned about at the Mozilla Festival in London:

Mozilla Lightbeam

Lightbeam reveals the networks of technology cooperation that occur on the open web via APIs and embed codes (I wrote about an early version here). Lightbeam can also be used to see who’s tracking you online.

Mozilla Webmaker

WebMaker is Mozilla’s project to teach the world web skills. On the Webmaker site, creators showcase their projects, organizers can publicise events, and educators can share lesson plans and activity guides. Every project description and guide can be remixed onto your personal webmaker collection. Mozilla highlights many of these pages back to the broader community.

BBG KettleCorn

KettleCorn by BBG is a gorgeous extension to the Mozilla PopcornMaker video editor, modified for journalistic video curation and sharing. It includes extra features for standard journalistic overlays, maps, and google spreadsheet integration. It also includes a translation feature that supports machine and human translation. It’s a great example of taking a generic open source tool and adapting it for a specific profession.


Together.js adds multi-user collaboration to any web page: collaborative text editing, text chat, and audio chat. It’s a serious game changer.

Impossible is a platform for wish making and wish granting established by Lily Cole and launched in Cambridge UK this April.

When you log in to Impossible, you can create a profile with a photo and a bio. You can follow people, as in Twitter. The core units of the system are wishes, commitments, and thanks. Wishes are incredibly diverse. One is “I wish someone could teach me French” or “I wish for someone to teach me how to knit.” Sometimes wishes can appear quite serious, with wishes at a level of gravity to sites like post secret.

When you view a wish, you can re-wish, amplifying the wish to your audience (including Twitter and Facebook if you like) or commit, agreeing to meet the wish. You can thank post a photo thanking someone for something they did. The web version of Impossible is still under development (apparently the iOS app is more solid).

Johan Sebastian Joust

Johan Sebastian Joust is a hilariously fun videogame with no graphics, initially prototyped by Douglas Wilson, co-founder of Die Gute Fabrik.

The goal is to be the last player remaining. When the music (selections from J.S. Bach’s “Brandenburg Concertos”) plays in slow-motion, the controllers are extremely sensitive to movement. When the music speeds up, this threshold becomes less strict, giving the players a small window to dash at their opponents. If your controller is ever moved beyond the allowable threshold, you’re out! Try to jostle your opponents’ controllers while protecting your own.

At the Mozilla Festival, Douglas gave a remarkable talk on Folk Games, Festivity, and Subversive Game Design (this video is from an earlier talk elsewhere).