An Olympic Moment: Reflections on Cultural and Social Innovation

From Stephen’s latest OSBR column:
“Today marks the opening of the 2010 Winter Olympic games, a celebration of athleticism and culture that originated in 776 BC in Ancient Greece. In those days, an Olympic truce was declared, putting a temporary stop to wars so that athletes could travel safely to Olympia. It is this sense of social innovation, of a commitment to something beyond the ordinary, that we’ll explore in this column.
At the risk of getting lost in a beautiful diversion, let’s begin by contemplating a work that artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer has contributed to the 2010 Cultural Olympiad …or better yet, by taking part in it. Until February 28, 2010, visitors to the Vectorial Elevation site can direct 20 powerful searchlights to create enormous ten-second light sculptures over Vancouver’s English Bay. After designing a virtual array, you enter it in the queue for live presentation. Once it has played, you receive an email with a link to a webpage with photographs of your design as it appeared in the sky the night before.
The work can be seen as a metaphor for the open source community: working at a distance, thousands of people contribute a bit of ‘code’ to something much larger than they could have created on their own.”